Questions about the holy Angels answered by the Church
1 . Is the belief in the angels part of the Catholic faith?
2. Who are the angels?
3. What does the word “Angel” mean?
4. Angels possess intelligence and free will
5. What else can we know about what the Angels do and their God-given purpose?
6. Why did God create purely spiritual beings?
7. Do angels have bodies? Do they have wings?
8. Are Angels like human beings created “in the image and likeness” of God?
9. What is meant by “choirs” or “orders” of Angels?
10 . Different creatures: men, angels, material creation. What was God’s plan?
11. What is the importance of the angels in the revelation?
12. How did the angels intervene in the Old Testament?
13. When were the angels present in the life of Jesus?
14. What is the relationship of the angels to Christ?
15. What does Jesus teach us about the Angels?
16. How does Scripture describe the closeness of the angels to God?
17. Do angels guard us personally?
18. Why does God put angels beside us?
19. What does the Tradition say about Guardian Angels?
20. Are the Angels interested in our life and do they participate in it?
21. Are there texts in the NT that show factually the loving care of the Angels for men?
22. How can we relate to our Guardian Angels?
23. Where do the angels assist us?
24. What are the Angels’ services to us?
25. What does it mean that the Angels see the face of the Father in heaven?
26. Are the Angels always united with God, even when they take care of us?
27. How can it be that angels and men sinned?
28. What does it mean for the good angels to have chosen God?
29. What does “fallen angels” mean?
30. What does it mean for the fallen angels to have rejected God?
31. What could have been the motive for such a radical and irreversible choice against God?
32. What does Holy Scripture say about the devil?
33. The devil and his angels sinned. Can God not forgive them?
34. Why does the devil especially persecute the Church?
35. What does the devil do?
36. It seems that Satan is so powerful…
37. What does St. Paul teach about the devil?
38. How does the devil influence man?
39. How does the devil try to deceive man?
40. Does that mean that the devil is the reason behind all sins?
41. How can we detect the influence of the devil?
42. How can we fight the devil?
43. What is the importance of the Angels in the Church?
44. In what way are angels present in the life of the Church?
45. How are the Angels present in the liturgy of the Church?
46. How does the Church venerate the holy Angels?
47. Wherein lies the beauty of the devotion to the Angels?
48. What is the importance of a friendship of the angels for our life?
49. For which needs does the Church ask for the assistance of the Angels?
50. What are the most popular devotional prayers to the Angels?
51. Which ideas should be avoided in the devotion to the Angels?
52. What can we know about St. Michael Archangel?
53. Why is St. Michael invoked as patron of the Church?
54. “Michael” means “Who is like God?”. What does this mean?
55. What is the importance of St. Michael as patron of the Church today?
56. What can we know about St. Gabriel the Archangel?
57. What can we know about St. Raphael the Archangel?
ANGELS IN GENERAL
“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.” (Cat. 328)
“Tradition regards the angels as messengers of God, 'potent executives of his commands, and ready at the sound of his words' (Ps 103:20). They serve his salvific plan, and are 'sent to serve those who will inherit salvation' (Hb 1:14).” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 213)
“The angels are purely spiritual creatures, incorporeal, invisible, immortal, and personal beings endowed with intelligence and will. They ceaselessly contemplate God face-to-face and they glorify him. They serve him and are his messengers in the accomplishment of His saving mission to all.” (Comp. Cat. 60)
“The name given to them by Sacred Scripture indicates that what counts most in Revelation is the truth concerning the tasks of the angels in regard to man: angel (angelus) in fact means 'messenger'. The Hebrew malak, used in the Old Testament, signifies more precisely 'delegate' or 'ambassador'. The angels, spiritual creatures, have a function of mediation and of ministry in the relationships between God and man. Under this aspect the Letter to the Hebrews says that Christ has been given a 'name', and therefore a ministry of mediation, far superior to that of the angels (cf. Heb 1:4).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 30, 1986)
“As in the vision of Jacob’s ladder–‘God’s messengers were going up and down on it’ (Genesis 28:12)–the angels are energetic and tireless messengers who connect heaven and earth.” (Comp. Cat. p.188, Picture Commentary)
“… With their whole being the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they 'always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven' they are the 'mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word' (Mt 18:10; Ps 103:20).” (Cat. 329)
“In the perfection of their spiritual nature the angels are called from the beginning, by virtue of their intelligence, to know the truth and to love the good which they know in truth in a more full and perfect way than is possible to man. This love is an act of a free will, and therefore for the angels also freedom implies a possibility of a choice for or against the Good which they know, that is, God himself.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 23, 1986)
Angels are “luminous and mysterious figures.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, March 1, 2009)
“Sacred Scripture and the Church's tradition enable us to discern two aspects. On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word ‘El’, which means ‘God’. God is inscribed in their names, in their nature. Their true nature is existing in his sight and for him. In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained: they are God's messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man.” (Benedict XVI, Homily, September 29, 2007)
“We recognize above all that Providence, as the loving Wisdom of God, was manifested precisely in the creation of purely spiritual beings, so as to express better the likeness of God in them who are so superior to all that is created in the visible world including man, who is also the indelible image of God.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 9, 1986)
“According to Revelation, the angels who participate in the life of the Trinity in the light of glory are also called to play their part in the history of the salvation of man, in the moments established by divine Providence “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to possess salvation?,'' asks the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (1:14).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6,1986)
“Their purely spiritual being implies first of all their non-materiality and their immortality. The angels have no ‘body’ (even if, in particular circumstances, they reveal themselves under visible forms because of their mission for the good of men), and therefore they are not subject to the laws of corruptibility which are common to all the material world.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“As creatures of a spiritual nature, the angels are endowed with intellect and free will, like man, but in a degree superior to him, even if this is always finite because of the limit which is inherent in every creature. The angels are therefore personal beings and, as such, are also ‘in the image and likeness’ of God.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“Sacred Scripture refers to the angels also by using terms that are not only personal (like the proper names of Raphael, Gabriel, Michael), but also ‘collective’ (like the titles: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, powers, dominions, principalities), just as it distinguishes between angels and archangels. While bearing in mind the analogous and representative character of the language of the sacred text, we can deduce that these beings and persons, as it were grouped together in society, are divided into orders and grades, corresponding to the measure of their perfection and to the tasks entrusted to them. The ancient authors and the liturgy itself speak also of the angelic choirs (nine, according to Dionysius the Areopagite).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“There exist an inter-dependence and a hierarchy among creatures as willed by God. At the same time, there is also a unity and solidarity among creatures since all have the same Creator, are loved by him and are ordered to his glory.” (Comp. Cat. 64)
THE ANGELS IN THE HISTORY OF SALVATION
“The truth about the angels is in a certain sense ‘collateral’, though inseparable from the central revelation, which is the existence, the majesty and the glory of the Creator which shines forth in all creation (‘seen’ and ‘unseen’) and in God's salvific action in the history of mankind. The angels are not therefore creatures of the first order, in the reality of Revelation, though they fully belong to it, so much so that sometimes we see them carrying out fundamental tasks in the name of God Himself.” (St. John Paul II, Catechesis on the Angels, July 9, 1986)
“We would be removing an important part of the Gospel were we to leave out these beings sent by God, who announce and are a sign of his presence among us.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, March 1, 2009)
“Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan.” (Cat. 332)
“… They closed the gates of the earthly paradise (cf. Gen 3:24), they saved Hagar and her child Ishmael (cf. Gen 21:17), they stayed the hand of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice Isaac (cf. Gen 22:7), they announce prodigious births (cf. Jud 13:3-7), they protect the footsteps of the just (cf. Ps 91:11), they praise God unceasingly (cf. Is 6:1-4), and they present the prayer of the Saints to God (cf. Ap 8, 34). The faithful are also aware of the angel's coming to help Elijah, an exhausted fugitive (cf. 1 Kings 19:4-8), of Azariah and his companions in the fiery furnace (cf. Dan 3:49-50), and are familiar with the story of Tobias in which Raphael, ‘one of the seven Angels who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of God’ (cf. Tb 12:15), who renders many services to Tobit, his son Tobias and his wife Sarah.” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 214)
“From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels.
When God ‘brings the firstborn into the world, he says: "Let all God's angels worship him." (Heb 1:6).
"The Angel Gabriel declared to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk 1:26-38), and that an Angel revealed to Joseph the supernatural origin of Mary's conception (cf. Mt 1:18-25); the Angels appear to the shepherds in Bethlehem with the news of great joy of the Saviour's birth (cf. Lk 2:8-24). Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: ’Glory to God in the highest’ (Lk 2:14)!
"‘The Angel of the Lord’ protected the infant Jesus when he was threatened by Herod (cf. Mt 2:13-20);
the Angels ministered to Jesus in the desert (cf. Mt 4:11) and comforted him in his agony (Lk 22:43), when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been (Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8).
"And to the women gathered at the tomb, they announced that he had risen (cf. Mk 16, 1-8), they appear again at the Ascension, revealing its meaning to the disciples and announcing that ‘Jesus...will come back in the same way as you have seen him go’ (Acts 1:11).
"Again, it is the angels who ‘evangelize’ by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection (Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7). They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment (Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9).” (cf. Cat. 333 and DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY 214)
“It can therefore be said that the angels, as pure spirits, not only participate in the holiness of God himself, in the manner proper to them, but in the key moments they surround Christ and accompany him in the fulfillment of his salvific mission in regard to mankind.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 30, 1986)
“Christ 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” (Mt 25:31). 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’ (Col 1:16). 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?’ (Heb 1:14)” (Cat. 331)
“The faithful will have well grasped the significance of Jesus' admonition not to despise the least of those who believe in him for ‘their Angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven’ (Mt 10:10), and the consolation of his assurance that ‘there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner’ (Lk 15:10). The faithful also realize that ‘the Son of man will come in his glory with all his Angels’ (Mt 25:31) to judge the living and the dead, and bring history to a close.” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 214)
“God, who is absolutely perfect Spirit, is reflected especially in spiritual beings, which, by nature, that is by reason of their spirituality, are nearer to Him than material creatures, and which constitute as it were the closest ‘circle’ to the Creator. Sacred Scripture offers abundant, explicit evidence of this maximum closeness to God of the Angels, who are spoken of figuratively as the ‘throne’ of God, as His ‘legions’, His ‘heavens’. It has inspired the poetry that represent the angels to us as the ‘Court of God’.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 9, 1986)
“According to Revelation, the angels who participate in the life of the Trinity in the light of glory are also called to play their part in the history of the salvation of man, in the moments established by divine Providence. 'Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to possess salvation?', asks the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (1:14). This is believed and taught by the Church, on the basis of Sacred Scripture, from which we learn that the task of the good angels is the protection of people and solicitude for their salvation. We find these experiences in various passages of Sacred Scripture, like for example, Psalm 90 which has already been quoted several times: 'He will give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone' (Ps 90:11-12). Jesus Himself, speaking of children and warning against giving them scandal, refers to 'their angels' (Mt 18:10).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession (Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Pss 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12). … Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” (Cat. 336)
“By putting his angel beside us, the Lord intends to accompany every moment of our lives with his love and protection, so that we can fight the good fight of faith (cf. 1 Tm 6:12), and give fearless and unhesitating testimony of our loyalty to the One who died and rose for our redemption.” (St. John Paul II, Regina Caeli, March 31, 1997)
“St. Basil Great (†378) taught that ‘each and every member of the faithful has a Guardian Angel to protect, guard and guide them through life’ (St. BERNARD OF
CLAIRVAUX, Sermo XII in Psalmum "Qui habitat", 3: Sancti Bernardi Opera, IV, EditionesCistercienses,
Romae 1966, p. 459.). This ancient teaching was consolidated by biblical and patristic sources and lies behind many forms of piety. St. Bernard of Clarivaux (†1153) was a great master and a notable promoter of devotion to the Guardian Angels. For him, they were a proof ‘that heaven denies us nothing that assists us’, and hence, ‘these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us.” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 216)
“Jesus attributes to the angels the function of witnesses in the last divine judgement about the fate of those who have acknowledged or denied Christ: 'Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of man likewise will acknowledge him before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God' (Lk 12:8-9; cf. Rev 3:5). These words are significant because, if the angels take part in the judgement of God, then they are interested in the life of man. This interest and participation seem to be accentuated in the eschatological discourse, in which Jesus has the angels appear in the Parousia, that is, in the definitive coming of Christ at the end of history (cf. Mt 24:31; 25:31-41).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“Among the books of the New Testament, it is especially the Acts of the Apostles that show us some facts that bear witness to the solicitude of the angels for man and for his salvation. Thus the angel of God liberates the Apostles from the prison (cf. Acts 5:18-20) and first of all Peter, when he was threatened with death at the hands of Herod (cf. Acts 12:5-10). Or he guides the activity of Peter with regard to the centurion Cornelius, the first pagan to be converted (Acts 10:3-8, 11:1-12), and analogously the activity of the deacon Philip along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26-29).” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
“As in the vision of Jacob’s ladder---‘God’s messengers were going up and down on it’ (Genesis 28:12)---the angels are energetic and tireless messengers who connect heaven and earth. Between God and mankind there is not silence or lack of communication but a continual conversation, a ceaseless personal exchange. Men, to whom this communication is addressed, have to sharpen their spiritual ear to hear and understand this angelic language which prompts good words, holy sentiments, acts of mercy, charitable behaviour, and edifying relationships.” (Comp. Cat. p.188, Picture Commentary)
"... The angels cooperate in all our good works." (lat.: "Ad omnia bona nostri cooperantur angeli." St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3)." (Cat. 350)
“They are God's messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf. In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another - angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God.” (Benedict XVI, September 29, 2007)
“Let us invoke the Angels frequently, so that they may sustain us in our commitment to follow Jesus to the point of identifying with him.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, March 1, 2009)
THE FALLEN ANGELS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
27. How can it be that angels and men sinned?
“Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil (cf. St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio I, 1, 2: PL 32, 1221- 1223; St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 79, 1). He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it: ‘For almighty God..., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself’ (St. Augustine, Enchiridion II, 3: PL 40, 236).” (Cat. 311)
“They are united to God by the consummate love which flows from the beatific vision, face to face, of the most Holy Trinity.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 6, 1986)
Hence, they “fell” into sin and out of grace, permanently and forever.
“It is clear that if God ‘does not forgive’ the sin of the angels, this is because they remain in their sin, because they are eternally ‘in the chains’ of the choice that they made at the beginning, rejecting God, against the truth of the supreme and definitive Good that is God himself.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, August 13, 1986)
THE ANGELS IN THE CHURCH
43. What is the importance of the Angels in the Church?
“The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels (cf. Acts 5:18-20; 8:26-29; 10:3-8; 12:6-11; 27:23-25).” (Cat. 334)
“The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their ‘mysterious and powerful assistance’ venerates these heavenly spirits and has recourse to their prompt intercession.” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 215)
“Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:
- devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;
- an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God;
- serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels. . .” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 216)
48. What is the importance of a friendship of the angels for our life?
“It is precisely the religious encounter with the world of the purely spiritual being that becomes valuable as a revelation of man’s own being not only as body but also as spirit, and of his belonging to a design of salvation that is truly great and efficacious within a community of personal beings who serve the providential design of God for man and with man.” (St. John Paul II, Angel Catechesis, July 30, 1986)
- when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
- when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.” (DIRECTORY OF POPULAR PIETY, n. 217)
52. What can we know about St. Michael Archangel?
“We find him in Sacred Scripture above all in the Book of Daniel, in the Letter of the Apostle St Jude Thaddeus and in the Book of Revelation.
Two of this Archangel's roles become obvious in these texts. He defends the cause of God's oneness against the presumption of the dragon, the ‘ancient serpent’, as John calls it. However, the dragon does not only accuse God. The Book of Revelation also calls it ‘the accuser of our brethren..., who accuses them day and night before our God’ (12:10). Those who cast God aside do not make man great but divest him of his dignity. Man then becomes a failed product of evolution. Those who accuse God also accuse man. Faith in God defends man in all his frailty and short-comings: God's brightness shines on every individual. Michael's other role, according to Scripture, is that of protector of the People of God (cf. Dn 10:21; 12:1).” (Benedict XVI, Homily, September 29, 2007)