St. Athanasius on the Nature of Angels

St. Athanasius on the Nature of Angels June 16, 2016
Ikon of St. Athanasius (Public Domain).
Ikon of St. Athanasius (Public Domain).

The Life of St Antony of the Desert, written by the fourth century Bishop of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, contains this charming passage in which the author explains a little bit about the nature of angels. What I love about this passage is, while he is not trying to make a point about how contemplative the angels are (and how their presence in our lives helps up to be more contemplative), that is nevertheless pretty much the gist of what he’s saying.

The holy angels are friendly and calm in appearance because they do not fight, nor will they cry out, nor will anyone hear their voice. In fact, they hurry on silently and smoothly, instilling joy, exultation, and confidence in men’s hearts, seeing that the Lord is with them, he who is the source of happiness. Then our mind is no longer disturbed but becomes gentle and calm, illuminated by the angels’ light; then the soul, aflame with desire for heavenly rewards, breaks out, if it is able, from its dwelling in the human body… Their kindness is so great that if anyone, due to human weakness, were terrified by their startling brightness, they would immediately dispel all fear from his heart.

Source: The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Paraclete Essentials), p. 31.


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