Angelic office

It is written in Daniel 9:21 (D.R.)
As I was yet speaking in prayer,* behold the man* Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly touched me at the time of the evening sacrifice.

Also, in the Catholic Encylopaedia under the entry Devil is written St. Gregory’s saying about the word angel, i.e.: nomen est officii, non naturæ - the designation of an office, not of a nature.

So, here we have:

  1. Gabriel as being expressed as an angel, e.g. Luke 1:19 - The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel…"

  2. Gabriel expressed as a man by Daniel.

  3. A Saint’s stating that the word angel designates an office and not a nature.

With these seen together, how are we to reconcile the expression “Angels are pure spirits without bodies?” It is said they can “take on the form of a body”, and not just as light but also capable of being touched and doing things physically (e.g. Jacob’s wrestling with an “Angel of the Lord”, or Gabriel touching Daniel).

Another observation is with Aquinas’ Summa III Q. 64 N. 7. In his answering, he admits
But it must be observed that as God did not bind His power to the sacraments, so as to be unable to bestow the sacramental effect without conferring the sacrament; so neither did He bind His power to the ministers of the Church so as to be unable to give angels power to administer the sacraments. And since good angels are messengers of truth; if any sacramental rite were performed by good angels, it should be considered valid, because it ought to be evident that this is being done by the will of God: for instance, certain churches are said to have been consecrated by the ministry of the angels

With this in mind, in Luke 24:39 when Jesus says to look at his hands and feet, it is I, touch me, ghosts have no bodies, there seems to be a distinction between ghost and angel here, as if ghosts can not materialize as with the angelic office.

To be more specific with the questions:

  1. Is Gabriel a man, an angel, or both?
  2. Are all these functions/attributes of materializing and interacting applicable also to a demon? If not, why not, and what is the source of the judgment regarding the question?


angel comes from the Greek word agelos. Meaning messenger. It’s what they do. But they are non-corporal spiritual beings. They are not men, although at times, (as noted in Scripture) they have appeared like men.
Do more studying friend. Start here:

Thanks for your participation.

Yes, ἄγγελον with two γ’s is what is used in this specific text. Of course it’s what they do, as it is described in the previously mentioned “office” and not nature of their being. If it isn’t nature, who are you to say it can’t be a man when speaking of “messenger”?

  1. When Daniel said the man (ανήρ) Gabriel, do I understand you to say he was incorrect in his usage of language and should have added “seemed to be” as with other texts which say “One like a son of man”? What was the purpose of explicitly writing the man rather than the angel here?

  2. How did you go from messenger to non-corporal when they are physically involved in the situation?

  3. You didn’t answer the question regarding demons. Since by your wording you seem to giving an indication of being well-studied, could you expound on this?

Thanks for the EWTN link.

P.S. An issue is raised since the Hebrew for messenger/angel is Mal’akh. Was the writer of Malachi (my angel) an angel and pure spirit? If not, why call it Malachi, since as you say a messenger in the texts refers to a pure spirit? Thanks.

Check back after your read up on it.
Angels are a distinctly different species than man.
Angles did not write Scripture.

Please answer the question(s).
If you can call the writer your Messenger, and then you can say it wasn’t a Messenger who wrote it, it raises an issue.

P.S. I did read up on it, which is the reason why I brought up Mal’akh: it makes mention of the Hebrew word :wink: It’s quite “rudimentary” to my understanding of the fundamentals of Catholicism. It also states that Saint Augustine thought it more probable that they had subtle bodies, for what it’s worth.

Look. I understand you think you’ve come up with your own definition and interpretation of this topic. But it’s not Catholic. I adhere to the Catholic point of view.
I’m not interested in new “theories” or manipulations of words to serve another viewpoint.
Catholic theologians have spoken to this. Exhaustively, in fact. And I rather doubt you read all those chapters in 5 minutes time.

So what if a person says his friend is a messenger. Does every single time a person uses that word mean they are talking with an angel? No.

Your premise doesn’t hold up, and if you don’t want the Catholic viewpoint, there’s nothing more to say.
Have a nice evening.

I think I’ll say my guardian angel prayer and the St. Michael prayer and go to bed.

You’ve misinterpreted, as I’ve not laid any theory nor am I implying any new theories but rather have asked questions for clarification purposes regarding the writings of Daniel (with Luke using angel rather than Daniel using man).

The reason I bring up Mal’akh and Malachi is because you didn’t clarify why Daniel wrote “the man” and have kept referring to messengers as pure spirits as per the definition of Angel according to the quoted Catholic document, yet you say that the word Messenger regarding Malachi is not a pure spirit, which lends toward the question. If it can be used in a non-pure spirit way, as with the title of the book, then when Daniel says “the man”, I’m asking why can you be sure this is a pure spirit, and why would he write this explicitly? I respect your declining to answer and sticking to fundamentals of Catholicism. It’s easier, most definitely, but there’s nothing here deviating from the teachings so far as understood.

If anyone else can answer the questions, it would be much appreciated. Also, since pianistclare (goodnight to you, distant friend, if only very slightly) doesn’t want to answer the question regarding demons, also please give any information regarding the ability of manifestation in human form. Thanks.

A quick post for clarity’s sake:

So far, one of the questions has evolved from asking “How to reconcile the definition of an angel as a pure spirit with the phrase: the man Gabriel
(the answer seems to be as if to say the man is to express the appearance of the form but not the nature, but then the question arises as to why is it explicitly written the man rather than mentioning in the appearance of a man if the writer knows what he’s talking about, since many times in scripture you will find an angel’s appearance without such explicit language used in Daniel regarding the form of man)
into a two-fold realization of office and nature. Now, the office of messenger in-and-of-itself does not necessitate the nature of being pure spirit, and so when in the scriptures the word messenger is used, how is the reader to know that this is referring to the office and nature of pure spirit rather than the office of messenger as a man? This isn’t to imply that there are no such beings as pure spirits, as it seems to have been misunderstood earlier, but rather it is desirous of a clearer means by which one understands what is truly what.

Observation: The word prophet seems to be a word referring to the office of messenger sans referral to the nature of being pure spirit. With this in mind, when one experiences a messenger in the form of a man, how is this to be differentiated from a human, as it is said “He has spoken through the prophets”? Again, how can the Church be sure of a particular instance of a messenger meeting with a man is actually a pure spirit in the form of a man rather than an actual man sent with a message?

Ciao for now

Belated Observation:
If we are to say angels are spiritual in nature with the ability to take on the appearance of man, and yet there is proof that there is physical interaction as with Jacob’s “wrestling” or Daniel’s “being touched”, this is evidence that these appearances are not strictly something akin to a hologram or form of light. It begs the question: if these bodies are not human bodies but are in human appearance, what is the nature of the bodily apparition that interacts with man? And again, how is man to differentiate between the two, as it is written, it will be remembered:

Hebrews 13:2 -
***And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels. ***

This is a question for God. The appearance of Angels is a Miracle. Angels appear when God has a crucial message.

God created Angels. Ask Him! How on earth (pun intemded , would we know)


Is this to imply the phrase from John 14:26 doesn’t apply to these Catholics on the Catholic forums? I.e.,
“But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.”

Please don’t take this as offensive, it is only an honest inquiry.

Changing the subject ever so slightly, and not asking for an answer :smiley:
(due to no derailing of the thread unless it can be intermingled well)
How is it that Paul can say
For though I be absent in the flesh,
yet am I with you in the spirit,
joying and beholding your order.
How can he behold order if he’s not physically present :shrug: ???

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.’” (CCC 329)

They are pure spirits, and they are persons. Hence, the Bible uses what you read as “man”.
Your guardian angel was created with attributes specifically in accord with how God created you inasmuch as you are in accord with how you are renewed by obedience to him by the ‘one’ voice of the Church.

Demons, on the other hand, are persons of non-being. God is being itself, and the spirits were made to honor him as being. But the demons refused that relationship and are cast out of being. They may well be subservient to God to punish you, as S. Francis of Assisi feared in his own relationship with God and the spirits. But in all cases, we are to accept all that God gives us knowing it is best for us. For assent to the teachings of the Church results in the best outcome inasmuch as how complete your assent is. In all trials, Pope Francis recommends the virtue of Hope, as both an anchor to the vital union of your sufferings and the infinite merits of the sufferings of the Lord, and also a sail to move you along on the right path in penance. This life is a time of Mercy and penance. And our Hope for the opportunity to be received into heaven - the state and place where Mercy becomes fulfillment and penance becomes blessedness.

Your participation is appreciated, but it seems that most questions that were raised during the discussion still have yet to be answered, viz.:

  1. May Demons as with Angels take on the appearance of men? If no, or yes, what is the authoritative source saying so?

  2. What is the nature of the appearing angels as men, especially since they have been written to physically interact by touching/wrestling/etc?

Am I to assume as with the previous posters that I won’t get a clear authoritative answer here and must seek else-where?

  1. A new question arises which is the inversion of Question 1: Can a non-fallen Angel posses a man as the demons are written to possess men in the Gospels? This will just muddy up the first two questions, so leave this alone for now as food for thought rather than a topic here to be treated.

Mere Musing:
As it is written in 1 John 4:xx - “***Beloved, do not trust every spirit…***”, it would seem that indeed the answer to 1) is Yes, but this is with the added assumption that the nature of “spirit” and office of “messenger” includes also “fallen” here.

I am finding your colours really hard to read, and confusing.

What does that Bible quote have to do with Angels. The Holy Spirit is the Living God. AND yes , IF you want to understand your Guardian Angel a bit more, Pray to the Holy Spirit.

But your prayng for one thing does not create an obligation to God to respond the way you wish. It must be God’s Will.

Are you Catholic? Are you approacing the Catechism of the Catholic Church from the viewpoint of another religion, or none?

Are you Catholic? Are you approacing the Catechism of the Catholic Church from the viewpoint of another religion, or none?

What do your questions have to do with answering the questions authoritatively? They seem to be non-sequitur. What is being asked for is authoritative evidence, whatever that might entail for it to be true, as the approach of the questions stems from a desire for truth to be expressed clearly: nothing more, nothing less.

What does that Bible quote have to do with Angels.

Notice the words “changing the subject ever so slightly” :slight_smile:

P.S. The use of purple has been to differentiate the scriptural passages from regular text. Maybe I’ll stop doing so if it’s difficult to see on others’ screens, as the last thing to be desired is to burden an other’s eyes.

To reiterate:

  1. May Demons as with Angels take on the appearance of men? If no, or yes, what is the authoritative source saying so?

  2. What is the nature of the appearing angels as men, especially since they have been written to physically interact by touching/wrestling/etc?

As it has been implied by a poster that these questions can’t be answered, am I to assume then that the Church hasn’t answered these questions for up to 2,000 years?

Mere Musing:
As it is written in 1 John 4:xx - “Beloved, do not trust every spirit…”, it would seem that indeed the answer to 1) is Yes, but this is with the added assumption that the nature of “spirit” and office of “messenger” includes also “fallen” here.

Okay, so…

(A) Angel is an office. To think of this in Thomas Aquinas’ terms, angel is not a genus or essential form. All humans, while many, share in the essential form of “human-ness”. Angel does not refer to an essence. In Thomas Aquinas’ thinking, each angel had a unique essence. Angel, therefore, is not a proper species or genus, but is just a broader term that refers to the non-divine immaterial beings.

(B) Angels are pure spirit. However, they have demonstrated a power to manipulate material bodies. This is not the way a human soul is united to a body, in which body and soul together comprose the substantial form of a human being, but more truly like a puppet master manipulating a puppet, where the puppet is not part of the substantial form of the puppet master. The bodies the angels use are not living bodies. (That is not to call them corpses, but merely to state that the material is not properly a living thing.)

© Jesus is a true man who received his human nature from his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He did not just pass through Mary, but received his flesh from her. His is a true union of body and soul making one whole substantial form. The resurrected Jesus was not a puppet, but was body and soul reunited into the substantial form of a human. And Jesus’ own nature had been exalted and glorified.

This is also about our belief in the resurrection. The afterlife isn’t just a spirited, bodiless existence in God’s glory (that is temporary and “before” the resurrection). No, it is a true resurrection of our bodies, of us being made whole again, because to be human is not just to be a soul, but to be body and soul. Christ’s resurrection is a demonstration of what will eventually be completed in us, should we persevere.

Saint Thomas Aquinas addresses many of these questions directly in his Summa Theologica:

There are other sections in the Summa devoted to what angels are, their intellect, their will, their local motion, etc…

I’m sure he wrote much more on this elsewhere, too, but the Summa is a good book for addressing a wide variety of topics, as it was meant as an intrpductory textbook.

I must object to this. Evil is equated to non-being, true, but this is meant as a privation. To say the demons are existing non-beings is to contradict oneself, to claim that demons don’t exist, or to propose non-being as a term to be used for some existing substance not created by God, which is heresy, for God creates all that exists.

A privation can only be said to be found in something that has being. The demons do have being. They just will things contrary to their own ends as created beings (the ends of their natures, not ends as in their intentions). This leads to deprivations in how they instantiate their nature, and so results in evils.

Also, if we seek to understand Daniel 9:21, perhaps we need only go back to chapter 8.

15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me **one having the appearance of a man. **16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the U′lai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”

18 As he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and set me on my feet. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.

The Bible wasn’t just plopped down before us to interpret. It was handed down with traditions. Many of these predate Christianity. That Gabriel here was an angel isn’t just something the Church decided one day.

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