ANGELIC OVERVIEW: “Angels are spirits,” proclaimed St. Augustine! St.
Thomas Aquinas believed that angels were purespirit, having no matter or mass, and taking up no space; but Thomasbelieved angels could assume bodies at will. The purpose of angelsis the same as mankind: to love and serve the Lord. However, beingthat angels are not material beings, and possibly from a differentdimension, they can serve the Lord in many different ways. Angelshave far greater will and intellect than we have. Whereas mankindmust sift through and experiment with natural laws, angels can graspall natural laws with a single thought. Eventually we find thatangels cannot work miracles per se, but they can perform manyspecial effects that appear miraculous, such as protecting Danielfrom the lions in Daniel 6.Order now
When angels appear to man, they usuallyappear with wings, but the wings are not the method of loco- motion. The angels seem to slip in and out of the fourth dimension; thustravel is more or less instantaneous. If you have access to aCatholic Bible (it MUST be Catholic), check out Daniel ch. 14, toread how the prophet Habakkuk was instantly carried, via angel, fromJudea to Babylon, a distance of 600 miles.
The primary general duty of angels is as messengers of God. (Theword “angel” means messenger in Greek. ) But angels can do God’schores, such as busting Peter out of jail in Acts 5, or destroyingSodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. But some angels obey only thedevil, and those angels are known as “demons”, as is Satan himself.
Satan had been an angel, but decided to do his own thing. Angelscan see all aspects of a situation instantly, since they are so very Angels, and the dimensions they live in, were apparently createdbefore our visible world and universe. (The Bible tells us inGenesis ch. 1-2 that mankind was created (or evolved) last. ) Thenumber of angels are countless.
One reason they are count- less isthat the Bible holds that each person who is or has lived, in theuniverse, has a guardian angel (Matthew 18:10). Additionally, somepeople who have died may have been transformed into lower angels. Many people witness “small miracles”, and attribute them to God,when, in fact, angels may likely author the event. Speaking ofmiracles, some people believe that the reason more asteroids don’thit and damage planets is because each planet also has a guardianangel. In this school of thought, we owe our very existence to There are MANY stories of loved ones appearing after they havedied, and helping the loved ones. Poss- ibly the loved one neverdid appear; possibly the loved ones physical appearance was takenover by an angel.
The Bible tells us to respect strangers, as theymay actually be disguised angels, as in Genesis 19, Hebrews 13:2,and Tobit chapters 4-12 (in Catholic Bibles). They also intercedefor us before God, such as was proposed in Job 33:23, and Psalms ANGELIC ORGANIZATION: There are three hierarchies of angels:the Supreme Hierarchy, the Middle Hier- archy, and the LowerHierarchy. Within earch hierarchy, there are three choirs (orranks), of angels, making a total of nine choirs. The choirs withinthe hierarchies differ because of angelic form, rather than matteror quantity within the choir. The Supreme Hierarchy is always inGod’s inner circle, meditating on Him. The Middle Hiearchy keeps theuniverse running according to God’s physical laws.
The lowerhirarchy carries out particular tasks. SUPREME HIERARCHY: The Seraphim (Singular, Seraph) is the firstchoir of the Supreme hierarchy. The name means “the burning ones”,or “ardor”. They sit at God’s throne, or a little above it, andunceasingly sing praise to Him, and bear light and love to lessorangels. The Seraphim are completely ruled by divine love, for thereis nothing more important than love according to 1 Corinthians13:13.
Isaiah 6:2 tells us the Seraphim have three sets of wings,one set to cover the face out of reverence, one set to cover thefeet out of modesty and respect, and one set to fly with. (But as Ipreviously wrote, they don’t actually use their wings to fly. ) The Cherubim (singular, Cherub) is the second choir of theSupreme Hierarchy. The Cherubim sit beside God’s throne, and act asthrone bearers, keeping unwanted entities away. (This isillustrated in Catholic Bibles, in Ecclesiasticus ch.
49. ) They havea great insight of God’s secrets, and the workings of the universe. Exodus ch. 25 also tell us that the Cherubim guard churches andtombs. Ezekiel ch.
10 tell us the Cherubim have four faces, fourwings, and four hands. Whereas the Seraphim are angels of love, theCherubim are angels of wisdom, and provide wisdom to the lowerangels. Satan was most probably a Cherub before he fell and becamethe Devil; thus, only God and the Seraphim can overcome the Devil. A Cherub probably also closed the Garden of Eden. Beelzebul mayalso be a Cherub, since he is next in rank to Satan.
Beelzebul’sname is peppered throughout the gospels. The Thrones are the lowest choir of the highest hierarchy. Theirmain characteristics are submission and peace. Since they are ofthe highest order of angels, they have the exalted dignity and gloryof being closer to God than most of the other angels. This beingthe case, the divine mysteries are also brought to them before mostof the other angels.
The purpose of the thrones is to convey God’sspirit to the lessor angels. A very detailed description of themappears in Ezekiel Ch. 1. See also Colossians 1:16. MIDDLE HIERARCHY: The highest order of the middle hierarchy arethe Dominations (sometimes called Dominions). They rule over theangelic orders charged with the execution of God’s commands, andmaintenance of God’s authority.
The Dominations enjoy a certainunbounded elevation to the supernatural, and are immune to discordand tyranny. They are true Lords, not turning themselves towardsvain shadows, but wholly giving themselves to God. See Colossians1:16, Ephesians 1:21, and 1 Peter 3:22 (in some versions). The second order are the Sovereign- ties (often called theVirtues or Rulers). Their primary duty is to carry out the ordersof the Dominations; therefore, they have wide powers in heaven andthe physical universe, although many of their orders are carried out(in turn) by the lessor angels.
The Sovereign’s strength is in itscourage to give all of its energies to God’s will. The SovereignAngel demonstrates virtue flowing forth to those angels of lesserrank, thereby filling those lesser angels with virtue. SeeEphesians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 15:24, and Colossians 1:16 (some The lowest order of the middle hierarchy are the Powers. A PowerAngel seemingly has great reception and regulation of intellectualand supernatural power. It can lead, beneficially, angels of lowerrank to God.
Provided the Power angel is a “loyalist” to God, hisduties would be to fight evil spirits. There is evidence that manyof the Power angels decided to follow Satan, and are no longer holy. See Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, 1 Peter 3:22, Colossians 1:16, and LOWER HIERARCHY: The highest order of the lowest angels are thePrincip- alities. (Some newer Bibles refer to them as Authorities.
)They are augustly in their authoritative ways. Unlike the otherorders of angels, the Principalities are made in the likeness ofGod, as is also true of mankind; therefore, a Principality has theclosest appearance to mankind. One of their purposes is to beleaders to the two lower choirs of angels. The other purpose is tohelp mankind through the protection of the earthly nations, and theultimate destinies of our souls. If you ever meet a Principalityangel, find out whos side it is on.
It is believed that this choiris the primary source of Satan’s diciples; it is believed that thePrincipalities that jumped ship for Satan are what is discussed inJude 1:6. Another warning about them comes in Ephesians 6:12. Buttake heart: most of the Principalities are loyalists, as in anyother angelic choir. See also Colossians 1:16, Ephesians 1:21, and The middle order are the Arch- angels.
The Archangels are thebest known of all the angels, if for no other reason than theymaterialize on earth more often. As the name implies, the Archanglsare to provide guidance, and are leaders of the angels in the nextchoir down. They also seem to entrusted with the more importantmissions of mankind, and are the guardian angels of importantpersonages such as religious and political leaders. They protectand defend the church, probably receiving their orders from theCherubim and Power angels. We even have some specific names in thischoir.
Arch- angel Michael first appears in Daniel 10:13, and againin 10:21 and 12:1. Michael’s primary duty seems to be in fightingSatan, although he cannot win because Satan and his cohorts outrankhim; so Michael must continually seek help from God and the Seraphimin his fight. Even so, Michael is usually called upon to lead soulsto heaven, as well as being invoked during exor- cisms. The nameMichael means “Who is as God?”, and that is his war cry as heattacks Satan and his cohorts.
Archangel Michael is the guardianangel of the Israelites. Archangel Gabriel is first mentioned inDaniel 8:16, and 9:21,26. Practically all of his appearances areconnected with the coming of the Messiah, but he also announced theconception of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19,26) His conver- sations inLuke also show Gabriel’s wisdom, tact, and adroitness. He was mostprobably the angel who rounded up the three wise men, and got themto come to Bethlehem (Luke 2:9). Then Gabriel saved the Holy Family(Matthew 2:13.
It is also believed Gabriel was the angel mentionedin Luke 22:43, and Matthew 28:2. Just imagine: of all thecountless beings that God created, Gabriel got the honor of doingall the above things; additionally, tradition has it that Gabrielwill have the honor of calling the dead to life, on judgement day,according to 1 Thess- alonians 4:16. It goes to show that eventhough Archangel Gabriel belongs to a relatively low order ofangels, God still chose him to be one of the greatest angels thatwas ever created. And then there is Archangel Raphael. His storyis extensive, if you would give credence to the Catholic Bible,check out Tobit, starting with the third chapter.
Folklore also hasit that Michael was the one that busted Peter from Jail, which Imentioned in the second paragraph; likewise, folklore has it thatMichael and Gabriel appeared together to the prophet Muhammad. The lowest of the angelic realm is simply called “Angels”, andtruly are messengers of God. That is because their primary duty isto be more in direct contact with visible and earthly things. Theyare also known as “Guardian Angels”.
They protect us when the Lordwills it, such as in Psalms 91:11-13. I also mentioned in the fifthparagraph that they act as intercessories to God. Some people alsobelieve that if you say a prayer to your guardian angel, asking areconcilliation with another person, your Guardian Angel willintercede to the other person’s Guardian Angel, thereby improvingyour chances at the reconcilliation. There are many tales of peoplenarrowly escaping death, and many people believe that GuardianAngels are responsible for those favors, rather than God himself(see fourth paragraph). That is because in the many Biblereferences I indicated, the passages say that angels were SENT to doa specific task, rather than God effecting the task himself. Theseangels are not disheartened that they are of the lowest rank,because they know that to serve God in ANY capacity is a greathonor.
They are referenced in 1 Peter 3:22. Once again: the nine choirs of angels, in descending order, arethe Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Domin- ations, Sovereigns, Powers,Princip- alities, Archangels, and Angels. Bibliography:In compiling this, I have used several different Bibles, butwhere I indicate a Catholic Bible, I used the Jerusalem Bible. Mostof you probably know that the Catholic Bible has books and passageswhich do not appear in Protestant Bibles.
Many may question theauthenticity of these passages in the Catholic Bible, but I decidedto use them as the Catholic Church is the ONLY Christian churchwhich seriously attempts to explain about angels, and why they werecreated, and how they fit in the angelic realm of things. My booksource was primarily “Beyond Space”, written by Father PascalParente in 1957. I also used “St. Michael and the Angels”, put outby the Marion Publications.
They are privately published books, soyou won’t find them at book stores or the library. If you’d likethe books, you can order them from Tan Books P. O. Box 424, Rockford,IL 61105. I also used “A Book of Angels” written by Sophie Burnhamin 1990, and “Do you have a Guardian Angel” written by John Ronnerin 1985.