Sunday, January 25, 2015

A bit about angels

Peter Kreeft has a book about angels, which shares (except for the subtitle) a title with a nefarious novel by Dan Brown. It's called Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them?(Ignatius, 1995), which, I'm glad to see, is now back in print. It's written for a popular audience, but contains a great deal of classic angelology in an accessible format.

Some of it's highlights, as a reader recently pointed out, can be found on this post by Kreeft entitled, simply, "Angels."

This same reader went on to write:
Yesterday I lost a close family friend, a 94 year old widow I have known since I was... 1! She leaves a 60+ unmarried daughter, so please say a prayer on both their behalves. I thought particularly of this line:
"Angels are sentinels standing at the crossroads where life meets death. They work especially at moments of crisis, at the brink of disaster—for bodies, for souls, and for nations." [quoted from the CCC]
Kreeft in fact also quoted the CCC in this book (An appendix, I recall), and I remember, pre-conversion, feeling more than a little compelled by the ancient-sounding authenticity of the words. Say what I will about some of Schonorn's recent slippage, or Ratzinger's Modernist-intimidation complex, those guys more often than not hit a home run with the CCC. Overall it is an exceptional -- and given Roman hijinx inexplicably orthodox, LOL -- I think Angels -- most likely Gabriel for one -- were most definitely dispatched for composition intervention there as well ...!
So here are the relevant quotations from the CCC. Quite good!
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.[194] Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.[195]

333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'"[196] Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"[197] They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.[198] Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection.[199] They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.[200]

The angels in the life of the Church

334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.[201]

335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's Supplices te rogamus. . .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).

336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.[202] "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."[203] Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
[Hat tip to JM]