Gregorius Moralia EN 408
409 (Jb 3,5)
We understand the shadow of death as oblivion, because just as death destroys life, so oblivion blots out memory. Because the apostate angel is handed over to everlasting oblivion, he is darkened by the shadow of death. It can be said, therefore, "May night shadows darken it, and the shadow of death," that is, 'let the blindness of his error so overcome him that he can never rise again to the light of repentance through memory of the beatific vision.'
The ancient enemy is bound by the chains of his own wickedness: some things he suffers now, others he will suffer in the last days. Because he has fallen away from interior light and order, he now loses track of himself in the fog of error within; but afterwards he is shrouded in bitterness because he is tormented with eternal suffering in gehenna for having entered this fog freely and willingly. So it can be said: He who has lost serenity and light within, what does he suffer before the last punishment? "May fog cover it." Let it be added then what punishment follows to waste him endlessly: "Let it be shrouded in bitterness." For something that is shrouded cannot reveal its nature and purpose to anyone: it cannot tell where it began, so it cannot show where it ends. Shrouded in bitterness, then, the ancient enemy finds that the punishments ready for him are not only of every kind, but are also everlasting. That punishment will take its beginning, of course, when the strict judge comes to the last judgment. So it is well added:
411 (Jb 3,6)
For it is written, "God shall be revealed and come, our God and he will not be silent. Fire will burn in his sight and in his path a mighty storm." A black whirlwind possesses this night, therefore, because that storm in the psalm snatches the apostate spirit from before the strict judge and drives him to suffer those fearsome eternal punishments. So that night is seized by a whirlwind because his haughty blindness is struck with fitting and severe punishment.
412 (Jb 3,6)
We can appropriately take the year to be the preaching of heavenly grace, for just as a year comes from heaping up the days, so in heavenly grace perfection emerges from the multifarious life of the virtues. The year can also stand for
the multitude of those who have been redeemed, for just as the year comprises a multitude of days, so the uncountable body of the elect is built up by gathering all good people everywhere. Isaiah spoke of this "year" of the redeemed multitude, saying, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me. He sent me preaching to the meek: to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captive and release to the prisoners, to announce the year that is pleasing to the Lord." The year that is pleasing to the Lord is preached when we proclaim the coming assembly of the faithful on which the light of truth will shine. The individual days therefore stand for the minds of each of the elect and the months for the churches that embrace the masses of the elect and that together make up a single catholic church. This day therefore is not to be counted in the days of the year nor numbered in the months because the ancient enemy, hemmed in by the darkness of his pride, sees the coming of the Redeemer, to be sure, but never attains forgiveness along with the elect. Hence it is written, "Nowhere did he take up the angels, but he took up the seed of Abraham." Our Redeemer did not become an angel but was made man in order to do what had to be done for our redemption: to abandon the angel, by not taking him up, and to restore man, by taking him up for himself.
The days can also stand for those angels who abide in the inner light, while the months then would be their orders and ranks. The individual spirits are days insofar as they shine; but because the angels are distinguished by rank in such a way that some are Thrones and some are Dominations, some are Principalities and some are Powers, as a group they are called months to correspond to this distribution of positions. But because the ancient enemy never comes to the light, never returns to the rank of the heavenly hosts, he is counted neither in the days of the year nor in its months. The blindness of the pride to which he has committed himself weights him down and makes it impossible for him to return to the ranks of those who are illuminated by the inner light. He is not in any way mixed in with those who stand to their posts in that light, because he is weighted down to the very bottom by the darkness he has chosen. Because he remains outside the crowds of the heavenly homeland forever, it is fittingly added:
413 (Jb 3,7)
That "night" is made solitary because it is separated from the crowds of the heavenly homeland by eternal punishment. This can be taken in another way, too, namely that the enemy should lose the company of the man he made his ally in perdition, and perish alone with his body while the many he had destroyed should be restored to life by the grace of the Redeemer. That night therefore is made solitary when the elect are taken away and the ancient enemy is claimed by the eternal fires of gehenna, himself alone.
But it is well put, "and unworthy of praise," for when the human race, burdened with the darkness of error, thought stones were gods and served them as idols, what else was it doing than praising the works of its seducer? So it is well said through Paul, "we know that an idol is nothing; but what the pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons." Those who have been reduced to venerating idols are only praising the dark of the night. But now, when the veneration of idols is rebuked by the redeemed human race, we see that this night is unworthy of praise. And that night is left solitary because the race does not go to punishment in damnation with the apostate spirit.
414 (Jb 3,8)
In the old translation it reads differently: "Let him curse the night as he has cursed the day, he who is to capture the great whale." By these words it is clearly shown that the holy man is foretelling the ruin of the Antichrist at the coming end of the world. For the evil spirit, who is rightly considered the night, pretends at the end of the world to be the day when he shows himself to men as if he were God, when he deceitfully claims the brightness of divinity for himself and "lifts himself up above all that is called God, that is adored as God." He curses the night as he curses the day, because the one who blots out by the light of his coming the power and strength of the evil spirit will destroy his malice as well. So it is well added, "Who is to capture the great whale," for this mighty whale is captured in the waters when the cunning of the ancient enemy is defeated by the sacrament of baptism.
415 But where the old translation speaks of the source of all things,
in this translation which comes to us from the Hebrew and Arabic languages we hear of the chosen angels of God. For of them it is said, "Let them curse the night, who curse the day." The prideful spirit wants to pass himself off as the true day before the angelic powers when he lifts himself above them as if with the power of divinity and draws so many legions of them after himself to ruin. But those who stand by their creator with humble heart see the dark night that lurks in his error and trample on the brightness of the enemy's day by keeping humble thoughts of themselves in their hearts. They reveal to us the snares of his darkness and show us how to spurn his false brightness. Let it be said therefore of the dark night that darkens eyes dimmed by human weakness: "Let them curse the night, who curse the day," that is: 'Let the elect spirits, who have already from the beginning of time seen the falseness of his great brightness, denounce and condemn the darkness of his error.
But it is well added, "Who are ready to wake Leviathan." For Leviathan is translated, "their addition." Who are "they" but mankind? He is rightly called "their addition," for after the enemy introduced the first sin by his wicked arguments, he has not ceased to add daily arguments that grow ever worse. But surely he is called Leviathan by way of rebuke, that is, he is called "mankind's addition." He found them immortal in paradise but promised these immortals divinity as well, as if he was promising to give them something in addition to what they were. But while he was softly promising to give them what they did not have, he cleverly took away what they did have. So the prophet describes the same Leviathan in this way: "Upon Leviathan the serpent that bars the way, upon Leviathan the coiled serpent." This Leviathan creeps up to men with his twisted coils, promising to give something to man, falsely promising what is impossible while really taking away what was possible. We must ask why it says he is a serpent and then adds that he is coiled, while first saying that he bars the way: perhaps it is because in a serpent there is the loose softness of his coils, but in, literally, a "bar" there is stiffness and rigidity. To show that he is both hard and soft, he is called both a bar and a serpent: hard through his malice, soft through his soft words. He is a bar because he strikes and deals death, but a serpent because he slithers in softly to lay ambush.
416 But now the chosen spirits of the angels keep Leviathan
shut up in the pit at the bottom of the abyss. For it is written: "I have seen an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand; and he laid hold of the old twisting snake, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him in the abyss." At the end of the world they bring him back to join in open combat and let him loose against us with all his strength: so it is written then, "When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be let loose." For that apostate angel who had been created to stand at the head of the legions of angels, fell so far in his pride that now he is beneath the feet of the angels that still stand. So now let him lie bound while they serve our needs, now again let him exercise all his power over us, let loose by them to test our strength. Because these chosen spirits keep the proud apostate in check (in their humility they did not choose to follow him) and because it will be their task to draw him back one day to face combat in which he will be destroyed utterly, it can rightly be said, "who are ready to wake Leviathan." Because the cunning enemy has not yet been waked for open battle, we come to recognize the night that now secretly darkens the minds of some.
417 (Jb 3,9)
In holy scripture, the stars sometimes stand for the justice of the saints shining in the darkness of this world, but sometimes they represent pretentious hypocrites who vaunt their good deeds to win praise from men. For if they lived rightly, they would not be stars and Paul would never have said to his disciples, "In the middle of a perverse and wicked nation, among whom you shine like the lights in the heavens." Again, if some of those who seem to do what is right did not seek a reward for their good works in the form of approval from their fellows, John would never have seen the stars falling from the heavens, saying, "The dragon sent forth his tail and drew with him the third part of the stars." Part of the stars are dragged along by the tail of the dragon, because in the last days when the Antichrist is preaching, some who were seen to shine before will be carried along by his words. To draw the stars down to earth is to take those who seemed steadfast in their zeal for the heavenly life and plunge them in wickedness and outright wrongdoing through their love of what is earthly.
There are indeed those who shine before the eyes of men with what seem to be great deeds, but because their deeds do not proceed from a pure heart, they are entangled in their secret thoughts and darkened by night shadows. Often indeed they cease to be able to perform at all the good deeds they did without purity of heart. So because the night is allowed to prevail when the intentions of the heart are impure even when our deeds are good, it can rightly be said, "Let the stars be darkened by its mist." In other words: 'Let the dark malice of the ancient enemy prevail against those who shine before the eyes of men with deeds that seem good, and let them lose the light of praise they have enjoyed in the judgment of men hitherto.' They are darkened by the mist of night when their lives are thrown into confusion by their outright wrongdoing, and then they appear outwardly to the world to be just the sort of people they have brazenly chosen to be within, where they fear no divine judgment.
418 (Jb 3,9)
In the gospel, Truth says, "I am the light of the world." Just as our Redeemer together with all the good of the world constitute a single person, for he is the head to us as the body and we are the body to him as the head, so also the ancient enemy constitutes a single person together with all the reprobate of the world, because he stands over them in wickedness like a head, and they, by complying slavishly with his suggestions, cling to him like a body to its head. So what is said of this night (i.e., of the ancient enemy) can be applied appropriately to his body (i.e., to all the wicked).
Because therefore the Redeemer of the human race is the light, what does it mean to say, "Let it watch for the light and not see it," but that there are those who pretend in their words to hold fast to the faith that they undermine by their deeds? Of them it is said through Paul that "they confess that they know God, but with their works they deny it." For them, either their deeds are wicked or they pursue good deeds with a heart that is not good. They do not seek perpetual reward for their works, but transient applause, and because they hear themselves extolled as saints, they think they really are saints. The more they think themselves irreproachable in the judgment of many, the more they confidently look forward to the day of severe judgment. Of them it is well said through the prophet, "Woe to those yearning for the day of the Lord." Blessed Job passes appropriate sentence on them, saying with the zeal of the preacher (not the wish of a one who genuinely wants to see it), "Let it watch for the light and not see it." For that night, namely the shadowy foe, watches (in the person of his followers) for the light and does not see it, because those who have faith without works and think they can be saved by that faith at the last judgment will be frustrated in their hope, because in their life here they have destroyed the very faith that they confessed and held. And those who performed good works in hope of winning praise from their fellows will hope in vain for the reward for good works from the judge to come, because while they were doing these things to posture for praise, they received already their rewards from the mouths of men, as Truth attests when it says, "Amen I say to you, they have received their reward." So it is well added, "nor the coming of the rising dawn."
419 For the church is called the dawn,
that turns from the darkness of its sins into the light of righteousness. So the bridegroom marvels in the Song of Songs, saying, "Who is she who comes forth like the rising dawn?" The church of the elect rises like the dawn, abandoning the darkness of its sins and turning to face the glow of the new light. So in the light that is revealed at the coming of the strict judge, the body of the condemned adversary does not see the coming of the rising dawn, for when the strict judge comes to exact retribution, every wicked person, swamped in the murk of his merits, fails to see the brightness that surrounds the holy church rising to the light that shines on the heart within. For them the mind of the elect is snatched up on high to be suffused with the rays of divine light. As it is bathed in that light, it is lifted beyond itself, suffused by the radiance of grace. The holy church becomes dawn in its fulness when it loses its dark mortality and ignorance completely. At the last judgment, it is still dawn, but in the kingdom of heaven it becomes full day, for even if it begins to see the light in the restoration of the body at the last judgment, it consummates that vision more fully in the kingdom. The coming of the dawn is the rise of the church in brightness, a rise the wicked cannot see because they are being dragged from the sight of the strict judge, weighed down by their sins to darkness. So it is rightly said through the prophet, "Let the impious one be taken away, lest he should see the glory of God." So it is said through the psalmist of this dawn, "You shall hide them in the hidden place of your presence, away from the confused mass of men." For every one of the elect is hidden away at the last judgment in the presence of divinity to be seen by inner vision, while the blindness of the reprobate is confused and repelled by the severe and just punishment.
420 We can take this in a useful present sense as well,
if we look closely at the hearts of the hypocrites. For arrogant and hypocritical people see the deeds of the just from outside and see that they are praised for their deeds by men. They marvel at the reputation they win, seeing how they win praise for deeds well done: but they do not see how eagerly those same people flee that praise. They consider their works from outside and do not see that these works are performed with a single secret inner hope. People who are lit by the true light of justice have first been transformed internally from the their old dark ways within and have completely abandoned the old inner darkness of earthly ambition. They have turned their hearts entirely to desire the light from above, lest they become dark again to themselves just when they become bright to the eyes of others. So because the arrogant see the deeds of the just but cannot read their hearts, they imitate them well enough to be praised outwardly, but not well enough to rise to the light of justice within. They do not know how to see the coming of the rising dawn, for they refuse to think about the inner disposition of the religious mind.
421 The holy man, filled by grace with a prophetic spirit,
can even foresee the perfidy of Judea in the time of the Redeemer's coming and can prophesy the penalties that blindness will suffer when he says, as if wishing such an outcome, "Let it watch for the light and not see it, nor the coming of the rising dawn." Judea watched for the light and did not see it, for it had long awaited the coming of the Redeemer of the human race, sustained by prophecy, but when he came it did not recognize him. The eyes of the mind that had opened in hope were closed to the presence of the light. Judea did not see the coming of the rising dawn because it refused to respect the holy church in its first days; it thought the church weakened by the deaths of its own people and could not see the strength it was gaining. But because, speaking of the infidels, Job had indicated the members of the body whose head was the wicked one, he now turns his words back to the head, saying,
422 (Jb 3,10)
What the mother's belly is to the individual, the original dwelling in paradise is to the human race as a whole. From paradise the human race came forth as if from the belly and spread its progeny abroad (as if its body were growing and maturing). Our conception has its roots where the first man, source of all the people to come, dwelled. But the serpent opened the portals of this belly, because by his cunning arguments he dissolved the hold of the heavenly command over the human heart. The serpent opened the portals of this belly
because he broke down the resistance of a mind fortified by heavenly guidance.
So let the holy man now bring his guilt before the mind's eye while he endures punishment. Let him grieve for what the dark night, the dark insinuation of the ancient enemy, has brought to the human mind. Let him grieve for the human mind's consent to its own deception and let him say, "Because it did not close the portals of the belly that bore me, nor did it take away evil from before my eyes." It should not bother you that he complains that the portals were not closed, when what he abhors is that the gates of paradise were opened. For when he says, "did not close," he means "opened." And "did not take away evil" means "brought it about." For Satan would have taken evil away if he had kept quiet, and he would have closed the portals if he had stopped breaking them down. Job knows of whom he speaks and considers that the evil spirit would have given us a gift if he had merely not inflicted losses. We speak this way of terrorists, because they "give life" to their victims if only they do not take it away.
423 Now let us go back to the beginning and consider
all this again from the point of view of its moral usefulness for our present life. Blessed Job is considering how the human race fell from its original state of mind and how confident it is in prosperity and how disturbed in adversity. He goes back in his mind to the original changeless tranquility that we could have had in paradise. And so he curses the fall into mortality, showing how it is to be despised for its constant alternation between prosperity and adversity.
424 (Jb 3,3)
It is this kind of day when the prosperity of this world smiles upon us. But this day passes into night, for temporal prosperity often leads to the darkness of suffering. The prophet disdained this prosperous day when he said, "I have not desired the day of men, you know this." The Lord announced that he would undergo this night of suffering at the end of the time of his incarnation when he said through the psalmist, as if speaking of the past, "My kidneys have reproached me on into the night." Day can be taken as our delight in sin and night as the blindness of the mind by which man lets himself stoop to commit sin. So he hopes the day will perish so that all the blandishments of sin might be destroyed by the intervention the power of justice. He hopes the night will perish, so that what the blinded mind consents to perpetrate will be blotted out by punishment and repentance.
425 But we must ask why it is said that man is born by day and conceived by night.
Sacred scripture speaks of "man" in three ways: sometimes of his nature, sometimes of his sin, sometimes of his weakness. Man's nature is meant when it is written, "Let us make man according to our image and likeness." Man's sin is meant when it is written, "I have said, 'You are all gods and sons of the most high, but you shall die like men.'" (This is as if it said openly, 'You shall die like sinners.') So Paul also says, "Since there is envy and strife among you, are you not creatures of the flesh and do you not go about like men?" (This is as if to say, 'By having minds at variance with each other, are you not sinners, reprehensibly human?') Man is spoken of in scripture on account of his weakness when it is written, "Cursed the one who puts his hope in man." (This is as if to say openly, 'puts his hope in weakness.')
So man is born by day but conceived by night, because he would never have been carried away by the pleasure of sin unless he had first been weakened by a darkness of the mind that he freely accepted. First blinded in mind, then he subjects himself to the unlawful pleasures of sin. So let it be said, "Perish the day on which I was born and the night in which it was said, 'A man is conceived.'" That is, let the pleasure that leads man to sin now perish, and let the heedless weakness of mind which blinds him and leads him into darkness (as he consents to wickedness) perish. For when man does not carefully watch out for the blandishments of earthly delight, he falls headlong into the night of the most wicked crimes. We must watch carefully, so that when sin begins to lure us, we know how terrible is the ruin that threatens our mind. So it is fittingly added here,
426 (Jb 3,4)
Day turns to darkness when we see at the first hint of pleasure, the ruinous result threatened by sin. We turn day to darkness when we chasten ourselves severely, purge away the blandishments of wrongful pleasure with the stern trials of penance, and when we hunt down every secret sinful delight of the heart, weeping as we go. Every faithful man knows that our thoughts will be interrogated in detail at the last judgment, as Paul attests when he says, "their thoughts in opposition, now attacking, now defending." Whoever examines himself privately scours his conscience before he comes to judgment, so the strict judge may come the more calmly for seeing that the defendant he comes to examine has already been punished for his guilt. So then it is rightly added:
The Lord will ask after the things he examines in judgment; he does not ask after the things he has already forgiven and decided to leave unpunished at the time of judgment. So this day, that is, this pleasure of sin, is not looked out for by the Lord, if it is punished by voluntary self-discipline, as Paul indicates, saying, "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord at all." God asks after our day therefore when he examines carefully in judgment to find all the faults for which our mind prides itself, and when he asks after it, he is more strictly punitive, the more he finds we have been soft and sparing of ourselves here and now. So it then is well said:
And may he not shine his light upon it. (Jb 3,4)
When the Lord appears in judgment he shines his light upon all that he then rejects. Whatever the judge does not then call to mind is covered in a kind of twilight, for it is written, "But all things that are reproached are made known by the light." A darkness covers the sins of the penitent, of which it is said through the prophet, "Blessed are those whose crimes are forgiven and whose sins are covered over." Because everything that is covered over is hidden in a darkness, whatever is not examined and punished on the day of the last judgment is not lit up by the light. For those acts of ours that he then chooses not to punish out of justice, he is surely covering them over knowingly in some way with divine mercy. Whatever he shines his light upon then is revealed in the sight of all. So this day is turned into darkness so we might punish all our sins ourselves, in penance. The Lord may not ask after this day and not shine his light upon it: in other words, as long as we chasten ourselves for our sins, he will not have to act against them directly at the last judgment.
428 But that judge who sees all, who punishes all:
he is coming. Because he is everywhere, there is no place to flee; because God is placated by the tears of our repentance, we only find a place of refuge from him if we hide ourselves in penance now, as soon as we have sinned. So it is appropriate that it is then added about the "day" of this sinful pleasure:
429 (Jb 3,5)
Night shadows darken the day when the groans of repentance penetrate and permeate the mind's wrongful pleasure. But the shadows can also be taken as hidden judgments: for we know the things that we see in the light, but in the shadows we see nothing at all, or only with unsure and misty vision. Hidden judgments are a kind of darkness before our eyes, because they cannot be penetrated. So it is written of God, "He has made darkness his hiding place." We know that we do not deserve to be found innocent; but through God's hidden judgment his grace runs ahead of us and frees us. Shadows hide the day therefore when we weep for the joys of wrongful pleasure and his unsearchable judgments mercifully hide us from the light of his just punishment. So it aptly follows, "and the shadow of death."
430 For in scripture, the shadow of death sometimes stands for the mind's loss of memory,
sometimes for imitating the devil, sometimes for the death of the flesh.
The shadow of death is taken as the mind's loss of memory because, as we said before, just as death removes the one it kills from life, so loss of memory removes from the mind whatever it snares. So because John the Baptist came to preach to the Jews the God they had forgotten, it was rightly said through Zachariah, "To lighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death." For to sit in the shadow of death is to drift feebly away from the love of God through loss of memory.
The shadow of death can also be imitation of the ancient enemy: for he is called death because he brings death, as John attests and says, "And his name is death." The shadow of death stands for the imitation of the devil because just as a shadow takes form according to the shape of the body, so the actions of the wicked are take their pattern from imitating Satan. So when Isaiah saw the pagan people fall into wickedness by imitating the ancient enemy, and saw them rise again at the coming of the true sun, he recounted his clear vision of the future as if he were speaking of the past, saying, "To the ones sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, a light has risen for them."
The shadow of death can also be taken as the death of the flesh because just as true death is that which separates the soul from God, so it is the shadow of that death which separates the flesh from the soul. So it is rightly said through the prophet in the voice of the martyrs, "You have humbled us in a place of affliction and covered us with the shadow of death." It is clear that they died not in the spirit but only in the flesh, so they obviously claim to be covered not by true death but by the shadow of death.
431 Why therefore does blessed Job insist that the shadow of death
come down to darken the day of wicked delight? It must be because, to destroy the sins of men in the eyes of God, he seeks the mediator of God and men, the one who would undergo death for us, but death only of the flesh, and so wipe out the true death of sinners with the shadow of his own death. For he came to us when we were held prisoner by the death that afflicts both spirit and flesh. He brought to us his one death and freed us from the two deaths in which he found us held. (For if he had undergone both deaths, he would have freed us from neither.) But he accepted the one mercifully and justly condemned both. He compared his one to our two and by his dying, vanquished our two. So it is apt that he lay in the tomb for one day and two nights, so as to set the light of his one death side by side with the darkness of our double death.
The one who underwent only the death of the flesh for us has taken on the shadow of death and hidden from the eyes of God the guilt for which we are liable: so let it rightly be said, "May night shadows darken it, and the shadow of death," as if to say openly, 'Let the one come who would pay the debt of death in the flesh, though he owes no debt himself, in order to snatch us debtors to freedom from death of the flesh and death of the spirit.' But because the Lord leaves no sin unpunished (either we prosecute our own sins with tears, or he does with judgment) it remains that the mind must be constantly vigilant in correcting its own ways. Whenever we see ourselves the beneficiaries of mercy's aid, just then we must wipe away the guilt through confession. So it goes on to say,
Gregorius Moralia EN 408