St. Bernard of Clairvaux – Christ redeemed the good Angels
It is fascinating that in speaking of Christ as Savior – soteriology – St. Bernard, while he does not come to the same conclusion as Bl. John Duns Scotus on the absolute primacy of Christ and on the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, nonetheless argues for a preservative redemption of the Holy Angels. This thought is almost unheard of, and yet if he is correct and Christ indeed redeemed the Angels by preserving them from falling, this would indicate that the Incarnation was not simply willed as a remedy for man’s sin, but that Christ would have come as Mediator of grace and glory to men and Angels quite regardless of Adam’s sin. Also, a preservative redemption of the good Angels would be coherent with the preservative redemption of Our Lady, thus an implicit confirmation of Scotus’ doctrine (now dogma of the Church) on the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother.
Here is the text of the Mellifluous Doctor:
“You say, ‘I don’t see how it could be possible that there was a redemption for the Angels. The authority of the Scriptures, in fact, does not seem to uphold anywhere that they were imprisoned by sin or subject to death so as to need redemption – except, perhaps, those who were carried away by the irreparable sin of pride and do not merit to be redeemed. If, therefore, the Angels were never redeemed – the good because they had no need of it, the bad because the do not deserve it; the former because they did not fall, the latter because they are not capable of forgiveness – in what sense do you maintain that Christ the Lord was redemption for them?’ Listen for a minute. He who lifted fallen man up again assigned him to an Angel who is at his side so that he may not fall, thus freeing man from slavery and preserving the angel from entering into it. In this sense He was redemption equally for both of them, freeing the former and preserving the latter. It is clear, therefore, that Christ the Lord was, for the Angels, redemption, justification, wisdom and sanctification”.
(Sermon on the Song of songs, XXII, 6).
For a deeper understanding of salvation from this perspective of the primacy of Christ see the section on Christ as Redeemer and Christ came for our salvation by scrolling down under Eph 1:3-10.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us!
fr. maximilian mary dean, F.I.