Recently, the Marian Cenacle Group of the Contemplative ministry of our parish organized a talk on the angels and invited one of the few real experts on angels. He is Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P., a Dominican priest and the secretary general of UST. He is a professor of Theology at the UST Central Seminary and a member of the official team of exorcists of the Archdiocese of Manila. Fr. Winston gave his talk before an overflowing audience at our parish center. He cited teachings and beliefs on angels and identified his basis and sources, and whether they are based on dogma, doctrine, traditions and teachings of the early Fathers, Doctors of the Church, revelations made to saints, Papal dissertations, teachings of the Magisterium etc. In other words, he made it clear that his talk was not drawn from his own conclusions but from the teachings/catechism of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Winston divided his talk into 2 parts since there are two kinds of angels: The Good Angels and the Fallen Angels (demons and unclean spirits). Fr. Cabading starts by saying that the reality of human greatness and the tragedy of human misery in the face of death cannot be fully grasped without the understanding of the world of spirits – the angels. God created angels from the beginning of time and being spirits, they have no end.
There is a hierarchy of angels in heaven wherein the highest angel minister to the Most High and these are the seraphims, cherubims and thrones. There are those who implement the blessings of God given to the material world and enable God’s will be present to mankind; these are the principalities, the archangels and the angels. St. Michael the archangel is chief of the heavenly hosts. Angels after the archangels are closest to mankind and the material world. God has assigned to each one a guardian angel from the moment of conception and stays with him to the end of his earthly life. At death, it is they who bring us to God for judgment; whether they will accompany us to purgatory to console and to pray for us, or lead us happily to heaven or to separate from us sadly if the judgment is of eternal damnation.
Our angels respect our free will but when they are invoked, they come to our aid immediately. If we fall into sin, they inspire us to repentance. They protect man and expel demons that seek to destroy a child of God. We have only to call them. The prayer to our guardian angel, taught to us in childhood, must always be prayed every morning and before we go to bed. The prayer to St. Michael by Pope Leo XIII is very powerful.
We may not ask the angels for their names.; only God can reveal it to us. We must be very careful in guarding ourselves from deceptions regarding devotions to the angels. Many deceptive New Age practices have come out naming them or asking for their names or an angel’s revelation that he is St. Michael or a seraphim.
There are only two kinds of spirits – the good spirits or the faithful angels, and the bad spirits or the fallen angels. These are the demons that were thrown to earth after their fall and we know them as elementals. God warns us against pagan practices and their idols that are in reality the evil spirits who are raring to be worshipped like God.
We communicate with the good angels through prayer and never through techniques or incantations, never through spirit questing, mediumship, witchcraft or any of those New Age pagan practices resorted to by many.
Who comes when these spirits are invoked? The devil disguised as a loved one, a relative, an angel of light or even Sto. Nino or the Blessed Mother.
The story of the fall of the angels shows the great love God has for man, even above the angels. Lucifer assumed that because of his angelic nature – closer to the nature of God – he should be the most eminent of all God’s creatures. But instead he saw that God gave this eminence to a woman. The incarnation was central to God’s plan in the creation. Lucifer’s attitude toward the incarnation was: Non Serviam. He rejected the incarnation because the word of God would assume human nature which was infinitely inferior to that of angelic nature. By rejecting the incarnation, he rejected the plan of God to have the presence of that ‘Lady’from whom the word is to be made flesh, and seated at His Right Hand as Queen of Heaven and Earth, of angels and of men. He rejected Mary’s elevation to be higher than the seraphims and the elevation of humanity to the level of the cherubims and the thrones. All these were too much for his pride and he rebelled. He is the cause of the sin against God because he wanted to be equal to God and to be worshipped. He sinned against Man (Jesus) because he saw himself far superior to Man (Jesus) and therefore more fitting of “divinization.” And so Lucifer declares: “I will not serve. (He will not serve the God-Man.)
Fallen angels have only one intention for man – to murder him by seducing him to pride and disobedience, which leads to sin which leads to death. Fr. Winston, an exorcist of the Archdiocese of Manila, cited examples of the devil’s trickery which he has seen and experienced during rites of exorcism that he performed and how the devil humiliates man by making a possessed person growl and crawl like an animal.
Fallen angels battle against man’s salvation. They torture men on earth but they torture those they have won over much more terribly in hell. Fallen angels are tortured by the knowledge that they are totally vanquished forever, they cannot attain beatitude, their power is limited by Divine governance, and that despite their efforts to bring men to hell, these men may yet go to heaven.
Fr. Winston says the devil is very active today, but we have our guardian angels and the saints and Our Blessed Mother to help us. The devil especially hates man because God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to ransom us from death. Satan only seeks our destruction and we must never be deceived by the seeming benefits he baits us with. Let us not be complacent especially when everything seems to be going well in our lives.
The battle of the angels is now brought down to earth. It is now the battle for souls. That is why to speak about the devil is not old fashioned or outdated or something of the imagination. We must be warned again. To win the battle we must know the enemy and his strategies. It is a reality and Jesus Himself warned us. By expelling them, He showed we must not co-exist with them.
God has gifted us with intellect and free will to choose which side we want to be. He and all the good angels will always respect our choice. However, He has given us all the necessary weapons and help we need to recognize the devil and thus to reject him and his many deceptions, for the devil will never come to us as devils with all their monstrosity and hideous darkness. They come to us as spirits of light and beauty. But let us not be deceived!
The faithful angels will play a major role at the end of the world; they will be the ones to execute God’s final judgment.
By God’s gift of free will, the choice depends on us – which battle line shall we be?