Who Are The Angels?

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Archangels (September 29) and Friday is the Feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2).  Because of the importance of the angels in God’s plan of salvation, their specific intercession for us and the rampant confusion in our day and time regarding them, my blog will offer a short study on the angels for the next couple of days. Each post will close with a suggestion or practical strategy for you to employ. May these posts be a source of clarity and inspiration for you.    

First, who are these heavenly beings, the angels? 

While the whole idea of angels has received much popular attention, a Christian understanding of the angel is rarely presented. Let’s define who angels are and who they are not.

First, angels are not dead people who have gone to heaven. Much contemporary literature and discussion on the angel advances the notion that when people die, they become angels. Nothing could be further from the truth. Angels are a separate and distinct creation of God. They are not made of flesh and blood, as is man, but rather they are pure spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 328). It is true, however, that when angels appear to men (and they do — read the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament for a good example) they take on a human form. And for good reason. Angels reflect the Divine Perfection. They are mirrors of God.

So radiant are the angels with the glory of God that should we look upon them with our naked eye we would surely die of love. Says St. Bridget: “They are all brightness and beauty, and their loveliness surpasses all the united charms of earth” (St. Michael and the Angels, TAN, 1983, pg. 12).

Secondly, angels are not ascended masters, avatars, or spirit guides. In much new age literature, the word “angel” and the terms “ascended master” and “avatars” are used interchangeably. The concept of an ascended master comes from Hinduism. An ascended master is a spirit who, after attaining enlightenment through several incarnations (lives on earth), now travels through the universe seeking to impart wisdom and knowledge to those of us still “imprisoned in matter.”  An ascended master is often called a “spirit guide” in the new age. The definition of an avatar is similar. An avatar is a Hindu diety who has come to earth in a bodily form or some other manifest shape. Basically, an avatar is thought to be the incarnation of a god.

These beliefs are rooted in three heresies — reincarnation,gnosticism, and polytheism. As a result of these erroneous concepts, many individuals seek to “contact” their guardian angels through occult methods including the use of psychics and seances. The angelic will not respond to these techniques and practices. But the demonic will.

 That is why these practices are forbidden by Sacred Scripture and the offficial teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 2115-2117). Demonic activity manifests itself in harrassment, oppression, obsession, possession, and infestation. And nothing good comes from it. 

Scripture very clearly points out, as does the teaching of the Roman Magisterium, that a “… war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him.

From the beginning of man’s history he has been tempted by the evil one and his demons (Genesis 3: 1-7) and so will he be until the end of time. Our own angel stands guard over us helping us to withstand the onslaught of the powers of darkness. This is why, though we are forbidden to interact with the demonic, Sacred Scripture and Holy Mother Church encourage us to pray to the holy angels to seek their intercession and their interaction in our lives.

To pray to our angel, we need not go into an altered state of consciousness, we need not go into a meditative trance, we need not go to a psychic nor attend a seance. We need simply to converse with him, asking for help and guidance, for his intercession and protection, entrusting our prayers to him that he might take them to the throne of God (Tobit 12:15).  

Today’s “Angelic” Strategy:

Meditate on the pureness, the holiness, and the sanctity of the angel. He reflects God’s holy attributes perfectly.

Invoke the Holy Spirit and ask God to show you how you can be a better reflection of God’s love in your daily life. To do so, identify one weakness, frailty, or sin God is asking you to work on right now. Ask your angel for his intercession and to prompt you when you are tempted to err in this way.

Copyright 2009, by Johnnette S. Benkovic. All rights reserved.

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