Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

10/2/2014 (2 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Angels appear in the Bible story from the first pages of Genesis right through to the final pages of the Book of Revelation

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Sacred Scriptures remind us that angels have been part of our revealed religion from the beginning. It is an article of the Catholic faith that angels are real. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." (CCC para. 328)

In the New Testament the angels are integral to the mystery of the Incarnation. They are present to give God's message of the incarnation, first to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then to Zachariah, then to Joseph, finally to the shepherds.

In the New Testament the angels are integral to the mystery of the Incarnation. They are present to give God's message of the incarnation, first to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then to Zachariah, then to Joseph, finally to the shepherds.

Highlights

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/2/2014 (2 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: angels, cherubim, seraphim, archanges, angelogy, angelic, communion of saints, Incarnation, Fr. Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - A visit to the local bookstore will reveal a whole shelf of books on angel encounters, angel channelling, and angelology. There's even a book called The Physics of Angels which tries to blend quirky physics theories with the theology of St Thomas Aquinas.

A quick look at the books on offer make you realize that the New Age understanding of angels stretches from 'listening to the light within' to the fully fledged summoning up of the 'dark angels' in other words, modern angel-ology is the stuff of fantasy, neo-gnosticism and a rather nasty occult religion.

In the face of this phenomenon Catholics might be inclined to steer clear of angels altogether. But that would be to throw the angel out with the exorcism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Sacred Scriptures remind us that angels have been part of our revealed religion from the beginning. It is an article of the Catholic faith that angels are real. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." (CCC para. 328)

Other Christians agree. A survey amongst Christian denominations discovered that most Christian denominations agree with the Catholic Church on the basics about angels.

They all agreed that angels are created by God.  They dwell in His presence. They are sent as His messengers to earth. They are of superior intelligence. They have no bodies, but can take visible form. They also agree that while there are good angels, there also exists a band of fallen angels who have similar powers, but have twisted their energies against the good.

The best way of recognizing good angels is to understand their role in the economy of redemption. To do this we need to know and understand not only that angels are real, but how they have interacted with the human race down through history. To do this we have to look at the Scripture record.

Angels appear in the Bible story from the first pages of Genesis right through to the final pages of the Book of Revelation. But it is Jacob's dream of angels ascending and descending to heaven that gives us the best picture of the role of angels.

We learn from Jacob's dream that angels are messengers of heaven. They communicate between heaven and earth at God's command for the benefit of human beings. Continuously through Scripture the angels protect, lead and guide God's people.

In the New Testament the angels are integral to the mystery of the Incarnation. They are present to give God's message of the incarnation, first to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then to Zachariah, then to Joseph, finally to the shepherds. During Jesus' life they were there at his conception, his birth and his trial in the wilderness.

They strengthened him in the Garden of Gethsemane and were present to proclaim his resurrection. An angel delivers Peter from prison and angels surround the throne of God in John's heavenly vision in the Book of Revelation.

Angels fulfill three roles in the Scripture and these roles help us to understand their proper role in our spiritual lives. The word angel comes from the Greek word angelos which means 'messenger', and all through the Scriptural account the angels were God's messengers to mankind.

In each situation the angels were not only God's messengers, but they were also channels of peace and joy. In every instance they serve God and point back to his glory. They do so because they are creatures of praise. So angels proclaim and they praise.

Thirdly, the angels are sent by God as our spiritual guardians. The Archangel Michael is the protector of Israel (Dan. 10.13; Rev.12.7) and Jesus himself affirmed that we all have our guardian angels (Matt. 18.10). The angels are there to encourage us in our Christian life. The writer to the Hebrews calls them, 'ministering spirits sent forth for the sake of those who will obtain salvation' (Heb. 1.14).

These three roles of the angels--messengers, worshippers and guardian-guides reveal the proper ways for us to interact with the angels.  First, the angels' whole existence is to praise and worship God and do his bidding. So we work with the angels when we enter into worship. In worship we sing with the angels in heaven; "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts."

With the angels of the Nativity we sing "Glory to God in the Highest." Whenever we worship we are working with the angels. We are coming alongside them, and they are joining with us in the worship of the ages-- the cosmic liturgy of the Lamb.

Secondly, we work with the angels whenever we proclaim God's message. The angels' message always points to Christ. Throughout the Scriptures the message of the angels was interwoven with the coming of Christ--either in the Old Testament salvation history or in the New Testament gospel account.

The two-fold task is expressed in the phrase, 'Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to his people on earth.' in the first phrase we praise. In the second we proclaim peace to his people on earth. Proclaiming the gospel with our words and in our lives is the second way we work with the angels.

The third way we work with the angels is to ask for their protection, guidance and help. This is where Christian practice sounds a bit similar to New Age practice. But there are some important differences. We do not ask the angels to help us 'affirm the God that is within us' like New Age religion does. Neither do we summon the angels and open our lives to them. The Holy Spirit may dwell within our hearts, but angels don't.

They guide and guard us by walking beside and before us. In this respect it is especially good to invoke St.Michael and our guardian angel. When we are in a time of danger or temptation we can ask their help as we would ask the help of an experienced guide while climbing a mountain. They are there to lend us a hand, point out the way and to help keep us from falling.

Praise and Proclamation and Protection may not seem quite as exciting as 'listening to the light within' or summoning up dark spirits, but our faith is incarnational. The child in the manger reminds us that Christianity is real and practical not esoteric and otherworldly.

We have real bodies and live in a real physical world, and our religion does not help us to escape this, but to enter into it more fully. The angels respect and admire our physical bodies. They love our physical-ness because their Lord took on human flesh and was born of a woman.

Angels do not wish for us to go above the physical and ordinary things of life.  They know that it is in flesh and blood and sweat and tears that we find God. As the poet Henry Vaughn has written, 'Here in dust and dirt, Oh here! the lilies of His love appear.'

And it is in this dust and dirt of ordinary prayer, and pleas for protection that we co-operate most powerfully with the angels in heaven and make the simple story of Christmas and Easter come alive in our lives.
-----
Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish and Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his website and blog at www.dwightlongenecker.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Living Faith

No one should be hungry during the Christmas season

Image of

By Tony Magliano

In early December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) stopped feeding 1.7 million Syrian refugees. For two weeks these poor, battered fellow human beings who had fled the misery of civil war, and the barbarism of the "Islamic State," were told there is no ... continue reading


HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Beloved Pontiff turns 78 today Watch

Image of Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY POPE FRANCIS! Today is Pope Francis' 78th birthday and well-wishers celebrated the day singing and dancing for the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Born on December 17, 1936, the man who would become Pope Francis has ... continue reading


Turned into the wild, Pope Francis offers hope to displaced faithful in Middle East Watch

Image of Patriarch Younan said a major focus of their synod was on priestly formation since their communities have faced so much upheaval.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Times are hard and arduous for those who practice their Catholic faith in the Middle East. In a special audience with Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, along with about 350 of his faithful from the Syriac Catholic Church, Pope Francis offered words ... continue reading


Mary hailed as 'great missionary' who brought Gospel to Americas by Pope Francis Watch

Image of Pope Francis and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis along with thousands of Catholics from across the Atlantic celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Vatican. The Pope celebrated Mass to the sounds and rhythms of many of South America's indigenous peoples. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Your Friday Feel Good Story: Watch what happens when the mic goes out during the American National Anthem at a hockey game in Canada! Watch

Image of Ina  heartwarming gesture of respect, Canadians sing the Star Spangled Banner when the microphone game out before a game featuring a team from the USA.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Here's your Friday Feel Good story! Enjoy your Friday and don't forget to share! During a hockey game in Canada between American and Canadian players, the microphone failed, silencing the singer. Without audio, the Americans would be without their national anthem, but ... continue reading


Irenaeus of Lyon on Eve and Mary

Image of An Icon of Ireneaus of Lyon

By Ireneaus of Lyon

The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good news of the truth announced by an angel to ... continue reading


Taking the Kingdom by Force: Learning from John the Baptizer Watch

Image of The choice is ours. Just as it was with John the Baptizer. He shows us the way to give away our freedom in love - and then find it anew in the One who truly sets us free. (John 8:36). The kingdom of heaven is still being taken by force. The force of love. The Lord is seeking men and women in this hour who will take the kingdom by force like John the Baptizer.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

John the Baptizer was a man of Joy because he was a man of true humility! Humility is a powerful weapon when wielded by a soldier of love like John. He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to ... continue reading


Faith restored in humanity! A random act of kindness changes a woman's life forever during the Christmas season Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While protests are wreaking havoc all around the world, wars are being fought, and people are being brutally killed, the warm sensation and fuzzy feeling of Christmas gets overshadowed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although good deeds and random acts of kindness ... continue reading


Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life of the World to Come? Watch

Image of Seated at the right hand of the Father, he works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through it to join them more closely to himself.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered extended to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. It will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He ... continue reading


A Christmas gift for suffering South Sudan

Image of The people of South Sudan have the same feeling and love for one another we do. Now is the time for us to extend our arms in compassion.

By Tony Magliano

The world's newest nation is in big trouble. After more than 20 years of civil war between the southern and northern areas of Sudan, the southern part of that country on July 9, 2011, became the independent nation of the Republic of South Sudan.But the situation on the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
1 Once the king had settled into his palace and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
25 And now to him who can make you strong in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 21st, 2014 Image

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter