Day Twenty-Six: Angels

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

“Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him” (Matthew 4:11). The devil was able to tempt Jesus because Jesus permitted it, and the devil left Jesus because Jesus commanded it. The same is true in our lives. The only reason we are tempted is because God permits it, and the only way we overcome temptation is by allowing God to become victorious in us.

The reason Jesus endured temptation was to model for us how we should respond to temptations and to empower human nature with the grace necessary to overcome temptation. One might think that God should shield us from every temptation, never permitting the evil one to seduce us by his lies. But there is great value in enduring and conquering temptations with and in our Lord. Jesus only permits what He knows we can overcome. He also knows that if we overcome a particular temptation, then we will be better off having conquered it than if we had never endured it. By triumphing over satan in the desert, Jesus made it possible for us to triumph also. When that happens, the holy angels will come to us and minister to us, just as they did to our Lord.

Jesus, being God, did not need the angels to help Him. However, He permitted their ministry of worship, adoration, and consolation in His human life to model for us the way He longs to bring us His strength in the face of temptation. We do need the assistance and ministry of angels. In His divine plan, God orchestrates the mediation of the celestial hierarchy to transmit His grace and mercy to us. His creatures not only witness God’s divine actions, they participate in those actions. In this case, the angels did so by showering their love upon Jesus.

The ministry of angels is a fascinating topic. The Scriptures are filled with these ministering spirits. Catholic Tradition and the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas tell us that there are nine choirs of angels, divided into three triads. At the moment of our creation, each of us receives the loving ministry of a Guardian Angel, given only to one person, to directly mediate God’s grace and Word. The Archangels transmit the full Gospel message and are entrusted with the most important tasks. The Principalities guide nations and serve those entrusted with temporal power, completing the first celestial triad. Within the second triad, the Powers are warrior angels who thwart diabolical activity, the Virtues keep the cosmos in order and are responsible for miracles, and the Dominions govern the lower angelic choirs, transmitting to them all that they receive from the highest triad. The highest triad is concerned with the pure contemplation of God—the Thrones contemplate God’s power, the Cherubim His wisdom, and the Seraphim His very essence, which is love.

Ponder the glorious ministry of angels. Though we will only fully understand this great celestial hierarchy when we stand before the Beatific Vision and receive the fullness of infused knowledge, it is important to express faith in God’s ministers, to seek their mediation, and to trust in the grace God gives us through them. In imitation of our Lord, invite these ministering spirits to minister to you today, especially in those moments when you endure and overcome temptation.

Glorious angels of God, you were each created to know, love, and serve God’s will. You chose to do so and will forever assist in the orchestration of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Please come to my aid and shower upon me every grace I need in order to fulfill the duty God has given me. Angels of God, assist me. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Twenty-Six: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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