Angel intelligence is superior to that of humans. As pure spirits, intellectual beings much closer to God than man, they are naturally infused with more knowledge and possess the full power of their intellect, free from deception, from the beginning of their existence. They do not gather knowledge incrementally through senses as humans do. An angel is able to comprehend the whole field of all sciences in one thought, as we might observe a whole field of vision in one glance.
Even still, angels are creatures and do not know the future unless God reveals it to them. Angels communicate with each other, as an act of will, by illumination of the intellect from one to another, but they do not have the power to know secrets thoughts, as only God can. Angels cannot force themselves into another’s mind. Likewise, if we will an angel to know our thoughts, he can. Otherwise, he can only learn them by our words and actions.
Angels also cannot perform miracles in the strict sense of the word, as only God can (something outside the order of nature). It is in their natural power to manipulate matter in ways we cannot because they understand the laws of chemistry beyond what we do. The effects may seem like miracles, but they are not. Angels even have the power to manipulate the matter in our brains, and can influence our imagination and emotions insofar as they are material. Imagination is formed by mental images of things sensed, what we might see, smell, taste, touch, or hear. Emotions and feelings are affected by our senses, in response to bodily changes. Angels love man as much as Satan hates man; good angels inspire us, demons tempt us, like friends or enemies. Angels, therefore, can influence our choices by influencing our imagination, emotions, and feelings, but they cannot control our choices.
For example, a child may be tempted to steal cookies. He may will to behave as Mommy tells him and not steal from the jar, but if his imagination, tempted by demons, conjures up a taste of gobbling up all those wonderful cookies, his resolve to exercise restraint may dim. Or a good angel can remind him of the praise and reward his mother will heap upon him for honesty and obedience, and he may be inspired to mitigate his craving. Either way, and this is key, he cannot say the angel, or devil, made him do it. That power belongs to him alone.
Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas, First Part, Question 57, Article 4 and Question 58, Article 5.
The Unseen World, Alexis Henri Marie Lépicier, p. 27.
The Angels in Catholic Teaching and Tradition, Father Pascale Parente, Chapter II “The Angelic Nature and Its Operation.”
Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know about Them?, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Questions 62-72.
Sites That Link to this Post
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