On this Feast of the Archangels, I thought I would share from a piece on angels I wrote a few years ago:
I imagine angels to be like responsible teenagers asked to babysit their toddler siblings. I’m sure that my own guardian angel is often exasperated with me, as tends to happen when babysitting mischievous toddlers. Sometimes the kids are adorable, and sometimes you have to lure the guinea pig out from under the couch because the toddler set it loose again. (Not that I, er, have any direct experience with that.) But I know that despite my tendencies to get caught in the same crazy predicaments time and time again, my guardian angel must also delight in me as well. After all, the angels have willingly chosen to babysit us, and they love us more than we know. Just as the antics of toddlers can have a certain charm, our human weakness and naiveté must seem endearing in the eyes of the angels.
This is, of course, an imperfect analogy, for angels are not more mature versions of humans but rather different beings entirely. Angels are pure spirits, far smarter and stronger than we are; their superior intellect operates on a higher plane than what we can possibly grasp. Their decision to follow Christ was made with full knowledge and understanding in ways beyond our comprehension, and the things that puzzle us are clear to them. Despite their intellectual superiority, they have embraced a humble spirit. They look upon humanity with awe each and every time we receive the Eucharist, recognizing that through our fleshly existence, we are united with Jesus in a special way.
St. Michael the Archangel got his name by asking in humility, “Who is like God?” Unlike Lucifer, he bowed before the Creator and vowed to do His will, embracing the opportunity to serve humanity. All the angels in Heaven have made a permanent, irrevocable decision to serve those who are weaker than themselves. They honor Mary as their Queen and forever come to the aid of her sons and daughters on earth.
Since angels are superior to man, they can enlighten man. They can strengthen the understanding of human beings and make men aware, in some sensible manner, of the truths to be imparted.
— Msgr. Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa
The angels’ sublimely harmonious voices, joined with our imperfect ones, lift up our own songs toward God and make them more beautiful. With every “Holy, holy, holy” and Gloria we sing, they surround us to elevate our song. At the pivotal moment of the Nativity, orchestrated for our salvation, they gathered to sing exquisitely beautiful hymns of joy and thanksgiving toward God. They do not resent the gifts God has given humanity; rather, they love us fiercely and protect us on our journey toward Heaven.
1. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, El Ángel de la Guarda / PD-US
2. William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The virgin of the angels / PD-US