The Church has very few official teachings on angels (CCC 328-336, 391-395). However, theologians have come to a consensus on certain topics relating to the angels. Most of these teachings come from St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as St. Bonaventure, and Dionysius. Below are some of the most mind-blowing things we know about angels.
1. THEY EXIST
The very fact that they exist should blow your mind. There are a multitude of TV shows that search for ghosts (spirits without bodies), but Catholics have as an article of Faith the teaching that Angels (pure spirits) exist.
But, is it logical to believe in angels?
“Below us are intelligent animals, like apes, then less intelligent animals, like fish, then barely intelligent animals, like slugs and TV producers, then plants, then minerals. The strategy of the Creator seems to be fullness, not emptiness… if there were no angels, there would be a great gap between us and God.” – Dr. Peter Kreeft, Angels (and Demons): What Do We Really Know About Them?
In short, just as there are creatures increasing in complexity from the basic one-celled organism all the way to humans, there are creatures in increasing complexity from Humans to God, as well. If you can prove the existence of God, then you can prove the existence of angels. St. Thomas Aquinas can prove angels exist.
2. IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY WERE CREATED, THE ANGELS WERE TESTED BY GOD
We do not know for sure what this test was, but the consensus of theologians is that they were given the knowledge of the Incarnation and told that they would be called upon to worship Jesus. Most angels assented to God’s will, but Lucifer (meaning “light bearer”) refused to worship anything that had a human nature. Furthermore, it was revealed that the Incarnation would happen through a woman and that woman from that moment forward would be venerated as “Queen of Angels”. Upon learning this, Lucifer cursed God and uttered, “I will not serve.”
3. HOLLYWOOD HAS LIED TO YOU ABOUT ANGELS
Hollywood is notorious for misinformation on angels. They often depict angels as puny, feminine, and winged. Sometimes they are depicted as naked babies.
Remember that cute little kid at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life? “Teacher says, ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.’”
Angels are spiritual beings and do not have matter. Therefore, they do not have bodies on which wings could attach.
What do they actually look like? Nothing. They are pure spirits, and we cannot see them. God can choose to allow us to see them, however. They could appear to be human or a winged creature, but they are almost always frightening to behold.
Another Hollywood lie about angels is that people become angels when they die. Angels are angels and always have been. No one has ever become an angel. Although, it is generally considered “in poor taste” to explain this to a grieving individual who has just posted a Facebook status that begins, “Heaven just gained another angel…”
4. ANGELS MOVE BY QUANTUM LEAPS
Well, sort of….
For our purposes, a quantum leap is basically when something moves from A to Z without passing through B, C, D, etc. An angel can move from one place to another without passing through any in between places. When I need to get from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota, I am forced to pass through exciting towns like Windom and Lake Crystal. However, an angel could get from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis without passing through all of the small towns along Highway 60.
Here is where things get even more confusing: This is a flawed way of looking at this. Angels do not have matter, so they do not technically move at all. They are spiritual and not subject to the laws of physics like we are. However, when God wills it, they can and do appear in our world. Confused? Me too. Let’s move on.
5. ANGELS HAVE THEIR OWN TAXONOMY
Remember back in school when they made you memorize King Phillip Climbs Over Fences Gathering Sticks so you could remember the classification system for living organisms?
Similarly, angels have their own taxonomical structure. They are organized into three hierarchies and nine choirs. Each hierarchy contains three choirs. The hierarchies do not have cool names, but the nine choirs do.
There may be more groupings within these groups, but they have not been revealed to us.
6. EACH ANGEL IS THE SOLE MEMBER OF HIS OWN SPECIES
The simplest way of explaining and proving this is to say, “St. Thomas Aquinas said it, and you cannot argue with Aquinas.”
“In things of one species there is no such thing as “first” and “second” [prius et posterius], as the Philosopher says (Metaph. iii, text 2). But in the angels even of the one order there are first, middle, and last, as Dionysius says (Hier. Ang. x). Therefore the angels are not of the same species…For such things as agree in species but differ in number, agree in form, but are distinguished materially. If, therefore, the angels be not composed of matter and form, as was said above (Article 2), it follows that it is impossible for two angels to be of one species…” – Summa Theologica P1, Q50, A4
Dixit Aquinas. Ergo est.
7. YOU HAVE A GUARDIAN ANGEL
How do we know this? Jesus said so (Matthew 18:10). The Creator of the universe gave us an angel so that we would never be alone. Our angels are to protect us, guide us, and lead us into Heaven. It is like having your own personal Batman following you around for protection and to tell you when you should not do something.
8. GUARDIAN ANGELS ARE NOT RECYCLED
The Infinite Being (God) created a being specifically for your benefit. Your guardian angel was created to get you to Heaven. When is the last time you talked to your angel?
9. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO NAME YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
“The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.” – Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 217
To name something is to assume authority/control over them. Angels are not like pets or children. We are not given power over our guardian angels.
Could your guardian angel reveal his name to you in prayer? Yes, but a demon could also attempt to trick you by giving you a name for your angel that is not your angel’s name.
10. NO ONE KNOWS YOU BETTER, NOR LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
Except for God.
Keep praying. Keep singing.