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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Do Angels Exist?

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

Modern man asks the question, “Do angels really exist?” Of course the Creed of the Council of Nicea teaches us that we “believe in all the is visible and invisible.” Among that which we do not normally see are the holy angels of God. If you examine the Sacred Scriptures, we find the blessed angels throughout the entire timeline, from mankind's fall to our redemption in Jesus Christ. Through these blessed spirits, who are God's messengers, the Lord God communicated with His people Israel. As depicted in his dream, Jacob fought an angel and was injured in the hip. In the dream, the angels climbed and descended a ladder. While Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, an angel intervened, and Abraham spared his only son.

An angel defended the Israelites from the Egyptians as they crossed the Red Sea, and the same angel guided them through the desert, as the Book of Exodus recounts. After King Nebuchadnezzar had Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael thrown into a fiery furnace, the Lord sent angels to rescue them. With regard to the coming of the Messiah, St. Luke tells us that the Archangel Gabriel was the one who first announced the Savior's arrival to the Israelites.

Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are the "major" archangels; they oversee the various creative hierarchies. The "minor" archangels, Uriel, Schaltiel, Jehudiel, and Barchiel, oversee the four elements (fire, air, water, earth). St. Raphael revealed himself to the prophet Tobias, calling himself "one of the Seven Angels who are always ready to enter in the presence of the majesty of the Lord."

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament include descriptions of the origin of angels. Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, Augustine, Cassian, Bonaventure, Abbot Bernard, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Thomas Aquinas are just a few of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, theologians and exegetes who have considered angels at length throughout Church history.

According to Saint Pius X's catechism, angels are superior to humans in intelligence. They enjoy eternal bliss, with their only concern being to gather around God's throne and praise the One who gives them light.They have a number of titles, including "princes of the Heavenly court" and "ambassadors of God's will."

According to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite's De celesti hierarchia, angels are organized into three tiers, each of which is further subdivided into three choirs that can be identified by their unique functions, colors, wings, and other identifying features. Psalm 90 makes special mention of a group of angels called "Guardian Angels" whose job it is to watch over the person who has given them their trust (it is said that they are under the command of the Archangel Raphael). From the moment of birth until the moment of death, every Christian is protected by an angel.

In addition to interceding on our behalf with God, a Guardian Angel is charged with protecting us from harm and warding off the devil, who will stop at nothing to "soil" our souls and prevent us from entering heaven. For this reason, several popes—most notably John XXIII—have spoken openly about their deep devotion to their Guardian Angel. Indeed, Pope John XXIII was in the habit of greeting a person's guardian angel before he greeted the person. Pope Benedict XVI has also said that we ought to thank our angels for the help they give us and invoke them on a daily basis with the "Angelus" prayer so that we may recognize God's will in the events of our lives and avoid falling into the devil's traps.


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