Giving Glory to God with the Holy Angels

Stained glass window at St Austin and St Gregory (Photo: Fr Timothy Finigan)

On Friday, we celebrated Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael the Archangel, and (on Monday) tomorrow, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. So it is a good time to remind ourselves of the teaching of the Church which we believe with faith concerning these spiritual beings.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly

“The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” (382)

The name ‘angel’ refers to their work for us, as messengers of God.

The angels are personal spiritual beings who constantly look upon the face of the Father even as they enlighten our minds, guard us from evil, and prompt us to do what is right and good. The Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, whose works are told in the scriptures, were given greater missions by God for the sake of the whole world. When a third of the angels rebelled against God with the battle cry non serviam “I will not serve”, St Michael defeated Lucifer and his cohorts in battle, sending them to hell. It is speculated that they rebelled against God for His kindness and mercy, and for the privilege that he gave to us inferior creatures of flesh and blood in allowing us to receive His grace and even to share in His body and blood.

The angels feature frequently in the gospels. St Gabriel brought the message of the Father to Our Lady, asking her graciously to consent to being the mother of God the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angelic choir gave glory and praise to Christ at His birth in the words we sing at Mass Gloria in excelsis Deo, “Glory to God in the highest.” An angel ministered to Our Lord in His passion, the angels told the women that the Lord had risen, and angels told the apostles that the ascended Lord would return as they had seen Him ascend.

Our Lord Himself taught the apostles that the children have their own guardian angels, as do we all, spirits who watch over us to guard and guide us, and to prompt us to good, especially when we are tempted by the devil to sin.

In the sacred Liturgy, the angels are frequently mentioned, the high point being in the Preface, and then the Sanctus which is the chant of the seraphim in the presence of God in the Temple as described by the prophet Isaiah. (Is 6.3)

When we offer Christ to the Father in union with the whole Church, we are also united with the court of heaven which includes the choirs of angels. Their ministry to us is of immense value and we do well to pray both the prayer to St Michael the Archangel, and regularly to use the prayer to our Guardian Angel. As St Paul reminds us, when we struggle in the spiritual life, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spirits of wickedness. We need not fear them as our heavenly Father has given us His angels to protect, enlighten and guide us. When our Father has been so generous in sending them to us, it is foolish to ignore their ministry.