Many years ago, in 2015, thereabouts, I was praying at the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at the Catholic Spirituality Centre when completely tired out, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was about 2 or 3 in the morning. I had missed the timing for the last bus home, and the only options were to stay on in the adoration chapel for the rest of the night, walk home, or to hail a cab. As I was unprepared that day to stay the night, I scuttled half-awake to the main road and stuck out my hand to the first approaching blue light that I could see. Now there should not be any problem to this, except that when I hailed the taxi, I only had $10 in my wallet – and having undergone a prolonged period of joblessness, did not have anything in my bank account either. The other option was to use my EZlink card which had about $20 in it. Nonetheless, still driven by exhaustion and the yearning to get home – we do silly things like these – when obviously the best option was to stay on in the adoration chapel – I climbed into the cab anyway. All these with a slight existential panic, with no idea what to do, armed with the hope that the cab might at least bring me closer home, and a most ridiculous plan to roll myself out of the cab when the meter hit $10. In my mind, I kept praying to God – Lord God, what am I going to do? Help! I only have $10 on me. Help! Oh yes, may I mention that as the circumstances would have it, it was a black cab, with no option for EZlink or bank card payments, that and the midnight surcharge… So there I was stuck in a pickle of my own making, and somehow, the words that I had been formulating over and over in my mind, “Uncle, you may alight me here,” (in the middle of nowhere) never rolled out. It was as if I was struck dumb. As the story goes, the cab turns into my estate, and as the cab comes to a halt just slightly beside where the Residents’ Committee office is (Those who live in my estate know where I am talking about), and this is where it gets weird, the cab driver of his own accord, places his finger on the meter and gives me a manual discount – and I have not said anything to the driver thus far –  to land precisely at $10. Let me repeat that. The driver of his own accord, gave me a more than 50% discount to land precisely on the cash amount that I had in my wallet. This clearly was a divine intervention and I believe that the Lord God had sent an angel in the guise of a human being to send me safely home.

In Acts 12: 3-11, we read of how Peter had been arrested and placed into prison by Herod:

Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell from his wrists.

The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”

So he followed him out, not realising that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him.

Then Peter recovered his senses and said, “Now I know for certain that [the] Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”


The presence of angels is real and confirmed by Scripture. The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, aggelos, a translation of the Hebrew mal’ak, meaning “messenger”. The name of Malachi the prophet is derived from this word – he was a messenger of God, and he prophesied about the coming of the “Messenger of the Covenant”, who is Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1). The Catechism of the Catholic Church making reference to St. Augustine, says, “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”. (CCC. 329)

The Nicene Creed begins with the words, “I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” This profession makes it explicit that all that exists, and creation in its entirety – what can be seen to what is unseen, every atom, every wave of energy, every spiritual being is created and made by God our Father. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, affirms that God “from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.”

In Scripture, there is a biblical reference to how God created all things, including angels, that is often missed out. In Psalm 148: 2 – 6 it states,

“Praise him, all you his angels;

give praise, all you his hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon;

praise him, all shining stars.

Praise him, highest heavens,

you waters above the heavens.

Let them all praise the LORD’s name;

for he commanded and they were created,

Assigned them their station forever,

set an order that will never change.”


This fact is repeated in Colossians 1:15-17:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,

the visible and the invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;

all things were created through him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”


Thus we know from Scriptural reference and from Church Teaching that angels are spirit and invisible beings that were created by God. The implications of this are tremendous. This tells us that any knowledge that we have about these angelic beings reveal to us a little more about who God our Father is. While any misinformation leads us further away from a true understanding of who God our Father is. (Sulavik, 1999) We also know that angels like human beings, have a free will to love God or may choose to reject Him. St. Augustine in City of God (2012), said,” For it was God who, in the beginning, created the universe and filled it with all those things that the eye can see and all those realities which the mind can know. Of all such creations the highest were the spirits to whom He gave the gifts of intelligence and the power to behold God and to be filled with his beatitude.” (2012, XXXII, 1.). St. Justin the Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho (2012), complemented this in his writings, “Because God knew that it would be good. He created both angels and men free to do what is righteous.” Unfortunately, some of these angels, led by Lucifer, chose to rebel against God, and were cast into the fires of hell (cf. Matthew 25:41). These are the fallen angels who made the radical and irrevocable and irreversible choice to reject God and His reign, by desiring to become God themselves.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, drawing from the work of Dionysius the Areopagite, there are three hierarchies of angels, each with three choirs of angels. The first hierarchy comprises of the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones – this hierarchy is oriented immediately and face to face with God, the Eternal Word. As the Eternal Word is the uncreated undivided image of the Father, these angels have the purest and simplest, and therefore the most profound understanding of that Word in whose image all created realities were made. These angels meditate upon the Person, the Wisdom, and the Judgement of God. The second, comprises of the Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. These angels are compared to Lords who govern, very much like what Middle Management would do. They guide the universe, govern the forces of nature, and are God’s instruments in ordering the whole of creation. The third hierarchy comprises of  Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These work in direct contact with humanity and have charge over the nations and principalities. These angels deliver messages from God to human beings directly, such as the Archangel Gabriel delivering the message of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Principalities look after nations and countries, Archangels are tasked with delivering important messages to human beings, and often are placed in charge of special events, or persons, and Guardian Angels belonging to the rank of Angels, are guardians and messengers to all (Aquinas, 1981; Dionysius, 2013; Kosloski, 2018).

In Scripture, only three angels are called by name: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. While the faithful devotion and tradition (in small T, denoting, that it came from culture and custom), have venerated 7 archangels and have called them by name, the Council of Rome in 745 declared that only the three names as revealed to us by God are legitimate names as they are verified by Scripture. The council, under the helm of Pope St. Zachary, was responding to a priest in Germany who was spreading a prayer to 8 angels, 7 of which are not mentioned in the Bible. The council condemned the prayer as sacrilegious, said that the 7 non-biblical names were of demons, and declared that the only angelic names Christian should use are the three in the Bible. The New Age has revived the use of these other names, and this has spread confusion even among the faithful, where we see in Catholic bookstores, statues or images of the 7 archangels whose names are not legitimate except for Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

To address this issue, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2001) issued a new Directory of Popular Piety which stated “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture. (pt. 217) In the same light, we should not and must not give names to our Guardian Angels, as only God who is maker and creator of all can name them as they belong to God.

Why angels exist at all, is a mystery. However, Church teaching tells us that the purpose of angels is to serve God, adore and worship God, pray to God, and in the midst of their service to God, also order the Cosmos according to the Will of God, protect and guide us, pray for us, and exhort us, and lead us to where God is. Angels have no physical bodies or DNA like us, but being created creatures, exist within the fabric of time, and have no knowledge of the future unless God reveals it to them. While they can appear in the guise of human form, these forms are actually not materially tangible.

There are countless angelic interventions in Scripture and we also see their manifestations in the modern day, such as the apparition of the Angel of Fatima (O’ Boyle, 2017). While the faithful should not go about seeking angelic encounters, we have recourse to them for speedy and timely help. Their presence and existence is an invitation to pray with them, to direct our gaze to God, and to worship, adore, and to praise God.

As we celebrate our parish’s Feast Day, let us call upon the help of the Holy Angels to come and do battle on our behalf, that our ways may be pleasing and a delight to God.

By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



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Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.d.). Part One The Profession of Faith. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. (2001). Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from
Council of Rome (745)
Dionysius the Areopagite. (2013). The celestial hierarchy: (De Coelesti Hierarchia), (Paperback edition). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. (Original Work circa A.D. 5)
Kosloski, P. (2018). 3 Hierarchies of Angels and what they do for humanity. Aleteia. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from
Lateran Council IV (1215)
O’Boyle, D-M. C. (2017). The First Angel Apparition at Fatima. Franciscan Spirit. Retrieved September 24, 2021 from
St. Augustine. (2012). The City Of God (1-10), Study Edition (Paperback) (Babcock, W. Trans., Ramsey B. Ed.). New City Press. (Original Work circa AD. 413 – 426 )
St. Justin the Martyr. (2012). Dialogue with Trypho. (Williams A. L. Trans.) Fig, 1930. (Original work circa AD. 155 – 167)
Sulavik, A. (1999). All About Angels. U.S.: Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.