You don’t really believe in angels, do you?

5

The doctrine on angels is not fantasist. No, it’s reality. According to church tradition we all have an angel with us, who protects us and helps us understand things.— Pope Francis in his October 2 homily on the Memorial of the Guardian Angels.

This week the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on Monday, and the memorial of the Guardian Angels on Thursday. But how strongly do Catholics believe in these beings?

Three years ago, then-Pope Benedict XVI urged the faithful to call upon guardian angels — one for every human being, according to Christian belief — for help throughout their lives. In his homily on the Guardian Angels two days ago, Pope Francis reiterated his predecessor’s message.

“How is my relationship with my guardian angel?” the Holy Father said.


“Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him? Do I ask him to watch over me when I sleep? … No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone.”

But in truth, many of the faithful don’t acknowledge or feel the presence of angels, let alone converse with them.

While Scripture and tradition speak volumes about angels, with Jesus Christ Himself saying that children’s angels constantly behold God, the modern age frowns upon notions unproven by empirical observation. Even those who believe in God rarely speak of angels, perhaps to avoid being labeled superstitious, or because they have never seen or even sensed any angelic presence.

Priests too don’t talk very often about heavenly spirits. For readers regularly attending Mass, when did you last hear the celebrant discuss angels or devils? There used to be a prayer to St. Michael said after every Mass, decreed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 after seeing a vision of the Archangel battling devils. It was made optional in 1964 by the Second Vatican Council.

Angels in America

Still, according to a 2007 survey of more than 35,000 Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center, seven out of ten (68 percent, to be exact) believed “angels and devils are active in the world,” said the summary report.

This conviction seems to be mainly Christian: most Jews (73 percent), Buddhists (56 percent), Hindus (55 percent), and unaffiliated respondents (54 percent) do not share it.

A 2009 poll by survey giant Nielsen’s Harris subsidiary had similar results: 72 percent of American adults believed in angels, about the same as those whose faith included miracles (76 percent), heaven (75 percent), Jesus as God or Son of God (73 percent), the afterlife (71 percent), and Christ’s resurrection (70 percent).

Again, religion influenced belief. More Catholics held the above-mentioned doctrines than the national average: 94 percent believed in God, 86 percent in heaven, 90 percent in Jesus’s divinity, 83 percent in angels, 82 percent in life after death, and 87 percent in Christ rising from the dead.

However, most Catholics believed in evolution (51 percent vs. 45 percent for all respondents), while only a third of Protestants were convinced by the 19th Century theory of the British scientist Charles Darwin. Instead, Protestants held fast to creationism: 56 percent vs. 40 percent for all Americans.

As in the Pew poll, Jews saw things differently: only 36 percent believed in angels, and just one in five in creation, although both concepts are in Genesis, the first book of the Jewish Torah, which comprises the first five tomes of the Bible’s Old Testament.

Of course, for those seeking scientific evidence, prevailing notions in society hold zero weight sans empirical proof. After all, before their Renaissance, Europeans thought the sun and other heavenly bodies orbited the earth.

Until 19th Century French scientist Louis Pasteur persuasively proved that germs caused disease, people blamed evil spirits, nasty air, or bad luck. Widespread ignorance or error does not make false notions true.

Actions speak louder than words

One must also ask whether people who say they believe in religious or supernatural things actually act according to them. Surveys on religious faith should also find out if those who say they believe in angels actually speak with them, sense their presence and action, or otherwise behave as they purportedly believe.

Ditto with other doctrines like the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Eucharist, and even God’s existence. If a professed Catholic does not pray at all to Mary, Jesus or God, and shows no high regard for the consecrated host by kneeling before it and receiving it, does he really believe in these core tenets of his avowed faith?

A baptized believer who scrupulously follows feng shui in designing his home, but does not make space for a place of prayer, seems to believe in geomancy more than Christianity. Plainly, a faith not seen in a claimed believer’s life may be weak, if not false. Actions speak louder than words.

That may be one message in last Sunday’s Gospel reading where Jesus compared two sons, one who declined his father’s wish, but did it anyway; and another who said yes, but failed to follow. Avowed believers must show their faith in action, or else they are behaving like the second son.

On the other hand, going through the outward motions of one’s faith, from kneeling and praying to attending Mass and receiving communion, may also constitute ritual practice with no deep relationship the supernatural. Bowing before the altar and crossing oneself while passing a church must reflect an inner belief, or else they are empty gestures.

The Church, especially under Francis, goes further and admonishes the faithful to practice the tenets of Jesus Christ, especially love for one another, caring for the poor, and living righteous lives.

That’s why in June, Francis said of Catholics in criminal syndicates, many of whom attend Mass and contribute to the Church: “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated.”

So where does all this leave the angels? Pretty much where God is. Both offer guidance, protection and aid to those who open their souls and lives to them.

Many people do: according to a 2008 survey by the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion, 55 percent of Americans believe “I was protected from harm by a guardian angel,” though only 37 percent among those earning over $150,000 a year.

But others don’t bother with matters divine or angelic, including many who dismiss as untrue anything unverified by science. And at life’s end, the truth will out.

Share.
.
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

5 Comments

  1. Bonifacio Claudio on

    To be happy with the “Cross”, we heed the lesson from the Old Testament’s Garden of Eden where the angry God commanded the disobedient Adam & Eve as they leave saying “From now on, you shall toil for everything you need or From the sweat your brows shall you gain your daily bread or whatever to that effect”… The confusion sets in when we believers ask God to “give us our daily bread”… The confusion sets in when the Church started putting its foot forward to interfere with the activities of the mundane world interpreting events according to their spiritual doctrines. PINAGHALO NA ANG BALAT SA TINALUPAN… They have forgotten their 2nd Testament where Christ said “Give unto Cesar what is Cesar’s, and give unto God what is God’s”… There are other instances in the New Testament where Christ clearly maintained the separation of the Church & the State.

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    Does the devil have angels too? If not and he works alone, and there are 5 billion people on this planet, does that mean that 5 billion angels are not enough to erase the evil that men do? The devil is winning, very clearly that is the case. You cannot possibly say that God is happy with this country, but the devil certainly is. Why doesn’t the Universal Creator just whack this devil out of his out of His own backyard, or do they have a pact where they cannot harm each other but they can make sacrificial lambs and pawns of us humans? I don’t believe it was the devil and certainly not her angel who told the soon-to-be-sainted Cory Aquino to tell her tenants they can only own a piece of paper and not their land. Who told her to blame the victims of that massacre in her hacienda and not the gun wielders? Was it the devil and not her husband Mike who told GMA to approve that re-enacted budget without a political fight even if only for show that eventually became the mother of that little monster that is now called DAP? Plain high school logic is enough to dispute effectively the main teachings of organized religion, and to those who like to defend it with a mile long discourse, I have this quote from the bible: The words of God are plain, simple and unadorned. I believe both the devil and God are in us, and we have no one to guard us but ourselves. Those who have been led to believe that all that kneeling and praying in church has a spiritual effect on us have only to look at our leaders many of whom are even graduates of Ateneo. Silent introspection, without any saint’s intervention, is the key to spiritual upliftment. God is inside us, not out there in an office called heaven, and certainly not in that temple you have to visit at least once a week just to support the clerics’ lifestyle.

  3. I attest to the reality of angels and the personal guardian angel. I’ve had personal experience to corroborate this. Thanks for your article.

  4. I wonder what is wrong with these angels who are looking over new born babies when they are born with a killer disease, or the angels that look over the murdered babies in war torn areas. Never mind babies what about everyone that dies an unnatural death, where were their guardian angels. But hey you religious people always have an excuse for that dont you.
    I look in this country at how many people from the top echelons of society & power to the lowest & look at how easy they find it to steal, lie & also kill others to protect them from going to prison. They go to church so they are good christians, right. If they did commit those crimes & then ask for forgiveness they will be forgiven so its good to be religious, right. No sir you can keep your religions & when i see these scum, as thats what they are, praying for the people & telling us how honest they are & good religious people they are, no you can keep your religion, you & it deserve each other.

  5. Cres Malifier on

    Congratulations, Mr. Saludo, for beginning a new religion-centered column.
    I hope, however, that you don’t end up, like so many intellectuals, confusing Catholilcs about what the correct doctrine of our Church is.