It’s appropriate to contemplate angels rejoicing at our homecoming. After all, if we are the heirs of salvation, and angels are ministers to the heirs of salvation as Paul says in Hebrews, then our final success is their success too.
My mind turns to this subject after hearing about the passing of the beloved Fr. Peter Gillquist.
Upon the passing of Acholius the bishop of Thessalonica, Ambrose of Milan said something that applies here too. He expressed regret that this “veteran . . . of Christ” had departed life on this earth. But now that Acholius was “freed from the bands of the body,” he was “carried by the ministry of Angels to the intimate presence of Christ.”While Acholius left grievers here on earth, the angels met him with “jubilation,” rejoicing “that such a man had come among them.”
I think that term “veteran of Christ” fits Fr. Peter too. Surely now angelic jubilation welcomes this veteran of ours.
While praying, the fourth-century ascetic bishop Nephon experienced a vision in which he saw angels from heaven “ascend[ing] and descend[ing] like bees, transporting the souls of people who had died.” At one point Nephon saw a godly woman welcomed by angels “embracing and kissing her tenderly.”
As they gathered around her they sang, “Glory to God Who delivered this soul from the dreadful dragon!” I like to think that’s the song meeting Fr. Peter.