Saturday, March 24, 2012

40 Things #28: Angels

***This post is part of my 40 Things I Love About Catholicism series.  Click here to read more!***
"I suppose you think I ought to be a golden-haired baby-face with no body and two useless little wings?"

Charles Wallace stared at the great creature.  "I might be simpler if you were."  -- From Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door
It is difficult -- well, really impossible -- for us to conceptualize angels.  They are pure spirit, but that's not something you can really depict in art.  When one really contemplates their office, however, the idea of portraying them as chubby babies with wings does seem rather ridiculous.  Julie notes in her post about angels:
An important thing to remember about angels is that they are terrifying. I am not sure when angels started to be domesticated, but nearly every time one appears in the Bible, the humans are frightened. So much so that angels had to start saying phrases like, "Fear not!" and "Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God."
The Catechism defines angels succinctly: "Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures" (CCC 350).  Angels are more glorious and perfect than all visible creatures, including humans (CCC 330).

Angels have been a part of our salvation history since the very beginning.  Their work can be seen throughout the Old Testament and especially in the New, announcing the Incarnation of Christ, protecting Jesus as a baby, serving Him in the desert, strengthening Him in the garden at Gethsemane, and announcing His resurrection (CCC 332, 333).

In fact, the Catechism asserts that Christ Himself is "the center of the angelic world":
They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him..." They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him." They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?" (CCC 331)
We join with the angels during the Mass to praise God ("Glory to God in the highest" and "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts"), and we ask for their assistance, which they are constantly giving us (CCC 335).

Most Catholics also believe in guardian angels.  It is not a doctrine of the faith, but something that has been taken for granted since the earliest days of Christianity.  Jesus says, "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10).  From this statement, the Church has inferred not only the Old Testament assumption that angels are God's ministers who sometimes attend to and protect particular people, but that each person has a particular angel from childhood.
"From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession" (CCC 336)
I love angels because they remind me of how truly glorious and awesome our God is.  To quote Julie yet again:
But our God is an awesome God - awesome in the "awe-inspiring" way. God is not our bro. God is not our homeboy. God is the Almighty one - the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) - the one who is, the one who was, the one who will be (Revelation 1:8).
God is not a grandfatherly old man with a long white beard, twiddling this thumbs as He whiles away the day on His throne.  He is the almighty, the infinite, the holy trinity, the eternal, the one Who is, always has been, and always will be, and He is always surrounded by countless creatures forever singing His praise.  He constantly directs these creatures be messengers to and protectors of us.  How amazing is that?


  1. So amazing! I've always had a special love for the angels, my particular guardian, and of course St. Michael. My pastor told us of an old way people used to greet one another by saying "good day to you and to your companion (guardian angel)." I LOVE this idea of addressing someone's angel. Also to ask someone's angel for help if we are trying to get through to them, which truly helps! Thanks for your beautiful words and a great reminder about how awesome, fierce, and strong the angels are which like you said, reveals God to us.

    1. I love that greeting! And thank you for mentioning asking someone's angel for help. I have completely neglected to do this, and I'll certainly do it in the future!

  2. I do love the whole concept in A Wrinkle in Time. I am fascinated by the hierarchy of the angles as well. According to some works of the saints, it is angels that set the motions of the earth, the seasons, and the weather. What an amazing Universe!

    1. I love the hierarchy, too! It was just in researching this post that I realized some of them are mentioned in the Mass: thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. I have never heard about some of of the saints writing that angels set the motions of the earth and seasons -- wow!

  3. I've always been grateful for guardian angels! When I got my driver's license, my grandma gave me a pendant that said, "Don't drive faster than your guardian angel can fly."

    Recently, I've really called upon my guardian angel, my kids' guardian angels, and my husband's. I've taught my 3 year old about guardian angels and we read a really neat board book about guardian angels. that he received for his baptism.

    Thanks for another wonderful, beautiful reflection on our Catholic faith!

    1. Oh lovely! I am looking for more books for Elise (1.5) about the faith, so I'll have to look for a guardian angel one!