Realm of the Angels

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There have been plenty of stories and movies about visitors from outer space.  Advertisements for them often include such statements as "We are not alone."  This is supposed to mean that the people of planet Earth are not the only intelligent creatures in the universe.

Whatever anyone thinks about creatures from Mars in flying saucers, it is indeed true that we are not alone.  There really are creatures, not human beings, with intelligence watching you right now!

There is no use looking over your shoulder.  These beings, God's angels, are ordinarily invisible to our eyes.  It is by faith that we know angels exist and are a part of God's creation.  They have no bodies.  Like God they are pure spirits.  They move and act by using their minds.  That is why angels are pictured with wings.  They can go where they want as quick as a thought, just by wanting to be there.

Angels in a picture might all look the same: long rows of figures in white robes.  But every angel is different.  Church tradition tells us that there are different groups of "orders" of angels.  You have heard of cherubim and seraphim in the Preface of the Mass and in the song "Hail Holy Queen".  These are two orders of angels.  In the Bible we learn of another order, called archangels.  Saint Gabriel is one of these.  Some angels have greater power and intelligence than others, but all are superior to men.  Even the "lowest" angel knows more than all the wise men who have ever lived.

According to Tradition, after God created the angels, he tested them.  We do not know what the test was.  The angels who loved God and wanted to serve him passed the test.  They were welcomed into Heaven.  Other angels refused to serve God.  They admired their own perfections too much, and they refused to serve God as Lord of all.  One of them had been the highest of all the angels, Lucifer.  When Lucifer (who is now called Satan) rejected God, he and his followers became demons.  They had to leave God's presence and never return.  Ever since then they have hated God and tried to make others hate him too.

The word angel means "messenger".  We often find angels in the Bible acting as God's messengers, bringing to people news of God's plan for them.  The story that first comes to mind is that of the angel Gabriel.  He brought to Mary the good news that God had chosen her to be the Mother of the Savior.  In the Old Testament three angels visited Abraham, appearing and acting like men.  They told Abraham that his old and childless wife, Sarah, would have a son that year.  In the book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael takes the appearance of a young man.  He guides young Tobias on a long journey to recover a debt owed to his parents.  On this journey he leads Tobias to his future wife and gives him the means of curing his father's blindness. 

Other examples of the angel's work can be found in the Gospels.  Angels announced the good news of Jesus' birth to the shepherds.  Angels came to care for Jesus after he had fasted forty days and been tempted by the devil.

Angles, both good and bad, are more active in our world than we may think.  Satan and the bad angels would rather have us think they were not around, but they are.  They are miserably unhappy and they want to see us unhappy too by drawing us away from God, our true source of happiness.

On the other had, God has given each of us a guardian angel.  Our guardian angels inspire us to do what is good.  They show us what God wants us to do.  Guardian angels protect us not only from danger to our souls but danger to our bodies as well.  You may have had some close escapes from death or serious injury.  it is often your angel who helps you at these times.

Why not get to know your guardian angel better?  Talk to him.  Ask for his help when you are lonely, afraid, or tempted to sin.  Pray to your guardian angel each day.

Angels are splendid creatures; very powerful and very intelligent.  They are the friends and servants of God, and we owe them reverence and respect, almost in the same way as we owe it to a teacher or parent.  We should be especially grateful to our guardian angel who watches over us.

Scripture and Tradition tell us that Michael was captain of the good angels who drove Lucifer and the bad angels out of Heaven.  The Church calls upon Saint Michael to defend her in the battle against evil.  Paintings of Saint Michael show him with a sword or spear, standing over Satan in victory.  With the help of the angels we too can overcome sin.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen

Used with the permission of The Ignatius Press 800-779-5534

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