Cardinal Manning turns to the tragic story of the fallen angels to show how important it is to have perseverance in order to arrive at our heavenly homeland.
First, he gives this advice to the spiritual traveler: “Meditate every day upon the fall of those who begun well. Once perhaps they set out with as fair a hope of eternal life as we have. Their childhood and youth was it may be holier and nearer to God than ours. A bright sunshine and a fair morning gave promise of a noontide of ripeness and an evening of peace. Perhaps they persevered as long, or longer than we have yet, and that against many dangers and temptations. At last they fell. Their beginning was like ours, and our end may be like theirs. An awful and thrilling truth. It is good to have it always before our eyes.”
He then shows how the story of the fallen angels teaches us a valuable lesson: “The fall of the Angels may teach us that no gift, or perfection of grace will avail us if we lack stability. They were created in excellence of knowledge and strength, both natural and supernatural, but they sinned, and what was their sin but pride, of which we have been guilty a thousand times. They desired to be as God; not that they aspired to His immensity, or infinity, or eternity, for the angelic intelligence is too perfect and too luminous for such a folly; but they desired to be independent of God. They contemplated their own proper excellence till they became enamoured by self-love. They sought to be happy in themselves by their own proper and natural beatitude; to suffice to themselves, and to be blissful without God. This was their sin, and what is it but the pride which is the sin of the world, as St. John calls it, ‘the pride of life’ (1 John 2:16).”
Quotations from Henry Edward Manning, The Love of Jesus to Penitents (Dublin: James Duffy, 1866).