15. The Occupations of the Angels
God is a mighty Monarch, and like other monarchs He has His court. His supreme dignity requires that it should far surpass all earthly courts in splendor and magnificence. Hence the multitude of those whose privilege it is to stand before Him is exceedingly vast, and the glory of their gifts and endowments is such as to fit them to be ministers and courtiers of the Kings of kings.
“Thousands of thousands ministered to him,” says the Prophet Daniel, “and then thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him” (Daniel 7:10) The latter figure is the equivalent of a thousand millions, but the pupose of the sacred writer in using such language is doubtless to emphasize the vastness of the throngs of the blessed spirits, rather than to give their exact number.
The angels are ever ready to fly to the ends of the world to execute God’s orders. They stand before Him, eager to catch the sound of His voice, and at the least expression of His will, they hasten to fulfill it. Nor are they deterred, if what He wills is great and arduous; for they are “mighty in strength,” and it is a joy for them to use their gifts in the service of the Lord of hosts.
Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his behests. Bless the Lord, all ye his hosts: you ministers of his that do his will. (Psalms 102:20-21)
Of one chief employment of the holy angels – i.e., as guardians to our frail human race – we shall speak at length later on. The fact to which we would call special attention here is, that this occupation in no way interferes with their other all important and most absourbing business – the blissfull contemplation of the Divine Essence. For our Lord himself expressly states that “their angels in heaven [those of the children of whom He is speaking] ever see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
It is the sight of God as He is, the contemplation of the Divine Essence unveiled, the beatific vision, as it is called, which has made the angels blessed hitherto, and will continue to be to them the one source of supreme and perfect bliss for all eternity. No fear that they will ever weary of it. We only weary of what but imperfectly satisfies our cravings. We can never find true contentment here; not only because along with the little that is gratifying to us, there are so many ills to plague and torture us, and because the little good that we enjoy must be relinquished at death; but also because no one earthly object, and no accumulation of earthly good things, fully meets the yearnings of the human heart. Hence that ceaseless restlessness with which we fly from one vanity to another in the fruitless search after happiness.
There is only one object whose possession stills every craving, because it fill to it utmost capacity the whole mind and being of the creature, fulfilling all its desires, and setting all its longings at rest. Only the vision of God, the infinite good, can thus bring it peace. No wonder if amid such blissful repose the ages glide by unnoticed, and “a thousand years are as a day that has passed.”
Whatever else the angels may be occupied in doing, they never lose sight of God. They bask forever, in the eternal sunshine of His presence. They behold Him face to face in all His glory, they know Him even as they are known to Him, and seeing “are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
And they also love God, and their love is a consuming flame. They sing unceasingly the song of love. Their will is ever one with God’s will, and they are at all times full of melody in His praise.