Angels Angels Around our pillows golden ladders rise, And up and down the skies, With winged sandals shod, The angels come and go, The messengers of God! ~Richard Henry Stoddard~ Angelos, AYN jul, are both words that mean angel. This goes to show that angels are widespread though out the world. Beliefs and ideas on angels are common among a variety of people in many places and within many religions. As to what a true angel is, in definition, is undecided. Whether there really are angels is the supreme question. The idea of an angel dates back to the 5th century to the religion of Zoroastrianism. Angels were mere agents of a supreme deity. It was believed that there were six archangels who guarded Ahura Mazda (the wise Lord).
(Americana 837) The Jews believed that the origin of a devil is from the fallen angels. Judaism accepted the idea that the end of the world would be when the angels of God would defeat Satan and his fallen angels once and for all. The Christians then adopted the beliefs on angels. In fact, at one point church councils worried that Christians devotion to angels was challenging their devotion to God. (Lewis 220, 221) Angels were actually mentioned in the Christian Bible.
There are over 300 references within the New and Old Testament. In the Bible the biblical God sent angels out to carry messages, protect, destroy, and offer praise. However, in the Hebrew scriptures, or the Old Testament, angels play a much larger role. They constitute the court of heaven and they surround the throne of God. (Lewis xiii, 72,73,) Just as the Christians adopted ideas about angels from Judaism, Islam adopted their ideas from Christianity. In Islamic theology, angels are said to have been created before man and were of a finer nature. Just as angels were under God in the Christian religion, angels in Islam serve, worship and obey their god, Allah.
Angels are also mentioned in the Koran and play a very important role in Islam. (Lewis 220, 221) Because of the varieties of people and religions in the world, there are many beliefs as to what angels are and what their purpose is. Experts who study angels say that angels are created in the human mind in response to a need. People get great comfort in believing in angels in that they hear their prayers, guide, protect, and encourage. There is a rising interest in angels especially in this age of uncertainty.
(Lewis xiii-xvi) It is believed that angels were created by God and are not humans who have died. They can not marry or reproduce. It was said that angels are placed a little higher than man is but through redemption man becomes higher. (Fascinating Facts) Angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim were and still are sources of inspiration for painters and sculptors. Until the 10th century angels were curiously formed because no one knew the true appearance of an angel. Different artists portrayed angels in different ways.
Giotto was the first to approach and ideal represtention of angels. Fra Angelico was the first to succeed in portraying absolutely unearthly angels. They did not resemble any human creature. Michelangelos angels had no wings and da Vincis angels smiled. Rachaels angels were sexless, spiritual, and graceful.
He displayed their intelligence and power. Angels were usually shown as feminine. In some cases though, angels resembled a beautiful boy or happy child. (Lewis 56-58) Of all the different beliefs in angels, some are very common beliefs among them. One is that they are completely loyal to whomever they are below.
They are loyal also to the people they are helping because they dont have their own agenda. Another common characteristic is infallible discernment. Angels are separated from the human race therefore they are not subject to the confusions of our world. For example, they know the difference between right and wrong and there is no question. An angels thoughts and actions are pure.
Another point about angels is that among their enormous number, no two are alike. Many people believe in angels because it gives them comfort, others believe because they themselves have had experiences with them. There are three types of ways that communication with these spiritual beings is possible. The first way is through audio presentation. In this way, the receiver hears the message from an angel and is usually in an awakened state.
Persons, who have encountered this form of communication, describe music or buzzing sounds before and after the message is presented. Messages that come through this kind of communication are usually joyous tidings or warnings. The second way angels can communicate with humans is through dreams. These messages usually refer to the welfare of others or they address an approaching concern. These dreams can occur in sequences, and may come rapidly within hours, days, months, or even years. Finally, the third type is the direct or visible approach.
Angels that take the direct approach draw little attention to themselves and the message is simple and direct. The message usually involves the person receiving the message. People who have encountered angels through this form say that the angels appeared in brilliant white robes, or they come in radiant balls of white light. Especially in time of death, the angels have been described as deceased family members or friends that have come to help them to the other side. Leonard Day comments, It must be stressed that communication with angels at any level -audio, dream, or visual- is only possible through the understanding and acceptance of the human sprit. Vital communication can be sent through the angels if we are open to the messengers and the messages. (Lewis 102-105) There are many types of angels but the ones that most people are familiar with and take notice of are guardian angels. The concept of a guardian goes back to Mesopotamia. Here people believed they had personal gods called massar sulmi (the guardian of mans welfare).
The Zoroastrians call these protective sprits fracashis. The Greeks refer to the guarding sprits as daemons. They believe that they are assigned to people from birth and they guide and protect. The Japanese had a guiding sprit called Kami. The pre-Christian Romans believed that there were separate guardians for men and women.
They called the men quardian genius, and the womens juno. The one who took the idea of a guardian sprit to a great extent was the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church acknowledges the existence of guardian angels and believe that every human being (catholic or not) is assigned a guardian angel from birth. There are many beliefs about the functions of these guardian angels. They ward off dangers to the body and soul and prevent Satans suggesting evil thoughts, remove occasions of sin, and help us to overcome any temptation put before us.
They are to correct us when we sin. They enlighten, instruct, and foster in us holy thoughts and pious desires. They offer to God our prayers and pray for us. The main job of the guardian angel, according to Catholics, is to conduct our souls to heaven or to purgatory (a state before heaven where the soul is cleansed) and console us there. They help us in agony of death and strengthen us.
However, they can not penetrate the inner sanctuary of the human heart, because it is reserved for only God, but they can only help us. (St. Michael 33-34, 65.) There are nine choirs of angels. They are divided into 3 hierarchies in which they all have their own duties and purposes. The first hierarchy is made up of the seraphim, cherubim, and the thrones. Seraphim, which name means ardor, consume the fire of Divine love.
This burning love keeps them close to Gods throne. They bear this light and love to lesser angels. The cherubim which means fullness of knowledge, are given deep insight into Gods secrets and they possess the fullness of the divine science of heaven. They enlighten lesser angels with the voice of divine wisdom. The third choir of the first hierarchy is the thrones.
They are submissive and peaceful. God coveys his sprit by these angels. Their job is to communicate with inferior angels and to men. The second hierarchy is made up of the Dominations, the Virtues, and the powers. The dominations make known to us gods commands.
They have a zeal for maintenance of the kings authority. The virtues have the duty of carrying out the orders of the dominations. They are attributed with strength. The powers fight against the evil sprits and defeat their wicked plans. Finally, the third hierarchy is made up of the Principalities, the archangels, and the angels.
The principalities guard the nations of the earth. They can give grace, light, and strength to anyone who exercises authority. Archangels and entrusted with more important missions that have to do with men. They are given as guardians to great personages. They protect the church under the leadership of the head archangel, St. Michael, and they defend it against enemies. The angles are the last choir of the sprits of light.
Ordinary messengers sent to men and guardian angels are chosen from them. They shine Gods goodness towards us. They minister to all, the just and the sinners, to Gods command. They have a true sense of values and serve God with great honor. Many new ideas of angels have arisen through out time.
Many people have claimed to have had encounters with angels. Some may be true and some mere stories or objects of the imagination. Whether or not there are angels all depends on what you believe. Bibliography Works Cited Lewis, James R. and Evelyn Dorthy Oliver. Angels A to Z. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc, 1996.
About Angels- The Fascinating Facts. 1998. www.pe.net/~mccom/angels.http.Internet. 15 Mar. 1999 What about Angels? 1998, 1999. Clarifying Christianity. www.azstarnet.com.
Internet. 15 Mar. 1999 Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Sprits. New York, NY: Facts on file, 1992. Vaticane, Libreria Editrice, Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Boston, Ma: Pauline St. Paul Books and Media, 1994. St. Michael and the Angels. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc, 1983. Angel. Encyclopedia Americana.
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