Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Feast of All Saints 2017: The Angels

From the Roman Breviary of 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the feast of All Saints.

It is God who placed the supernal kingdoms of the Heavens for the angelic spirits, to the praise and glory and honor of His name and of His majesty, in wondrous order forever. We grow afraid to say too much about them, because it belongs to God alone to know how their nature, which is invisible to us, without contamination or decrease stands firm in its purity. Yet from the witness of the Sacred Scriptures we know that there are nine orders of Angels, to fulfill the judgments and service of God; whose principalities and powers are subtly and marvelously distinguished by the will of God omnipotent. Some of them are sent to us in this world, and come to foretell future events. Others are set for this purpose, that through them signs and wonders may frequently be done. … Other armies of the Angels are so joined to God that between Him and them there are no others; the more plainly they behold the glory of His divinity, the more do they burn with love. To all these ranks of Angels, dearest brethren, so beautiful and beloved of God, we believe this solemnity is also consecrated. But behold, as we pry into the secrets of the citizens of Heaven, we have digressed beyond the measure of our frailty. Let us keep silent in the meanwhile concerning the secrets of Heaven; but before the eyes of our Creator, let us wipe away the stain of sins with our tears, that we may be able to come one day to those of whom we speak.

The Nine Choirs of Angels. In the central circle are God the Father, Christ, and the Virgin Mary in prayer; in the band around them the Sanctus is written three time; in the broader band, six each of the Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones. In the middle, three each of the Dominations, Principalities, and Powers, with the beginning of the Gloria above them, repeated three times. At the bottom, three each of the Virtues, Archangels, and Angels, with the words “Salus Deo nostro qui sedet super tronum et Agno” (salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb - Apoc. 7, 10) above their heads, three times. (From the Breviari dAmour by Matfré Ermengau of Béziers; British Library Yates Thompson 31, folio 40v.)

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