According to the dictionary an Angel is “a celestial attendant of God; one of a class of Spiritual Beings who, in Medieval Angelology, were the lowest of the nine celestial orders: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.” However for most people, an Angel is an Angel, regardless of their so called “rank.”
Anyone whose life has been touched by an Angel will agree wholeheartedly that these Angels are indeed messengers from God.
Angels are all around and watching over us. They are more popular and more visible today than ever before. And even though they have always been with us, it seems as though we are just discovering them. In spite of all the skepticism, human belief in these Heavenly Beings has withstood the test of time. Here are the hierarchy of angels below.
The power of the Seraphim is unimaginable for a human spirit. If they are made of fire, their entire being is constantly consumed by the love and light of God. No living creature, whether spiritual or material, human or angelic, can see God face to face (except the PURE IN HEART) without being destroyed. That is why the Seraphim cover their faces with their wings: despite their power, God’s pure energy would destroy them instantly if they contemplated it directly. Even for the highest class of angels, God remains a mystery.
These angels have often been associated with the Putti (fat little winged babies) adorning Trecento’s paintings or the frescoes of the Florentine Renaissance– a shocking way to represent the second most powerful class of angels known to man! The _”Keroubim”_ are not cute little beings; they are the ones who guard the Tree of Life and prevent us from returning to the Garden of Eden. “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” A far cry from the Putti!
Just, upright, rigorous, they inspire the representations of order on Earth. They are traditionally and symbolically associated with severity and the most extreme hardness. Yes, the Thrones are severe and they govern God’s right action. It is they, without a doubt, who structure the material world, who make it a place in which the divine Majesty can come to rest. This is what made St. Gregory the Great say: “In the visible world, everything is governed by invisible creatures.”
The Dominations are a class of angels specialized in fighting addictions, enslavement, and anything that chains the souls and bodies of men. The Dominations blow gently but firmly into the heart of the human psyche in order to break the chains that weigh down the heart and prevent us from opening up to God’s grace. They are highly placed in the angelic hierarchy, and their task is of the highest importance, since freedom is a crucial condition for spiritual progress and for the culmination of everything here below.
The angels of this category are known for their interior power and their unbending courage that they do not hesitate to inspire in those who decide to lead a virtuous life. The Virtues inspire the Christian strength that consists in facing adversity with a solid and generous spirit, invincible bravery, boundless humility, and absolute confidence in the action and plans of a loving God who is always by our side.
The Powers act like a barrier, a dam, a rampart. They protect Christians and the just from the attacks of the legions of the Enemy: negative, dark, destructive, deprecatory thoughts… Without the action of the Powers, man — weakened by the Fall — would lose his mind. His thoughts would be dislocated by the force of demonic entropy, engulfed by the anguish of death that inevitably awaits him at the end of his earthly life.
Tradition knows that each ethnicity, each nation, each city, each community has its protector who watches over its spiritual development and its part in God’s work of salvation. This class of angels has great authority, since it is the one that makes sure God’s saving plan for man unfolds in the best way possible.
The Archangels receive their instructions from the preceding seven orders. They bear a heavy responsibility, and that is why they are often called “The Great Heralds.” As for their function, they send, reveal, unveil, and explain the prophecies, divine dreams, and illuminations that people who are on a spiritual path experience. They are also the ones who, by their invisible and subtle influence, reinforce the faith of sincere believers and protect them from both relativistic doubt and fanaticism.
The last class of angels includes those who are the closest to us, the guardian angels. No Church doubts their existence, which is attested from the very beginning of Revelation. Pope Benedict XVI said in a homily in 2008: “The invisible presence of these blessed spirits is a great help and a great comfort to us. They walk by our side and protect us in every circumstance, they defend us in dangers, and we can have recourse to them at any time.”