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How old are the Angels? - Justin Alphonsus - 07-25-2017

I thought popped into my head, and maybe someone here could answer.

Since the angels are a creation of God's, and they have a beginning, does that mean that they have an age, also?  Were they created in eternity, or are they created in time?  Is there any teaching by the Fathers or Scholastics about this?


RE: How old are the Angels? - MagisterMusicae - 07-25-2017

(07-25-2017, 11:37 AM)Justin Alphonsus Wrote: I thought popped into my head, and maybe someone here could answer.

Since the angels are a creation of God's, and they have a beginning, does that mean that they have an age, also?  Were they created in eternity, or are they created in time?  Is there any teaching by the Fathers or Scholastics about this?

Different opinions exist, but the most common is that the angels and the material universe were created at the same time.

This opinion is based on 
  • Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 18.1 : Qui vivit in aeternum creavit omnia simul. (He who lives forever created all things together).
  • Forth Lateran Council (Quoted again by Vatican I) : Deus…creator omnium visibilium et invisibilium, spiritualium et corporalium: qui sua omnipotenti virtute simul ab initio temporis utramque de nihilo condidit creaturam, spiritualem et corporalem, angelicam videlicet et mundanam: ac deinde humanam, quasi communem ex spiritu et corpore constitutam (God…creator of all things visible and invisible, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by His own omnipotent power together from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and worldly, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.
The English translation of simul is often given as "at once", but that cannot be insisted upon and is thus better translated "together". "At once" would make the reading of Genesis 1 as six 24-hour periods or any progressive creation impossible.  Both an instantaneous creation and unfolding of the order of the universe over some period is a perfectly legitimate opinion. While simul allows both only the English "together" allows both.

It is de fide that creation is not from eternity, though even St. Thomas says that we cannot prove this from reason, thus it must be accepted due to revelation. (God is First Cause, so while He could have created from eternity, even in such a case He would be causally before any other created eternal being -- thus we cannot prove from reason that creation was in time, and have to rely on revelation).

St. Thomas says that it is most probable that the angels were created together with the material world and not the angels first, then afterward the material world. This is because the angels are part of the universe, and no part is perfect if entirely severed from the whole.

If you take this opinion then the angels are as old as the universe. Exactly how old that is is subject to a wide variety of legitimate opinions (from about 5000 years to billions of years).


RE: How old are the Angels? - Dominicus - 07-25-2017

I heard somewhere that the angels were created at the very beginning of the creation of the world and that God separating the darkness from the light was symbolic of the fall of the angels.

Don't the psalms mention angels watching God make the earth or something along those lines?


RE: How old are the Angels? - Justin Alphonsus - 07-25-2017

I had read in the Mystical City of God by Ven. Mary of Agreda that they angels were created first, and then were tested before the creation of man.  I think this is St. Augustine's take on it, too.  My confusion was whether or not the angels were in this creation or whether there is an "angelic-realm" (trying not to sound New-agey...) or different area of creation were they existed before the world's creation.  Like, the angels were made, tested and rewarded and then God made the material creation.

It is interesting that they were created in this universe as part of it (if I understand the above correctly).  It had never really occurred to me that they were in the universe.  But then again, they don't have bodies and don't occupy space, so, I really don't know what it means for them to be in a place since they don't fill a place.


RE: How old are the Angels? - jovan66102 - 07-25-2017

May I suggest The Angels and Us, by Mortimer J. Adler?

Adler was raised a secular Jew, but was a solid Aristotelian-Thomist. When I met him in the 1970s, I asked him why, given his philosophy, he wasn't a Catholic (at the time, I wasn't either!). He said he could not make the leap of faith. In 1984, he was baptised in the Anglican Church, to which his wife belonged. She died in 1998, and in 1999, two years before his death at the age of 98, he was received into the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

However, as early as 1940, he was called, "the leading American fellow traveller of the Roman Catholic Church".

https://smile.amazon.com/Angels-Us-Mortimer-J-Adler-ebook/dp/B001D1YCNG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501010028&sr=8-1&keywords=Mortimer+Adler+Angels




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[url=https://smile.amazon.com/Angels-Us-Mortimer-J-Adler-ebook/dp/B001D1YCNG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501010028&sr=8-1&keywords=Mortimer+Adler+Angels]



RE: How old are the Angels? - MagisterMusicae - 07-25-2017

(07-25-2017, 02:26 PM)Justin Alphonsus Wrote: I had read in the Mystical City of God by Ven. Mary of Agreda that they angels were created first, and then were tested before the creation of man.  I think this is St. Augustine's take on it, too.  My confusion was whether or not the angels were in this creation or whether there is an "angelic-realm" (trying not to sound New-agey...) or different area of creation were they existed before the world's creation.  Like, the angels were made, tested and rewarded and then God made the material creation.

St. Augustine does suggest this in the City of God, but his final interpretation of Genesis (De Genesi ad Litteram) it seems he must have abandoned this idea somewhat, since while he would say that in Gen 1.1 that "heaven and earth" means the whole of creation, it thus includes the angels. And his conclusion on the six days is that they are actually the logical ordering of the revelation of creation, rather than a literal account and rather all things were created together at the same time (all forms, not all individuals).

This is not to say that the pre-existence of angels to the material world is not possible, but it is certainly the minority opinion.

Regarding Mary of Agreda, it may be a very good pious work, but private revelation is not a viable source in theology which has as it sources the two fonts of public revelation (Scripture and Tradition) along with the Magisterial teaching which interprets these two.

That said, understand that just because the universe (both the spiritual creation and material creation) were created at the same time, together, does not mean that every animal or species existed at that point. While creation stopped, the forms and matter which would become certain things (like you and I) already existed, and we know that God continues to "create" in only one way : the creation of each individual human soul at conception.

In that sense, it is not impossible to both suggest that the angels are as old as the rest of the universe, and yet when they were created Adam and Eve along with other animals were not yet in existence, especially considering that Adam and Eve require a special creation.

(07-25-2017, 02:26 PM)Justin Alphonsus Wrote: It is interesting that they were created in this universe as part of it (if I understand the above correctly).  It had never really occurred to me that they were in the universe.  But then again, they don't have bodies and don't occupy space, so, I really don't know what it means for them to be in a place since they don't fill a place.

We can misunderstand "universe" and think only materially. Universe is precisely that which contains all things, both spiritual and material, the most "universal" thing. In that sense when we say "universe" in the theological sense we mean all of creation, not just some material extent of space.

Regarding place St. Thomas' teaching is that place for an angel is wherever that angel is acting, since as you say they do not have bodies nor quantity (take up space), but they do have action/passion and thus a place where they are exercising their influence.


RE: How old are the Angels? - GangGreen - 07-25-2017

So I guess my question is regarding the guardian angel. Does a guardian angel get created with each soul? 
If no, then did each guardian angel exist prior to the creation of the person? 
If no, can a guardian angel be of service to multiple people throughout history? 
If no, does that mean that the amount of people who will ever live in history is already determined?
If yes, doesn't that mean that there are angels of different ages?


RE: How old are the Angels? - MagisterMusicae - 07-25-2017

(07-25-2017, 03:31 PM)GangGreen Wrote: So I guess my question is regarding the guardian angel. Does a guardian angel get created with each soul? 

No. 

All of the angels were created at one time, and no more are created. Each soul is created when the matter for the new human being is properly disposed.

(07-25-2017, 03:31 PM)GangGreen Wrote: If no, then did each guardian angel exist prior to the creation of the person? 

Yes.

(07-25-2017, 03:31 PM)GangGreen Wrote: If no, can a guardian angel be of service to multiple people throughout history? 
This is possible, but unlikely, given that the mission of the angel is the care of a particular soul, and that is the distinguishing characteristic of this angel from that one, or the other angels which are not guardian angels, but have some other mission (e.g. the Archangel Gabriel).
(07-25-2017, 03:31 PM)GangGreen Wrote: If no, does that mean that the amount of people who will ever live in history is already determined?
Yes. This number is obviously determined by God's Will which is expressed in a single creative act (which causes certain things successively in time, even if the act was outside of time and one). God knows exactly how many souls he will create.


RE: How old are the Angels? - In His Love - 07-25-2017

I don't have much to offer here, but since people are recommending books, here's a strange recommendation: All About the Angels by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan. I say 'strange' because I've never read it, but I have read other Fr. O'Sullivan books and he's a very good writer, so I'm confident he has some great things to say in it.


RE: How old are the Angels? - Poche - 07-26-2017

Tradition has it that they were created when God said, "Let there be light."