February 29, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Angels: From the sublime to childish views

Shirley Vogler MeisterLast week, I briefly wrote about angels within the context of a personal experience. This week, I share more about angels, but still merely a smidgen of the information that is available about these pure spirits created by God.

In the earliest times—notably in both the Old Testament and New Testament in the Bible—the existence of angels was acknowledged.

Angels were created by God, but Scriptures do not mention when this actually happened.

However, they are often “on the scene”—even in the Old Testament.

Angels were at the entrance of the Garden of Eden. An angel intervened to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son. An angel saved Lot and his family when they were fleeing from Sodom and Gomorra. Angels also accompanied the people of Israel throughout the Exodus, and they aided the prophets.

In the New Testament, they appear five times, and have a special role during the conception and birth of Jesus.

In both the Old Testament and New Testament, some angels are mentioned by name. Jesus spoke of angels. They have even been identified in this order: Angels, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones and Archangels. The Old Testament mentions two others: Seraphim and Cherubim.

According to Catholic Online, accessed at both www.catholiconline.com and www.catholic.org, “God created angels because the Creator himself is so powerful and glorious that He cannot be approached in person by human beings. … Angels do not have man’s shortcomings and can therefore act for God. … Angels were made immortal. … Their eternal quality was spoken of by Jesus in Luke 20:35-36.”

According to the same source, angels watch and safeguard everyone, and many have been given special names, such as St. Michael the Archangel and St. Gabriel the Archangel.

Of course, angels who did not return God’s love became “fallen angels,” better known as demons, but I choose not to dwell on that.

Last week, I promised to share thoughts about angels as seen through the minds of children. Who among us can remember our own misconceptions, such as, “We hear thunder because angels are bowling in heaven?”

I believe even Jesus, who suggested that we be more like children, would smile at these youngsters’ ideas about angels, which were gleaned from the Internet.

“I only know the names of two Angels, Hark and Harold.”

“Everyone’s got it wrong. Angels don’t wear haloes anymore. I don’t know why, but scientists are working on it.”

“Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to do something else.”

“What I don’t get about angels is why, when someone is in love, angels shoot arrows at them.”

“Some angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets, and—if they don’t make them get better—they help the kid get over it.”

“Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who’s a very good carpenter.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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