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Who Are The Angels? | Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Who Are The Angels? | Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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According to St. Augustine, ” ‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel’.”[33] Basilian Father Thomas Rosica says, “Angels are very important, because they provide people with an articulation of the conviction that God is intimately involved in human life.”[34]

By the late 4th century, the Church Fathers agreed that there were different categories of angels, with appropriate missions and activities assigned to them. There was, however, some disagreement regarding the nature of angels. Some argued that angels had physical bodies,[35] while some maintained that they were entirely spiritual. Some theologians had proposed that angels were not divine but on the level of immaterial beings subordinate to the Trinity. The resolution of this Trinitarian dispute included the development of doctrine about angels.[36]

The angels are represented throughout the Christian Bible as spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: “You have made him [man] a little less than the angels …” (Psalms 8:4-5). Christians believe that angels are created beings, based on (Psalms 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16): “praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts … for He spoke and they were made. He commanded and they were created …”. The Forty Gospel Homilies by Pope Gregory I noted angels and archangels.[37] The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) declared that the angels were created beings. The Council’s decree Firmiter credimus (issued against the Albigenses) declared both that angels were created and that men were created after them. The First Vatican Council (1869) repeated this declaration in Dei Filius, the “Dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith”.

Thomas Aquinas (13th century) relates angels to Aristotle’s metaphysics in his Summa contra Gentiles,[38] Summa Theologica,[39] and in De substantiis separatis,[40] a treatise on angelology. Although angels have greater knowledge than men, they are not omniscient, as Matthew 24:36 points out.[41]

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