Look around you. How many are in the room with you? I propose that the actual number is more than double.
We all believe in things we can’t see: air, wind, electricity, gravity. But invisible spiritual realities surround us too. Each of us has a guardian angel. Take the number of people with you now and double it for a good guess as to how many beings are with you at this moment.
I studied angels for a book I wrote (Battle for His Soul) and I’d like to share what I’ve learned. Most of my information came from St. Thomas Aquinas. Do you know who he is? He was a philosopher and theologian, now considered a Doctor of the Church.
In grade school, we all learn that there are 3 kinds of substances: animal, vegetable, and mineral. These are all physical substances, but we know that humans are so much more. We are made of both body and soul. So Aquinas believed that to round out the order of things there must be something that is purely spiritual with no body. We call pure spirits angels.
There are also far more angels than any other material thing.
We classify and sort all material things. Since angels have no matter in them, they can’t be sorted in the same way. While angels share the same spiritual nature (so they are of the same genus) each angel is the only one of its kind. Each angel is a species that is essentially different from every other angel.
Each angel is unique. Each represents the goodness of God in a unique way. I like this detail because it allowed me to give a different personality to each of the guardian angels in my story.
While I portrayed angels with bodies, wings, and cool weapons in my story, angels actually have no bodies or physical matter. So they can’t die, decay, or change.
Do angels ever assume bodies? We know from Holy Scripture that they do. Angels appeared in bodily form to Adam and Eve (when they were kicked out of the garden) to Abraham, Tobias, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the shepherds, to name a few. You or I may have seen our guardian angel.
Aquinas believed angels can move quickly. Our guardian angels are in the world with us, so they move in time. They can’t be in two places at once. But they can move at the speed of thought.
Angels are highly intelligent, more so than any person, and they can grow in knowledge but they have no need to learn. They were given their knowledge the moment they were created. Angels do not all have the same intelligence either. There are higher and lower angels. Each one has the knowledge they need for their particular status and the work they will do.
Just as we have free will, so do angels. They exercise it more perfectly than us partly because they don’t have the temptations of the flesh.
Angels love. Love is something a person chooses to do freely. Angels have free will, therefore they have love. In fact, while it involves choice, love is a natural tendency for angels. They love themselves, each other, and God most of all.
Angels were not created before the physical world, but at the same time. They were created in heaven, but they did not originally possess God in the beatific vision. That requires grace. This explains how some became fallen angels. Each angel had the choice to love God or to put themselves first. Those who chose God merited the beatific vision.
It’s different for humans. We take steps and move through stages, growing in holiness. We can fall and get back up. We sin, repent, and are forgiven over and over. But they had one choice. The choice of a pure spirit is final and unchanging. Those who chose God, the beatified angels, cannot sin.
Before beatification, they could sin. And some did. Those are the fallen angels, or demons. Demons try to lead people to commit every kind of sin, but they have no bodies so they can only commit two kinds of sin: pride and envy. Lucifer, now called Satan, wished to be equal to God though he knew that it was impossible for a creature to be equal to the creator. He wanted to create by his own power, to achieve beatitude without God’s help, and to have command over others in a way proper to God alone.
Sin is contrary to the natural order, so it occurs less frequently. Therefore, there are fewer fallen angels than faithful angels.
Fallen angels did not lose their knowledge or intellect. They also have sorrow. Not the sorrow of repentance but sorrow of knowing that they will never attain beatitude and that, despite their efforts, we might still get to heaven. That’s why they are so busy battling against our salvation.
Back to the good angels…. Each of us was given a guardian angel from the first moment of our existence, so at conception.
What can angels do for us? They can enlighten us by strengthening our understanding or making us aware of something. Angels can deliver messages from God to us or from us to God. Angels can guard us.
They cannot act upon our human will. God alone can do that. But they can influence us by stirring up images in our imagination. They can also work upon the human senses, as is the case when one assumes visible form.
Have you recognized the actions of your guardian angel in your life?
I’ve been in several terrible car accidents and never came to harm, including when I crashed my Nova. The steering wheel was up against the driver seat but somehow I got out of the car without even a tear in my pantyhose.
I lived on the tiny island of Guam when typhoon Pamela hit. The island sustained an incredible amount of damage but only one person died.
I don’t know specifically how my guardian angel has helped me. But I know he has. And I am thankful to God for him and for all the angels. And I truly enjoyed researching for and writing about them in Battle for His Soul.