Tag Archives: St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is our Guardian Angels’ feast day!

Today is the feast day of our Guardian Angels!

A 2007 Harris poll found that 74% of U.S. adults believed in angels.

How do we know that each of us has a guardian angel? Because Jesus tells us so!

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 18:10

The word “angel,” in Greek is angelos, in Hebrew is malach, in Arabic is mala’ika– which all mean “messenger.”

Angels are incorporeal (without body, material form or substance) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although Angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Messenger is one of their functions, not their nature.

St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each Angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea. (J.R.R. Tolkien probably had angels in mind when he fashioned the Ents, who are each a species unto itself.) That means each Angel is truly an individual, with his own personality and quirks. This may explain why some guardian angels are pro-active, while others are not.

Major philosophers — such as the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), René Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler (1902-2001) — have put forth compelling reasoning for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, see “A philosopher-pagan comes home: The conversion of Mortimer Adler“.)

Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, their belief stemming from allusions in both the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:1-7; Ezekiel 1, 10; Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12; Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15) to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”

Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, and three orders within each hierarchy, totaling nine orders in all:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a guardian angel is appointed by God’s loving providence to each human being from the moment of birth because “the dignity of human souls is great.”

Throughout the lives of “changeable and fallible” human beings, their guardian angels assist them toward goodness. Although the guardians never fail or forsake their human charges, they eschew interfering with Divine providence or with our free will to commit sin if we so choose and to suffer punishment.

When I see a drunk or derelict sleeping on a bus bench or curled up in a street corner, I can’t help but wonder how very sad their guardian angels must be. Imagine what it must be like to be the guardian angel of a serial killer . . . .

In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas also wrote that at the end of a human being’s earthly life, the guardian angel of the virtuous person will be replaced with an angelic companion because the guardian’s mission will have been successfully discharged. What a wondrous thought — that our guardian angel who has known and loved us all our lives will be our friend and companion through all eternity!

But the wicked in Hell “will have a fallen angel [or demon] to punish him” for eternity. Let that thought sink in . . . .

Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean our guardian angels aren’t with us all the time. In fact, there are many stories of angelic encounters and assistance. See, for example:

My days are so busy with blogging and family-, house- and garden-work that the only time when my mind is at rest is when I walk in the hills. On one such walk several years ago, I talked to my guardian angel and humbly asked him to show me he’s there. Instantaneously, I felt his presence walking alongside me, on my right. I can’t tell you what he looks like (he is a bodiless spirit after all), but what I felt was his staggeringly-profound LOVE — a love that is unconditional and wholly unearned, the depths of which I have never (and will never) experienced from any human.


Here’s a simple prayer to our guardian angels, by St. Bonaventure (1221-1274):

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom His Love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.

Talk to your Guardian Angel!

He loves you very, very much, more than you’ll ever know.

Tell him you love him.

And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.

~Eowyn

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Today is our Guardian Angels’ feast day!

Today is the feast day of our Guardian Angels!

A 2007 Harris poll found that 74% of U.S. adults believed in angels.
How do we know that each of us has a guardian angel? Because Jesus tells us so!

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 18:10

The word “angel,” in Greek is angelos, in Hebrew is malach, in Arabic is mala’ika– which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (without material bodies or subtance) spiritual beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. Although the word “angel” means “messenger,” this does not limit their activities. Instead, they are created by God to serve Him by fulfilling any and all tasks assigned to them.
St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each Angel is unique, a species unto itself — a truly mind-boggling idea. (Sidenote: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents are analogous, in that each Ent is also a species unto itself.) That means each Angel is truly an individual, with his own personality and quirks. This may explain why some guardian angels are pro-active, while others are not.
Major philosophers — such as the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), René Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler (1902-2001) — have put forth compelling reasoning for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home“.)
Scripture tells us there is a hierarchy of Angels — there are various gradations or “orders” of Angels. We know this because in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
According to Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, there are nine orders of angels, but only the last five angelic orders (Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels) minister to bodily creatures and, of them, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity — of nations or countries.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers and guardians of individual human beings.

Note: By logical inference, then, the orders of Virtues and Powers minister to nonhuman bodily creatures, which would include animals whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin.” Isn’t that a happy thought? — that our pets also have angels?

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a guardian angel is appointed by God’s loving providence to each human being from the moment of birth because “the dignity of human souls is great.”
Throughout the lives of “changeable and fallible” human beings, their guardian angels assist them toward goodness. Although the guardians never fail or forsake their human charges, they eschew interfering with Divine providence or with our free will—to commit sin if we so choose, to endure trials and troubles, and to suffer punishment.
When I see a drunk or derelict sleeping on a bus bench or curled up in a street corner, I can’t help but wonder how very sad their guardian angels must be. Imagine what it must be like to be the guardian angel of a serial killer . . . .
In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas also wrote that at the end of a human being’s earthly life, the guardian angel of the virtuous person will be replaced with an angelic companion because the guardian’s mission will have been successfully discharged. What a wondrous thought: That our Guardian Angel who has known and loved us all our lives will be our friend and companion through all eternity!
But the wicked in Hell “will have a fallen angel [or demon] to punish him” for eternity. Let that thought sink in . . . .
Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean our Guardian Angels aren’t with us all the time. In fact, there are many stories of angelic encounters and assistance. See, for example:

You’ll find more angel stories on FOTM‘s “Angels & Saints” page.
My days are so busy with blogging and family-, house- and garden-work that the only time when my mind is at rest is when I’m taking my solitary walk in the hills. On one such walk several years ago, I talked to my guardian angel and humbly asked him to show me he’s there. Instantaneously, I felt his presence walking alongside me, to my right. I can’t tell you what he looks like (he is a bodiless spirit after all), but what I felt was his staggeringly-profound LOVE — a love that is unconditional and wholly unearned, the depths of which I have never (and will never) experienced from a human.

Here’s a simple prayer to our guardian angels, by St. Bonaventure (1221-1274):

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom His Love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.

Talk to your Guardian Angel!
He loves you very, very much, more than you’ll ever know.
Tell him you love him.
And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.
~Eowyn

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Today is the Archangels' feast day!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.

Note: The word “saint” simply means “holy’ — as indeed are the Angels who choose to be true to God instead of, like Lucifer and the other fallen angels, pride in themselves.

my angels2
The word angel, in Greek, is angelos; in Hebrew, malach; in Arabic, mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (without body, material form or substance) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although Angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Created by God to serve Him, Angels fulfill any and all tasks assigned to them.
In other words, being an Angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each Angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.
Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — had put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)
Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

That leaves the orders of Virtues and Powers who, by logical inference, minister to other bodily but nonhuman creatures. The latter would include the non-human animals, such as our pets, whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin” — which is a happy thought indeed!
Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael: in Hebrew, the name means “Who is like God?”.
  2. Gabriel: “God is my might”.
  3. Raphael: “God has healed”.

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.


Gabriel’s name means “God is great.” The angel Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible:

  • To the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16).
  • To the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19).
  • To the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). As the angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

St. Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers.

St. Raphael, the Archangel

st-raphael1The angel Raphael‘s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that Raphael “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.
Raphael appears by name only in the Book of Tobit where, disguised as a human named “Azarias the son of the great Ananias,” he accompanies Tobiah, the son of Tobit, in travels. When Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that the Raphael makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15).
Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John 5:1-4 speaks of a healing pool at Bethesda where “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This passage is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.
St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish.

St. Michael, the Archangel

StMichaelTheArchangel
The name “Lucifer” means “morning star,” “son of the dawn,” or “light carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.
A lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against Lucifer and the other apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil. As related in Revelation 12:7-9:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?” — Michael‘s battle cry.
St. Michael the Archangel is the prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he led the heavenly armies against those of the “great dragon”).
Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)
Michael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good Angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael, the Braveheart of Angels, is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my commander in chief. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the patron and protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!
Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.
Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!
~Eowyn
For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM‘s other angel posts here!
Sources:

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).
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Sunday Devotional: The terrifying gift of free will

Sirach 15:14, 16-20

God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
Set before you are fire and water;
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Michelangelo's Temptation and Fall
The Latin root of the word “terrify” is terrificare. To “terrify” is to cause to feel extreme fear.
And terrifying precisely is God’s gift of free will, for when it is exercised to evil, the consequences are disastrous.
Thomas Aquinas conceived an act of free will to be any thought, word, deed, desire, or omission that comes from a person acting with full knowledge of what s/he is doing, “who is free to act or to refrain from action, and who gives the full assent of his will to the act.”¹ The essence of free will, therefore, is choice—the favoring of one thing and the eschewal of another—informed by reason.
Terrifying though it is, free will is given to humans (and angels) because only by freely electing to believe in, obey, honor, and love God do the preceding acts have authenticity and meaning. For what good is a love that is coerced? As St. Thomas put it, “Man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain.”² But it is also free will that made possible the original sin of Adam and Eve, as well as all subsequent sins.

Sirach 15:15, 11-13

If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
Do not say: “It was God’s doing that I fell away,”
for what he hates he does not do.
Do not say: “He himself has led me astray,”
for he has no need of the wicked.
Abominable wickedness the LORD hates
and he does not let it happen to those who fear him.

“If you choose, you can keep the commandments” — and the first of God’s commandments is:

I am the LORD your God,
You shall not have other gods beside me.

Our first parents were told they were free to eat from any of the trees save one, the tree of knowledge of good and bad. God counseled them in no uncertain terms that if they were to disobey his command, they “shalt surely die.” But the Devil appeared in the form of a serpent and said to Eve, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Acceding to the temptation, Eve ate the fruit, gave some to Adam who, in turn, also partook of it. (Genesis 2:8, 16-17; 3:1-6)
Philosopher Francis Bacon explained that what precipitated our first parents’ fall was their supposition that “God’s commandments or prohibitions were not the originals of good and evil but that they had other beginnings which man aspired to know, to the end to make a total defection from God, and to depend wholly upon himself.”³
Put another way, the Fall of Adam and Eve is their gall to determine for themselves what is good and what is evil, although they already knew right from wrong for, as the Book of Jeremiah 31:33 says, God has placed his law within each of us, written in our very hearts. In other words, our first parents wanted to be their own gods with their own conception of right and wrong, which is nothing other than a contravention of the First Commandment.
Another way to say “wanting to be their own gods” is “Do as thou wilt” — the motto of satanist Aleister Crowley and the church of Satan, and the zeitgeist of our time.

Psalm 119:1-5, 10

Blessed those whose way is blameless,
who walk by the law of the LORD.
Blessed those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with all their heart.
They do no wrong;
they walk in his ways.
You have given them the command
to observe your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm
in the observance of your statutes!
With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.


¹Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), p. 99.
²Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947), p. 418.
³Francis Bacon, Selected Philosophical Works, edited by Rose-Mary Sargent (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1999), p. 31.
See also “Conservatives vs. Liberals: Conservatives believe in free will and have stronger will power“.
May the peace and love and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,
~Eowyn

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Today is our Guardian Angels' feast day!

Guardian Angel

Today is the feast day of our Guardian Angels!

A 2007 Harris poll found that 74% of U.S. adults believed in angels.
The word “angel,” in Greek is angelos, in Hebrew is malach, in Arabic is mala’ika– which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. Although the word “angel” means “messenger,” this does not limit their activities. Instead, they are created by God to serve Him by fulfilling any and all tasks assigned to them.
St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each Angel is unique, a species unto itself — a truly mind-boggling idea. (Sidenote: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents are analogous, in that each Ent is also a species unto itself.) That means each Angel is truly an individual, with his own personality and quirks. This may explain why some guardian angels are pro-active, while others are not.
Major philosophers — such as the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), René Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler (1902-2001) — have put forth compelling reasoning for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home“.)
Scripture tells us there is a hierarchy of Angels — there are various gradations or “orders” of Angels. We know this because in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
According to Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, there are nine orders of angels, but only the last five angelic orders (Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels) minister to bodily creatures and, of them, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity — of nations or countries.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers and guardians of individual human beings.

Sidenote: By logical inference, then, the orders of Virtues and Powers minister to nonhuman bodily creatures, which would include animals whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin.” Isn’t that a happy thought? — that our pets also have angels?

How do we know each of us has a guardian angel?
Because Jesus tells us so!

“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 18:10

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a guardian angel is appointed by God’s loving providence to each human being from the moment of birth because “the dignity of human souls is great.”
Throughout the lives of “changeable and fallible” human beings, their guardian angels assist them toward goodness. Although the guardians never fail or forsake their human charges, they eschew interfering with Divine providence or with our free will—to commit sin if we so choose, to endure trials and troubles, and to suffer punishment.
When I see a drunk or derelict sleeping on a bus bench or curled up in a street corner, I can’t help but wonder how very sad their guardian angels must be. Imagine what it must be like to be the guardian angel of a serial killer . . . .
In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas also wrote that at the end of a human being’s earthly life, the guardian angel of the virtuous person will be replaced with an angelic companion because the guardian’s mission will have been successfully discharged. What a wondrous thought: That our Guardian Angel who has known and loved us all our lives will be our friend and companion through all eternity!
But the wicked in Hell “will have a fallen angel [or demon] to punish him” for eternity. Let that thought sink in . . . .
Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean our Guardian Angels aren’t with us all the time. In fact, there are many stories of angelic encounters and assistance. See, for example:

You’ll find more angel stories on FOTM‘s “Angels & Saints” page.
My days are so busy with blogging and family-, house- and garden-work that the only time when my mind is at rest is when I’m taking my solitary walk in the hills. On one such walk several years ago, I talked to my guardian angel and humbly asked him to show me he’s there. Instantaneously, I felt his presence walking alongside me, to my right. I can’t tell you what he looks like (he is a bodiless spirit after all), but what I felt was his staggeringly-profound LOVE — a love that is unconditional and wholly unearned, the depths of which I have never (and will never) experienced from a human.

Here’s a simple prayer to our guardian angels, by St. Bonaventure (1221-1274):

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom His Love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.

Talk to your Guardian Angel!
He loves you very, very much, more than you’ll ever know.
Tell him you love him.
And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.
~Eowyn

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Today is the Archangels' feast day!

Today is the Feast Day of the Archangels!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. (The word “saint” simply means “holy.”) Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.
Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael: in Hebrew, the name means “Who is like God?”.
  2. Gabriel: in Hebrew, the name means “God is my might”.
  3. Raphael: in Hebrew, the name means “God has healed”.

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”
The word angel, in Greek, is angelos; in Hebrew, malach; in Arabic, mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Created by God to serve Him, angels fulfill any and all tasks assigned to them.
my angels2In other words, being an angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.
Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — have put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)
Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

That leaves the orders of Virtues and Powers who, by logical inference, minister to other bodily but nonhuman creatures. The latter would include the non-human animals, such as our pets, whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin” — which is a happy thought indeed!

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.


Gabriel’s name means “God is great.” The angel Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible:

  • To the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16).
  • To the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19).
  • To the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). As the angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

St. Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers.

St. Raphael, the Archangel

st-raphael1The angel Raphael‘s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that Raphael “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.
Raphael appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. , where he, disguised as a human named “Azarias the son of the great Ananias,” accompanies Tobiah, the son of Tobit, in his travels. When Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that the angel makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15).
Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John 5:1-4 speaks of a healing pool at Bethesda where “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This passage is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.
St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish.

St. Michael, the Archangel

The name “Lucifer” means “Morning Star,” “Son of the Dawn,” or “Light Carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.
StMichaelTheArchangelA lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against Lucifer and the other apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil. As related in Revelation 12:7-9:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. 

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?” — Michael‘s battle cry.
St. Michael the Archangel is the prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he led the heavenly armies against those of the “great dragon”).
Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)
Michael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael, the Braveheart of Angels, is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my commander in chief. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!

Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.
Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!
~Eowyn
For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM‘s other angel posts here!
Sources:

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One(New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).
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Sunday Devotional: For there are three

Genesis 1:26

And God said,
Let us make man
in our image,
after our likeness:

John 5:7

For there are three
that bear record in Heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;
and these three are one.

Jesus baptismToday is the feast day of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
How can three separate persons be one? Through the centuries, our brightest and giftest theologians were unable to plumb the mystery of the Triune Godhead, that —

  • There is but one God (“And God said”, not “And the Gods said”)
  • With three separate persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (“For there are three”)
  • Who made man in their image
  • But the three persons nevertheless are one (“and the three are one”).

Here’s St. Thomas Aquinas on the mystery of the Triune Godhead, in Summa Theologica:

We cannot come to the knowledge of the Trinity by reason alone, that is, by the natural and unaided efforts of the human mind. By our natural reason, we can know that God exists; that he is the First Cause of all; that he is one, infinite, simple, immutable, etc. But that the one God subsists in three really distinct Persons is a truth that can be known only by supernatural means. That is a truth beyond the reach of human reason to know, to prove, or to disprove. We know this truth by divine revelation, and accept it by supernatural faith; we take it upon the authority of God himself. […] By aid of the light of glory the soul in heaven sees God himself clearly and truly.”

And so we accept and we trust.
Holy Trinity
Before He took final leave of His disciples and ascended into Heaven, Jesus said something most intriguing:

I have much more to tell you,
but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes,
the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.”
(John 16:12)

I believe and put my trust in what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

“For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.”

And so, let us rejoice!
Let us “mend our ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace” and “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians:11-12)
And may the love of God the Father, the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you on this magnificent Sunday!
Eowyn

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Creation: Earth in the unimaginably vast Universe

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” -Psalm 19:1

Do you want to see how our Earth, that tiny blue marble in the solar system, compares to other bodies in the Universe?
Here are some visual aids (Source: BabaMail):
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Try to imagine the truly awesome, mind-boggling Being who created all this — this unimaginably vast Universe that our puny human pea-brain can’t even begin to grasp or comprehend.
It is said that when St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the towering intellect and theologian, was near death, he was given a glimpse of the Godhead. Humbled and awed, he whispered, referring to all of the many and brilliant works he had written in his lifetime: “All is straw.”
No wonder our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead who humbled Himself by incarnating as vulnerable body and flesh, instructed us that:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:16)

H/t FOTM’s Catherine
~Eowyn

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Thank you, Our Father!

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” -Genesis 1:1

God the FatherThere are over 100 billion galaxies in the Universe. That’s 100,000,000,000 galaxies. Each galaxy contains millions of stars and planets.

“Can we prove that God exists? Yes, we can. We can reason out this truth….

The second way is by considering the chains of effecting causes that exist in the world. Things here are produced by their causes; these causes in turn were produced by their causes, and so on. Ultimately, there must be a first cause which is itself uncaused. This is God….

The fifth way is by considering the order and government seen in this world. Things act in a definite way and were manifestly designed to act so…they are governed in their activities. Thus there are design and government in the world. Hence there are ultimately a first designer and first governor. And since both design and government involve intelligence, there must be governor and designer who is the first and absolute intelligence. This is God.” -St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Summa Theologica

“Where [I] am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” -John 14:4-14

Happy Father’s Day, Our Father!

We Praise You, We Glorify You, We Give You Thanks!

~Eowyn

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