Today the Christian community specifically honors these three Archangels. While we are honoring them, we will do so by looking at this question: What is the TRUTH about angels whom we associate as heavenly messengers of comfort and courage? Just as a point of interest, as I began preparing these reflections, I came across Thomas Aquinas—the Angelic Doctor, as a source. We are going to meet him along our way today in a place that may surprise you.
Angels are mentioned more than 100 times in the New Testament and even more often in the Old Testament where we read of the Jewish belief in angels as guardians (E.g., Daniel 10; Tobit 5) as well as intercessors who present our prayers to God.
Still, that question: What is the TRUTH about angels that leaves us searching for the right words?
Several reasons come to mind as to why we might get stuck on the question of angels. For one, angels are featured in our pop culture in and in new-age music and art. They sometimes appear in paranormal literature which is popular with many teens today. This attraction to the supernatural is not new, but the fictional stories and imaginative portrayals often lead to more confusion than TRUTH about angels.
We can look to the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 328 which affirms:
The existence of the spiritual, non-corporal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
How about that for clarity? Do you really think a person asking about the truth of angels would be satisfied with that answer? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
Let’s look at two New Testament references.
- Matthew 2:13: St Joseph who is responsible for Mary and the newborn Jesus, hears that Herod plans to kill any possible threats to his throne, including children. While asleep, the angel of the Lord came and told Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt.
In our lives today, have you ever experienced a situation where you must decide and you don’t know what to do? You seek advice, and you fret and you pray. Then somehow, the direction comes to you, and regardless of the outcome you are at peace. Was this an answer to prayer? Did you feel a sense of presence and comfort—an angel?
- A second passage from Matthew 18:10 reads:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For, I tell you their angels always see the face of my Father in Heaven.
It certainly sounds as if Jesus is saying that children are most important to God and they have Guardian Angels who intercede for them. What can be more precious than knowing how dear children are to God? The “Angel Prayer” we said at Incarnation read:
Angel of God, my guardian dear
Help me remember that God is near.
I am God’s child and God loves me
Just as I am.
As we bring this to a close, we return to our Angelic Doctor. Aquinas wrote pages and pages about angels. And his teachings are so well organized but beyond this reflection. But there is a person you might enjoy visiting if you were in Australia (or online). Matt Fradd has a club that meets in a pub that he calls, “Pints with Aquinas,” and he devoted several meetings to Thomas and the angels. I need not speculate why his sessions were so well received.
And so, with our brief descriptions of angels as messengers and symbols of light, comfort, and caring, we are left with a consistent TRUTH: We are not alone in our journey to God. All creation walks with us, including the angels.
Thank You, O God, our Creator. You have made us, and all the heavenly beings diversified but connected. Each of us is known and loved by you with a built-in map with companions in heaven and earth leading us to eternal life.
Sister Bridget Kiniry, OP
A resident of Dominican Convent, Sister Bridget is a preacher and
coordinator of the Days for Girls program there.