Saturday, June 4, 2016

Who and What are the Angels?


This is an extensive discussion on the topic of angels.  However before you dive in i want to share some conjectures.

The spirit body is physically real and has the equivalent of machine intelligence at least.  Better yet its information density is many orders of magnitude greater than that possible in our physical selves.  All this allows a given spirit to power billions of living cells at the same time preferential to a chosen pattern.  From this it becomes possible to understand: the Green Man, nature sylphs and multiple aspects operating multiple cats.  What is magical is a form of information conservation.

This then leads us back to angels.  They are spirits who are palpably human but also advanced.  This actually means that like all spirits they are derived from the source, whatever all that actually means, and have advanced sufficiently to become Angels.  The take home is that all human spiritual destiny may be to evolve into an angel over several lifetimes.

I bring this up because I have been informed that my next spiritual stage will be as an Earth angel providing guidance to a human clientele.  It would not have occurred to me otherwise, yet it also feels right. Thus advanced spirits or Angels continue in service and must not be considered as a separate being from humanity.  Angels are not Aliens.

The take home is that all of us need to learn to listen to their guardian angel and also learn to detect spirits working against your best interests with misinformation, or at least to be conscious of the potential.

Before we get too far, recall the story of fallen angels.  How human is that? And do know that Angels do come back as human beings at some personal risk.   I know that from direct knowledge.  So access to perfect knowledge is actually access to perfect machine knowledge and may be subtly flawed.  This suggests that the purpose of human existence in the third tier is to actually polish that machine knowledge.

One other comment.  The word GOD is culturally loaded and potentially misleading.  It is better to understand the community of spirits largely self guided to assist in the advance of humanity.  It appears to have a hierarchy whose leadership is accepted.  The blanket RULE is to ask the question ' is this good?'  That alone encompasses the concept of GOD.


Part 1:


"The Angels are spirits," says Saint Augustine, "but it is not because they are spirits that they are Angels. They become Angels when they are sent, for the name Angel refers to their office not to their nature. You ask the name of this nature, it is spirit; you ask its office, it is that of an Angel, [i.e., a messenger]. In as far as he exists, an Angel is a spirit; in as far as he acts, he is an Angel." [ Serm. in Ps. 103, I, 15] The word "angel," comes from a Greek word meaning "messenger." In the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the most frequently used name to designate the Angels is mal'akh, which means, messenger or legate.

This generic name "angel" does not reveal anything about the real nature of those celestial beings besides the fact that they are occasionally sent on a mission as messengers or legates of God to men. Because only on such occasions, and in such a quality, they make themselves visible to men, they have been given the name of messengers from the most common duty and office they fulfill towards God's children here on earth. "And to the Angels indeed he saith: 'He that maketh his Angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.' " [ Hebr. 1: 7. In this passage Saint Paul quotes verse 4 of Psalm 103, the same verse Saint Augustine commented on in the above quotation. ]

The office of being a messenger, an Angel, is neither the most important nor the most common among the duties of the celestial spirits in the court of Heaven; it alone does not offer enough ground for speculation on their true nature and operation.

Heaven is the true country of the good Angels: "Their Angels [of the little ones] in Heaven always see the face of My Father Who is in Heaven." [Matt. 18: 10] Even while engaged here on earth as guardians of the little children, they remain the blessed comprehensors, enjoying the vision of God, "the face of my Father." They are by grace the happy citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem from the beginning.

"Let us remember," writes Saint Bernard, "that the citizens of that country are spirits, mighty, glorious, blessed, distinct personalities, of graduated rank, occupying the order given them from the beginning, perfect of their kind . . . endowed with immortality, passionless, not so created, but so made-----that is, through grace, not by nature; being of pure mind, benignant affections, religious and devout; of unblemished morality; inseparably one in heart and mind, blessed with unbroken peace, God's edifice dedicated to the Divine praises and service. All this we ascertain by reading, and hold by faith." [De Consideratione, Lib. V, cap. 4.]

All this is really what we gather and ascertain by reading the sources, Scripture and Tradition, regarding the nature, character, and blessed condition of the Angels. All the qualities of the Angelic spirits listed here by Saint Bernard are most beautiful and they are theologically correct. It is Catholic doctrine [D. 428, 1783] that the Angels are pure spirits, incorporeal substances, free and independent from any material body, ethereal or otherwise.

THE CREATURES MOST LIKE GOD, the Angels, show forth best the goodness, the majesty, the glory of God; these are His most perfect images, and so the ones to be multiplied with Divine extravagance. Heaven and earth are indeed full of His glory. Because the Angels are bodiless creatures, pure spirits, it is too often concluded that they are supernatural beings; they are not, God is the only supernatural being. The Angels are natural beings, they belong in, and, indeed, dominate our world. They are creatures as natural as oaks, or sunsets, or birds, or men. To call them supernatural because they are not like ourselves is a part of that provincial pride by which a man puts human nature at the peak of the universe, primarily because he himself is a man.

To PRETEND THEY DO NOT EXIST because we do not see them is like pretending that we never sleep because we have never caught ourselves asleep. There would be much more sense in the Angels exiling us from the world of nature on the basis of a majority vote. We have no monopoly on nature; not even on free will and intellectual knowledge in nature; we have big brothers far outstripping our puny powers, yet nonetheless brothers, a part and parcel of the created world that is so truly ours.

SEEING OURSELVES from the plant or animal level, we can with reason marvel at the nobility of men; if the animals were capable of such things, they would see us as godlike creatures. Looking up at the Angels from our level, we promptly shrink to our proper proportions: of all the created world; we have the least, the most earthbound, the feeblest of all created intelligence and love. Lest that be too humiliating, we can reflect that somewhat the same is true of the Angels: seen from our level, they are creatures so wondrous as to make men doubt their very existence; but seen from the heights of God they are so inadequate an image of His splendor as to be insignificant in comparison with the Infinite.
Father O' Sullivan in his work, ALL ABOUT ANGELS, tells us: [We quote briefly so as to not violate copyright law.]

"The Angels are pure spirits, the mighty Princes of Heaven who stand before God, gazing on His unveiled presence. They are burning fires of love, filled to overflowing with the plenitude of happiness.

"The Angels are the perfect images of God, mirrors of His Divine perfections, reflecting His love, His beauty, His Holiness, His Power, all His Divine attributes and perfections, but each Angel in his own special way.

"No two Angels are alike, no two are equal. God's perfections are infinite, and the countless millions of Angels reflect these perfections in a divinely marvelous way. No two men, no two women, are identically alike, but the difference between them is relatively slight, whereas the difference between two Angels is vast, complete. Every Angel is specifically different from the other as one species differs from another. All the millions of men and women who people the world, all those who have ever lived or ever will live are of one and the same species, but each Angel is a species all in himself .

"The Angels are unspeakably lovely, they have no shadow of imperfection, no defects. Nothing on this earth can possibly give us an idea of their resplendent glory. No painter, no poet, no artist ever conceived anything like them. They are living replicas of God's beauty.

"Fra Angelico's pictures of the Angels excel those of any other artist so that Michelangelo exclaimed on seeing them: "Angelico must have seen these Angels in Heaven; otherwise, he could never have painted them as he has done." But even Angelico's pictures do not give us the faintest idea of the real Angels.

"St. Bridget, who was favored by God with heavenly visions, tells us that were we to see an Angel in all his beauty, we should be so ravished with delight at the sight of him that we should die of love.

"St. Frances of Rome was favored by the constant vision of her Angel. She says that were an Angel to appear in all his splendor, the light of the sun and moon and stars would become dim in comparison.

"After Our Lord's Resurrection, we read how an Angel descended from Heaven and rolled back the stone that had closed the holy sepulchre. The Sacred Scriptures say that the countenance of the Angel was like lightning and his raiment white as snow. His appearance was so full of majesty that the soldiers whom Christ's enemies had placed to guard the tomb were terrified and dared not to look on him, but fell to the ground as if dead.

"When, therefore, the Angels appear to men, they take a human form so as not to over-awe or confound those who look on them.

"What must be the ravishing beauty of the Heavenly Jerusalem, where these countless millions of glorious Angels are not only resplendently beautiful but all differ from each other so that the perfections of one are completely different from those of the other.

"The Angels reflect God's goodness and sweetness no less wonderfully. They reflect all His Divine virtues and perfections, they enjoy the vision of God's infinite love, and they love Him back with all the mighty strength and intensity of their natures.

"Their happiness is perfect, for they receive of the ocean of God's happiness in a way that no human mind can fathom. The happiness that an Angel enjoys in one moment is so deep, complete and all-satisfying that it exceeds all the happiness that a mortal man could enjoy in a thousand years."

Part 2:


PURE spirits, the closest image and likeness of the Creator, were the effect of a Divine act of creation. A spirit world was produced, at once, in its fullness and in its grandeur. When, at the word of the Almighty, light's first rays lit up the primeval, shapeless world, still "wrapped in a mist as in swaddling clothes," a wondrous song, a joyful melody filled the new heavens with never-ending strains. The Lord recalls these primordial times when He asks: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars praised Me together, and all the sons of God made joyful melody." [Job 38: 4, 7] These "sons of God," living witnesses of the creation of the material universe, were our Angels, the morning stars of creation.

It is an article of faith, firmly established in Scripture and Tradition, and clearly expressed in Christian Doctrine from the beginning, that this spirit world, our Angels, began with time and was created by God. This traditional belief of both the Old and the New Testament was given a more formal and solemn expression in the fourth Lateran Council in 1215: [God] "by his almighty power created together in the beginning of time both creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, namely the Angelic and the earthly, and afterwards the human, as it were an intermediate creature, composed of body and spirit." [D. 428. A similar definition was given in the Vatican Council in 1869, D. 1782, 1801.]

From this definition we learn that the Angelic spirits were created when time began and not from eternity. Like all other creatures they were produced by the almighty power of God, out of nothing. It would be heretical to affirm that the Angels are an emanation of the Divine substance. [Vatican Council [I], D. 1804] Spiritual substances do not divide or split or multiply in any form whatever, nor change one into another; their individual existence can only be explained by creation.

The creation of the Angels is implicitly affirmed in all those passages of Sacred Scripture in which it is stated that all things were made by God; explicitly and formally their creation is mentioned by Saint Paul in one of those incomplete enumerations of the Angelic orders: "In Him [the Son of God, the Logos] were all things created in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers: all things were created by Him and in Him." [Col. 1: 16]

Creation itself is a revealed truth, not so the exact time when the Angels were created. Nothing definite can be determined on this point from Sacred Scripture. Neither Jewish nor Christian Tradition agrees on the time when the spirit world, our Angels, came into existence. With many of the Fathers of the Church we believe as very probable that the Angels were created long before the material world. They were certainly created before man, because we find them already distinguished as good Angels and fallen Angels on man's first appearance on earth. [Gen. 3: 1ff.; 3: 24]

This circumstance would seem to imply that a long time had elapsed from the time of their creation. It does not seem probable that God, Who created this world for His Own glory, would have no created intelligences to witness the awe-inspiring act of its making. The passage from Job quoted above seems to prove that such witnesses did exist. They saw the marvelous manifestations of the Divine Wisdom, Power, and Goodness and praised the Lord, filling the heavens with "joyful melody." Man himself was not there at the beginning of creation to give glory to God; some created "intelligence must have been present. The Angels were the first splendors created to reflect the glory of the Eternal. The first creative act must have produced a creature to the image and similitude of God, a creature able to understand, love, thank, and praise God. When the whole material world had been created, the Lord formed another similar creature, "a little less than the Angels," consisting of body and spirit, able to know, love, and serve Him on earth as the Angels do in Heaven. We like to imagine the creation of the material universe placed between the creations of two orders of rational beings. One, heavenly, purely spiritual: the Angels; one, earthly, partly material, partly spiritual: Man.

Saint Thomas, with some of the Fathers of the Church, regards as more probable the opinion maintaining that the Angels were created together with the material universe because they are part of that universe. He does not regard as erroneous the opinion of those who hold that they were created before the visible world. [ Summa Theologica, Pars I, Q. 61, art. 3] The peculiar astronomical notions common in his day attributed to the Angels many duties that pertained to the physical government of the world, and thus they appeared more as a necessary part of the visible world than they actually are.

Another reason for that opinion is the authority of some of the Fathers who saw the creation of the Angels in the words of Genesis, chapter 1: 1, more exactly in the creation of Heaven: "In the beginning God created Heaven and earth." Thus, for example, Saint Epiphanius: "The word of God clearly declares that the Angels were neither created after the stars nor before Heaven and earth. It must be regarded as certain and unshakable the opinion that says: None of the created things did exist before Heaven and earth, because 'in the beginning God created Heaven and earth' so that this was the beginning of all creation, before which none of the created things existed." [Adversus Haereses, Panar., 65, 5] Origen, however, is more careful with his opinion: "This also is part of the doctrine of the Church, that there are certain Angels of God and certain good Powers, which are His servants in accomplishing the salvation of men. When these, however, were created, or of what nature they are, or how they exist, is not clearly stated." [De PrinciPiis, Preface, 10] He does not read in the words of Genesis what is not written there . . .

The wording of the definition by the Lateran Council, reported before, which seems to be opposed to the opinion of priority of creation of the Angels, creates no difficulty whatever. It is said there that God "created together [simul] in the beginning of time both creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, namely the Angelic and the earthly." It is commonly admitted that the word "together" in this case has not the meaning of parity of time or simultaneousness, but parity of action. The expression was taken from Scripture where it is said: "He that liveth forever created all things together," [Ecclus. 18: 1] meaning not that all things were created at the same time, but that all things were likewise created with no indication of time. Saint Thomas points out that this definition of the Lateran Council was aimed at a Manichaean heresy of emanation. It did not bear on the time of creation of the Angels but on the fact that they were produced by the act of creation, just like the corporeal, earthly creatures.

Both the existence and the creation of the Angels are dogmas of faith presenting one of the most inspiring and consoling aspects of our Religion. As the first creatures of this universe, the Angels were the first revelation of the Supreme Goodness of God and of His transcendent Beauty. Even though part of the universe, the Angels really constitute a world to themselves, the spirit world, so exalted and so different from our visible, material world.

When God created the first life in this world He bade it to multiply upon the earth. The Lord blessed the first human couple He had created, saying: "Increase and multiply and fill the earth. [Gen. 1: 28] It took mankind thousands of years to discover and fill most of the earth. Not so with the spirit world. There are no more Angels today than when they were first created at the beginning of time. They filled the heavens from the start, and their number was complete from the beginning. Their spiritual nature, just like our human soul, cannot be produced except by the Divine act of creation, with the difference that the human soul is created only in the course of time, when it is needed to inform a human body at the time of generation. Except for the apostasy and desertion of the fallen Angels, the Angelic family has remained the same from the time it was called into being by the loving Father of all.

No matter when the Angels began, there was a time in that endless eternity when the Angels, like all the other creatures, did not exist. The Eternal Wisdom, the Word of God, refers to such an epoch in the timeless existence of God, where It says: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. [Prov. 8: 22] Therefore, they were not created from all eternity but in the beginning of time.

Part 3: Section 1


1. The Angels are pure spirits.

They can, however, take a visible form.

The Angels are pure spirits without bodies, whereas men have both body and spirit. Yet the Angels can take to themselves a bodily form, as did St. Raphael [Tob. 5: 18], when he undertook to accompany the young Tobias on his journey. At the sepulchre of Our Lord, after the Resurrection, the Angels appeared in the form of young men, and the same was the case after Our Lord's Ascension [Mark 16:5; Acts 1:10].

The nature of the Angels is nobler than that of man; they have greater knowledge and greater power.

The Angels excel man in their knowledge, but even they do not know when the Day of Judgment will come [Matt. 24:36]. So also is their power. An Angel destroyed the first-born of Egypt. Another caused the death of one hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers of the King of Assyria, who had blasphemed God [Is. 37:36]. An Angel protected the three young men in the fiery furnace at Babylon [Dan. 3:49].

God created the Angels for His Own glory and service, as well as for their own happiness.

Among all the creatures that God has made, the Angels resemble Him the most, and therefore the Divine perfections shine forth the most brightly from them. They also glorify God by singing ceaselessly hymns of praise to Him in Heaven. The Angels also serve God. The word Angel signifies messenger. "Are they not all ministering spirits," says St. Paul, "sent forth to minister to them that shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" [Heb. 1:14] Even the bad Angels promote the glory of God, for God turns their attacks on us to His glory and our profit. Goethe rightly describes Satan as "a power that always wills evil, and effects good."

The number of the Angels is immeasurably great.

Daniel, in describing the throne of God says: "A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened." [7:10] Holy Scripture calls them the the heavenly host. In the Garden of Olives Our Lord said that if He were to ask the Father, He would presently send Him twelve legions of Angels [Matt. 26:53]. The number of Angels is greater than that of all men who have ever lived or will ever live.

The Angels are not all equal; there are nine choirs or ranks among them.

The rank is determined by the amount of gifts that God has bestowed on them, and according to the office assigned them. Nearest to the throne of God are the Seraphim, who burn more than the rest with the love of God; next to them are the Cherubim, who are distinguished by the vastness of their knowledge. We also read in Scripture of Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers and three Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. There is also a corresponding division among the fallen Angels.

The power and beauty of the good Angels is so ravishing, that St. Bridget says the appearance of one alone of them to mortal man would occasion immediate death. Father O'Sullivan tells that their their sanctity is beyond that of all the Saints, because they are filled with the "Divine unction", having never been stained by sin, so that their charity is "exceedingly great". According to St. John, they have the essence of the Godhood more than all other creatures. Thus, while we acknowledge their greatness, let us bless the hand of Him Who made them, by saying:

and   Offering to the Holy Angels

O ALL ye holy Angels! who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated Beauty of the Divinity, in company with thy ever glorious Queen-----I, thy unworthy servant, present and offer to thee all the practices of this Month of October, consecrated to thy glory, not only as a means of obtaining [here specify your request], but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men. Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits! in union with the love and devotion of such Saints as were specially devout to thee and obtain for me to spend this time so fervently, that it may be the commencement of that angelic life which I hope to live for ever with thee in Heaven. Amen.

A Memorare to the Angels

REMEMBER, O holy Angels! that Jesus, the eternal Truth, assures us that thou doth "rejoice more at the conversion of one sinner, than at the perseverance of many just." Encouraged thereby, I, the most unWorthy of creatures, humbly entreat thee to receive me as thy servant, and make me unto thee a cause of true joy. Do not, O blessed Spirits! reject my petition, but graciously hear and grant it. Amen.

Part 4:

The Nature of the Angels

They were created in time, not from eternity; though any attempt to prove this statement is foredoomed to failure. This is one of those truths that are not material for proof but for belief; obviously, if the temporal beginning of the universe cannot be proved, the existence of any one thing in it cannot be dated with the stamp of eternity or time. Proceeding on faith's solid assurance of the temporal beginning of Angelic life, theologians have no hesitation about plunging into the question of the relative time of the production of the Angels: were they produced before, after, or simultaneously with the physical world? Again, reason cannot get very far. From the language of the definitions of the Church, and because they are such an integral part of the natural universe, St. Thomas concludes that the Angels were created together with the physical world. Here reason is left entirely to itself; walking alone in this territory, it rapidly loses its swagger, its voice sinks to the whisper of an opinion and, while the darkness endures, humility is no effort. Thomas' opinion is reasonable where decision is impossible; though he stands opposed to the Greek Fathers, he is not alone, for his opinion is the quite natural universal opinion of the Latin Fathers.Their simplicity Those superior intellectual substances which we call Angels do exist. What are they like? The picture that reason draws of them is necessarily negative. At least it is clear that they are not bulky giants whose great strength makes men look anemic. There can be no question of bulk in an Angel for there is nothing material in an Angel. Moreover the possibility of ever dissecting an Angel is precluded by the fact that they are without matter: there is no inside and outside, top and bottom, fore and aft, arms and legs to an Angel. This spiritual being, precisely because it is spiritual, is completely simple, utterly devoid of parts. In fact, an Angel has not even that essential composition of matter and form so universal in all of nature beneath the Angelic order; and this is no more than to insist again that these beings are spiritual, completely spiritual, altogether independent of the material. True, this conception comes hard to us because our minds are necessarily entangled in the material; as much as we agree that the Angels are spiritual substances, subsisting forms, the flavor of matter haunts our consideration of the Angels like a disembodied memory of a vague perfume. It is somewhat of a help to remember that the Angel's normal existence is like that of the soul of a man after death and before the resurrection of the body; though, of course, the human soul has a lonely incompleteness about it in this state which is altogether absent from the full life of the Angels. Their incorruptibility There is nothing in an Angel that might fall out, come loose, or be cut off. An Angel is totally incorruptible. Being completely simple, it cannot break up into parts; nothing of its nature can be lost for there is nothing composite about that nature. In simple terms, the Angel does not go through that dress rehearsal for death which we call a change; above all it does not have to play the leading role in the drama of death. Thomas, rightly, says that every change is a kind of death; for in every change some thing is lost, even though something is also gained. Corruption, as we understand it, is the result of the separation of the principle of unity and life from the matter it unifies and vivifies. Obviously this implies at least the fundamental complexity of form, or unifying principle, and of matter. Looking at it in the concrete, we can destroy a fresco by scraping it off the wall or by tearing down the wall it beautifies; that is, either by destroying the thing itself or that upon which it depends. There is no chink in the armor of the angels into which we might plunge the lance of destruction. The Angel cannot be taken apart or erased; it cannot be destroyed by destroying that on which it depends, for it depends on nothing but God. God could, of course, destroy an Angel; not by a blow of an almighty fist or the roar of a thundering fiat, but by the simple recall of the loaned existence the angel enjoys. In common with every other creature, the Angel is not self-sufficient, its nature is not its existence; it lives by a borrowed, a participated existence. It too continues in being only because of the sustaining hand of God; there is no positive action necessary on the part of God to annihilate an Angel, merely the withdrawal of that conserving hand without which an Angel, and indeed a universe, falls into the nothingness from which it sprang. They are agile and are often represented with wings to denote their swiftness. They can pass from place to place in the twinkling of an eye, without any intervening lapse of time. Their power and strength also are inconceivable. To sum up all their wonderful qualities, these bright spirits may be called pure and lustrous mirrors reflecting the infinite perfections of God. The saintly Father Olier says that the Angels taken all together represent the Immensity of God by their unlimited number and variety, whilst each choir and each Angel in particular mirrors one of the divine attributes, such as God's love, His goodness, His strength, etc. Each Angel by the very fact of his creation and existence, must first adore, honor and love a particular Divine perfection; at the same time he is predestined to communicate to us something of that special character and grace with which he is endowed. "No two Angels are alike; no two are equal. God's perfections are But what is of paramount importance to us is that the holy angels seek in every possible way to share with us the immense ocean of love and happiness which they themselves enjoy. Their generosity knows no bounds. We have only to ask for their assistance and favors. Speaking of their ministry towards men, the Catechism declares, "To angels is committed by the Providence of God the office of guarding the human race and of protecting men from any serious harm." And Holy Writ confirms this statement: "He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." [Ps. 40: 12] Unfortunately, far from corresponding with their efforts for our welfare we constantly impede them by our sins and imperfections. Were we to know them better and love them more, and were we more docile to their constant inspirations, our happiness would be unspeakably great. It may be said that the angels are passionate lovers of men. They never cease to do us good, neglecting nothing to secure for us the inheritance of glory which has been purchased for us by the Precious Blood of Jesus. It is indeed an indescribable joy for them when they are certain that the merits of the redemption through the Divine Blood of Christ will not be lost on the souls committed to their care. As messengers of God and executors of His orders, the Angels exercise a great empire over our souls and bodies and over the material world. Concerning the power of the Angels over the world, the Catechism of Perseverance teaches that "there are Angels who impart motion to it. Material creatures inert of their own nature, are set in motion by spiritual creatures, as our bodies are by our souls. Such is the strength of the Angels that one of them is sufficient to put the whole planetary system in motion and to carry the most enormous bodies wherever it desires with a rapidity that baffles all calculation." According to St. Augustine, there are Angels who preside over every visible thing and over each different species of creatures in the world, whether animate or inanimate. If God were to open our eyes and show us the Angels under sensible forms, what wonders we should discover! Let us consider that all the comfort and benefit we derive from earth, air, water and fire, from the heavens from animals-----in fact from every creature, comes to us through the agency of the holy Angels, who are God's faithful ministers. St. Thomas incidentally gives us another proof of Angelic strength. He teaches that each great star, planet and sun, every heavenly body, even the greatest, has its own Guardian angel to keep it in its course and to prevent any possible aberration. What prodigious energy and power does not such control demand! It is true that the stars and heavenly bodies by the natural direction given them by God pursue their several courses; but these great worlds are material and, therefore, as the Angelic Doctor points out, are liable to decay and deterioration. To prevent disorder and confusion in the thousands of heavenly bodies whirling through space with inexpressible speed, God gives each one, in His all-wise Providence, an Angel to keep it in its course and avert the dire calamities that would result were it to stray from .its allotted orbit. Few people think on this when on beautiful, starlit nights they gaze on the heavens and the myriads of stars. "The starry world," writes Father Faber, "is an overwhelming thing to think of . . . Mary's Son is the King of stars." How fitting it would be to salute the countless angels who guard these stars and who look down upon us with love and tenderness. "Whenever we look abroad, we are reminded of those most gracious and holy Beings, the servants of the Holiest, who deign to minister to the heirs of salvation. Every breath of air and ray of light and heat, every beautiful prospect are, as it were the skirts of their garments, the waving of the robes of those whose faces see God in Heaven." [Card. Newman] But the special object of the Angels' care is the human race which they are appointed to guard. In the opinion of St. Clement, St. Gregory the Great, Origen and other holy writers, every country, every city, town and village, and even every parish and family has a special Guardian angel. Believing this firmly, St. Francis Xavier invoked the Guardian angel of every country and city in which he preached the Holy Gospel, and when he left one place to preach elsewhere, he never failed to commend to the protection of the holy Angels the new congregation he had won to the Faith. So, too, altars, churches, dioceses and religious institutions have their own Guardian angels. Every church has special Angels to guard it from desecration and every altar has thousands of Angels to adore the God of heaven and earth concealed in the Most Blessed Sacrament. According to the testimony of the learned historian, Baronius, Angels protected the churches of Constantinople and the palace of the Emperor against the attacks of the Arians. The same historian relates that when the Saxons entered a church dedicated to St. Boniface, they were repelled by two Angel-warriors, who appeared in wondrous beauty and strength. Blessed Peter Faber, a renowned missionary of the Society of Jesus and the companion of St. Ignatius, its founder, brought many souls to God by his work of evangelization in Germany. While traveling through the diocese of his birth, he received innumerable consolations from the Guardian angels of several parishes. On repeated occasions he received most sensible proofs of their protection. Sometimes these holy Angels preserved him from the fury of heretics; at other times they rendered souls more mild and tractable to receive from him the doctrine of salvation. Lastly they guard each one of us. "Every man has a Guardian angel appointed to enlighten, defend and guide him during the whole course of his mortal life. This consoling truth is, next after dogmas expressly defined, one of the best founded in Scripture and Tradition." Even pagans seemed to have retained something of the original Tradition on that subject and one of the earliest Greek poems contains this remarkable passage: Upon the thickly-peopled earth,
In ever ceaseless flow,
Full thrice ten thousand deathless beings
Pass lightly to and fro.
Keepers, unseen, of mortal men,
In airy vesture dight,
Their good and evil deeds they scan,
Stern champions of the right.

Suffice it to say with Father Faber, that "all these marvels of the broad world of Angels belong to the empire of the Precious Blood. There is not a corner of God's creation, which is not more or less benefited by the Precious Blood." Let us then never cease to thank the Divine Blood with our whole hearts for all It means to Angels and men.

Part 5

Bodiless Spirits; The Consequences of the Angelic Nature

THE CREATURES MOST LIKE GOD, the Angels, show forth best the goodness, the majesty, the glory of God; these are His most perfect images, and so the ones to be multiplied with Divine extravagance. Heaven and earth are indeed full of His glory. Because the Angels are bodiless creatures, pure spirits, it is too often concluded that they are supernatural beings; they are not, God is the only Supernatural Being. The Angels are natural beings, they belong in, and, indeed, dominate our world. They are creatures as natural as oaks, or sunsets, or birds, or men.

To PRETEND THEY DO NOT EXIST because we do not see them is like pretending that we never sleep because we have never caught ourselves asleep. There would be much more sense in the Angels exiling us from the world of nature on the basis of a majority vote. We have no monopoly on nature; not even on free will and intellectual knowledge in nature; we have big brothers far outstripping our puny powers, yet nonetheless brothers, a part and parcel of the created world that is so truly ours.

SEEING OURSELVES from the plant or animal level, we can with reason marvel at the nobility of men; if the animals were capable of such things, they would see us as godlike creatures. Looking up at the Angels from our level, we promptly shrink to our proper proportions: of all the created world, we have the least, the most earthbound, the feeblest of all created intelligence and love. Lest that be too humiliating, we can reflect that somewhat the same is true of the Angels: seen from our level, they are creatures so wondrous as to make men doubt their very existence; but seen from the heights of God they are so inadequate an image of His splendor as to be insignificant in comparison with the Infinite.  

IT WAS NO TRICK to fill the Heavens with a Heavenly host on the first christmas night. The stars that sparkle on the body of night are a mere handful of jewels compared to the numbers of the Angels. The prophet Daniel gives only a hint of their number when he says: "Thousands and thousands ministered to Him, and tenthousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him." Dionysius humbly confesses: "There are many blessed armies of the Heavenly intelligences, surpassing the weak and limited reckoning of our material numbers." All the men in the world at any time are a handful, a scattered gathering easily lost sight of in the myriads of pure spirits who most perfectly image the Creator of both men and Angels.  

VARIETY IS DEAR TO US, as it should be for it is dear to God. We appreciate changing seasons, the differences of trees, flowers, animals; and we are particularly grateful that all men and women do not look exactly alike. We like change and differences, not because we are fickle, or just for the sake of change, but because no one moment, no one climate, no one expression of beauty or goodness exhausts the possibilities of reflection of the Divine perfection. There are so many pleasing combinations of human creatures, so many pleasing patterns of human virtue, so many pleasing colors, sights, sounds; such inexhaustible aspects of truth, so many alluring insights into goodness. The variety of the world is at one and the same time a declaration of the imperfection of created things, each one giving us only so much, and of the extravagant generosity of God.  

AS IN NUMBERS, so in variety, the Angelic world is a splendor that dims the variety of the physical world into a plainness approaching homely monotony. There are no Angelic families or races; each individual Angel stands apart from all others more distinctly different than an elephant from a fly. The pleasant individual differences we notice from man to man and woman to woman are as far from the differences between the Angels as a ripple on a pond is from the towering power and smashing violence of a stormy sea. At each encounter in the Heavenly courts, the Angels see differences greater than those which distinguish a rose from a woman. Multiply this by the countless numbers of the Angels; the Heavenly choirs are a luminous image of Divinity's perfections, stupendous in its beauty, staggering in its wide variety. Yet all this is no more than a foggy outline of the beauty of God.

ONCE CREATED, the Angels live forever, depending, as we do, on the steady support of the hand of God but on nothing else. All the things that pertain to us because we have bodies have no place in the Angelic world: growth, nourishment, sickness, pain, the decline of old age, and ultimately death. They are so much more like God than we are that their whole being reflects something of the Divine eternity, immortality, independence. Angels are neither old nor young, sick or healthy, men or women, infants or ancients, tall or short, fat or thin; they are the bright flames of life, unflickering, unfading, indestructible, flames that are fed by nothing but God.  

THE PRINCELY DIGNITY of Gabriel standing before our Lady, the easy competence of Raphael protecting the young Tobias, the majesty of Michael with his flaming sword guarding the gates of a lost paradise gives us some little vision of the nobility of the Angels. We are in danger of blinding ourselves to that vision if we forget that these were Angels stooping to our limitations, bowing to our penchant for thinking in pictures; thoughtful Angels who delight us as a mother delights her infant by imitating its gurgling and chuckling. This is not a mother's normal speech; nor is this the the Angel's normal appearance.  

ANGELS WERE NOT MADE TO GIVE LIFE to bodies as were our human souls. The bodies in which they have appeared from time to time among us were the appearances of bodies taken on for our comfort; not real, but apparent that we might the more easily accept the Angel, his message, his companionship. None of the things that are proper to living bodies could be accomplished by these apparent bodies the Angels: they could not digest a meal, beget children, become tired, or wake refreshed from sleep. For us to lose our body is the tragic thing called death; the body belongs to our integrity, without it we are not men and women but disembodied souls we are only half ourselves. It is hard for us not to feel a little sorry for the Angels' lack of bodies, forgetting that if the impossible thing happened and an Angel had a real body, it would not be benefited but be debased by that fact. Its completely spiritual nature in its independence and power has no need of a body. It can get far more done than any strong man, indeed than any material force. It is free from the barriers that the physical inevitably imposes on our knowledge and our love: free from the sluggishness, fatigue and distraction that makes our lifetime harvest of truth so skimpy; free from the frustration inherent in all our loving gestures of union, of all the feeble faith that supports our love, of all the helplessness that is our love's bitterest fruit.

NOT EVEN A CHILD is puzzled about how an Angel gets its clothes on over such huge wings; for it is clear to everyone that the wings we give to Angels are a symbol and nothing more. The swift flight of a bird contrasted with the trudging step of a man is a fitting symbol of smooth, untrammeled, rapid movement, and so a centuries-old expression of the celerity of Angelic passage. In our own times, we might appeal to the soundless swoop of a diving jet plane to help our stumbling minds to follow the flight of an Angel; we would come closer to reality by following with a flick of the eye the almost instantaneous thrust of lightning. We have the most accurate measurement of that Angelic progress in the time it takes our own minds to jump from city to city, across oceans, over five, ten, or fifty years; for it is thus that an Angel moves.

IN OUR THINKING about the Angels, we must draw much more on our knowledge of God than on our knowledge of men, for the angels are finite pure spirits modeled on the infinite Pure Spirit. We do not locate God by surrounding Him, He is not contained within the easily discerned outlines of a body, a town, a country; He is where He works, and so is everywhere, for nothing can continue to be unless it is supported by His omnipotence. Nor can we locate an Angel by surrounding it; it, too, is a pure spirit. To ask where an Angel is means to ask where it is working; only thus is an Angel in place. Obviously no place can be too small for an Angel, no place too big, no place too distant; for with the Angels, it is not a question of squeezing a body into uncomfortable quarters, of spreading its arms wide to cover more territory, or of easing it out of a town quietly. No Angel is everywhere, for no Angel is God, no Angel is omnipotent; but neither is an Angel human, to be circumscribed by the length of its arms or the horizons of eyes. It is pure spirit, to be limited in place only by the degree of the power and perfection proper to the nature given lit by God.  

THERE IS A FASCINATION for us in thinking of the Angels, a fascination that springs from the fact that a healthy mind welcomes nourishing truth as enthusiastically as a healthy stomach welcomes a hearty meal; with the difference that there is no such thing as a stuffed mind. The more of truth we learn the hungrier we get, though the happier and more satisfied we are. These Angelic big brothers of ours have much for our learning: much of God, whose closest image they are; and much of ourselves, to deflate our pride and stimulate our humility as we learn from them how dim a light marks out our path and how wavering a heart Supports our love. But to learn any of the lessons there to be learned, we must remember that Angels are not God, neither are they men.  

GOD KNOWS HIMSELF PERFECTLY, and knowing Himself knows all else. We never do know ourselves directly, we learn of ourselves, like any outsider, from the things we do; and our conclusions usually contain a good margin of flattering error. The. Angels, like God, do know themselves directly; like us, they know nothing else from knowing themselves for, like us, they are not the source of creatures but part of the family of creation. Divinity is the Creditor of the Angels as of us; from the infinite intellect which God is, they too borrow a limited intelligence and hold it on the terms of God. Though the amount of their loan is so very much greater, it is as true of Angels as of us that they have limited intellects, they are not intelligence itself. We walk through our days with the impact of the world beating on our senses like a pelting rain. From this downpour, properly filtered, we quench our mind's thirst though it is dangerous business; for the same flood furnishes us with all the risks of deception from the wandering phantasms that take over so completely in the dreamers or the insane. God and the Angels live their eternal lives in perpetually sunny weather, with never a drop of this rain falling into their world. As Gregory has it: "Man senses with the brutes, and understands with the Angels."  

WE ARE VAGRANT PROSPECTORS searching the world for effortless strikes that will give nuggets of truth, but actually subsisting on the flakes and dust that make up our usual find. We spend our lives in laborious attempts at a piecemeal assembly of the pattern of truth from the shattered fragments that fill the world about us. Men search the earth for their knowledge, for we are close to the earth; for the source of the Angels' knowledge we must look not to earth but to God, for Angels are close to God. As creatures less than the Angels sprang from the mind of God into the physical world, from that same Divine source, they sprang into the knowledge of the Angels.

THE ANGELS' KNOWLEDGE, THEN, IS ALL that ours is not: accurate, complete, absolutely firsthand, coming to them directly from First Truth itself. All this, not byway of a special gift but by natural right; by the very fact of their purely spiritual nature, their proper way of knowing is by ideas infused into their minds by God. As the years roll by, We may become learned, or even wise; but our knowledge and wisdom are the products of the years and of our labors with many a weed harvested along with the good grain of truth. The Angel has all his knowledge in the first instant of his life; whenever, through all his ageless career, an angel uses anyone of those infused ideas there is no laborious thinking involved. The thought of an Angel, swifter than light, deeper than a sword thrust to the heart, an intuitive plunging to the very depths of truth, leaves no room for doubts, for error, for indecision.  

WE, WHO ACHIEVE OUR LITTLE WISDOM so painfully, are decidedly interested parties in any discussion of the mind of the Angels. They are our only intellectual relatives in the whole of creation, relatives who have millions to match our intellectual pennies, and there is no possible threat to their great wealth. Moreover, we do not stand afar off in poverty's frustration at the walls of snobbery or the great distances of social strata; these intellectual brothers of ours slip in and out of our days with an ease and intimacy unknown to the most loved members of our immediate family. We should know more about them; and, almost instinctively, we want to know more about them not only because they can do so much for or against us but also because they are all so very close to us and to our living.  

SOME OF THEM ARE FRIENDLY with that staunch friendship that endures, even heightens, throughout our weaknesses, our failures, our pettiness, our positive malice; so friendly as to be on guard for us twenty-four hours in the day. It is good to know the powers of such friends, good for our courage, for our hopes, for our loneliness, for our self-respect. Other Angels are relentlessly hostile, fired with a hate we did nothing to generate and which we can not dissipate by apology or appeasement. They will stop at nothing less than our total destruction, and even that will not satisfy but rather intensify their hate. In sheer self-defense, we cannot disregard the information possessed by such an enemy.  

WE MAY BE ONLY MILDLY INTERESTED in the fact that an Angel knows itself immediately and perfectly, that, seeing itself as the Divine image, it knows God, and that it has complete and intimate knowledge of other Angels; though by this we miss all the implications for our own humility, the substantiation of our dreams, and the inherent frustration of our love's desire to know all. But we must come up sharply alert at the Angels' knowledge of this physical world of ours. In that regard, they approach closest of all creation to the instant, omniscient comprehension of God. They know the details of the physical world, not through the often murky filter of sense and imagination but directly, without possibility of incompleteness or distortion. They know the world, all of it, not in the blurred fashion of a dilettante's surface expertness, nor in the vague general way of a mind that is just too tired to keep its hold on details, but sharply, concretely, with firm mastery. They know, in other words, more about all the things we have so laboriously studied through the centuries, and know them better than we ever will however more centuries are at the service of the labors of the minds of men.  

ABOUT OURSELVES, THE ANGELS KNOW ALL there is to be known from the post of an observer who needs no relief, misses nothing, forgets nothing. Beyond that, the Angels, all of them, easily penetrate into the regions of our imagination and memory, areas about which the human observer can only guess; which means that our daydreams are not purely private affairs, they are shared by the whole of the Angelic world, our sentimental journeys into the dear days of long ago are never solitary trips. We are not nearly so much alone as we imagine, .whatever the hour or the place. In relation to the friendly Angels, this is to our infinite comfort, and often enough to our acute embarrassment; while it brings home clearly our weak defenses against the hostile horde of devils, the help we unwittingly and constantly give to our bitter enemies, and our own desperate need for help from powers on a par with these enemies who so completely outmatch us.  

THE ANGELS CAN INTRODUCE PICTURES into our imagination, they can reach into the storehouse of memory and parade the past before our mind's eye; but there the great natural powers of the Angelic world grind to a halt before the impregnable sovereignty of our intellect and our will. Not even the lightest of the Angels knows what a man is going to do next; the most gifted of the Angels cannot know what I am thinking at this moment. In this privacy of the soul, we are the equals of the Angels; this territory is inviolable to all but almighty God Himself. Such is the stature of man's dignity. We are spiritual as well as physical; we are free; our intellect and will are not to be tampered with by any created force. So our thoughts, our deliberate desires, our loves are our own for them we ourselves must take full credit or full blame. The Angels can suggest through imagination and memory, they can coax, entice, threaten, or frighten through these avenues of our sense nature ; but we are the ultimate masters in command of our lives.

BOTH ANGELS AND MEN BOW DOWN in humble union in matters of faith. Here every truth is God's secret not to be discovered by anyone less than God, not to be known unless God Himself make the truth known. That Divine life can be and is shared, that Heaven's welcome waits for those who welcomed God, that Hell's misery confirms the sinner's choice, that the Son of Mary is also the Son of God, that the living Christ is present in the Eucharist, Calvary renewed in the Mass, that grace pours into the soul through the Sacraments-----all these the Angels know only as we do: by believing them on the word of God. Angels are a part of nature, as we are; their powers are natural powers. What they have of the supernatural, whether it be life, truth, action, or goal, is theirs only through the boundless generosity of the only supernatural Being, God Himself.  

JUST AS IN US, the sweep of knowledge marks out the horizons of love, so in the Angels, to match that superb knowledge, second only to God's, there is a driving power of appetite that comes closer than anything else in creation to imaging the power, the intensity, the constancy and finality of the Divine will. Knowing a little we can love a little; loving a little, we insist on knowing more of that lovableness; knowing more, we love more and insist again on more knowledge that there might be more love. The heart never actually outruns the head, for we have to see to love and the heart has no eyes. To know something of the magnificent perfection of angelic knowledge is to prepare oneself for the breathless rush of Angelic love.

THE ANGELS ARE NOT DRIVEN to their activity by a knowledge outside themselves, directed by another intelligence, as are the plants; they are not caught up necessarily in the immediate appeal of this or that particular good, as are the animals. Rather, like us, they are free agents; their love is their own. They can take or leave any good that creation has to offer. The explanation of this is roughly paralleled in our capacity for vision. Our eyes can see brown, black, purple, blue, violet and all the rest precisely because they are not determined to anyone of these things but to color in general, any color, all colors; if they were made only for brown, they would see nothing else. Our wills, and those of the Angels, are not fixed to anyone good, but to good, any good, all goods, even the infinite good; and so our wills and theirs can reach out to any good, or they can reject any good save goodness itself seen nakedly in the vision of God.

BUT ANGELS ARE CREATURES, they are not God. Like ourselves, they cannot rest content within themselves without excluding happiness and making a home for misery. Like ourselves, they must reach outside themselves for the lovableness that will still the insistent demands of the will. Only God is totally sufficient unto Himself, for only God is infinite goodness, only God has no end to attain but only goodness to share. Only God is home for the love of the Angels, as He is for our love; they too must make their way home or remain forever exiles, wanderers in a world as empty and cold as a prison cell, for love's fire is the Divine flame or it gives no warmth.  

To THE APPRECIATION OF OUR NOBILITY be it said that the Angels are no more free than the least of men. Liberty does not come in spoonfuls, it is not doled out in differing degrees; it is magnificently full or it is non-existent. We are, then, no less responsible than the highest Angels for the use we make of that liberty; and it is this awful splendor of responsibility that frightens men into an attempt to deny their humanity. The record of our use of it gives us grounds primarily for humility, since we are so often wavering, weak, timid both in our virtues and our sins. The Angels suffer no such imperfections: their virtues are gestures of sweeping grandeur, their sins plumb the depths of the malice of Hell. The movement of their wills, in other words, is a worthy complement to the instantaneous perfection of their knowledge.  

IT IS AN AWESOME THING to be loved or hated by an Angel; one hardly less overpowering than the other. Nothing will arise to change that love or hate, there will be no belated discovery of goodness or evil, no error of judgment to be corrected, no rival to detract from the totality of love's embrace or hatred's spleen. The Angel loves or hates instantaneously, with all the intensity of its unimpeded nature, irrevocably, with utter generosity or malice, in a roaring flame of consummation of its desire. This is the way we think of our love in its springtime vigor, the way we dream of love in its perfection; but we know in the depths o our hearts that only God can make it come true in us and we are astounded that even God can work such a wonder within us. We are so easily afraid of utterly final surrender, so aghast at reckless gallantry, so cautious in giving, so demanding of gifts.

THE ANGELS' LOVE AND HATE suffer no limitation from physical causes, the limits that are perpetually insisted on in us by our bodies. We can be terribly angry, but for just so long: new joys can dim the sorrow that provoked anger, new sorrows swamp the old in their magnitude, old joys come back to dim the memory of injury; or we just get too tired by the violence of anger to seek the revenge it demands. Our love suffers the same distractions, the same rivals, the same opposites, and even the same fatigue. There are no such passions in the Angels, for they are pure spirits, unencumbered by anything of the physical; in them there are only those corresponding movements of the will for which we have no other names than the tags we have put on the movements of passion: love, hate, desire, aversion, joy, sorrow and all the rest. Clearly, the fury of a devil far surpasses the anger of the loudest, most violent, most vicious of men; quite aside from its superior intensity and wholeheartedness, there need be no lessening of it, no end to it, indeed it is certain that it will never be less consecrated to destruction than in its first moment. So too the love of an Angel reduces the breathless wonders of our love's first moments to the echo of a whisper, to a light dimmer than a candle's light in the heart of the sun.

THERE IS LOVE AND HATE in the world of the Angels, love and hate that separates Angels into the world of Heaven and the world of Hell, bringing home to us the humbling lesson that even the greatest of God's creatures can fail, it is only God who cannot. There is among the Angels an evil love which was the undoing of the very best, the most perfect of them, a love that was hatred of self by its very refusal to look beyond the staggering beauty that was God's gift to the Angels. That hating self-love gave birth to unremitting hatred of God, the Giver of the gifts that so blinded the vision of these evil Angels; a hatred of their fellow Angels who saw beyond the gift to the splendor of the Giver; and a hatred of men and of all the things that God had made. There is in the world of the angels a glorious love, an utterly unselfish love that ushered Angels into the family of God and the life of Heaven for all eternity, the love that fulfilled even Angelic desires and completed their imaging of the magnificence of the Godhead.  

THE WORLD OF THE ANGELS was not always so rent asunder by the brutal violence of sin. From all eternity, and beyond all time, the intense life of the Trinity filled up the infinite measure of the Godhead before ever there was a creature to image that boundless perfection. When, in God's generosity, the time came to share that goodness, God made the world; all of it, not a part here and a part there, but all of it, the Angels along with the rest of creatures. As they came from the hand of God in that bright morning of the world, the Angels were as clean as a dawn at sea; sin was an unknown stranger in a world that God looked upon and saw that it was good. 

INDEED IT WAS GOOD, and at its very best in its Angelic details. The creative word of God brought the Angels into being free of all spot or taint, with innocence as deep in their nature as it is obvious on the face of a sleeping child; they were perfect, with absolutely no defect. Concretely, that means that in the first instant of their lives, the Angels' minds were fully possessed of all their natural knowledge, their love instantly went forth to wrap itself about all that was good; they were, from the very first moment of their lives, in full possession of natural happiness, with nothing lacking, nothing to fight against, nothing to labor for, no steps to be taken. This was the springtime of the world, and never since has spring matched the exuberant joy of this first blossoming.  

WITHIN THE LIMITS OF NATURE, there was nothing more that could be given to the Angels in natural resources had been tapped to their utmost, natural capacities for happiness had been exhausted, natural joy could not bear the slightest increase. But God, who made nature, is not imprisoned by His creation, He is not held within natural limits. All that had been given to the Angels was still not enough for the generosity of God. Divine wisdom devised a way to give infinitely more than the fullest cup of natural happiness, to give a share in the life, the action, and the goal of God. For the Angels, that same first instant of fullest natural happiness was also the first instant of their supernatural life; they were created in sanctifying grace.  

ON THIS LEVEL OF DIVINE LIFE, there was indeed much still to be had, there were steps to be taken, a goal to be won. By this gift of shared Divine life, the Angels faced the terrific risks of virtue and vice, of merit and demerit, of Heaven and Hell; for Heaven is natural only to God Himself. To all the rest of us, Angels included, the glory of Heaven is the final fruit of the seed of grace, the reward to be merited by our own actions flowing from the life-giving principle of grace. It does not belong to us, it is not thrust upon us, but by the kindness of God it can be had for the taking. The Angels had the same terrifying responsibility of a final choice between Heaven and Hell, between God and creatures; not all of them chose well.  

THE NATURAL HAPPINESS of all the Angels was a possession impregnably secure; if they had been created in glory, it would have been impossible for them to lose Heaven. The goodness and beauty of God, once seen face to face, suffers no rival, it cannot be rejected; and it is only by a creature's deliberate rejection that God can be lost. Some of the Angels, we know, did reject God. Like us, all of them had the gift of grace and with it the Divine virtues of faith, hope and charity; these were the instruments by which they were to build their eternal mansions in Heaven. Without them, they would be utterly helpless to advance towards God, as would we; with them they could know God as He knows Himself, love Him as I He loves Himself, and walk confidently home in the strength of His strength. The point is that they faced a moment of trial and assumed full responsibility for the outcome of that trial.  

IT NEED ONLY HAVE BEEN A MOMENT. Unlike us, there was no necessity in the Angels for the long period of trial that makes Heaven so uncertain to our flickering strength. We fall and, by the grace of God, rise again only to find our stumbling hearts tripping us up again; perhaps the greatest splendor of our long fight comes from the unyielding courage that is willing to try again and again despite the testimony of the years to the feebleness of our defenses. The Angels suffer none of the obscurity of ignorance, none of the violence of passion, none of the inconstancy of will which so weaken our strongest efforts. In them, as in us, grace is the perfection of nature; their supernatural life is the story of the Divine perfection of their natural powers. Their supernatural love then is too an instantaneous, complete, irrevocable embrace. For them one act of charity is decisive for all eternity; there is no dallying by the Angels in the face of a choice of Heaven. In that one instant, the time of their trial was over; one instant marked the end of their merit; in one blinding flash of love, their place in heaven was fixed forever.  

PROBABLY THE PATTERN of supernatural splendor in the Angelic world parallels the natural, though this is guessing at the gifts of God; the lowest Angel could, receiving greater gifts of grace, easily surpass the Seraphim. But since each of the good Angels rushed to the embrace of God unhindered and with all the intensity of its being, it can be reasonably Supposed that the Divine design matched the splendid variety of the Angelic natures with proportionate perfections of the Divine life of grace. Here there would be no question of laggards and enthusiasts; according to the degree of grace given, each Angel, with the full fury of its nature, rushed wholeheartedly to the welcome of God or, in the same kind of headlong plunge, spurnd Him utterly to concentrate wholly on itself and so to destroy itself.  

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS SINGLE MOMENT of trial of the Angels are staggering. There is no such thing as a second chance for an Angel, no period of contrition and penance. Their freedom from ignorance and passion, their instantaneous grasp of truth removes all possibility of a change of will for them. They love or hate at once and beyond recall; as fixed by that instant as we are by death. When the moment had passed, the sinless Angels were securely at home with God, and forever sinless. God, once seen, shrinks all rivals to their proper insignificance. It is not only true that the Angels will not sin, they cannot sin now that Heaven has been attained; and in that very impossibility they are most wholly free. To choose what defeats the deepest desires of the will, to turn from goodness to evil, is not liberty but its abuse; a truth that needs no argument for the sinner as he writhes in the chains his sins have forged for him yet goes in shamed disgust to sin again.  
THE EVIL ANGELS, in that first instant of their abuse of liberty, rejected God. Caught in a deliberate fascination of their own beauty, they refused to look to that beauty's source, refused to seek for happiness outside their own satisfying self; and so attempted to find in themselves what can be found only in Go-----the answer to the will's Divinely given desire for goodness without limit. These devils can now sin all they like, and know themselves less free with every sin; the abuse of liberty mounts with each sin, the chains grow more galling, the self-imposed slavery more bitter, and the hatred more consumingly intense. Their choice was freely made, abusing liberty; and it is eternally confirmed to make up Hell's most despairing torment.

UNKEMPTNESS IS A COMMON NOTE of all sin! they are all born in disorder, rollick through dishevelled days, to a climax of shabby disintegration that can no longer keep up the pretense of self-respect. Dirt and decay are steadily more familiar; companions from which only darkness gives a momentary escape in forgetfulness. This unkempt note is particularly evident in the sin of the Angels, not only because disorder is in such marked contrast to that superbly ordered world, but fundamentally because the Angels face the psychological impossibility of choosing evil. They cannot make the fatal error of seeing good where none exists, and so taking evil to their hearts. To sin at all, the Angel has to take an embraceable good, but in a disorderly fashion, with a deliberate uprooting of that loved good from its proper place. It is no exaggeration to say that the bad Angels introduced chaos into the Divine neatness of the universe, and that darkness and disarray are the atmosphere of Hell.  

To EXCLUDE EVIL as a possible choice of Angelic sin seems to limit the Angelic horizons of sin extremely. Actually the limits are much narrower than this would indicate. None of the wide fields of sin opened up by the seductiveness, fear, or violence of the passions were possible to the Angels; as pure spirits, without bodies, the appeal of the senses which is passion's domain is outside the world of the Angels. The only avenues of rebellion for them were the purely spiritual ones of pride and envy. When we stop to realize that only a fool is envious of a good infinitely beyond his reach, we see that the Angels would sin by pride or they would not sin at all. Surely they had such to be proud of, and there was more reason for pride as the scale of Angelic perfection soared to the highest of the Seraphim. The very perfection of the Angels, in other words, exposed them to the constant danger of the gifted, the danger of enchantment with the splendor of the gifts to the denial of the Giver.  

GRANTED THAT FIRST SIN of pride in the Angels, envy is ceaselessly busy in all directions. Pride hurled them down, and in their fall they passed rank after rank of less perfect Angels, down past the best of men, beneath the feeblest infant barely clinging to life, even below the most hardened sinner who still has the breath of life in him. All these are still recipients of the gifts of God; all of them have Heaven either in their grasp or still within their reach; yet all of them are so much less than what these Angels could once have been.

THAT A MERE MAN, the lowest of intellectual creatures and so far beneath the devils in natural gifts, should, by the grace of God, go beyond the limits of nature to eternal life in the home of God is galling to the devil and a constant prod to his envy. That this particular soul should reach such heights triumphing over Satan's diabolic genius is a bitter humiliation and added fuel to the fire of his hatred of God. Both that envy and hatred are fed by the devil's disgust with the sins of men. True, he knows that he is guilty of all the sins he induces men to commit; but that guilt is a far cry from any affection for the things that so easily enslave a man. A man surrendering to the allure or violence of passion, immersing himself in the world of sense, playing the slave to things designed to serve him-----all this is revolting to the devil's purely spiritual nature even when he is playing the principal part in bringing about such a degradation of a man. His utter disgust with the depths to which man can sink is still more reason for his envy that such creatures can still aspire to heaven while Satan himself must grovel eternally in Hell.

ALL THESE GROUNDS for envy and hatred would hold if only the least of the Angels had sinned. According to the probable view of theologians, we must start not with the least but with the greatest of the Angels in reading the story of evil. It was Lucifer, the highest of the Seraphim, the most perfect image of God in all creation, who took the road of pride to eternal misery. By his example and exhortation, some of every Angelic hierarchy joined him in the self-sufficiency that would exclude God. Not that there was a rousing campaign for evil in the Angelic courts. Time is our burden, it is for us to deliberate and proceed by argument. The Angelic sin was an affair of a moment, enduring eternally, with a leadership of brilliant intelligence. Our Lord has told us of the "everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his Angels," indicating a leadership in Hell. "The order of Divine justice," says St. Thomas, "exacts that whosoever consents to another's evil suggestion, shall be subjected to him in his punishment; according to 2 Pet. 2, 19: 'By whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave.' " The greatest creature God created spumed his Creator; those who followed him are his slaves, not catering to his comfort but augmenting his misery. BY FAR 

THE GREATER PART of the Angels won their their way to Heaven; for the rejection of God is too violent a perversion of nature to achieve a wholesale victory without such allies as ignorance and passion. It is a different matter with us. We grow up so reluctantly, so easily slip back into the irresponsibilities of immaturity; and all our sins have an air of the immature, the incomplete, the underdone about them. We start all our actions from the senses. stopping at that starting point, refusing the labor and responsibility of going beyond that to the strong domain of reason, is the general story of most of men's sins. Because it is so much easier to start a thing than to finish it, much of men's lives never get beyond the level of the senses; so sin is easily common to the majority of men, but a shocking exception in the world of the Angels.  

THERE ARE DEVILS ENOUGH to make the working out of our salvation a task to be approached in fear and trembling. These are enemies from whom we can expect no quarter. Hatred has put the full force of the splendid perfection of Angelic nature to work for our destruction, for the sin of the Angels took nothing away from their natural perfection. They still have that encompassing knowledge; that power to affect and penetrate our senses, our memory, our imagination; that movement swift as thought; that ageless experience; that unwearying vitality, that shrewd intelligence so far above our own. What they have lost only serves to make them more dangerous enemies, for it is the supernatural that has been stripped from them: the supernatural love with its blossoms of peace, joy, mercy, kindness; the supernatural knowledge of the mysteries of faith with its revelation of the nobility of man in the light of the splendor of God; the supernatural hope that keeps despair, and all its collapse of the defenses of virtue, safely at bay. Only the mercy of God restrains the violence of the devil's hate of us.

THERE IS NOTHING OF JOY in the devil's enduring natural perfection. Take the matter of his great knowledge as an example. There is no happiness in a creature's grasp of what is on its own level or beneath it; that happiness is to be found only in reaching to what is above the creature. With ourselves, this is clear, though the embrace of the opposite error is a modem tragedy on a huge scale. The fact remains that there is no more than a passing exhilaration in our knowledge of the details of the world about us; there is a more lasting satisfaction in what knowledge we can gather of the angels, for they are above us in the scale of perfection. But it is only in our knowledge and love of God that we can rest; at every other level, we must substitute the pursuit for the goal to ease the gnawing discontent of our empty hearts and heads. For the devils, there is no happiness in knowing others of their kind; no happiness in their profound knowledge of men and of the world. None of these is above them, and they have forever excluded God.  

JOY IS A STRANGER TO HELL, not because it primarily avoids so evil a place but because, paradoxically, the miserable in Hell will not tolerate its presence. All the inhabitants of the infernal regions are there by their own free choice; and the essential step in the process of gaining admission there was the deliberate exclusion of the sources of joy. There is a kind of sorrow that, too, is barred from Hell by unanimous agreement. It is the sorrow unknown to the innocent and impossible to the damned, the sorrow that pours its bitter waters over our soul to kill every least sprig of joy and make a desert waste out of our hearts; yet if the flood be deep enough, it will deposit new, rich, soil for an even more abundant growth. This is the sorrow of remorse, the sorrow for the guilt of the sins we have committed. That guilt turns all the world gray and changes every ordinary source of joy into an escape route for the impossible flight from ourselves. If we are sorry enough, sorry to the length of perfect contrition, the sun shines again and joy beats at our hearts for the smiling welcome which is its right. We can be forgiven and guilt can be destroyed. There is no such prospect on any of the horizons of Hell.  

THE SORROW THAT RULES the skies of Hell is hopeless, despairing, as cold and barren as a leaden sky in November. The sorrow that belongs in Hell is a sorrow for punishment, not a sorrow for guilt. The devils are bitterly sorry that happiness is forever lost to them, bitterly resentful of the limitations that punishment places on their Angelic natures. There is nothing they can do about remedying that sorrow; indeed, there is a violent rejection of the very notion of doing the only thing that would remedy such sorrow-----contrition, repentance of the sins that brought it about. Their bitterness turns penetratingly on themselves, leaving them without even that small, fictitious comfort of putting the blame on someone else.

If WE THINK OF THE DEVILS as being in Hell, and W so we should for that is where they belong because of the guilt that destroyed God's life within them. But there is another count on which the devils, some of them, are to be found not in Hell but wandering the earth; that is the divinely ingenious purpose of exercising men in virtue. Even by their sin the devils did not become altogether useless in the working out of the purposes of the universe. It is God's wise and universal plan that inferiors be led to their perfection by their superiors; that responsibility rests on the whole Angelic world and is accomplished directly and joyfully by the good Angels leading men to God, indirectly and in spite of themselves by the bad Angels in their testing, and strengthening by that exercise, of the virtues of men. It is a further humiliation to these sinfully proud spirits, that they should be reduced to little more than exercise boys to the conditioning of the race they so envy and for which they have the utmost disgust.

THE DEVILS IN THE WORLD are by no means on vacation from Hell. Wherever they are, that fundamental and unending sorrow of Hell which consists in the loss of God is their close companion. Wherever they are, they are keenly aware that the humiliation of a spirit's limitation by so material a thing as fire awaits them; the infernal fence of fire that supernaturally marks the narrow boundaries of their eternal cell is as galling a memory and a forecast on earth as it is an actuality in Hell itself.
Part 6: Their Number and Variety  

On the basis of their spiritual natures, we can speak of the Angels as we would of members of the same family, emphasizing common characteristics such as immateriality, simplicity and incorruptibility. That generic sameness must not, however, betray us into conceiving of the angels as indefinitely numerous facsimiles of the one model. There is as much difference between one Angel and another as there is between a horse and a man, for each Angel is a distinct species, complete and entire in itself. In other words, Angelic nature is not said of the Angels in the same way as human nature is said of men; we differ among ourselves only by individual differences, specifically all men are the same. In each Angelic species, on the contrary, there is only the one individual in whom the species is complete. There is no point in a multiplication of individuals within an Angelic species. In material things, such multiplication is absolutely necessary to assure the continuation of the species, for the individuals, reaching their allotted term of existence, cease to be; in the Angelic order, the incorruptible nature of each Angel is itself a guarantee of the permanency of the species. It might be argued that God's purpose in creating-----the mirroring of His Divine perfections-----is better served through the multiplication of individuals within a species. But; as a matter of fact, it is by the variance of the species that finite creation achieves some little likeness to the smile of Divinity, not through the material differentiation of individuals within the species. With one exception, it is true that, throughout the created world, the individual is unimportant but for the part it plays in perpetuating the species. That exception is the world of man. There every individual is of supreme importance, for every individual is possessed of an eternally enduring soul, a soul that will outlast every other species in the material order. Really, the human exception is no exception at all. Throughout all of nature, it is the enduring, the permanent that is the object of nature's ceaseless care; because the individual's spark of life is so momentary a thing, it is unimportant in comparison with the constantly renewed existence of the species. It is on the basis of this identical principle that the human soul is so terribly important-----because it is not destined for the life of a moment, of a year or even of a century, but of all of an eternity. On the same grounds, men who see nothing spiritual, eternally enduring, in themselves arrive, with devastating logic, at the tragic conclusion that individual human life is a cheap, common, unimportant thing. Even if there were some point in multiplying Angelic individuals within the one species, it could not be done. Let us say we are discontented with our human souls and decide to do something about it. If we remember that our soul, being spiritual, has no parts, we can readily understand that there can be no question of trimming rough spots or rounding off curves. That soul, like all forms in matter and like all substances in the spiritual order, is utterly simple; if we could induce any change whatsoever, however small, we would have changed the whole thing. We might have produced something very pleasing but we would have destroyed a man. Any slightest variation in a substantial form results in a substantial change; and the rational soul of man is precisely that substantial form by which he is differentiated from every other creature in the universe. The Angels are subsisting substantial forms; any slightest differentiation would not mean multiplication of individuals within a species, but a specific, a substantial change. There is, in fact, a possibility of multiplication within a species only when an essential element of that species can suffer modification that is not a substantial modification; or, in plain language, the principle of individuation can be found only in matter. The Angels are completely independent of matter. The implication of this specific character of every Angel, taken in conjunction with the number of the Angels, is staggering. For their number is beyond all computation. The Sacred Scriptures hint at this in such passages by: "thousands of thousands [of Angels] ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him." It is right, eminently right, that the number of Angels should dwarf the number of all other created things. The beauty of creatures is an imperfect image of the beauty of God and the whole purpose of creation was to mirror in creatures something of that Divine beauty; the more perfect the creature, then, the greater the image, of Divine beauty; the Angels, as the most perfect of all created beings, are the most perfect image of Divine beauty. By their multiplication the Divine purpose in the universe is most effectively attained. Each Angel portrays an angle, a shadow of the Divine beauty, each much more distinct than the fragrance of the locust tree from the blossom of a cherry tree. The white light of Divine beauty is only partly appreciated by us when it passes through the prism of creatures. There it is broken up into the thin rays of color which alone may seep through to our mind and senses. The terrifying numbers of the Angels give us some little idea of the streaming rays of beauty that pour from the world nearest Divine beauty, the world of the Angels.

Part 7: Angelic Knowledge and Love 
The dream of men a natural gift of the Angels:
perfect knowledge in a perfect way
Even in this very early stage of the modern resurrection of man's favorite dream, there are some seeds of catastrophe. Obviously, the denial of the reasoning processes and of the contact of reason with the material world, isolates and perverts the mind of a man. The children of Descartes carried on his tradition boisterously, plundering the intellectual level of man's life like so many vandals bent, not so much on booty, as on destruction. Destroy they did: first intellect itself and finally, reaching the inevitable result of a dream made to walk, the humanity of man. Rationalism trod its suicidal way through Locke, Berkeley and Hume; then Kant rushed to the rescue of reason but his aim was bad and reason died from the shot he fired. From this orphaned home where philosophy was a beaten waif, there came forth idealism and naturalism: the first, linking up the old dream with Neo-platonism and the Hindu philosophies, thus sinking man in the unnatural depths of the world of pure spirit; the second, our American favorite, breaking up into the thousand and one varieties from pragmatism to naive evolutionism, in all of which reason is a thing of the past and man a creature with no future.
The dream has remained unchanged since the beginnings of the human race; it has appeared in philosophic dress again and again since the first puzzlings of the first philosophers. Its results have remained uniformly tragic; now, as always, the dream crashes in the unsounded depths of pessimism. And the lesson the dream teaches is still unlearnt. We still do not agree that it is not by casting away the bone we have that we shall find food, it is not by trying to become something other than ourselves that we can accomplish anything but our own destruction. It is as true now as it was in the beginning that we do not improve nature by destroying it; that originality does not consist in being different but in the astonishingly humble courage to be ourselves. We do not attain perfection by pretensions to the Angelic but by being most thoroughly human.
In a perfect way, i.e. innately, intuitively, independently
Through the ages, the promise of this dream which has haunted men was perfect knowledge in a perfect way. What man has striven for, even at the cost of his humanity, the Angels have by their very nature. Their knowledge is had in a perfect way. Knowledge comes to the Angel in the first instant of its existence, without loss of time or energy, without labor, and completely free of any dependence on the world of creatures beneath the Angelic world. To put it with a brevity so extreme as to demand further explanation, we could say that the Angels' knowledge is innate, intuitive and independent.
This knowledge is innate: Relative to Angelic essence
Innate knowledge in the Angels means precisely what one would suspect: that the Angels are created with their knowledge, as men are born with their faculties of intellect and will. There is no worry about it on the part of the Angel; knowledge is an integral part of the Angelic nature. Yet this does not mean that the Angelic knowledge is the Angelic substance, the Angelic essence. Angels are not large masses of knowledge wandering about the courts of Heaven; nor are they subsistent intellects. The intellects of the Angels, as the intellects of men, are faculties, potentialities: their knowledge is an act of that intellect. If, indeed, their intellects were identical with their substance then the Angels would be identical with God; they would he subsistent intellects and intelligence is one of those perfections that of themselves are infinite, utterly Perfect. Subsistent intelligence, as we have seen, is a property of God.
Relative to Angelic existence
Nor does this innate character of Angelic intelligence mean that the Angelic nature is given life by Angelic knowledge the Angel's knowledge is not its existence. This should not be obscure. After all, it is plain that a non-existing dog does not bite, nor is the bite of an existing dog the dog itself. So the existing Angel is presupposed to the knowing Angel; it does not know until it exists, nor does it exist by the fact of knowledge. As a matter of fact, the Angelic existence, marvelously perfect as it must be to match the Angelic nature, still falls short of the wide scope of Angelic knowledge. Angelic existence is limited to that one Angelic species, that one Angel; while Angelic knowledge is free to roam from God to worms and back again.
Relative to Angelic intellect
In both men and Angels, intellect is a power, a faculty, an accident perfecting nature. But the Angel's intellect does not grub about among material things gathering its knowledge; hence its intellect is a single faculty, utterly, free of dependence on the phantasm of imagination or any other material thing. In us there must be both an active and a possible intellect, as we shall see more thoroughly later on in this book. The first finds the potentially intelligible material in the products of the imagination and makes it actually intelligible to the possible intellect, bridging the gap between the material and the spiritual; the second, actually understands. In somewhat this same way the infra-red ray camera and the human eye cooperate; the camera, on its film, making actually visible what formerly had been only potentially visible, then it is the eye that sees.
In the Angels, the intellect is never merely a blank sheet waiting for knowledge to be scribbled on it, it is never merely potentially intelligent. Nor are the objects of the Angels' knowledge wrapped around with the bandages of matter which hide their faces, only potentially intelligible. Their knowledge is innate; so the objects of their knowledge, from the very beginning, exist in them immaterially, in an actually intelligible way.
It will, perhaps, help us to grasp the immateriality of the Angels and their knowledge if we remember that the whole field of imagination, which so enriches human life, is completely missing in the Angelic world. The Angels have no imagination. Of they had imaginations they would not be Angels. For imagination is the function of a corporal organ, part of our sensitive or animal equipment; it is one of the links that bind us to the animal world, like a spinal column, hunger or death. Without a body, imagination is altogether impossible.
Angels, then, have never felt the sleekness of velvet or the hard gaiety of silk, the rush of wind on a spring day or the softness of a rich turf. They have never had the feel of clean clothes, the agony of tight shoes or a ragged collar. In fact they may know how these things feel, but their knowledge of them is purely intellectual; they have no sensitive knowledge, for the simple reason that they have no senses with which to know. This is the quite apparent reason why their knowledge must be innate; there is no way in which it can be gathered from the material world. On this same ground of their absolute spirituality, we must exclude all passions from the Angels. Some of the early Fathers explained the wiles and craftiness of women on the grounds of a quite reprehensible carnal familiarity with the fallen Angels: but this was a very bad guess in a somewhat vague cause. Angels do not tremble with fear, pace the floor with anxiety or boil with anger. This sort of thing belongs in our world, not in the world of the Angels.
It is intuitive
The intuitive character of Angelic knowledge is much more readily grasped by our minds than its innateness; we ourselves have some little taste of that mysterious intellectual action of intuition. It is in us, quite normally, as the very first of our acts of knowledge; we know such things as tree, dog, man antecedently to our judgment that "this is a tree, dog or man." In other words, we have these concepts, not by the slow scrutiny of judgment and reasoning, but before these processes, by the first glance of intuition. In its higher forms it is the brilliant flash that illumines the minds of men of genius, the mystic penetration of the saints and the deep understanding of the simple faithful relative to the mysteries of faith.
It is independent
The Angels' intellect is a cup capable of holding the overflowing knowledge of all created things; but the cup does not fill itself. That intellect is a faculty or potentiality; it must be fulfilled by some act, by some form. Certainly it is not filled by the Angels' own substance, perfect as that may be; for the Angelic substance is only one drop in the steady flow of creatures from the Creator, a picture of one mood of God which cannot represent the drawling splendor of all His other images in the world of creatures. This cup must be filled by something other than the Angel itself; if the Angels' knowledge of them created world is to be perfect, some medium other than the Angel itself, some other form must fulfill the potentiality of the Angels' intellect. That other form, that other medium, can be no other than the intelligible species, the ideas, the mental similitudes, the intentional existence of created things. There is no other possibility: God could give supernatural knowledge proper to Himself, as He does in the vision of His essence, but this would still be a gift, not a natural knowledge for an Angel; the Angel itself is inadequate to represent the whole created world; every inferior creature is not only inadequate, it is physically incapable of affecting the Angelic intellect. The Angels must know as we know, through ideas; where do these intelligible species come from?
Source of the Angelic ideas
Certainly they cannot come from created things. We could as easily paint a mathematical point or wrap up the substantial form of a rose in cellophane as give an Angel an idea of a flag by waving at the vault of heaven. Material things cannot act directly but only through a medium on spiritual things; in knowledge that medium is the phantasm of the imagination. There is, then, no way in which an Angel can acquire ideas from created things, for it has no imagination.
Moreover, the thing is plain from the very manner in which the Angel exists. We would be reasonably astonished to find a cabbage slinking up behind us with the grace of a leopard; cabbages move, but not precisely in that way, for movement follows the manner of existence. If that existence is a plant existence, then the movement is a plant movement; if the existence is animal, then the movement is animal. So our thoughts do not come together with even so slight a jar as that felt by the teeth meeting well cooked asparagus. The mode of existence of the Angels is quite independent of material; their action or movement of understanding, then, is a smoothly intellectual thing. Let us look at the whole picture. Man has an intellectual potentiality unfulfilled by nature; God has no potentiality but perfect intellectual fulfillment, perfect act; in the middle, the Angels, half-way between God and man, possess an intellectual potentiality perfectly fulfilled from nature, and so, of course not from the material world outside their nature.
The only source of these Angelic ideas is God Himself giving them to the Angels by directly infusing them into the minds of the Angels. No higher Angel will do for this first knowledge, as will be apparent from a later chapter on the speech of the Angels. Here it is enough, by way of explanation of the incapacity of the higher Angels, to point out that the Angelic intellect and will, like the human intellect and will, are intrinsic accidents of the Angelic nature; they are utterly inviolable, theirs is the sacred territory from which everyone, everything is barred violent entry. This is the garden where only God and the individual possessor of that intellect and will can walk freely.
The Angel, then, has intelligible species from God; about how many? No, the question is not nearly so absurd as it sounds; in fact its answer is decidedly illuminating. In our own case we do not base our judgment of intellectual acumen on the number of species, the amount of knowledge a man has acquired, but rather on how much a man can see in this or that particular species; it is not quantitative knowledge but penetrating wisdom that is the mark of excellence. Thus, a workman, who knows that he can get a brick off a roof by throwing it and sees nothing of the possibilities of its hitting someone on the head, is stupid. Thomas, in a comparatively few theological principles, could see the whole field of theology; a mathematician, in a few principles, can see the unfolding of the whole complicated area of mathematics; while a student, sitting under either Thomas or the mathematician, must be satisfied with little bites from the edge of the pie of knowledge.
Our judgment in this case is entirely reasonable. The closer a creature is to God in the natural order, the more it participates the Divine perfections, the more perfectly it images God. Those nearer God in the intellectual order will, then, participate more closely the Divine mode of knowledge; and God understands everything in the one species which is His Divine essence. The Angels as a class, have fewer and more universal species than men, being so far superior to them; the superior Angels will have fewer and more universal species than the lower Angels, precisely because of their superiority.
The Angels' intellectual content is thus seen as infused intelligible species which are fewer and more universal the higher we go in the Angelic order of perfection. How does it use these ideas? What is this intuition which is the normal manner of knowing for the Angels?
Certainly the Angel has no period of cooing and gurgling infancy while it awaits the age when ideas are possible to it; it undergoes no tortuous school days in which ideas are gathered one by one. The Angel is in no way in potency as to the acquiring of its ideas; these ideas are had from the beginning. Nevertheless, the Angels, like ourselves, cannot consider more than one species at a time. These species are forms actuating the intellect; to have the mind consider two of them there at the same time would be like having a man run in different directions at the same time, and with much the same results. In scholastic language, the Angels are always in act as regards the possession of these species: they are in potentiality as regards the actual consideration of this or that species. In other words their knowledge, like the knowledge of God, is always actually possessed; but, like the knowledge of man, it has its potential element, it is only successively used. For a man, no matter how much affection he may have for the multiplication table, does not spend all his time thinking of it.
Though an Angel cannot consider more than one of these species at one time, yet it can know many things at one time according as many things are contained in this or that particular species, much as a man, looking into one mirror, can see all the many things reflected in that mirror. In one species the Angel sees all that it contains in just the one penetrating glance, as the eye of a camera in an airplane catches the detail of the city of New York as it paces restlessly between its confining rivers far below.
An Angel can do this because the Angel is a step higher in the intellectual order than men. The precise imperfection of the human intellect is its nearsightedness. It can see only one corner of the picture at a time; the world is a map too huge to be seen all at once by a human mind which must, instead, go slowly over the whole surface inch by inch, because of the weakness of our minds, we must come down from principles to conclusions like an old man cautiously feeling his way down a flight of steps; only when we reach the bottom, the conclusion, do we have a clear notion of all that might have been seen from the top by a stronger eye. Like children with a Christmas package, we must open things up, tear them apart and put them together again before we know what is in them. The one who made up the package or who has information from that original source, knows the whole story by merely identifying the package.
Source of the Angels' knowledge of God
The Angels do not reason their way down from principle to conclusion, not because they cannot, but because they do not have to. Their position between God and man demands the absence of the essential imperfection of the human intellect, the imperfection which makes reasoning, piece by piece judgment, necessary. It is, indeed, just this absence of the necessity for reasoning and judgment that males it impossible for an Angel to make a mistake in natural knowledge. There is nothing peculiar about this; it is the way intuition works. As a matter of fact, we make no mistake in our first act of intellect, our intuition of tree, dog, man; our mistakes come in our judgments and reasonings, in our hooking the wrong things together. "John" and "crank" may both be representative of objective truth; but when we hook the two together to say "John is a crank" we run the risk of error and rash judgment. Objectively, the steps down from principle to conclusion may be sharply cut and broad enough; but if we miss one of them, we tumble down to erroneous conclusions with a battered head.
Source of the Angels' knowledge of self
Its own brilliant, purely spiritual, utterly immaterial essence is immediately present to the Angelic intellect and is, in itself, completely intelligible. Consequently, it is immediately known by the Angel without the necessity of a medium such as we must have. For it must be clear to every man that he knows his soul only through the revelatory character of his spiritual acts penetrating the material wrapping of his body. In this intimate, immediate knowledge of itself, the Angel has a natural knowledge of God, as it also has in its knowledge of all other creatures; for nothing is fully known until God's part, the part of the cause and the exemplar, is known. The intelligible species by which the Angels know all other things come only from God; they are the first copy of the ideas of God, the first participation of that supreme truth, the blueprint formed directly from the mind of the Divine Architect.
St. Augustine put this beautifully when he maintained that the things of the world poured forth from God in a double way: intellectually into the minds of the Angels; and physically into the world of things. In this account, the Angels are looking, from the wings at the drama played on the stage of the world. He who wrapped up this great package which is the physical world, has given His own first hand knowledge of it to the Angels.
Perfect knowledge
The natural knowledge of the Angels is a vast sea that touches the shore of every created thing-----with one exception. There are no natural secrets hidden from the piercing intellectual eye of an Angel-----except one; spiritual and material, all are laid open and naked before their eyes-----except one.
The objects of Angelic knowledge
Spiritual objects: Other Angels
On the spiritual side, they know themselves, immediately, by their own substance. More, they know every other Angel in Heaven or in Hell in spite of the terrifying number of Angels; of everyone each Angel can say with perfect confidence "I knew him when." These other Angels, too, have come forth from the creative hand of God, of them there exists, too, a perfect model in the Divine mind; and as they came from God in their physical natures to exist in the universe, so they came from God intellectually to exist in the mind of the lowest Angel.
Thoughts and desires of men
All material things are known to the Angels for exactly this same reason, that is, because these material things too are creatures of God, effects of the first cause; a detailed account of them exists in the Divine mind and is communicated to the minds of the Angels. The mysteries of grace are completely above the powers of the Angels. These supernatural secrets of God's own life and the share in that life He has planned for men and Angels are totally beyond the entire powers of the natural order, which, of course, includes the Angels. What knowledge the Angels have of these things is a free gift of God by a special revelation to each particular Angel; or, in the case of the good Angels, in the Beatific Vision, the sight of the essence of God.
Mysteries of grace
But there is one natural phenomenon that is without the scope of the Angels' knowledge, that escapes the otherwise universal sweep of the Angels' intellect. There is one thing too sacred for the eye of any but God, one private room where man devil or Angel cannot enter in; that is the realm of the thoughts and desires of intellectual beings, men and Angels. Only God can enter into the house of our soul; and even God cannot violate our sovereignty there if there is to be desecration there, we must be the guilty ones; if there is to be the perfume of sanctity pervading the soul, God and our selves must pour the fragrant oil of consecration
An Angel can know future things that come about necessarily, as an astronomer can know of an eclipse of the moon years beforehand; an Angel can guess very accurately as to future contingent things, as a weather forecaster can predict the path of a storm with reasonable accuracy; an Angel can know singular things in their most precise singularity, as a housewife knows the price of bread or milk. But as to the movements of our intellects and wills, the Angels have no grounds for more than a very poor guess until we have manifested such movements by our external actions. Even then, with the external actions there for all to read, they, and anyone else short of God, cannot be absolutely sure of the motives which inspired the actions Really the devil has a most uncomfortable time of it in the pursuit of his devilish profession He goes to the window, endlessly placing his bets on no more than a hunch; his mixture of hopefulness and despair must endure until the race is all over and the judges have handed down their decisions.
There is an obvious difficulty in this Angelic knowledge of human affairs. If an Angel does not know what Jim Jones is going to do at three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, how does it find out on Thursday what actually took place? We have insisted again and again that the Angels have all of their intelligible species from the very beginning of their existence; they receive no more natural knowledge, either from the world or from God. Yet these past things are surely known, though as future they were not known. The difficulty is not so insuperable as it appears at first sight. After all, the ideas of God are eternal yet they are effective as Divine decrees only in time; it was not just a few months ago that God decreed the creation of the soul of the Smith's newborn baby, but the decree was from all eternity. Even though the Angels possessed all their intelligible species from the first instant of their existence, these species caused knowledge only after the existence of these future things in the material world. In other words, given the species from the beginning, the Angel, by a decree of God, was barred from the use of this particular species until the event had occurred.
Infallibility of the Angelic knowledge
All of this Angelic knowledge is had without the possibility of misinformation, for God is the informant. There is no possibility of misjudgment, for there is no judgment involved in this knowledge; nor is there any chance of mistaken reasoning, where there is no reasoning. An innate, intuitive, independent, infallibly certain and perfect knowledge; a view of the universe second only to that of God; a perfect insight into the beauty, the variety, the perfection of the vast mirror which images the eternal splendor of the infinite-----such is the Angels' vision.
Conclusion: The dream of men is not without its excuse
As you can readily see, that age long dream of men is not without its excuse. There is such a perfect knowledge had in such a perfect way. Those momentary glimpses of incredible brilliance and penetrating simplicity were not illusions. The tales told by explorers of the intellectual world, the tall stories of the men of genius, the dark illuminations of the mystics that gave such a relish even to gall and vinegar, those solemn moments when our own minds are struck by this lightning from above-----all these may sound like the exaggerated ravings of a returned Marco Polo of the intellectual world. In actual fact, however, they are deficient only by reason of the poverty of the pictures they paint for us, an inadequacy as hopeless as a tin-type of the living beauty of a woman of the last century.
It is not without its Divine reason
The dream did, indeed, have its excuse. It also has its reasons, for of course, we still dream. Its purpose is not to tease us with the cruel humor that dangles the bottle just out of reach of a screaming baby. It is not to humiliate us to the point of despair while we batter our brains out against a stone wall, as did the old and the new philosophers. The dream does not exist to tempt us to the rashness of presumption, moving us to cast away the crutches of human reason before we can walk or to play truant from school before we have learned to spell out the humble script of the material world. Rather, its purpose has been, and is, to keep alive in us that "unappeasable hunger for unattainable food," to fan that fire of Divine discontent that never gives us rest, and to give us some little natural idea of the goal that never lacks inspiration, the goal of life close to God.
Nor is it without it fulfillment
The dream has its excuse; it has its Divinely wise reasons; and it has its Divinely generous fulfillment. True, we are men and men we must remain; there is no possibility of a fulfillment of this dream by natural means. But through the goodness of God, Who has not yet found the limits of generosity, the dream comes true supernaturally, by a wave of the fairy wand of grace and glory; it comes true, dimly now, through the share in Divine life which grace brings to us, but with all the brightness of Divine-----not Angelic-----life in its fullness through the infinite reaches of eternity. 

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