Third Sunday of Lent—7
March AD 2021
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of the Mass]
[English Mass Text]
[Latin Mass Text]
On the Angels
“By Beelzebub, the
prince of devils, he casts out devils.”
This statement made by the Jewish
crowds about our Lord—although it is in error—demonstrates that the Jews
truly believed in devils and angels.
One of the ways in which the modern
world tries to destroy our faith is by undermining our belief in God's
purely spiritual creations, the angels. In contemporary art they are
portrayed as little girlish things—with white lace dresses, lacy wings,
and golden curls. The fallen angels look even sillier, wearing red
suits, with pointy ears, a pointed tail, and carrying a red pitchfork.
Both devils and angels are made to look like Halloween characters—a
pretty sure way to make us think of them as imaginary creatures.
But, certainly, we know better. God
created the angels—beings of pure spirit, without bodies (they have
neither pointed tails nor wings)—before he created human beings. Being
pure spirits, they are closer in nature to God, than we composite beings
made of body and soul. We are, as the Psalm says, “a little lower than
We lack certain and precise
information about their creation and fall, but we certainly know of
their existence. Both the Old and the New Testaments are filled with
references to both the angels, and their fallen counterparts, the
Like men, the angels were created to
demonstrate God's glory, and to be happy with him in heaven. They seem
to serve three general purposes. The higher angels—seraphim, cherubim,
and thrones—minister before the throne of God in heaven. Those of
middle rank—the dominations, powers, and virtues—oversee the workings of
divine providence in the universe. And those of lower
rank—principalities, archangels, and angels—mediate between God and men.
Human experience, of course, is with
the lower ranks. So we know of angels guarding churches and nations,
guarding and advising us as individuals, and as messengers of God's word
to his people. In fact, the name “angel,” comes from a Greek word that
means “messenger,” for that is the capacity in which we know the major
angels of the Bible. Mention the word “angel,” and most of us tend to
think either of our guardian angel, or of Gabriel announcing the birth
of Jesus to Mary, or of Michael doing battle with the devil, or perhaps
of Raphael guiding the younger Tobias and healing his father.
Angels, again, are similar to us, in
that they have both intellect and will. Yet the angelic intellect is
sharper and quicker than man's. And his will, once determined, is
immutable. That is to say that angels have the capacity to know about
all of the things in creation without having to travel to them, and
without the delays and inaccuracies introduced by our physical senses.
They know instantly and clearly. And once their minds are made up, they
We are not exactly sure how some of
the angels fell from grace, but we do know that through pride they
rejected God's graces. Some scholars conjecture that the fallen angels
could not accept the idea of adoring God in the physical body of Jesus
Christ. In any event, their unalterable wills cause the devils to
reject God for eternity.
The most awful thing about Hell—which
was created for fallen angels; not for people—is that it is an unending
state of sorrow for the loss of God's freely offered graces. It is
permanent for the angels now, and will become permanent for all those
people who reject God in their last human acts.
(That's another foolish notion being
spread by the Modernists—that hell is somehow temporary—that it will one
day close down and fallen angels and fallen men will be taken to
heaven. It is a foolish idea because it clearly violates the angelic
nature, and ignores God's justice.)
From our perspective, the most
dangerous thing about the fallen angels is their envy. They have lost
heaven forever, and are jealous of those who have not: “If I can't be
happy, I don't want anyone else to be either.” They retain their great
intellect and power, and they can and do use it to lead us into sin. So
we are always well advised to remain in the state of grace, in order to
be best prepared to resist them.
We also have the faithful angels to
call upon for help—particularly our guardian angel. Devotion to the
angels is said to be a sign that we will one day enter heaven—and that
only makes sense—if we make it a point to associate only with the good
angels, and take delight in the things of heaven, we will one day go
Perhaps you can see why the devil
would like us not to believe in him or in the angels. Our eternal
destiny is not yet fixed, and a lot of it depends on how we live out the
rest of our lives.
So, if our will can be fixed on
anything, it ought to be fixed on living in the company of the angels,
and avoiding the wiles of the devils—so that one day we will join the
company of the angels and the saints, and see God face to face forever.
The angels are
real—they can help you if you let them!