It seems many of us don’t give angels a lot of thought. When we do think about them, we tend to think about them in either a childish way (“Angel of God, my guardian dear…”) or in a superstitious way (as evidenced by most books on angels found on the shelves of your local bookstore). Maybe the scant information about angels causes us to dismiss them as a quaint or useless fiction. But what is true?
Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three archangels mentioned in Scripture by name. Based on the Scriptural references, we actually know quite a bit about angels:
- they are created beings (Psalm 148:2-5)
- there are many, many angels (Daniel 7:10, Apocalypse 5:11, Psalm 67:18, Matthew 26:53)
- they are of a higher order than humans (Psalm 8:6)
- some of them turned against God and fell from grace (Genesis 3, 6, Apocalypse 9:11-15, 12:7-9, Luke 10:18)
- these evil angels tempt humans to destruction (Matt 25:42, 2 Peter 2:4, Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 11:14 and 12:7)
- they minister to God (Daniel 7:9-10; Tobit 12:15; Revelation 8:2-5)
- they minister to us (Job 1:6, 2:1; Matt 18:10; Hebrews 1:14)
- they are messengers to us (Judges 13, Daniel 8, Zechariah 1 ,2, 4, 5; Luke 2:9, etc.)
- they are personal guardians to us (Genesis 24:7, Psalm 33:8, Matthew 4:6, 18:19; Hosea 12:4, Acts 12:7)
- they are guardians of whole peoples (Exodus 14:19, Baruch 6:6, Daniel 10:12-21; Acts 16:9)
- there is a hierarchy of 9 orders of angels: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim (Ezekiel 1, Isaias 6, 1 Thes 4:15, Ephesians 1:21, Colossians 1:16)
- the names of several archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael (Daniel 8, 10:13, 12; Tobit 12:15, Luke 1:19, Apocalypse 12:7)
At every Mass, we join with the angels in praying the Gloria and the Holy, Holy, Holy. At funerals, we invoke their assistance for the deceased (“May the angels lead you to Paradise”). This compilation is not exhaustive, but it gives a good summary of what is true about angels: there are myriads of angels ministering before the Throne of God, and they are our fellow-creatures, friends, helpers, guides, defenders, and messengers.
We are each given an angel to be with us on our journey to the Heart of the eternal Father. He has given us each a companion to strengthen us in our weakness, keep our eyes open to God and His will, block for us every wrong way and point out the pitfalls the Enemy has set before us. In Heaven, we will rejoice with this companion forever before the Face of the Father!
So we can pray: Guardian Angel, guide and guard me. St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, watch over us. St. Michael, Friend of the friends of God, protect and defend us!
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.