|Archangel Michaelerkirche, Vienna|
Being an LSP isn't just about horses, guns and underhand attacks on the "agitprop abomination" (thanks Silverfiddle) that is TEC and the extra-planetary ACoC. No, sometimes it involves reflection on the Angels. What are these creatures?
If you're a dogmatic atheist the answer's simple - they're figments of overheated imaginations. Madeleine Murray O'Hair and Margaret Sanger probably thought that, but to the faithful they're something else again.
Here's some basic background:
Being spirits, we can say that angels are invisible, immaterial essences and therefore not bound by physical constraints. However, we learn from Scripture that angels interact with the material world and can assume bodily appearance, for example, rolling away the stone of the empty tomb (Matthew 28:2; Mark 16:3-4).
|O'Hair, not an angel|
Likewise, they appear as messengers of the Divine will and harbingers of His judgement, notoriously so in John's Apocalypse, where they exercise power and control of the elements to bring about the consummation of the Kingdom. Possessed of intellect, emotion and volition and living in a permanent state of heavenly bliss, they act in harmony with the will of God against the forces of wickedness - not least that of Satan and his apostate angels whose end is destruction.
Tradition, relying on Scripture and the teaching of the Church Fathers, assigns nine ranks to the angelic host: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels, with each rank having a different function. Seraphim, for example, worship before the throne of God (Isaiah 6:2-3; Revelation 4:8), while the Archangel Michael leads the angelic army against Satan (Revelation 12:7).
Again, Tradition assigns each person and place an angel, from heavenly bodies to Airborne units.
|Archangel Michael, Airborne Patron|
And, if you want to learn more about angelic natures it's probably best to check out the Medieval schoolmen who devoted great mental energy to the thing. I find it interesting and suspect that the subjects of the inquiry served as vehicles for broader metaphysical speculation - but my preference aside, it seems abstruse and fantastical to most people today.
So, granted belief, what are we to make of the angels?
On the one hand, it seems comforting to think that we have supernatural guardians, but when we reflect on their implacable goodness perhaps an element of healthy respect and awe is also in order.
Remember the Cherubim in Genesis 3:24 - they were possessed of a flaming sword. Not to be conjured with lightly.