Angels are a very interesting topic of discussion. For me, I remember watching a television show called “Touched by an Angel.” In that TV series, which lasted for many years, there were these Angels who would travel around and help people who were in need. I think everyone has encountered an experience where an Angel probably stepped into our lives at one time or another, even if we did not realize it until after the fact. So, with that said, are there really angelic beings surrounding us? Spiritual beings who help God’s children here on earth? Well, the 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#328).” Not only can angels be found in the teaching of the ancient Church, but it can also be found in the pages of the Bible.
Both the Old and New Testaments speak of angels. For example, they appeared to Abraham before he visited Sodom, Jacob wrestled with one and also had a dream of many angels. There was an angel at the gates of the Garden of Eden. An angel named Gabriel at the Annunciation. There were angels who appeared at the tomb of Christ, those who appeared at the Ascension and those who appeared and ministered to Christ throughout Scripture.
So, what exactly is an angel? 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 ( St. Augustine, Sermon in Ps. 103, 1, 15).‘” The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines angels this way; “A spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan.” These spiritual beings are pure spirits and are the closest image and likeness of the Creator. Through his almighty power, God produced Angels out of nothing, just as he did with all of creatures.
So, when did Angels come along? Well, the Catechism states; “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…(CCC #332).” Many of the Church fathers believed it very probable that the Angels were created before the material world, and certainly before man. But, no matter when the Angels began, there was a time before, like all the other creatures, when they did not exist. They were created from the beginning of time, but not from all eternity.
We see through Sacred Scripture that Angels are able to communicate with each other (Zach 1:11), and they can talk to man. We see this every time they are sent by God as messengers into this world. “The fact that Angels possess a language of their own is beyond all doubt; the nature of that language, however, is little known to us. When the Angels appear to men, a human language is spoken by them, the one spoken by the addressee. The sound of human voice is produced, and human words are spoken when the Angelic apparition is a sensible one; only mental words, the conveying of ideas, are used in cases of imaginative or intellectual visions ( Fr. Pascale Parente, The Angels, pg.29).” St. John Damascene says this about Angels; “They need neither tongue nor ears but without the help of any spoken word they exchange with each other their thoughts and their counsels (De Fide Orth., II, 3).” The Angels, with the permission of God, can also assume the form of a human when appearing before men. They are also permitted to produce a human voice and speak with the human language.
In my next post, I will continue on the topic of Angels.
Until next time, God bless.