November 01, 2023
When you hear the word angel, does a chubby-faced little cherub come to mind or maybe a misty transparent image with feathery wings? No matter what your imagination pictures, the fact is that angels exist. The Catechism tells us in CCC 328 “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith.” We even celebrate angels in our Liturgical calendar on Sept 29 - Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, and Oct 2 - Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels.
In CCC 329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.' Angels are servants and messengers of God, that’s their office or position. They are pure spirits with no physical bodies. They can take on a physical appearance when necessary so that we can see them with our eyes.
Furthermore, in CCC 330 we read that “As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and a will.” They are personal and immortal creatures that don’t get sick, don’t die, and aren’t constrained by space and time. Angels are more perfect than human beings because, by their very nature, they are more like God. God is pure intellect and will, unlike human beings who also have a body.
The angels were all created at the beginning of time, so that means that our loved ones who have died and gone to Heaven, do not turn into angels. They were created out of God’s love, just as He created us out of love and all angels were created good. The fallen angels were also created good – God cannot create anything evil. They however used their intellect and their will to refuse to do what God asked of them. Satan was once an angel but by his free will, he refused to do God’s will and became evil. He was kicked out of heaven and can never repent and return there. But why? The superior knowledge of angels let them know that Jesus would be born as a man, and Satan and the fallen angels did not wish to serve a creature lower than themselves. The sin of pride led them to refuse to serve man and the sin of envy makes them wish for no good to come to human beings.
There are many references to angels in sacred scripture, these are just a few of the ways they appeared:
- Guarded the Garden of Eden
- Kept Abraham from sacrificing Isaac
- Assisted Tobin
- Assisted the prophets
- Announced the birth of Jesus
- Protected Jesus in Infancy
- Ministered to Jesus in the desert and Garden of Gethsemane
We invoke angels in the Mass at the Preface and in our Funeral liturgy, in fact, whenever we celebrate Mass, we are celebrating with the saints and all the angels in heaven.
Preface - And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:
Funeral Liturgy – May the angels come to greet you, may they take you to Paradise.
Each human life from birth, until they get to heaven, has a Guardian Angel. We receive our Guardian Angel at our conception, but the angel was created at the start of creation, so our Guardian Angel waited for us to be conceived. Each Guardian angel has a name, but we don’t name them, because we could be wrong about their name and God has already named them.
CCC 336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
The job of our Guardian Angel is to:
- Ward off dangers – for both body and soul
- Help to distribute God’s grace to us
- Remove temptations
- Prevent Satan’s suggestions of sin
- Foster holy thoughts and desires
- Offer our prayers to God and pray for us
- Correct us if we sin
- Help us at our death
- Conduct us to heaven or if to purgatory, then console us there
If you haven’t talked to your Guardian Angel before, give it a try. Invite your angel into your time of prayer and ask for help if you are feeling tempted. Teach your family to call on their Guardian Angel when frightened or troubled or tempted. The classic Catholic Guardian Angel prayer is:
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
to whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day, be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Written by: Birgitt Hacker
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