07. Angelic Attributes
As spiritual beings, the angels are all endowed with understanding and free will. As pure spirits, there can be no question of their being subject ot infirmities or to death. They are by nature immortal, nor have they, like the fabled consort of Aurora, reason to lament the fact. For with them there is no such thing as the decrepitude of age; they retain at all times an unvaying, ever vigorous youth. And so they are represented not only in works of human art, but also in the authoritative pictures drawn for us by the hand of God.
Their beauty we can but very imperfectly conceive. It is of the spiritual order, and does not fall within the range of the senses or imagination. We have, it is true, an idea of spiritual beauty, such as that of virtue, but it does not help us materially, when there is a question of painting for ourselves in their own colors such elusive objects as spiritual substances.
We understand that the angels, being of a higher order than ourselves, and more closely fashioned after the pattern of all beauty and perfection, which is God, must necessarily be of a beauty far surpassing that of our human kind. And so while we know that the angels are not men like us, we attribute to them in our representations of them all those elements which go to make up the most perfect human form – refinement of features, grace of outline, health and vigour of limb, together with perpetual youth. We associate with them the notion of light and brightness, and accredit to them with other qualities which remove them as far as may be from the grossness and sluggishness of matter. We assign to them the properties of subtlety and wondrous agility, so that no material substance can present an obstacle to them, and they can transport themselves to the ends o the world with more than the rapidity of light.
What an awakening it will be for us when, as the eyes of our body close in death, the eyes of our soul open for the first time to see our guardian angel as he is, without the aid of images drawn from these lower things, and to behold with him a countless array of glorious spirits, and whom now we cannot so much as speak save in faltering accents!