In one of his magnificent sermons, "The Invisible World", the Servant of God, John Henry Cardinal Newman, reminded those living in the midst of an increasingly materialistic 19th century:
Angels also are inhabitants of the world invisible, and concerning them much more is told us than concerning the souls of the faithful departed, because the latter rest from their labours, but the Angels are actively employed among us in the Church. They are meant to be 'ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation' (Heb. 1,14). No Christian is so humble but he has Angels to attend on him, if he lives by faith and love. Though they are so great, so glorious, so pure, so wonderful, that the very sight of them (if we were allowed to see them) would strike us to the earth, as it did the prophet Daniel, holy and righteous as he was; yet they are our 'fellow servants' and our fellow-workers, and they carefully watch over us and defend even the humblest of us, if we be Christ's...
Persons consciously speak as if the other world did not exist now, but would after death. No, it exists now, though we see it not. It is among us and around us. Jacob was shown this in his dream. Angels were all about him, though he knew it not, And what Jacob saw in his sleep, that Elisha's servant saw as if with his eyes; and the shepherds, at the time of the Nativity, not only saw, but heard. They heard the voices of those blessed spirits who praise God day and night and whom we, in our lower state of being, are allowed to copy and assist. We are then in a world of spirits, as well as in a world of sense, and we hold communion with it and take part in it, though we are not conscious of doing so.* * * * *
Such is the hidden Kingdom of God; and it is now hidden, so in due season it shall be revealed. Men think that they are lords of the world, and may do as they will. They think this earth is their property, whereas it has other lords besides them, and is the scene of a higher conflict than they are capable of conceiving. It contains Christ's little ones whom they despise, and His Angels whom they disbelieve, and these at length shall take possession of it and be manifested.... They will be manifested forever whom Christ comes at the Last Day 'in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels.' Then this world will fade away, and the other world will shine forth."
(Sermon XII of "Parochial and Plain Sermons", Vol. IV)
The materialism and secularism of our own genocidal 20th century, that has been the theater of a great cosmic struggle between the Angelic hosts led by St. Michael the Archangel and the fallen Angels led by the Devil (Satan), is the subject of twelve remarkable conferences by the distinguished Jesuit theologian Fr. John A. Hardon.
To those who have thought we know very little about the Angels, these twelve conferences will contain a surprising amount of information concerning those pure angelic spirits "who behold the Face of My Father in heaven" (Matt.18:10) and those evil spirits who were plunged into Hell to be damned forever. Fr. Hardon covers almost every major aspect of Angelology (the Church's theology of the Angels) in these 12 audio tapes distributed by "Eternal Life", and he draws upon the monumental Angelology of St. Thomas Aquinas (fittingly called the Angelic Doctor) and also on the six brilliant catechetical discourses on the Angels delivered recently by Pope John Paul II. With impressive eloquence Fr. Hardon systematically explains Catholic teaching found in Scripture and Tradition concerning the supernatural order where the Angels of God play a prominent role in the history of man's salvation.
The denial of the existence of Angels by modern materialists and worldly secularists is akin to live in a dream world, he notes, for Divine Revelation is absolutely clear that:
- such pure spirits and intelligences exist;
- they were created by God ex nihilo (from nothing) at the dawn of the creation of the Universe by the Holy Trinity;
- some of the Angels, led by Lucifer/Satan sinned when they were tested by God and plunged into hell while those faithful to God were admitted to the Beatific Vision;
- Angels are individual immortal persons with intelligence and free will, with the good Angels intent on man's salvation and the wicked spirits intent on man's damnation;
- the good Angels enjoying the Beatific Vision of God spend themselves in the praise and adoration of the Divine Majesty and serve as messengers to the human race;
- every human person has a Guardian Angel as protector and guide to lead him to heaven by warding off evils;
- the good Angels are to be invoked for their aid in the pilgrimage of this life for they are our mediators and intercessors before the throne of God, and serve as our models and teachers in the spiritual life. They are models encouraging us in the spirit of prayer and penance and adoration and conformity to God's will - which are desperately needed in our time as the antidote to the suffocating materialism and unbelieving neo-Modernism of the age.
As the Jesuit scholar humorously observes, "the Angels may have no bodies, but they are not nobodies!" He further notes how some modern catechetical series have spread ignorance or outright errors concerning the Angels of God who came into existence when time began. Errors concerning the Angelic order have been tied to major heresies confronting the Church. They have had catastrophic consequences in different ages of the Church, as we can see with medieval Albigensianism and the revived Manicheanism which underlies the contemporary assaults on Catholic sexual morality being perpetrated by dissenter theologians. The New Age Movement has spread a phenomenal interest in the Angels, but only to compound the errors of Protestantism. With regard to the errors being spread in moral theology, Fr. Hardon's twelve conferences on the Angels are a wonderful complement to his two other audio tape series on "Catholic Sexual Morality" and "The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" (also available from Eternal Life). Furthermore, they serve as a remarkable supplement to the doctrine on Angels contained in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (CCC).
The sin of the fallen Angels is fully treated together with the study of the activity of the Devil and his fellow demons who hate God and seek to plunge the human race into their hell of eternal suffering. Fr. Hardon explains why there was no repentance on the part of these wicked spirits. He further observes that Demonology is now a major science and whose study cannot be ignored in our time when the malignant influence of the Devil and his cohorts has never in human history been so evident. Satan is the Arch-enemy of Christ the Lord, and remains the "Prince of darkness," the "Prince of this world," that is, of "those in the world whose minds embrace untruths." As Our Blessed Lord declared, Satan was "a liar and a murderer from the beginning," indeed "the father of lies." As the "Prince of darkness," he tempts men and women into sin and vice, seducing the minds of his victims with error and deceit.
Father Hardon refers appropriately to the teaching of the Fathers of the Church who saw two mystical bodies in conflict on earth - that of Christ and that of Satan. He notes the verdict of the inspired Apostle St. John, that fundamentally there are two classes of people: those who belong to Christ and those who belong to the Devil. The alarming mass-murders of our century and the outbreak of blatant Satanism in the developed affluent nations of the West not only witnesses to the decay of Christianity in them but of a renewed effort by Satan and his minions (including those human agents of the latter who proceed to reject the very existence of truth and an objective moral order rooted in a transcendent God).
However, as the life of Christ recounted in the Gospels and the history of the Church manifest, Christ has overcome the Devil by His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and for faithful Christians the victory of salvation is assured on condition of their fidelity and obedience to the Lord's commandments and teachings. Fr. Hardon's treatment of the Angels in Scripture and Tradition is literally riveting, and shows how the good Angels continue to serve the Church in its struggle with the evil spirits who seek to destroy the supernatural life of grace in souls. Those who would demythologize Holy Scripture to adapt them to the "modern mind," thereby rendering Angels mere abstractions, poetic fancies, or delusional fantasies, are sternly reminded:
"The Gospels are unintelligible without the Angels! There is no Divine Revelation to the human race without the Angels!"
Particularly fascinating are those conferences that deal with the Devil as the "Prince of this world" and man's relentless Tempter. Fr. Hardon discusses in detail the reality of Demonic Possession and Obsession, including incidents taking place in our own time. He carefully explains the twenty-one norms that Exorcists must follow in performing the ancient ritual of the Church in expelling demons. Those dissenting moral theologians, who have opposed the infallible authority of the Vicar of Christ on the sin of contraception and have proceeded to sanction still other sexual sins, have played into the hands of the Devil who ever seeks to destroy the Church Militant. It is not surprising that sins against chastity inevitably lead to sins against charity and the Unity of the Church. American Catholics should especially note how, as in the past, the power of the State is used by the Devil to undermine the moral teaching of Our Savior.
This review gives only a pale summary of the profound and stirring reflections a great Jesuit theologian brings to bear on the reality of Angels and demons as presented in the sources of Divine Revelation, Scripture, and Tradition. The activities of both Angels and demons in the past and in contemporary life constitute an utterly captivating and gripping account that will dispel the illusions that these created spirits are but fables and myths.
These are high clarity, superior quality, and digitally mastered audio tapes in a beautiful full-color album. They represent the teaching of a Jesuit scholar in the spiritual vein of his "father in God, St, Ignatius," and a veritable "Summa Angelorum" in popular vein, preparing Catholics for the spiritual struggles of the Third Millennium.