Friday, January 17, 2014

Angels in Different Religions

Archangel Michael, Vatican City

Angels in Catholicism

Angel Basics

Angels are intermediaries between God and humans.  In addition to their roles as servants and messengers, angels are also attendants to God's throne.  Catholic angelogy, formulated by St. Thomas Aquinas, outlines a complex hierarchy of nine choirs of angels divided into three groups: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominions, Virtues, and Powers; Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares: "The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'Angels' is a true of faith'.  Angels have a huge role in Christian history - announcing Christ's birth, protecting Christ in the wilderness, and battling Satan in the Book of Revelation, and more.  Their most important function, however, is as attendants of God's throne.

Angelic Form

Angels are pure spirits and remain incorporeal forever.  Traditional Catholicism teachs that angels speak 'within' a person, not 'to' them, thereby maintaining their spiritual nature.

Heavenly Intervention

Each individual has his or her own guardian angel.  Guardian angels can intervene in human affairs to help people.  They can also influence people's senses and imaginations, but not their wills.  They remain with their charges even in heaven.  The Catechism states: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession."  Catholics pray to angels to ask for their help and intercession in human affairs.

Important Angels

Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael are archangels or chief angels.  Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God.  Michael's role includes fighting evil and Satan and rescuing the souls of the faithful at the hour of death.  He will be present at the time of the Antichrist and the end of the world.  Raphael appears only in the Apocryoha, as the angel who helped Tobias cure his father's blindness in the Book of Tobit.  The unnamed Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is said by some to be the preincarnate of Christ.  Lucifer is the fallen archangel who, with one-third of angelic host, was cast out of heaven for the sin of pride.  He presides over hell and seeks to lure mankind to sin.

Source: The Big Book of Angels by Editors of Beliefnet