22 Jul All about Angels!
based on talk by Fr. Antony Parankimalil VC
God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good! This talk is based on one of the most important scriptures from the Gospel of Matthew:
Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones for I tell you in Heaven the angels continually see the face of my father in Heaven.
From this passage, we understand that there are angels appointed for each and everyone of us. Based on Holy Scripture and a few practical cases, we will share with you all about the angels, their role, and their duties.
Firstly, we must know who the angels are. In the book of Hebrews, we learn that the angels are soldiers of God; the servants of God; the ministers of God. They are in the House of the Lord and are always in obedience to what God says.
Are not all the angels spirits in the divine service sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Remember, we believe in angels. When we pray the Apostles Creed, “Heavenly Father” means we believe in the Father Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. When we say “Heaven”, the angels are included. “We believe in Heaven” means we believe in angels.
When we say, “We believe in God, the creator of visible and invisible things”, the invisible things include the angels. Our Catholic faith is about the angels; the Catechism of the Catholic Church includes the angels.
We all have guardian angels. According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, when a woman conceives, she is given a new angel for the protection of the unborn baby in her womb. This just shows how much care the Lord gives to every human soul. Angels have been appointed to protect and take care of all souls, and we can always seek their intercession and support.
The Nine Choirs of Angels
There are nine choirs of angels. Their names are: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Powers, Dominions, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These choirs are in Heaven. Their numbers are many, they are like the stars in the sky. We cannot count them, but God can. We should know that the angels are higher than us. We cannot name them for God has given a name to every angel. Angels are not under the control of human beings, they are under God, and appointed by God.
The Seven Archangels
The Book of Revelation mentions seven angels with seven trumpets found in Heaven.
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God and seven trumpets were given to them.
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them.
Who are these seven angels? They are the seven Archangels. Most of us only know the names of three of them: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The remaining four Archangels are: Uriel, Salathiel, Jehudiel, and Barachiel.
What do they do, and how do they help us? The seven Archangels help us to fight against the seven cardinal sins. (The cardinal sins do not refer to the sins committed by Cardinals!)
So, you can ask the Archangels to help you, to pray for you to get out of sin. For example, Saint Michael helps you get out of the deadly sin of pride, Saint Gabriel helps against greed. Saint Raphael helps against the sin of lust. Saint Uriel helps you to get out of anger. Saint Salathiel helps you to defeat the sin of gluttony. Saint Barachiel helps you against sloth and Saint Jehudiel helps you against the sin of envy.
Remember, the angels are spirit beings, and the seven cardinal sins are not just abstract ideas but exist in the spiritual realm as the spirit of pride, the spirit of envy and so on. For instance, you cannot attack the spirit of lust. But what you have are weapons in the form of the Archangels, who are sent to help you, to stay with you, to support you. That is why you are to ask the appropriate Archangel for help against the specific sin. You can pray like this, “Saint Michael, help me to defeat the sin of pride…Saint Uriel, help me to fight against the spirit of anger…”
What do we understand about the fallen angels? These were angels that had rebelled and fell away, the easy way. You will notice that the names Saint Michael, Saint Raphael, and Saint Gabriel all end in “el”, which means “of God”. Not always, but most of the time, when their name ends in “el”, we know that they represent God and are here to help us. People end up confusing the bad angels with the good and believe that some angels can give them good fortunes. Never believe this. How do you tell them apart? The good angels are always in obedience; they cannot do anything without God’s permission.
When will we be able to know about our own angel? It is only when we have given our life totally to God. Otherwise, we will not receive any revelations about angels because they are spirit beings lower than God. But they are not God. Once you come to know about their tremendous power, you will have the tendency to worship and give your life to them. However, God does not approve this, nor do the angels.
The Book of Tobit
It is important to read the Book of Tobit, which is a beautiful book that describes the work of angels, in particular the Archangel Raphael. In Tobit chapter 3, we learn that there are two people who are praying: the first is Tobit, because he had lost his eyesight, had no money, and could not travel anywhere. (It was as if he was affected by something worse than a pandemic.) Tobit had only one son called Tobias. Tobit cried and prayed, “Lord I need my eyesight, I need my son to be a blessing. I need the money to get back.” The second person who was praying was Sarah. She had lost many husbands and could not get married. She was accused of being a curse and was killing people. So in both these struggles, Tobit and Sarah prayed. And what happened? When they cried, their tears reached the sky, reached Heaven, and reached God.
So Raphael was sent to heal both of them: Tobit, by removing the white films from his eyes, so that he might see God’s light with his eyes; and Sarah, daughter of Raguel, by giving her in marriage to Tobias son of Tobit, and by setting her free from the wicked demon Asmodeus. For Tobias was entitled to have her before all others who had desired to marry her. At the same time that Tobit returned from the courtyard into his house, Sarah daughter of Raguel came down from her upper room.
So, the Archangel Raphael was sent by God to help Tobit and Sarah. The first thing Raphael did was heal Tobit. Then he helped recover the money and solve Tobit’s financial problem. Raphael helped Sarah to get married and defeat the demon. All along, Raphael was travelling with them, as if he were a human person; as if he were a friend. They did not know he was an angel until all their problems had been solved.
So, the angels give you protection and guidance. Remember, the angels accompany you wherever you go. They are always with you, and they are always with God because they have no limitation of time or space. They are always giving reports to God. And when you pray, your prayer, the record, or whatever you pray is being taken up to Heaven by whom? By the angels.
For my angel is with you, and he is watching over your lives.
The angels operate like a 24 hour CCTV; everything is recorded, everything is noticed. This is their duty and obligation because they are the army of God, the soldiers of God, the servants of God. They are full of love, and full of obedience.
The Archangel Raphael brought Sarah’s prayers before God:
So now when you and Sarah prayed, it was I who brought and read the record of your prayer before the glory of the Lord,
And that time when you did not hesitate to get up and leave your dinner to go and bury the dead I was sent to you to test you. And at the same time God sent me to heal you and Sarah your daughter in law. I am Raphael one of the seven angels who stand ready then enter before the glory of the Lord
Tobit 12-13, 15
Remember, Raphael is one of the seven angels who stand ready to enter before the glory of the Lord. The angels are in the presence of the Lord, they are representing you in the mighty holiness of the Lord.
The two of them were shaken; they fell face down for they were afraid. But he said to them, “Do not be afraid; peace be with you. Bless God forevermore”.
When Tobit and Sarah came to know the power of Raphael, they saw him as if he was God, and they bowed before him. But the angel told them not to worship him for he was only a servant. So, if a servant of God is as powerful as Raphael, what can we say about the power of Almighty God?
According to Saint Augustine and the Church Fathers, the Angels reveal the glory of God, the power of God, the majesty of God, and the unlimited grace of God.
As for me when I was with you, I was not acting on my own will, but by the will of God. Bless him each and every day; sing his praises.
What is Archangel Raphael saying? Repeat this Word, and let it sink inside you. All God’s angels cannot do anything on their own, they are acting in obedience. Only the demons can work by themselves. Additionally, the angels are always reminding us to praise God, to worship God, to bless God and bring glory to God. They are happy when we praise God. They join us in worship because that is their duty to God, and not in honouring themselves.
Although you were watching me, I really did not eat or drink anything but what you saw was a vision.
Tobit and Sarah could not understand what Raphael was doing. Raphael was an angel, a spirit being. Angels do not have a physical form, nor do they have flesh.
Saint Padre Pio
Saint Pio had a great love, communication, and communion with angels. He used his guardian angel to communicate with people who needed help. Many people would write letters and prayer requests to him, and he would speak to the guardian angels for help. In one incidence, Padre Pio was being horribly attacked by demons. His mouth was bleeding from being physically hit. At the same time, Padre Pio could see his own guardian angel standing there, smiling at him. This upset Pio.
He said, “Are you my real guardian angel? Why are you laughing? I am in pain, why are you not helping me?” The angel replied, “Pio, you have the privilege to suffer in your body for Christ, but me, I have no body, I cannot suffer. I cannot bring glory to God through suffering. You have that glory because you have flesh, so rejoice because you can suffer for Christ.”
This story was recorded in Padre Pio’s book. We read the same truth in Hebrews regarding this privilege that human beings have.
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.
Jesus did not become an angel. He became a human. Human beings are more privileged than angels because they are made in the image and likeness of God. Angels are different as they are spirit beings.
And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
There are some people who say that after we die, we become angels. This is wrong. Angels are of a different species, a different category. You can become like an angel, but you cannot become an angel. Likewise, angels can never become human beings. But they can take the form of a human being. They are sent to help us, to protect us, to fight for us, to defend us, to guard us, and to guide us.
So now get up from the ground, and acknowledge God. See, I am ascending to him who sent me. Write down all these things that have happened to you”. And he ascended.
Saint Raphael told Tobias to write down all that happened, and that is how the Book of Tobit came about.
Then they stood up, and could see him no more.
Raphael was sent to do a duty, and once this was established, he disappeared. So, if you have the task of writing a book, the angels can help you to write, just ask them. Even with the Book of Revelation, how was Saint John inspired to write? An angel came, whispered in his ears, and gave him the revelations of Jesus Christ and what must soon take place.
Asking Angels for help
Father Antony remembers an incident whilst he was in the Tabor Retreat Centre in Mumbai in the early days of his ministry. As he was preaching, he could feel that there was no effect, as he thought people were not understanding his English. Father was so upset and went to hide in the chapel. He believed he was wasting peoples’ time as he could not use the proper words to deliver God’s message. There was also a woman in the chapel who had come for the retreat. She told Father Antony that while he was preaching, she had a vision. She saw that angels were going to different people and whispering in their ears. The angels were only going to the people who were listening to the talk. Father Antony did not understand what this meant. The lady explained that God was talking through his angels. The angels were sent by God.
Although Father Antony felt reassured that the angels were helping him whilst he was preaching, he asked the Lord if this vision was true. He opened the Bible and came to the Book of Psalms:
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
It was at this moment that Father Antony realised that whenever the Word of God was being preached, the angels will explain and interpret the real meaning of the scripture to the people.
Therefore, the peoples’ understanding was not based on the merits of the preacher or his eloquence. This is the power of the angels whenever the word of God is being preached.
On another occasion, Father Antony himself was attending a retreat. He was going through a crisis, considering his vocation and whether he should leave the priesthood. Then he heard a priest preaching from the Book of Hebrews:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Father Antony heard an angel interpreting in his ears, and knew God was saying, “My son, why do you doubt your vocation? The One who called you yesterday is the same yesterday, today, and forever”.
But the angel added, “You however are not the same, you have changed. Your love for the Lord has reduced. You have become lukewarm. But the Lord is not lukewarm. He is always zealous. He never sleeps nor slumbers”.
Brothers and sisters, today as you listen to this Word of God, maybe you have lost that zeal, but remember that God has not lost his zeal, he still loves you the way you are.
Other roles of the Angels
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them
Angels can speak to us, they even spoke to the apostles. We read in the Acts of the Apostles about a particular incident.
For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.”
As we continue reading Acts, this angel described exactly what was to happen to Paul. Angels are a reality, they are created by God, they are in existence. But there is a speciality with angels: they cannot do anything forcefully. They are gentle and will help if you ask them because God is gentle, and angels are like God.
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
Saint Therese had described many guardian angels as being “unemployed”. Do you have an angel that is unemployed, with no job to do? You may never say thank you to your angel, you never greet, nor even address them.
There is a special incident in the life of Saint Therese regarding angels. She had a habit of thanking and praising God after receiving Holy Communion. For at least twenty minutes after receiving the host, she used her body to worship the Lord in spirit and to become united with Him.
One day after Holy Communion, when she was all alone in church, she had a vision of many guardian angels surrounding her, worshipping, and bowing their heads. She was frightened and asked why they were worshipping her and not God. She was shocked. She said she was nothing, she was a sinner. The angels explained that they were not worshipping her but were worshipping the Eucharist inside of her. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the bread of life, was inside her.
They explained that when humans worship God, the angels join in because they are delighted to worship God. Saint Therese asked if they were all her guardian angels. She was told that it was not the case. Some of the angels belonged to her but most of them belonged to the other Christians who came to church. The angels were made unemployed because their people were not worshipping, so the angels joined in with Saint Therese instead.
Do you need more angels? If so, then worship God. Even your neighbours’ angels will come to you. This does not mean that angels appointed by God will leave a person and go to another. No, your angels stay with you, even after death and until you reach Heaven. The angels and Saint Michael are the ones to carry you to Heaven. So, remember that these angels are ready, and they are so happy to help you.
Praying to the Angels
How do we pray to the angels? Remember that angels communicate with other angels. So if I wanted to say something to Jeremiah for example, I should speak to my guardian angel first. My prayer should be, “My dear guardian angel, go and speak to the guardian angel of Jeremiah and convince him of what I am going to say”.
If you have difficulty with mathematics, and you do not like your teacher, send your guardian angel to help. Pray to your angel, “My dear guardian angel, help her to teach me in a better way so that I may understand”. Help will come because angels cannot pretend that they have not heard, unlike your girlfriend or boyfriend. Angels are true beings The truthfulness is their character. They are sincere because they always see God. They do not hide anything from God. Praise the Lord.
Father Antony shares another of his experiences praying to angels for help. This was when he was travelling on a flight from Rome to London. With these low-cost flights, there are no meals unless pre-booked. The flight was in the early morning yet by then Father Antony was hungry. He had not wanted to buy any food as the flight was only two hours long, and he did not want to waste money as the prices were at least double inside the plane. When the air hostess was going around with the food trolley, Father Antony was inspired to ask his guardian angel for help. He prayed in his heart, “My dear guardian angel, please speak to the guardian angel of this air hostess and inspire her to give me a little food for free”. The air hostess passed him by. Again, Father Antony prayed, “My dear guardian angel, please don’t forget to talk to the guardian angel of the air hostess. Help her to give me some food because you know I’m very hungry. You can even feel my feelings”. After some time, the hostess rolled back the trolley and took out a box of food. Looking up at Father’s seat number, she offered him the food. Father Antony told her he had not booked or pre-paid for food. The air hostess told him that somebody had already booked, and that this was extra food that he could have if he wanted. So Father Antony got his food, he ate, and his guardian angel smiled.
Jesus was helped by angels. We read this in the Gospel of Matthew.
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Brothers and sisters, if the angels came to help Jesus, how much more willing are they to help us?
For it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you to protect you”
It is written. Do you want the angels to protect you? We usually think that we only have one angel all along. In fact, there are so many more angels. And all these angels have a name. They each have a duty; they have a purpose. They have an identity. Most of the time, their name symbolises their duty appointed by God.
One of Father Antony’s angels is called Andrea, and the duty of this angel is to give him courage. Because this angel is always standing beside him, when Father preaches, he does not have any fear. Secondly, he does not feel any shame, for he can just say whatever comes to his mind. This angel is constantly telling him, “Do not be afraid, and do not be ashamed. You are representing your super God!”.
There are many other angels known by the following names: Jophiel, Raguel, Zerachiel, Zadkiel, Ariel, Samael, Barachiel.
Father Antony recollects an incident that happened while he was staying in a family home during a retreat. The parents had two children: one of the girls was called Cathy. She was five years old. Cathy had been very prayerful ever since the age of three and was so fond of Mother Mary. However, she was now addicted to the habit of watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. Whenever her parents called her over to pray, she refused as she had lost all interest in prayer. She also became very angry; whatever she watched she became. She would always be fighting, running, and jumping. Anyone who has seen Tom and Jerry will know its content. (One time, Father Antony watched the cartoon because he was curious. He found it interesting, but it was difficult to stop once started.) This is the reason why we need angels to help us.
When Father Antony re-visited the family, Cathy had changed all of a sudden. Instead of watching the cartoon, she just joined her hands and prayed like a small angel. Her parents were so surprised. She continued praying unceasingly for three or four days. When Father Antony asked her what happened, she replied that she had a vision of her guardian angel. The angel told her that it was not good to watch the cartoons, and that she had to pray to Mother Mary, and obey her parents. Her parents questioned how did she know it was her angel, and how did she recognise it, for instance, did it have wings? Little Cathy said that she did not have any fear for it was so beautiful and had bright, white wings. Her father wanted to know if she asked for her angel’s name. Cathy said that the name of her guardian angel was angel Abregiel. The parents were shocked because it was the first time they had heard about guardian angels. Even they had never received any vision of angels. Since then, Cathy’s life has changed. We know that when we become closer to the Lord, we will get the revelation of angels.
Angels can remove fear from your heart. If you are going for an interview, you must first pray for the one who is going to interview you. Angels are in communication with other angels. You should pray, “My dear guardian angel, go and speak to my manager and help him to ask me simple questions”. If you have broken a plate and you are too afraid to face your dad immediately, talk to the guardian angel of your dad first and then go and see him.
Father Antony also recalls meeting a nurse in Mumbai who wanted to get a job in the Middle East. She was invited for an interview in Dubai. Unfortunately, she was very fearful, and explained that if anyone asked her a question, she could not answer immediately due to fear. So, she would appear to be incapable but of course she could do her job. But because of her slow response, she would fail most interviews. One day she prayed to her guardian angel. “My dear guardian angel, go and speak to the one who is giving me this interview and help me”. When she went for the interview, before the boss asked her anything, he said that he had seen her in a dream the day before. He did not ask her any questions but gave her the job. That was the interview. His guardian angel had revealed to him that there was a person he needed to help, and that she would help him with the job. Brothers and sisters, these angels are so amazing.
There is an incident in the second Book of Kings concerning the Prophet Elisha. All these Prophets had divine revelations through the angels.
Then Elisha prayed: “ O Lord please open his eyes that he may see”. So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant and he saw: the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:17
The horses and chariots of fire symbolises the angels. Our God is called the “God of armies”. The God of armies means the “God of angels”, the “God of Hosts”. Remember, you too have your guardian angel.
Guardian Angel Prayer
This is a short prayer you can say to your guardian angel three times every night, before you sleep:
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God‘s love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen