Today’s post continues our short study on the angels, a perfect week to consider these marvelous and holy creatures of God as we celebrate two feast days in their honor. We will be looking at their function and mission. I encourage you to read my earlier two posts on the angels if you haven’t done so already.
St. Thomas Aquinas, called the Angelic Doctor because of his theological and philosophical study of the angels, tells us that the hosts of heaven are divided into three hierarchies of angels with three choirs in each hierarchy. The angel’s hierarchy and choir are directly related to his function and his divine office.
The first hierarchy is closest to God and is composed of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones.
The Seraphim’s name means ardor” They are consumed with the thirst of Divine Love of which they are the constant reflection. It is their function to bear the light and love of God to the lesser choirs of angels. We can only imagine what it must be like to be utterly consumed by love of God. Utterly ablaze with the fire of Infinite Love! It is this holy office which is entrusted to the Seraphim.
The second choir of angels in the first hierarchy is the Cherubim. Their name signifies fullness of knowledge. They know the secrets of God and penetrate the divine mysteries. Because they are the created representation of God’s knowledge, they carry God’s wisdom to the lesser choirs.
The final angelic choir in the first hierarchy is the Thrones. They are the reflection of God’s peace which is imbued in them through their submission to the will of God. You may recall that Scripture tells us that God rests upon His Thrones. It is through the Thrones that God communicates His Spirit to the lesser angels and to men.
The Dominations, the Virtues, and the Powers are the choirs in the second hierarchy of angels.
This hierarchy’s primary responsibility is to manage human affairs. The Dominations execute the commands of God to all of the angelic orders. As a result, they have great authority in the angelic realm. They are zealous in maintaining God’s authority in heaven and earth and they bring to man knowledge of God’s will.
The choir of Virtues carries out the orders of the Dominations. They are strong and mighty in deflecting the attacks of the evil one toward the people of God. Through them God governs the seasons of the year, the visible heavens and the earthly elements in general (St. Michael and the Angels, pg. 23).
The Powers is the third choir of angels in the second hierarchy. They have the particular mission of fighting against the evil spirits and their wicked plans, especially as they relate to Holy Mother Church, dioceses, parishes and all of those working for the glory of God.
The third hierarchy of angels is composed of the Principalities, the Archangels, and the Angels.
These angels are charged to work in the visible world of men. The Principalities are the leaders of this hierarchy and their administration is executive in nature. They guard the nations of the earth and they announce divine things. In a sense, they are the “middle management” of the angelic world.
The more important missions of men are entrusted to the Archangels. Recall that the Archangel Gabriel (“Messenger of God”) announced to Mary that she had found favor with God. St. Michael the Archangel (“Strength of God”) has authority over Satan and his plans against man. And St. Raphael (“God’s Remedy”) is entrusted with healing and protection (see the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament). All important personages such as the Holy Father, cardinals, bishops, rulers of state, and others who have a special work to do for the glory of God on earth are given archangels as guardians.
The final choir is the choir of Angels. They are the ordinary messengers of God whom He sends to man, and it is from their ranks that our own guardian angels are chosen. They mirror in a particular way the benevolence and kindness of God toward each one of us. We all have a guardian angel — saint and sinner alike — and it is the function of our angel to pray for us, to guide us and lead us, and to help us attain eternal life in heaven with God. Our guardian angel’s greatest desire is to share his joy, his happiness, and his love and holiness with us. They are the reflection of God’s Divine Love in our lives.
Our guardian angel’s chief mission is to do spiritual warfare for us daily by leading us away from temptation, thwarting the plans of the evil one toward us, and removing occasions of sin. He does all of this because he knows the priceless value of our immortal soul. And, it is our guardian angel who personally takes our prayers before the throne of God.
Our guardian angel is one of God’s great gifts to us, and we should regularly thank our angel for his mediation in our life. St. Bernard writes:
“My brothers, make the holy angels your friends. Give them joy by having confidential recourse to them, and honor them by your prayers, for they are ever near, to comfort and protect you … Howsoever weak we may be, howsoever sad our condition, and howsoever great the dangers which surround us, beneath the protection of such guardians we have nothing to fear! Whenever afflictions or temptations frighten you, implore the aid of him who watches over you, who leads you, who succors you in all your necessities.”
Today’s ”Angelic” Strategy
In imitation of the first hierarchy of angels:
How can you better serve God by communicating His love?
Sharing knowledge of Him with others?
Being an instrument of peace in your family, workplace, school, or parish?
Copyright 2009, by Johnnette S. Benkovic. All rights reserved.