Scripture, says Dionysius the Areopagite, uses symbolic imagery (in Ezekiel 1, for example) to describe the lives of the heavenly beings. They don’t have actual wheels, but the symbolic image fits their actual behavior and existence.
But why does it talk about rivers? And why are wheels and chariots attached to the heavenly beings?
The rivers of fire represent the ceaselessly flowing streams from God that nourish the productive powers of life. The chariots represent the communion of those who are joined together in the same rank. The wheels, which are winged and move without turning or deviation, represent the power of the heavenly be- ings to go forward in a straight and direct path.
But why does it say that the heavenly orders “rejoice”? For they are com- pletely incapable of our impassioned pleasure.
They are said to rejoice with God when what was lost is found. This fits their divine good nature, their Godlike and ungrudging rejoicing over the care and sal- vation of those who are turned to God. It is like that joy beyond description that holy men often share while the deifying enlightenment from God is upon them.
–Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchy, 15.9
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .Am I ungrudgingly joyous, like the good angels, when someone else gains some great benefit? Or am I more inclined to envy?
Search my conscience, Lord, and purify me from envy and every other impure thought, and make me worthy of the company of your heavenly host.
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