10 Facts about Angels That Will Blow Your Mind

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  • If angels of the same species could not be distinguished (because they do not have “matter” along with their “form”) then how are the human souls of the dead distinguished prior to the resurrection?

    • Jacob Suggs

      Disclaimer: I’m just a guy who reads stuff on the internet and likes thinking about this sort of stuff, so if someone who actually knows things disagrees with what I say here, they’re probably right. That said, in the best traditions of the internet, I’ll go ahead and respond anyway, even though I don’t really know all that much:

      My uninformed guess at an answer: “able to be distinguished” does not mean that a particular person can, with the powers of observation/knowledge that they have, tell one from another. In fact, prior to the resurrection, I, at least, have absolutely no clue how dead humans could be distinguished by any particular being, since I have no idea what existence will be like for us at that point.

      Rather, as I understand it, “able to be distinguished” means more along the lines of “there is something about these beings, observable or not by anyone else, which is different.” In this way, dead humans still have their bodies, their matter, associated with them, even if they are not currently “occupying” them (and even if these bodies are in, shall we say, a state of disrepair). The fact that there are bodies which are in fact part of us and that can be distinguished means that even when dead we are distinguishable, in that there is something about each of us that is different from that about another.

      Whereas for angels, there simply is nothing except their form to distinguish between them as individuals. Suppose angel A and angel B have the same species. Then they would be exactly identical in every possible way, and there would be no way to say that “this bit of spirit that exists as part of a being in this form is associated with this angel over here, and this other bit with this other angel over there” because there aren’t bits of angels to talk about in that way (such bits would, as I understand, by definition be matter) .

      There is nothing about angels to distinguish them except their form, and hence if two angels can be distinguished, then they must have different forms. And so if angel A and angel B are the same species, they must in fact be the same angel, since if there was some thing other than their form that could be used to distinguish them, this thing would (from what I understand) by definition be matter (possibly an exotic type of matter entirely different from what we mean when we use the term scientifically, but something that would be called matter nonetheless) – and angels do not have matter.

      If any of this doesn’t make sense, see the disclaimer above, though I think it’s not too far off.

      • Blake Helgoth

        So, what he’s saying is that it is our bodies that individuate us. After our soul is separated from our body, it remains forever changed by its former union with the body, so in that way, the body continues to be the individuating principle. This is also why the saints in heaven long for the resurrection of their bodies.

        • Sage Basil

          no, our bodies do not individuate us. Our bodies are all of the same human form. Our souls are unique.

          • Blake Helgoth

            Um, what make it a individual is that that soul inform that particular matter. Granted, the soul is what informs the matter, giving it unique characteristics, but it is the fact the it informs particular matter that is not other matter that makes it individuated.

    • Sage Basil

      This is an an excellent question. The word species does not mean the same thing to St. Thomas Aquinas writing in the 13th century as it does to you after the revolution in biology in the 19th century needed a bunch of words and took them. The best word we have for what Aquinas called species is form.

      To Aquinas, each human is the sole member of its species as well, in contrast to animals and plants, where each blade of grass is of the same species.

  • “8. Guardian Angels Are Not Recycled”
    How do we know? We know that some angels have charge of entire nations (see Daniel 10) so why couldn’t the same guardian angel have charge of multiple persons?

    • Riley Conrad

      I agree that maybe they are recycled. For example, if a soul is damned, maybe they get to have another whom God knows will be saved.

      We don’t know the total number of the angels, we don’t know how many fell (Revelations suggests “one third of the stars” fell, but that could be just symbolic), and we don’t know the total proportion of the saved humans. We don’t know whether only the lowest choir acts as guardians, or all Angels.

      There were traditionally ideas saying that A) the number of saved humans will equal the good angels OR B) the saved humans are meant to “fill up the slots” of the fallen angels.

      So there’s an implicit traditional idea (though never fleshed out anywhere before as far as I know) if we reconcile the two that half of angels fell (interpreting “one third” as not a literal statistic), and half of humans will be saved.

      In this idea, every human in heaven both “matches” an angel and “fills up the slot” of a fallen angel.

      Under this model, we might imagine every human having both a guardian angel but also (a rather medieval idea) a familiar demon. And each angel and demon having two humans: one who gets saved and one who gets damned (though not necessarily paired with each other both times).

      It’s also possible that guardians from the higher choirs (of whole groups of humans) may accomplish this by being the guardian of the “head” member. So, for example, a Throne guardian of a kingdom also being the guardian of the first King (and of the current generation specifically, that of the current monarch; groups might have multiple guardians).

      If St Michael is the chief guardian of the Church, it maybe implies he is Christ’s own most proper guardian (I know Aquinas argues against Christ learning anything from angelic infusion; but then He was like us “in all things but sin.”)

      We might also imagine Gabriel as our Lady’s guardian, and Rafael as St Joseph’s (the top three angels). Since Pope John Paul said all three “of the order of the incarnation” (JMJ) were above the highest angels, this might also imply that there were three slots open at the top (ie, that Lucifer was the chief angelic nature and that the next two down also fell).

    • Jared B.

      Yeah, would be great if Alex Hey would provide some citation / reference for that theological statement, as he did with most of the other ones.

  • If angels exist outside of time, how is it that they not know future events? (It has been said that demons in possessed persons can only make educated guesses about the future.)

    • sez

      They only know what God wishes them to know.

    • jessej

      I’ve been intrigued for years about the idea that heaven must have sequentiality without time and disappointment without suffering.
      At least that’s the mystery I see when contemplating saints. Why would they intercede if they knew our destination ultimately? How could they not be disappointed if we fail to make it to heaven? How could they suffer from that dissapointment while beholding God in the beatific vision?

      • An example of sequentiality without time is seen in the Holy Trinity: the generation of the Son precedes the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son, though all three Persons are co-eternal.

        An example from the final moment of a baseball game:
        1. A fastball settles in the catcher’s glove
        2. The third strike occurs
        3. The last out occurs
        4. One team wins & the other loses

    • Blake Helgoth

      Well, they do exist in time, but it is a different sort of time, traditionally called aveternity.

  • CradleRevert

    A Sioux Falls to Minneapolis example, eh? You must live in my neck of the woods.

    • Shaun McAfee

      That’s a pretty good “neck” of the woods. I love the northern midwest.

  • Br. Alexis Bugnolo

    Uh, this article has several grave errors: (1) the opinion that every angel is its own species, is that of St. Thomas, refuted ably by St. Bonaventure: the Church has taken no position; (2) the Church as never taught, nor has any Saint (as far as I know) that God created any specific angel to be the guardian of any specific man; that’s absurd; Angels were created for God, not for man; (3) Christ and the Blessed Virgin and certain Saints certainly would love you more than your Guardian angel might love you, because in the case of Christ His love for you in His sacred humanity surpasses that of every creature; likewise for the Virgin, but to a lesser degree; similarly, some Saint might have a special predilection for a soul and thus love it more than even that souls’ guardian angel does. Here I speak of the human love; but all of these are also true regarding divine charity. (4) the Choirs of Angels are not a taxonomy based on biology or speciation, but on ministry, and thus are not properly a taxonomy at all, but a ministerial classification; that these might be based on their speciation, is an opinion possibly held by non-Thomists, though I don’t recall at the moment even St. Bonaventure holding such an opinion. (5) Angels do not move by quantum leaps, because a quantum leap properly so called is movement associated with quantum particles which have matter; rather Angels can move thru space as is above described correctly, just don’t call it quantum movement. (6) the argument for the existence of Angels really needs a work over: we know they exist because God says so in Scripture; that they do exist is reasonable inference from the continuity and perfection of creation as Dr. Kreeft, my former prof, says.

    • Shaun McAfee

      “Grave errors”? Okay? I didn’t see where you listed a “grave” error. Do you know what that means?

      Sorry to disappoint you. We ran this by a set of Ph.D Theologians with no red flags.

      • Br. Alexis Bugnolo

        It is a grave error to say Angels were created for men, not for God, because in saying such you take away the final ordination of the Angels to God, diminish their dignity and purpose in creation, making them a tool for man, not servants of God directly. It is a grave error to say the Church teaches what is only an opinion of some theologians, because an opinion can be in error, the Church cannot. It is a grave error to say that your guardian Angel loves you more than anyone, because you denigrate the love of your Redeemer Jesus Christ and His Mother for you, and possible that of some saints. It is a grave error to call the Angelic orders a taxonomy, because it misuses the word and leads to the confusion of biological and spiritual realms; it is a grave error to say that Angels move by the movement of a quantum particle which has mass, because Angels do not have mass….so yes, I do know what the term “grave error” means. As for your panel of theologians, I exhort them to read Aquinas or Bonaventure’s commentary on the Second Book of Master Peter Lombard’s sentences.

        • Oreb Wing

          I agree with many of your major points, Mr. Bugnolo. Jesus mentions the status of even the lowets of angels as greater than even the greatest of men (John The Baptist). However, in Matthew 18:10 it makes mention of the angel(s) of children being often in the presence of The Father. We see that Gabriel, who may very well be one of these, makes note of the honor he has in standing in the presence of God when he rebukes Zechariah’s doubt. There is much we do not know. Whether there are more angels than men, or men than angels, for instance. Or whether this special guardian is always present, as in the case of Padre Pio, when he confronts his angel for tarrying elsewhere while he cried for help during one of his night terrors.

          As for them not having mass, I must object only for the sake that I would like to better understand how the two angels in company of The Lord were able to eat the food Abraham laid out for them while they were on the way to the two cities. I think, that just as many saints were known for bi-location, that we, much as the heavenly beings, can transcend betwixt realms, as in the case of the lamb portrayed before the seated one on the throne and even John himself, being present himself (since he had counted) as one of the 24 judges in John’s revelation. Twelve for the gentiles and twelve for the Hebrews. My own insights may very well be wrong, but there is still much we do not, or cannot, comprehend yet.

      • Edward Roock

        Really? Item 1 defines God as complex, yet Aquinas proves God to be “altogether simple”

      • Terry H

        well if you ran it by a set of Ph.D Theologians…it must be true. I could run…cutting infidels heads off, past a set of extream islamic terroists theologians, and I am sure they would support it. If it is supported by the papistry…I would question it. There is no other single body of faith less believable, or more flawed. No other faith who finds joy in teaching the traditions of men, as the word of God. True story!

    • Blake Helgoth

      Saint Anselm says, “every soul, at the moment when it is infused into the body, is entrusted to the keeping of an angel.” “It is his angel” – Acts 12:15.
      It seems that the Father hold that, in fact, each person does have a guardian Angel.

    • Sage Basil

      (1) is not an error, it is an opinion presented as settled fact

      (2) is in keeping with Summa Theologica, part 113 https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1113.htm

      (3) this is difficult to say whether it is right or wrong

      (6) we believe than angels exist because God has the power to create them and God told us that He created them

    • Joseph Saade

      Actually, it is true that every man and woman that has ever lived, has been assigned a guardian angel. Yes, God did make angels for himself. But, all God wants for us is our acceptance of his word and teaching. Guardian angels, as described above, help us to reach that point. Even Adam and Eve, while they were considered perfect, before original sin, had their own guardian angels. To understand this, you have to look at the full meaning of the words “guardian angel”. Guardian is obvious. To guard and protect. The word angel actually means “messenger”. It isn’t practical to think that God always talked directly to Adam

  • Blake Helgoth

    Regarding movement, I would argue – with Aristotle on my side – that movement does not involve passing over a set of points, but rather a process of going from potentiality to act. If you take the passing over numerous points view, then you are left trying to explain how something can pass over the infinity series of points between points A and B. Movement is a far more elusive concept than it seems. Point in space are really an abstract way of explaining spatiality.

    • Sage Basil

      there are as many moments as points; how does one go from one second to the next through all the moments in between?

      • Blake Helgoth

        Again, if you take the position that action is being partially in act and partially in potential, then this problem is avoided. Points in time, seconds, nano seconds, etc are abstractions. They are a method we use to measure time, but time is not an aggregate of seconds or nano seconds.

    • Josip61

      You are talking about travel within the realm of time. WE do that. Angels do not.
      What did Aristotle know about time?
      Or angels?

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  • Beth

    Re ” that woman from that moment forward would be venerated as ‘Queen of Angels'”. What is your source for this?

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  • john the lesser

    most of this information is from the Koran and the Book of Enoch

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  • You missed something. Although we cannot claim that the angels have any gender, Scripture only ever reveals masculine names for angels. So, it seems that no angels have feminine names.

  • Paradox

    I was disappointed: I knew those things before coming here.

  • LiquidGrace

    I enjoyed reading this! Thanks 🙂

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