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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. Let’s 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 Lord’s 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 Lord’s 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 God’s will. But notice we are to do God’s 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 God’s will is how the angels do God’s will, and even the saints are to learn from the angels on how to do God’s will. We go on.

Language of the Angels

Praise God—is the language of the angels. That’s St. Paul’s description of what the angels do, shall we say, how they use their angelic tongues, which they don’t 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 we’re 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 it’s 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 God’s vocabulary. He is always there where we are. And then, we’ve 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 God’s 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 they’d 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 we’re supposed to, we’re supposed to get to heaven where they are and they give us something of a foretaste, ‘here this is what heaven is about, isn’t this nice? Now you suffer a little more patiently and you’ll 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t read every word, but it’s 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, “You’ve got this thing all wrong.” He’d never been talked to that way in his life. I told him, “I’ve 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 Church’s growth. They bring our prayers before God. Protect little ones. How this needs to be said nowadays. A mother gave me, two of I don’t even know what to call them, they are not comic books, they’re like, men like animals inside. [Smurfs?] Pardon me? [Smurfs] Whatever they call it, but they’re books and they are filled with all kinds of, it’s demonic really, it’s 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, how’s that.

The Prediction

And now the prediction by the angels at Christ’s 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 wasn’t really the Last Judgment because it was only a first in their case. The angels will execute God’s 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 God’s grace is an agent of the Good Spirit. They are always working together.

Spiritual Implications

There are twelve in case your numbers didn’t come out clearly.

  1. The angels are created pure spirits they have no materiality, which we’ve explained.

  2. The angels are individual persons, we’ve explained. Each angel like each of our souls is individually, separately created by God.

  3. There’s 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. And as you know this is the Church’s 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 proud.

  7. 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 I’ve said before but from a different perspective. Praising God and serving God.

  8. We are tested as the angels were and in the same way. Now we have a further test because we’ve 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.

  9. 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 God’s 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 God’s extraordinary providence. That’s 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, that’s 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 we’re asleep? Sure. The angels, just for the level, never go to sleep.

  10. We need them as messengers of God’s truth.

  11. In addition to that, we need them as missionaries of God’s will, inspiration of our will. I cannot, in the two semesters, if it is God’s will, that we’ll 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 they’d 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 I’ve 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. There’s 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 it’s this world that we believe in and this world has both good spirits and it sure has evil spirits.

  12. 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 let’s 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

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