A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Imagine Being An Angel… No Thanks

Bill Farrelly

by Bill Farrelly

WHAT do you think of angels? Until recently I hardly ever thought about them at all.

It had been a comfort, especially in my childhood, to know that my guardian angel was nearby. I also accepted without any qualms that Mary had been visited by the angel Gabriel. Likewise, I was at ease with the angels reassuring the three women at Jesus’ empty tomb.

A (misplaced) prologue: I’ve occasionally been told that I think too much – sometimes, I would argue, by people who don’t think enough. Nevertheless, they have a point and this little foray could be a prime example. I’ll understand if you drop out along the way.

The thing is, I have lately been struggling to accept the reality of angels – which is rather odd considering I have no difficulty accepting God, the Trinity, the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. Nor do any other miracles present a challenge for me.guardian-angel

I think one of the things I am most uncomfortable with is their absence of gender. It’s not as if there is any ambiguity here – they are neither, we are taught, male nor female.

We are told that, all going well, we will one day be with God and His angels in heaven. Somewhere deep in the recesses of my memory I think there may even have been a suggestion that we would become angels as well. Or was it that we would become like angels?

I realise this is an impossible exercise but it is also fascinating. And, for me, scary. I don’t want to be an angel or like an angel. I’m not even sure I want to be in the company of angels, which is probably a great relief to a lot of angels.

I’m also challenged by the fallen angels. I can’t get my head around the idea of them provoking God. For them to have done so implies that they had free will. and as I understand Church teaching, angels do  have free will.

Obviously God created the angels. Why did He create them, I wonder? And why would He create them when He knew some of them would rebel?

I am not trying to be mischievious. I suppose I would have been burned at the stake as a heretic at one time for voicing such thoughts.

This exercise is making me feel quite uncomfortable. As with so many of these theological challenges there is no rational explanation.

Am I wasting my time?

The simple truth is that I was wondering whether – and hoping that – as I was musing about the subject I would discover some clarification that would enlighten both you and me.

One thought that has occurred to me, however, is that  when we die, perhaps we will no longer have free will, and I find that very troubling. I realise that we won’t need it any more because the journey will be over but my human mind cannot conceive of no longer being able to make a choice. Without that freedom we are no longer human.

Therein, perhaps, lies the answer to my dilemma. So I can relax. Sort of.

That rustling noise you can hear is the angels arguing among themselves over who draws the short straw on keeping an eye on me for the next few years.

Tagged as: ,

Comments are closed.