“There was war in heaven”
Somehow angels are very much with us. They are very much a part of the biblical and spiritual landscape of the great religions of the world. They are found in the Jewish Scriptures, in the Christian New Testament, and in the Koran. They are present from creation to redemption, as it were. There is even in our contemporary secular culture a yearning for a spiritual company and a sense that we are somehow more than cosmic orphans cast adrift in wholly material universe.
But perhaps you still protest and reasonably so. “Are not angels simply the product of our imaginations, the creatures of our minds, as it were?” Creatures of the mind? Better to say creatures who are mind, wholly mind. The angels are pure intellectual beings of immaterial substance. They are the ordered and distinct thoughts of God in creation, the moving principles of his goodness and truth, the invisible reasons for the visible things of the world. And since the intellect transcends the sense, angels cannot be seen except by the mind in thought. The angels are creatures who are mind that only minds can think. Angels belong at the very least to an intellectual tradition that connects with Plato’s Forms and Aristotle’s Spheres; in short, to an intellectual understanding of the universe.
Angels, let us allow, are thinkable, but what does it mean to think with them? After all, there are endless numbers of things which are “able to be thought”. The ancient Collect for Michaelmas speaks of God as having “ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order”. The services of angels are instituted of God and joined with the services of men in a wonderful order. Somehow thinking God means thinking with the angels who are God’s thoughts in creation. We are part of a spiritual community that is far larger than we realize.