Saturday, February 10, 2007

Angels and Saints: Part 1

Maria Helena Stopyra asked the following question via email:
I am often confused between the differences of angels and saints. I know that angels are immortal and that saints create miracles. However, can the services that angels provide be considered miracles? I wonder if saints can also be angels and vice versa. Please let me know what you think and help me to understand the differences.
Since St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of this blog, I am particular fond of this question! I hope that I can do justice to all the heavenly creatures that God created.

The difference between angels and saints is in their nature. Angels are spirits made to exist without a body. The saints in heaven, however, are spirits that once existed in a body and that are made for unity with a body. While the angels are complete in and of themselves, the spirits of saintly men and women are in a sense incomplete for as long as they exist without the body they once had. When Jesus finally comes again, all humans that ever lived will experience the resurrection of their bodies from the grave. After this, the justice and mercy of God's judgments will be made known to all the world, and then these bodies will be united with their spirits once again.

It is also important to note that angels are saints too. So, we often refer to St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and St. Michael the Archangel. These three are angels, yet we also call them saints. This is because a saint, generally speaking, is any holy person. Our word "saint" comes from the Latin word sanctus, which means "holy, sacred." Paul even calls holy men and women "saints" who are still alive (see here) because he recognizes the saving grace and faith that is within them. At any rate, we can call angels "saints" --even though they never existed with a body like most of the saints we know-- because they are holy persons who's sole purpose is to serve Jesus Christ and to worship Him.

I hope that helps

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

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