Understanding the Bible Series:
Relationship of Angels to Us - Part 2
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
obedience in heaven
the model of ours on earth, Thy will be done. Lets recite the Our Father together.
Our Father who art
in heaven hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth
as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Okay, and notice at
the very beginning of Our Lords Prayer we synthesize Our Father who art
in heaven, first petition, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Those three, the first petitions
of the Lords Prayer, identify, synthesize the work of the angels now in heaven
and our own, what I call it, service in heaven through all eternity:to do Gods
will. But notice we are to do Gods will now on earth as the angels (and by now
also the saints) are doing it in heaven. So the model of how we are to do Gods
will is how the angels do Gods will, and even the saints are to learn from the
angels on how to do Gods will. We go on.
Language of the Angels
Praise Godis the language
of the angels. Thats St. Pauls description of what the angels do, shall we
say, how they use their angelic tongues, which they dont have.
The Relationship of the Angels to Christ
And this of course
is featured throughout the New Testament; announced His Incarnation, announced
His birth, angels worshipped Him, ministered Him in the desert, strengthened
Him in His agony, heralded His resurrection and witnesses of His Ascension and
these are just outstanding examples.
The Relationship of the Angles to Us
And every one of these
statements as we see here and I made sure has a biblical foundation. They are
spectators of our lives. When we think in English of a spectator as watching
something which is, well a spectacle, which is admirable, well spectator from
the spectatores in Latin, does not mean merely watching us when we are
acting admirably, no they are watching us always whether acting admirably or
miserably. This is not the time for expanding each one of these ideas. But
from the first weeks of the novitiate when I entered the Society of Jesus because
it is such a large aspect of Ignatian spirituality, angels are not only watching
us, sort of like sitting by watching us, no. If we do something well, praiseworthy,
they have ways of making us feel good. And if were not acting well, they have
ways of making us well feel, miserable, feel bad. In the spirituality in which
I was trained of St. Ignatius, in His ordinary providence God uses the angels
to reach human beings. We talk about getting an inspiration from God, sure,
but its through the angels. The angels remind us, the angels, remember, nothing
ever happens with God. Nothing? Nothing. The word casual or coincidence or
chance is not in Gods vocabulary. He is always there where we are. And then,
weve touched on this before but I think it should be emphasized here, depending
on whether we are sincerely trying to serve God and do His will or not, the
angels and these are the good angels, will act towards us accordingly. If we
are doing Gods will, God tells them to encourage us. If we are out of order
God tells the angels to remind us. One of the principle purposes of pain is
to remind us of God. If sinners did not suffer theyd never return to God.
Am I making sense? What the angels can do, for example, a wild driver, and
we have a traffic accident all carefully planned by the Almighty. We need accidents,
we need misfortunes, we need suffering. And there are two people in the world
that need most suffering and the angels are always there to provide, those who
are estranged from God and those who God is calling to a high level of sanctity.
They serve those who will inherit heaven. They know that were supposed to,
were supposed to get to heaven where they are and they give us something of
a foretaste, here this is what heaven is about, isnt this nice? Now you suffer
a little more patiently and youll get to where I am.
They are used by God
to minister to human beings; examples, Mary we know at the Annunciation, Joseph.
Oh a Sigmund Freud couldnt be taught. Having done my own graduate studies
in psychology I had to wade through, awful, twenty-four volumes that Sigmund
Freud has published, I didnt read every word, but its like, going through
well a garbage truck. But this is where, for example, just three weeks ago
I was in conversation with a psychologist and I had to talk to him this way.
I asked him, Where did you get your doctorate? Michigan State. And there
was a case that he was working on that it was my job also to work on. I told
him, Youve got this thing all wrong. Hed never been talked to that way
in his life. I told him, Ive done more than my share in counseling psychologists
and psychiatrists. Poor guy, enough common sense to restrain his anger but
he was angry. Much of it is wasted time. The angels, once you have the faith
things make sense that except under faith are nonsense.
Rejoice at sinners
conversion. They celebrate. They know of the Churchs growth. They bring
our prayers before God. Protect little ones. How this needs to be said nowadays.
A mother gave me, two of I dont even know what to call them, they are not comic
books, theyre like, men like animals inside. [Smurfs?] Pardon me? [Smurfs]
Whatever they call it, but theyre books and they are filled with all kinds
of, its demonic really, its the devil. And the mother took it away from the
father who was giving his little boy these books to read. Sometimes I wish
I was carrying a gun to protect children. And our media today, and I mean this,
are hell bent on destroying the youngest of the young. Sex education from the
first grade. Protect the little ones. Bring the just after death into paradise.
They have an escort into heaven, hows that.
And now the prediction
by the angels at Christs Second Coming. Angels will accompany Christ at the
Last Judgment. Angels will act as reapers to separate the wicked from the just
and cast the wicked into fire. The angels will witness the Last Judgment, you
see they had their judgment too, it wasnt really the Last Judgment because
it was only a first in their case. The angels will execute Gods judgment,
in other words, it is under the angels that those who reach heaven will get
there and those who go to hell will also get there by the angels. And one of
my favorite expressions, every person in mortal sin is an angel, pardon me,
is an agent of the evil spirit, an agent of the devil. And every person
in Gods grace is an agent of the Good Spirit. They are always working together.
There are twelve in
case your numbers didnt come out clearly.
- The angels are
created pure spirits they have no materiality, which weve explained.
- The angels are
individual persons, weve explained. Each angel like each of our souls is individually,
separately created by God.
- Theres no ancestry
with the angels. There are no father or mother angels or grandparents. This
is our faith, each angel is separately and individually created by God even
as our souls are thus individually created by God.
- They are by nature
immortal. God could, He will not annihilate them, but an angel cannot die.
Only a human being can die. Or other living things that have a principle of
life and a body. Our principle of life is our immortal soul. The soul will
not die. The angels are immortal by nature.
- They received sanctifying
grace, were tested and the faithful merited heaven. The angels in heaven had
to work to get there. In case you think they got away with it.
- And as you know
this is the Churchs common teaching, they were tested on their humility. Which
is our main test, humility. Who goes to heaven? The humble. Who goes to hell?
- The two-fold function
of the angels is the model for us, praising God by our prayers and serving God
by ministering to the needs of others. Same thing that Ive said before but
from a different perspective. Praising God and serving God.
- We are tested as
the angels were and in the same way. Now we have a further test because weve
got a body, do we ever have a body. And our test therefore is both in spirit
and in body. They had only one probation, you might say, lucky angels, had
only one test.
- They are vitally
interested in each one of us. Now this is not just our own guardian spirit.
But the angels in general are very, to put it mildly, interested in us human
beings because as our faith tells us it is not just we as individuals with a
guardian or guiding spirit but societies have guardian angels, families have
guardian angels, parishes have guardian angels. And the outstanding, not yet
saint, but beatified in saint Peter Faber. Peter Faber, F-a-b-e-r, a Jesuit
companion of St. Ignatius, not canonized yet, he had a great devotion, composed
many prayers to angels; angels of cities, angels of families, angels of parishes,
angels of dioceses. In other words, there are angels for individual human beings
and angels for clusters or groups of individuals. They represent Gods ordinary
providence in ministering from God to human beings. And the key word there
is ordinary providence. In other words, the angels serving God in ministering
to our needs is not Gods extraordinary providence. Thats the ordinary way
that God deals with human beings. How is that? Through angels. And the more
aware we can be of that the better because then we can invoke our guardian angels,
talk to them, deal with them because they are always, to say the least, aware
of us, thats their job. And it is not forty hour weeks for the angels, it
is not just even while we stay awake. Do the angels minister to us while were
asleep? Sure. The angels, just for the level, never go to sleep.
- We need them as
messengers of Gods truth.
- In addition to
that, we need them as missionaries of Gods will, inspiration of our will.
I cannot, in the two semesters, if it is Gods will, that well have this year,
I cannot overemphasize, for those that are not doing it to start today, those
who are doing it to continue and even deepen your devotion to your angels.
Never, never let a day pass without praying at least to your guardian angel.
And I mean this, if more people are aware of their angels and invoke them theyd
have much fewer psychological and emotional problems. Because this is the favorite
way the devil works, and this of course demonology, which is not, I could tell
you something about how the devil works. He stirs up emotions, he causes confusion
of the mind. The devil is a master psychiatrist, master. And the more fervent
the more zealous a person is in trying to serve God the more psychological,
and now Sigmund Freud even has a name for it, psychopathic psychological problems.
And when a man like Freud again, I like to quote him because he in many ways
personifies the tragedy of our modern world that does not believe in a world
beyond matter. So what happens the nonmaterial evil world has a heyday and
in the United States. And the same people that produce the problem, oh they
also know of a cure. And I know the cure, for five years, I think Ive told
you, serving as chaplain at the state hospital in Kalamazoo, while teaching
my students at Western Michigan. All at once I said to myself, my students
at university need more help than these patients in the state hospital. What
do these learned psychologists do? People line up, hundreds of people like
animals, line up and each be inoculated for the day. Theres a world that we
cannot see, touch or taste or feel with our bodies but as St. Paul tells us
it is more real than the so-called real world of space and time. And its this
world that we believe in and this world has both good spirits and it sure has
- Finally, we are
destined to join the company, their company in heaven provided we imitate and
listen to them on earth.
A little overtime but
so what. Is it a fifteen minute break? So anyhow lets be real generous.
Twenty of three, okay, twenty of three we will resume.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria mater Dei ora pro nobis peccatoribus nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Regina Angelorum.Ora pro nobis.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
Copyright © 2005 Institute on Religious Life
Conference transcription from a talk that Father Hardon
gave to the Institute on Religious Life
Institute on Religious Life, Inc.
PO. Box 410007
Chicago, Illinois 60641