Monday, March 24, 2014

Humans never become angels





With apologies to Clarence of It's a Wonderful Life (and all those good-hearted, well-meaning folks who comfort the grieving by saying that "Heaven just gained another angel"), our pop theology is all wrong. We humans will never become angels, and angels have never been human beings.

Angels and humans are completely different creatures. Both are made in the image and likeness of God in that each possesses an intellect and a will, but we cannot "turn into" one another.

Angels are pure spirits without bodies. Because they have no bodies, they are neither male nor female, though they can appear in bodily form for God's purposes. 

Humans are body and soul. We humans are only truly integrated when body and soul are united. We are not complete without our bodies, which is the reason that death is so unnatural for us, so hard to accept, so excruciating, so wrong. Death is a wrenching apart of what should be together, an unnatural, violent division of our essence. We were not created to be disembodied spirits as angels are.

Heaven is a place where the holy ones dwell, where both angels and humans share in the Beatific Vision. Angels don't need to die to get to Heaven of course (because without bodies, they cannot die), and humans who die in friendship with God will be perfected saints in Heaven (usually after undergoing a purgation/cleansing).  

So, it is correct to say that human beings in Heaven are saints, but never angels.

At the Final or General Judgement (as opposed to our own Particular Judgement), our souls will be reunited with their resurrected bodies -- bodies that will be glorified and transfigured, and not subject to the constraints, defects, and illnesses they had on earth. We will be as we should be: body and soul, integrated and whole.

Unfortunately, some Christians see the body as "less than" the soul, almost as a necessary evil that houses us until the day that the soul is freed from the shackles of the body. But how wrong this is! As Catholics, we know that God created us out of matter and called it "good". Our Savior then took on our nature by taking on a real body, as a real man. When He redeemed the fallen world by offering His human flesh on the Cross, He redeemed all bodies and all material creation. The Incarnation (God becoming Man) has implications in all we do as Catholics, from our theology to our liturgy and sacraments. Matter matters, as Jesus taught us. It is integral to Christianity, and to understanding Truth.

Another interesting fact is that angels are actually a higher order of creation than humans, with intellects that far surpass our own. Did you ever wonder why Lucifer and a third of the other angels rebelled against God before the creation of the material world? Well, it's traditionally held that God had revealed to the angels the future plan for His Son's Incarnation, and that Lucifer and his minions could not stand the thought of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity becoming a lowly human instead of an angel. Such a humiliating plan, God taking on human flesh, was too much for them to accept. They rebelled with Lucifer, whose rallying cry remains, non serviam or "I will not serve."

The angels who stayed faithful and obedient to God are those who share Heaven with the saints, i.e., the humans who are perfectly holy, as the angels are holy.

Now, all of this does not mean you can't still enjoy It's a Wonderful Life! It's one of the best movies out there, but it's not a theological work. Just keep in mind that movies are make-believe, humans don't become angels, and angels don't actually even have wings. 

I still love you, Clarence!






49 comments:

  1. How do you go about letting people know this? Or is this something that we can just let slide, do you think? So often people say "well, she is at peace now" like automatically in Heaven...or like the post says, "she's an angel now" or similarly, "she is your guardian angel now". Just wondering if you hear someone say this, do you just kind of let it go?

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  2. C, it's very tricky, because we don't want to upset someone who is in grief. What I do is things like this post, ha ha. And for others, it is a good idea to post this to their facebook pages. That's an easy and non-threatening way to educate. Or, put in your own comments if someone has died, about how the person will hopefully one day be a saint in Heaven (or if it's a small baptized child or baby, we can say with 100% certainty, "That child is a saint in Heaven now!") Or, have these discussions when folks are not in grief, just as some sort of interesting factoid. It doesn't have to be put out there as a direct correction, as that would hurt someone who is not in a position to hear and understand. Yes, it's definitely tricky.

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    1. Meaning "put in your own comments in conversations" (not on this blog…sorry that could be confusing).

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    2. Thanks for these tips. Of course, I would never want to be insensitive, but I do hear it a lot, so maybe someday I will have an opportunity to bring it up out of the context of someone grieving.

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    3. Thanks for your explanation. I also believe that people do not become angels, but that once you die you go to a place where you are so happy that being a saint or an angel doesn't matter. I have read "Heave Is For Real" as well as my newest favorite book, "Held By The Hand Of God: Why Am I Alive" by Joe Laws http://heldbythehandofgod.com/, amongst others, and had a friend who shared his personal NDEs with me, and have learned that we are so much happier on the other side- and that we are with our loved ones that have passed on before us. So instead of correcting people who say things like, "She's an angel now," or "She's a guardian angel" I plan to say something like, "I am sure she is so happy!" and not arguing it.

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    4. Betty, I disagree. I believe it's always important to make distinctions and know the truth of things when we can. For example, we are not animals, and that is important (even if dogs can be happy and so can we). We are not God, and that is important (even though we have a will and intellect as He does). We are not angels, and that is also important. We will not be interchangeable in Heaven. We will be human, with our bodies, and they will still be angels, without bodies. It's the right order of things, and in Heaven we will have more knowledge of what is true and real, so why not appreciate knowledge and truth right here when we are on earth (where we can)? Truth is a beautiful thing, and doctrine and theology are not unworthy endeavors. God wants us to know. :)

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    5. I personally like the saying, "He/she is playing with his/her guardian angel and with Jesus in Heaven now."

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  3. Right after I hit publish on this post, I went to read the latest SHINE post on my blogroll (the woman whose son lost most of his classmates in the Sandy Hook massacre), and she had a reflection on the loss of the kids (and one classmate in general), and she used the terms correctly! She mentioned that little James who had been killed was a saint! It was so good to see…. And I highly recommend that blog, by the way.

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    1. Make that "one classmate in particular". What is wrong with my brain today??

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  4. The human body is the most sacred thing in God's creation - His own living temple, the preferred dwelling place of (the fullness of) God! This was amply demonstrated by the Incarnation. It is now continued - still physically - via the Eucharist (God has not left the building for lesser occupiers). This is why the human body has irreducible dignity - more, even, than a tabernacle of pure beaten gold - and should always be treated as such, from conception to death. Yet we unwittingly do so much violence to it - or even allow other spirits in!

    Exorcists have said that the devil is so jealous of the human body since the Incarnation - by which God made clear its true worth - that diabolic possession is nothing but the devil's pathetic attempt to mimic the Incarnation. Isn't it interesting that there is no mention of demon possession (or even unclean spirits) anywhere in the Old Testament - i.e., before the Incarnation? Yet, once Christ takes up His abode in the flesh, possessions are suddenly occurring here, there, and everywhere! Silly, copycat devil! :)

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    1. In quite a real sense, God and I share the same body. Which means my body isn't really mine alone. A real sobering thought, that! Which also makes the cry "It's my body!" even more pernicious!

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    2. Francis, while no one can deny that demonic possession is a feeble mockery and imitation of the Incarnation, I'm afraid you're mistaken in saying there is no mention of demonic possession in the O.T. You'll find such mention easily enough in the Book of Tobit, wherein Tobias marries Sara, a woman possessed by a devil, and with the aid of Raphael the Archangel, exorcises that devil.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this. I know this to be the case, but have had to correct quite a few people gently over the years. I will never forget, however, the only time I called in (and made it) into Catholic radio and was sharing (as was relevant) about my miscarried babies being named after archangels. The show host took the opportunity to lecture about how we don't become angels when we die. I almost died of embarrassment and frustration, but I know he meant well and was just taking an opportunity to clear up a common misconception.

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  6. Wheelbarrow Rider, that is sooo frustrating to be misunderstood like that! At least the host got one thing right, ha ha.

    Francis, I had never thought about that before, about the imitation of the Incarnation! Wow!

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  7. I love love your little teachings!

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  8. Aw, thanks CodeNameReebs! I really want to do more of them; I just need to get crackin'!

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  9. This has been a frustration of mine for sometime. I wrote once about it for a local Catholic high school after the death of a junior in a tragic car accident. I was able to elevate her status in the wording, rather than degrade everyone's take on her becoming an angel. But Leila, what do you think about young people singing songs with incorrect verbiage about human/angels, specificall the lyrics "We are angles living in the bones of humans"? Would you steer a budding musician away from singing it? Or change lyrics?

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  10. April, personally I would not sing those lyrics, unless it's just singing to the radio in the car, ha ha. I would not record those lyrics or sing them on Youtube, for example. Because, especially as a Catholic musician, it would be misleading. It's like the song, "Mary Did You Know?", which is such a beautiful song, and I love it… BUT, the line, "This Child that you delivered, will soon deliver you…" is complete heresy. We know from the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that Jesus delivered Mary at the moment of her conception in her mother's womb. So, the theology is all messed up on that, and I would never be able to put that on a Catholic album. But I sure do love singing it at home!! (After making sure my kids know that the theology is Protestant in that song, not Catholic!)

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    1. Yes, that line in "Mary Did You know?" drives me crazy.

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    2. It is true that Mary was preserved from Original Sin from the moment of her conception. However, those effects were applied from outside of time. The death and resurrection of the Lord (which the song is clearly referring to), temporally speaking, had not happened yet. Sadly, the phrasing, "The child that you delivered / Will soon perform the act that results in your deliverance even though its effects were previously applied because God works outside of time" doesn't quite have the right rhythm. :P It's perfectly understandable from an orthodox Catholic position.

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    3. ha ha, well, although I guess I follow what you mean, I still don't think it works. First, because we know that the writers were Protestant and meant it in the Protestant understanding (i.e., wrongly), and second because Mary was conceived in time and she had been saved preemptively (implying time). So, at the time of Jesus' birth, she had (in time) already been saved. She had been delivered from sin. And, we also know that it was not strictly necessary for Jesus to save us the way he did. He could have saved us with a blink of an eye, not death on a cross. I remember that Cardinal O'Connor said to Kathie Lee Gifford once, "Jesus could have saved us through his miracles, but he chose to save us through his suffering." So, it was still a choice, and God could have gone about things any number of ways. Now we've just opened up any number of new topics, ha ha! :)

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    4. So, that last part that I said was just my positing that God can save however He pleases (theoretically) and may have been a bit of a non-sequiter. Mary was saved a little differently from the rest of us, and not even in the way Jesus saved the others who died before His atoning death (who really were delivered later).

      But you are right that she was saved by the merits of Christ, only she was saved in a singular, privileged way (so had already been "delivered" at her conception). Here is the actual declaration:

      "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful."

      But yes, I give you partial credit for that comment, lol! I like your spunk. :)

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  11. Hi, i particularly like this post because of a personal experience recently when the husband of a colleague died. She is of a Protestant denomination and their traditions for death are very different and I did not know that. It made me feel awkward and I was concerned my actions might have been misperceived. It is certainly not acceptable to offer up the teaching of purgatory in that situation and so I had to be aware of that. However the comforting words of Catholic prayers for funerals was very helpful in offering condolences. I did not realize how far apart we can be on this particular teaching. I find it really offensive to God when people say that God needed another angel, when a baby dies. God does not need to take someone's child for his own purpose. I heard a priest comfort a parent one time by saying that God would not take his baby in that way. It made quite an impression on the young father who was going through a difficult time. I think it is always good to remind ourselves and others, when appropriate, of correct teaching and theology. Thanks for the post.

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  12. St Paul wrote a few telling verses, comparing angels and men - and confirming man as superior to angels, with dominion over this world and over the world to come.

    "It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
    “What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    a son of man that you care for him?
    You made them a little lower than the angels;
    you crowned them with glory and honor
    and put everything under their feet.”
    In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor..." (Heb 2:5-9)

    St Paul is saying here that it mightn't be so obvious that everything has been put under man's dominion (angels appear to have more power/authority than men, who have been created a little lower than them - without infused knowledge, for example), but all that changes with the Incarnation! Jesus is the One Who has dominion over all things... He is the One crowned with that glory and honor. And this glory, Jesus Himself endows on His brothers and sisters (us), thereby raising man higher than the angels: "I have given them the glory that you gave me..." (John 17:22). Jesus is referring here to the glory that comes from being His brothers and, therefore, co-heirs with Him of the Kingdom of God. St Paul emphasizes the point: God has put all things (not some things) under subjection to human beings, when he says (above) "you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet...".

    So, at the end of the day, being a human being is actually more wonderful than being an angel! Christ did not choose to become an angel (even an infintely powerful one) - He chose to become a human being! The fullness of His glory did not pass to angels - it passed to man! So if someone's offended or disappointed on hearing we can never be cute little cherubs - or even like the mighty archangels - we can tell them not to be! We don't serve angels. They are in the service of Christ - and appointed to be in the service of us as well! In scripture, we read that when a man falls down in fear before an angel, it is the angel himself who quickly dissuades him from doing so - and with good reason!

    One of my pet dislikes is (the many) paintings of The Annunciation where Gabriel towers over a (cowering) Mary, or even worse, is portrayed as speaking to her with a raised finger! I contend that nothing could be further from reality! No angel could ever be allowed by God to adopt any such posture with a Woman chosen to be His Mother - not to mention the angels' own Queen! That's why I prefer those paintings which show Gabriel addressing Mary humbly and with due reverence. I think my favorite is this one:

    “The Virgin of the Annunciation – Fra Angelico”

    :)

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  13. "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" -- 1 Cor 6:3

    Yes, although we are lower than angels in the created order, we have been elevated in dignity due to the Incarnation. I think I've got that right but I am ready to stand corrected.

    "I find it really offensive to God when people say that God needed another angel, when a baby dies."

    Cheryl, that is a pet peeve of mine, too! That is just so nonsensical.

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  14. Oh my goodness thank you for this! This is perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves!

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  15. From someone way smarter than I:

    Here's the dogma, what is most certain: Angels are higher than men. They were created endowed with sanctifying grace, their end is the immediate vision of God. (They had a period of probation, the bad angels rejected this, as you covered, became evil by their own fault.) The primary task of the good angels is still the glorification and service of God. Their secondary task is the protection of men and care for their salvation. There is an order to the choir of angels, the highest ones are with God, the lowest ones are the guardian angels, who are sent by God to help us.

    Christ, God become man, is higher than all the angels, but Christ is not a creature. He's God Incarnate.

    Some theologians did envision (theological opinion) that when a human is consecrated and purified and led to Heaven by the angels to the Beatific Vision, to stand before God, that the good angels marvel at the man who is like Christ. They sing praises. The ascension of the soul even throughout life in the Sacraments has been referred to as reflective of the ascension of Christ.

    There are scriptures that refer to angels telling men not to bow before them, but it isn't because man is above them. It is because they know that no one should be worshiped but God and they won't tempt a man to worship them. This is why all but the arch-angels don't have names, they don't want to risk being worshiped. This is also why some the Church advised not to even name your guardian angel. To avoid the temptation to worship the angel.

    Men are not higher than angels, but Christ became man so the angels love to serve us because they first serve God. Mary does have a special place as the highest creature of all, even above the angels, but she's the Mother of God. The rest of us, not.

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  16. Did you mean to say angels are pure spirits without bodies, and human are body and spirit?

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  17. Crystal,

    Yes, that is Catholic teaching. St Thomas Aquinas explains that angels are "as immaterial as they are incorporeal".

    “The Angels in St Thomas Aquinas”

    Leila,

    On the issue of who is "higher" (angels or men), the following is my understanding (and I'd be grateful to be corrected if I'm wrong):

    1. As men we’re created lower than the angels, not least of all because we are all subject to death. Indeed, it was only in this sense (to die and rise - redemptively) that Christ (as Man) was created "a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death" (Heb 2:9, Douay-Rheims).

    2. After His Resurrection, Christ (the Man), who had been "made perfect" by suffering ("For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by his passion” (Heb 2:10)) was elevated above the angels: “In these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they” (Heb 1:2-4).

    3. If we attain eternal life (sainthood), we will become “Christs”, sharing in His divinity. “The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (CCC # 470).

    Whilst angels reflect the glory of God, and, indeed, live in Him (and He in them – which is why we praise Him “in His angels and in His saints”), I think it is debatable (?) whether they “become God” in the sense that we do. What I’m wondering is whether angels, whilst being beloved creatures of God, can be considered equal to children of God. At least one Catholic priest seems to “imply” that they can’t: “In the hierarchy of Grace and Salvation, saved human souls are "higher" than Angels. This is in contrast to a question simply of the nature of the beings apart from a consideration of God's Grace, in which the Angelic nature is of a higher order than the human nature.”

    4. According to Jesus, saints in heaven are equal to angels. "Neither can they die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection (Luke 20:36)." Are Jesus’ words here related solely/predominantly to saints in heaven not being subject to death?

    Whatever, I’d like to place on record that I’m not at all fussed either way who is superior to or higher than me in heaven. If I can make it there, I’d be happy in whatever position I was placed! Some years ago, a friend of mine wrote to say she’d like to live in Jesus’ shirt pocket - so she could be constantly soothed by the sound of the beating of His Sacred Heart! :) To which I replied I’d be content merely to be a speck of dust under one of his toenails! My logic was a) that way I’d always have a hard, protective roof over my head and b) wherever Jesus went, I’d be carried along effortlessly. Then I could peer out from under the safety of the nail and see and hear whatever my Master was seeing and hearing! That’s my story and - timid me, amidst all of this high stakes celestial drama - I’m sticking to it! :)

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    1. Perhaps you could ask your expert friend: If we are indeed to become partakers of God's divine nature - which is indisputably above the nature of angels - how could we not be elevated above the angels ourselves? Which probably leads to a related, much larger, question, which I've wondered about before: In what ways is our partaking in God's nature going to be limited - if it is? Is there any text on this that anyone knows of?

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  18. Therese of Liseux constantly referred to her deceased siblings as "angels" in heaven- and while I do not believe for a moment that she is denying the theology you have outlined above, I think it does show that referring to humans as angels is sometimes justified.

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  19. Margrave, if she did, then she may have been simply speaking affectionately. I often call my living children "sweet angels", in the same way one might call them "kittens", or "muffins". I don't think it justifies calling saints angels, but she may have called them that in a colloquial way (and from the French colloquial, which I don't know much about).

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  20. Francis, I am no expert, and I will ask my friend. However, I was speaking in terms of the created order. We were created lower than the angels.

    1) Humans were not created to die (that came later, with the Fall), so that doesn't seem relevant to me.

    2) Jesus, as God, has always had dominion over the angels, even though His human body was of a lower order of creation. Remember, he was always God, even in His human body, so naturally He would always be infinitely above them.

    3) Not sure about this one. I'd need to be much more learned. I always understood that angels have the divine life in them (sanctifying grace), or they could not stand in the presence of God or dwell in Heaven. So, I can't answer this one with any confidence. We will partake in God's nature (already do, if we have His grace within us), but don't they already? I am willing to be corrected, of course! Please, anyone with more knowledge of Catholic theology, correct me.

    4) Yes, I take that as the humans in Heaven being unable to die, like the angels.

    As for your follow-up question, I think angels do partake in God's nature (sanctifying grace)… someone help me? And we are still limited in that we will continue to learn and grow in knowledge of God throughout eternity, I believe. Meaning, we never can get to the end of infinity (which is God), so we have an eternity to keeping knowing and loving him, more and more. We will be divinized, but we will not be Him.

    Please, anyone, correct me. I know the basics (pretty much what I wrote in the OP), but this is not my area of expertise, ha ha.



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  21. Crystal, I used the word "soul" instead of "spirit" for humans, because there are other creatures (animals, plants) that have animating spirits. But those spirits do not outlive the creature. So, I didn't want to open that debate, since it's confusing! :) So, while angels have only a spiritual (non-material) dimension, humans are a union of both material (body) and non-material (soul)… that were and are always meant to be together.

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  22. This is one of my favorite pet peeves. Our choir director aggravates me every time she refers to somebody who has recently died as having just earned his or her wings. And she had us sing "Mary, Did You Know," and I thought I was the only person who was annoyed by that song, because hello! How could Mary *not* know? ::sigh::

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  23. Francis, I heard back from the one smarter than I, and that person had the following to say, but with the caveat that the issues of Incarnation and all this other stuff can quickly become heresy simply by using one or more words imprecisely. So, it's sort of risky to dive in too deeply without a serious theologian in the mix, and I am definitely not that, ha ha.

    Any way, here are some responses to your questions:

    On the issue of who is "higher" (angels or men), the following is my understanding (and I'd be grateful to be corrected if I'm wrong):

    1. As men we’re created lower than the angels, not least of all because we are all subject to death. Indeed, it was only in this sense (to die and rise - redemptively) that Christ (as Man) was created "a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death" (Heb 2:9, Douay-Rheims).

    Christ was NOT created. That is the heresy of Arianism, see here: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-great-heresies

    CCC 331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . "191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him."192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"


    2. After His Resurrection, Christ (the Man), who had been "made perfect" by suffering ("For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by his passion” (Heb 2:10)) was elevated above the angels: “In these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they” (Heb 1:2-4).

    Christ was NOT made perfect. He was/is/and always will be the Second Person of Holy Trinity, God Incarnate. See the note on the D-R translation here for Hebrews 1 and 2: http://www.drbo.org/chapter/65002.htm and http://www.drbo.org/chapter/65001.htm

    to be continued….

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  24. continued….

    3. If we attain eternal life (sainthood), we will become “Christs”, sharing in His divinity. “The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (CCC # 470).

    It's #460, here's the whole thing: The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81

    This is about the Beatific Vision. "Partakers" Yes it's wonderful, but it doesn't reverse the order of creation. It's about salvation. Probably a better answer.

    Whilst angels reflect the glory of God, and, indeed, live in Him (and He in them – which is why we praise Him “in His angels and in His saints”), I think it is debatable (?) whether they “become God” in the sense that we do. What I’m wondering is whether angels, whilst being beloved creatures of God, can be considered equal to children of God. At least one Catholic priest seems to “imply” that they can’t: “In the hierarchy of Grace and Salvation, saved human souls are "higher" than Angels. This is in contrast to a question simply of the nature of the beings apart from a consideration of God's Grace, in which the Angelic nature is of a higher order than the human nature.”

    We don't become God, we behold God. The angels are already doing that, the highest ones directly, the lower ones less so. They are not children of God, they are messengers of God, that's what "angel" means.

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  25. Good discussion and tricky. When my grandma died and my little cousin said she was an angel I think I was over the top in correcting her. I also think truth is important. But I was also really overzealous and maybe didn't correct her as gently. It's so hard in the moment when we want EVERYONE TO KNOW THE TRUTH to also acknowledge that everyone is NOT CATECHIZED. Ack. So I always suffer agonies trying to decide when/how to say something about this. Especially having had two miscarriages and when people refer to them as baby angels. Or our friend died recently and left five small children and people kept saying their mom would be their guardian angel. Ack. so hard.

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  26. Jen, amen! It can take a long time (and many feet in mouth) before one gets the hang of when is appropriate and when is not. I shudder now looking back at the things I said when I was first "on fire" for the Faith and was so zealous to bring the Truth to others. I am pretty sure that I drove people away and even horrified them! Hopefully, a couple of decades later, I have discerned a bit better, and become more wise and prudent, but I can tell you, it's still really hard. That's why I like this blog, because people obviously know that I'm going to talk about Catholic doctrine here. It's a safe place to catechize, ha ha.

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  27. Leila,
    Thanks for your latest comments. I'm battling the 'flu at the moment (and the seriously blocked brain and sinuses that comes with it, not to mention the aches in every sore joint! :)) So I don't want to rush off any comments right away which might be half baked or carelessly worded. But I will write, as I still have a thousand points to bounce off you/the good folks at the Bubble on this topic. I promise to limit my questions to only about half a dozen though! :) Talk soon.

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  28. Francis, get better soon!!

    And, I can't promise to be able to answer any of your thoughts, as this is definitely not an area I've studied in depth. :)

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  29. Amen! It always secretly annoys me when people call my miscarried babies "angels", and yet it's so awkward to correct them when they are trying to say something kind....I usually just let it go. That's probably a sin on my part?....missing a chance to catechize?

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  30. Angela, no worries, it's definitely not a sin! It's you being charitable. If the opportunity arises in a way that will not make someone feel bad when they are trying to comfort you, then go for it, but otherwise, no, you're fine.

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  31. or if it's a small baptized child or baby, we can say with 100% certainty, "That child is a saint in Heaven now!"

    Leila
    What happens to a baby who, for some reason, died before it was baptized?

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  32. Great question, Johanne, and it's one that I have thought deserves its own blog post. In a nutshell, we hope for the Beatific Vision for those babies as well (such as my own miscarried child). Jesus never revealed what happens in those cases, He only urged the baptism of all, for salvation. However, we know that God is not bound by His sacraments, only we are. So, He can bring others to Himself in ways known to Him, and also we believe in something called Baptism of Desire (those who, had they known of the necessity of Baptism, would have chosen it immediately). And certainly Christian parents who wished to baptize their children but never had a chance would have that desire for their children. Because Jesus never revealed that answer (what happens to unbaptized children/babies), theologians have speculated throughout time, including the concept of Limbo (never a doctrine) which said that unbaptized babies, while not being able to share in the Beatific Vision in Heaven, would nevertheless be in a state of perfect happiness for eternity, in "Limbo". More or less, this construct has fallen out of favor, and the Church says:

    "…the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261)"

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

    This question (and the fact that it's unanswered) is, to me, proof of the divine and not human origins of the Church teachings. Think about it: How many millions of Catholic mothers throughout the millennia have anguished about the question and beseeched the Church. If the answer were based on some human making a decision, some pope somewhere (or multiple) would have given an answer. But no pope can, nor will one. Because it has not been revealed. It is not part of Revelation. The Church cannot speak what she does not know. She may look like a fool to the world for it, but to me, it's huge evidence that humans do not decide doctrine. The hierarchy only passes down what it has been given in Revelation. Any other religion would have answered the question by now. That is because all other religions are manmade, and the rules and doctrines are made by humans.

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    1. love that explanation about Revelation Leila. And thanks for your comments above. It was crushing to me when I lost my first miscarried baby (there are now 2) that no one could tell me she was in Heaven. But I do refer to these babies as baby saints rather than baby angels. Perhaps that is not technically true, but I trust the Lord is merciful to them...

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  33. Jen, amen. I trust that God is merciful too, and that I will meet my miscarried baby in Heaven one day. :)

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  34. Mine, too. It makes me happy that my late husband gets to spend time with our first child now. :-)

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