Virtues and thrones and dominions! Oh my!

Sometimes contributor to Whosoever Desires, Paddy Gilger, S.J., is behind a new Jesuit online venture, a new page called The Jesuit Post.  Yours truly has an article on the page, in which readers of Whosever Desires might be interested.  Here’s how it begins:

If you listened carefully to the new edition of the Roman Missal rolled out this Advent, you might remember hearing mention of a strange menagerie of heavenly creatures.

The Advent Prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayer—the part that begins “It is truly right and just” and ends with us all singing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts”—invoke the songs of Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, and Powers; other Prefaces throughout the year throw in Virtues and Seraphim for good measure.  But what exactly are all these heavenly gizmos the priest is inviting us to join in acclamation?

It is perhaps best to start by pointing out that in this context, thrones are not chairs sat upon by kings; dominions are not regal estates; and virtues have nothing to do with the established habits of decent human beings.  All of these words refer to types of angels mentioned in Sacred Scripture.

Now I am no expert in either angelology – though I do like saying the word – or Biblical studies, but you don’t have to be a specialist to notice how thoroughly permeated with spiritual beings the world of the Bible is.  We tend to gloss over mention of the heavenly hierarchies these days, not talking about them much because of how foreign the notion of angels is to our own worldview.  And we don’t talk about thrones and dominions because, well, we don’t even know how to talk about them.

To continue, check out The Jesuit Post

4 Responses to Virtues and thrones and dominions! Oh my!

  1. Thrones, drones, and hormones, now over 30 billions of human spirits, unknown trillion of animal and other world spirits, who knows the zillion alien spirits, mankind on verge of extendin lifespan into hundreds of years, and moving to expanding his horizons well beyond bibical worlds, how does all this fit into small speck of Abrahamic/Melick Hebrew/Greek/Roman/Arabic God kingdoms of only 3500 years ago and a Jesus, son of man of 2000 years ago, and hugh realm of non God/Human beings, of angelic nature who serve and are part of kingdom of christians, past and present, of course all to come. Most people, and theologians included, have no idea or concept of the main realm and structure of vast hierarchy and enourmous numbers of angelic spirits, such as Azriel, Sammael, Uriel, Raphael, Michael, Gabriael, and the specific tasks they are charged with in our human interface with our creator.

  2. Qualis Rex says:

    Animal spirits, eh? My slow-loris spirit guide thinks that’s a bunch of hooey.

  3. Peter Wolczuk says:

    Leads me to think of the discussion that I’ve encountered about how boring heaven may be, will be, seems like, etc. The classic folklore about sitting on clouds, flapping wings, playing harps and (perhaps) singing Allelluiah in praise seems pretty tedious but, where does that come from? I haven’t seen it in Scripture or encountered it in any reliable theological source.
    Considering all the tasks which the angelic ranks have had delegated to them, some of which are touched on here, it appears to me that they’re kept pretty busy with interesting and rewarding work.
    A glance at our human history, and considering the guarding, guiding, heralding and all the other stuff they do for us – well they may just well find it challenging, inspiring of growth, frustrating (as we continue to struggle to grasp how to use our free will) and oh bunches of stuff that we probably couldn’t understand.
    And it’s not all about us either. Other things in God’s infinite and loving service.
    So, how about when the end times prophecies of the OT prophets and Revelation are fulfilled. Lots for the angelic and us to do for that process it seems. Daniel 9:24 and the sealing of sin – such a simply stated thing that’s so huge to contemplate.
    Afterward what? Our coming of age and carrying out our interesting and rewarding work? A new, younger sibling, sort of race for us to help as we’ve been helped? Some joyous task beyond our comprehension?
    Who knows? Not me.
    If this comes about will some of us have older sibling jealousy and take off to cause trouble, as seems to have happened with the dark departed brothers of the angels with lack of acceptance of opportunities for growth. Again, I don’t know but I do not see a boring eternity in store for me if I make it there.

  4. Tony says:

    I suspect that Thomas Aquinas was very much influenced here by the works of Dionysius the Areopagite. Check out the latter’s CELESTIAL HIERARCHY…

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