Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the December AD 2003
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

    Question:  Is it possible for someone to be a Catholic without believing in angels?

    Answer: The Fourth Lateran Council, which was convened by Pope Innocent III to deal with (among other things) the heresy of the Albigensians, issued a profession of the Catholic Faith (see appendix) which clearly includes belief in angels:

[God] who by his almighty power at the beginning of time created from nothing both spiritual and corporeal creatures, that is to say angelic and earthly, and then created human beings composed as it were of both spirit and body in common. The devil and other demons were created by God naturally good, but they became evil by their own doing.

    On this basis alone, it would seem that Catholics must believe in the purely spiritual beings we call angels. But, even without such a credal statement it is difficult to imagine what would be left of the Catholic Faith if the angels were somehow subtracted from It.

    Angels are mentioned in Sacred Scripture hundreds of times. They instructed Agar, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph; went before the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt, guiding them to the promised land; defended Israel and its prophets; delivered the young men from the fiery furnace and kept Daniel from the lions; healed the elder Tobias and obtained a wife for the younger; and appeared to countless others in the Old Testament. They announced the conception of John the Baptist; brought the news of the Incarnation to Mary and Joseph; heralded Jesus birth at Bethlehem; stirred the waters at Bethsaida; comforted Jesus at Gethsemane; stood guard at the tomb of our Lord; released Peter from prison; brought Philip to the Ethiopian, Cornelius to Peter, and Paul to Rome; and gave the seven churches the revelations of the Apocalypse in the New Testament. We are made, the Psalmist tells us, "a little lower than the angels" (Ps. 8:5).

    We know some of them by name: Gabriel (Strength of God), who appeared to Daniel, Zachary, Mary, and probably to Joseph; Michael (Who is like God?), who appeared to Daniel, contested for the body of Moses, and battled the Dragon himself; Raphel (Medicine of God), associated with the elder and younger Tobias. The apocryphal Book of Enoch also lists Uriel (Fire of God), Raguel (Friend of God), Sariel (Command(?) of God), and Jeramiel (meaning unknown) among the Archangels.

    At Mass, on feast days, the Glória in excélsis is patterned after the hymn sung by the angels at our Lord's birth. Every time Mass is celebrated several of the various choirs of angels are mentioned in the Preface, which varies with the Mass of the day, but always concludes with the threefold Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! which is our version of the angelic hymn sung before the throne of God by the six winged Seraphim in Isaias vi: 3 and Apocalypse iv: 8. After the Consecration we ask "Almighty God to bid our offerings be brought by the hands of His holy angel to His altar above; before the face of His divine majesty...." Saint Michael the archangel is invoked in the Confiteor, the blessing of incense at the offertory, and in the prayers immediately following Mass, ordered by the saintly Pope Leo XIII. The liturgical calendar contains feast two days in honor of Saint Michael, and one each in honor of Saints Gabriel and Raphael, another for the Guardian Angels, and a votive Mass of all the angels.

    It is the general understanding of the Church that each and every soul is under the protection of a Guardian Angel -- as are the Churches and nations of the world. How many times have Catholics gone to sleep reciting the prayer, "Angel of God, my Guardian dear...."

    And lest we forget, there is another group of extremely important angels -- those who have fallen from grace, and "go about seeking whom they may devour" -- the fallen angels we know as devils. In some sense, the denial of the devil is an even more serious mistake than the denial of the good angels. The Modernists would have us believe that the devil is a fiction, and that morality is an anchorless concept, fixed only by the current consensus of "feelings" about what is right and what is wrong. The devil is, no doubt, thrilled, for it is his aspiration to ensure that as few souls as possible share the eternal bliss that he forfeited by denying the eternal rule of Almighty God.

Additional Reading:
September 1994 Bulletin, Sermon of Pope St. Gregory the Great; December 1995 Bulletin, The names of the Archangels
The Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. "Angel" and "Guardian Angel"


Appendix: Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
Canon 1. Confession of Faith

We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immeasurable, almighty, unchangeable, incomprehensible and ineffable, Father, Son and holy Spirit, three persons but one absolutely simple essence, substance or nature. The Father is from none, the Son from the Father alone, and the holy Spirit from both equally, eternally without beginning or end; the Father generating, the Son being born, and the holy Spirit proceeding; consubstantial and coequal, co-omnipotent and coeternal; one principle of all things, creator of all things invisible and visible, spiritual and corporeal; who by his almighty power at the beginning of time created from nothing both spiritual and corporeal creatures, that is to say angelic and earthly, and then created human beings composed as it were of both spirit and body in common. The devil and other demons were created by God naturally good, but they became evil by their own doing. Man, however, sinned at the prompting of the devil.

This holy Trinity, which is undivided according to its common essence but distinct according to the properties of its persons, gave the teaching of salvation to the human race through Moses and the holy prophets and his other servants, according to the most appropriate disposition of the times. Finally the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who became incarnate by the action of the whole Trinity in common and was conceived from the ever virgin Mary through the cooperation of the holy Spirit, having become true man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh, one person in two natures, showed more clearly the way of life. Although he is immortal and unable to suffer according to his divinity, he was made capable of suffering and dying according to his humanity. Indeed, having suffered and died on the wood of the cross for the salvation of the human race, he descended to the underworld, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He descended in the soul, rose in the flesh, and ascended in both. He will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, to render to every person according to his works, both to the reprobate and to the elect. All of them will rise with their own bodies, which they now wear, so as to receive according to their deserts, whether these be good or bad; for the latter perpetual punishment with the devil, for the former eternal glory with Christ.

There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice. His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed in substance, by God's power, into his body and blood, so that in order to achieve this mystery of unity we receive from God what he received from us. Nobody can effect this sacrament except a priest who has been properly ordained according to the church's keys, which Jesus Christ himself gave to the apostles and their successors. But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity — namely Father, Son and holy Spirit — and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the church. If someone falls into sin after having received baptism, he or she can always be restored through true penitence. For not only virgins and the abstinent but also married persons find favor with God by right faith and good actions and deserve to attain to eternal blessedness.


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Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
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