Sunday, December 2, 2012

On the Angels

From the CCC:
§350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).
Fra Angelico's painting The Annunciation
Angels are present throughout the Scriptures. St Michael casts the devil out of Heaven in Revelations, and Raphael assists Tobias and Sarah in the Book of Tobit. Perhaps most relevant to Advent is St Gabriel, whose declaration to Mary marked her conception by the Holy Spirit, and thus she began to prepare for the coming of Christ. The Church celebrates this on March 25, which is associated with the creation of the world, the conception of Christ, and His Passion and Resurrection. In simple terms, this unifies salvation history.

We should always be preparing ourselves, both on the interior through the Sacraments and prayer and on the exterior through our works for His coming, following the example of the Blessed Mother.

The angels are always praising God; the angels sang 'Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis [Glory to God in the Highest, and peace on Earth to people of goodwill]. And as the Pope reminds us in his new book Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, the angels actually spoke to the shepherds, but their speech is rendered in song. Also, the angels are able to intercede for us in special and powerful ways. Remember these items, particularly during Advent.

Also, the angels are always singing in the Heavenly Liturgy, and it is awesome that we can offer the unblemished Sacrifice of the Mass and all our intentions, in union with their offerings of prayer and praise, so that one day we may enter into the same liturgy and no longer offer sacrifice. This is why we sing the 'Sanctus' immediately before the Consecration.

§ 351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
The disgust felt by Lucifer and Co. at the news that Christ would become incarnate, and that angels would assist men in their salvation led to his revolt, and subsequent expulsion from Heaven.

§ 354 Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for morality.
Laws were given to us out of love, because the Lord God wishes that we come into full union with Him in Heaven. Just laws reflect this notion. There is a really cool passage in The Spirit of the Liturgy on why God gave us law; in this context, it is related to man as a religious being and the development of the liturgy. I'll have to find this, and post about it another time. 

Two last thoughts: I posted the 'Sanctus' from the Missa de Angelis, which is the Mass of the Angels. Gregorian chant could very well be our closest human understanding of the music of the angels, which is so wondrous and a reason to aspire for the beatific vision. St Gregory the Great apparently received a vision which contained the opening words to the 'Regina Caeli,' and he composed the rest. I think we should return to chanting the Mass Propers and Ordinary, along wit the Divine Office as much as possible...hymns should not be supplanted though; use them at the Entrance (after the Introit), Recession, Offertory (as a motet, after the Offertory prayer), and the Recession (the 'Ite, missa est' should be chanted too.)

Also, I covered a bunch of different things about angels. Their understanding of creation, which is so much greater than ours as men, is largely unexplored though. Go check it out! 

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