January 2018 Print

The Language of the Angels

by a Benedictine Monk

One of the greatest difficulties of being a foreigner is the lack of communication with the citizens of his adopted country. The language barrier separates him from the others in a sometimes-brutal way. The Jewish people of the Old Testament departing from Egypt certainly experienced this: “...when he came out of the land of Egypt: he heard a tongue which he knew not” (Ps. 80:6). Their sense of confusion in a foreign land, listening to a strange tongue, perpetually wandering through the desert must have been a cause of great suffering. They were guided by a supernatural presence of a pillar of light by night and a column of cloud during the day until they finally reached the Promised Land.

In Search of Our True Fatherland

This pilgrimage of the Jews in the desert is often compared to the earthly existence of man wandering through life like a foreigner seeking his true Fatherland. Like the wandering Jews, our souls were born into this land of exile, surrounded with great dangers and even greater graces. We too were granted a guide, like a pillar of light, from the Fatherland to lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven. Our guide is our Guardian Angel who is a citizen with full rights and privileges of our true Fatherland. We were born in this land of exile and we do not even speak the language of our real family. We are like foreigners, separated from the citizens of our own country, on the wrong side of the border and listening to an unknown language. Our guide is here to teach us the new language, which was intended to be our mother tongue, the language of God and His angels. Like foreigners struggling with a new language, we strive to learn to speak with the angels in heaven. What is this mysterious language spoken in this Kingdom of Light where only “adorers in spirit and truth” are admitted?

God is a pure Spirit and therefore His language must be spiritual. He eternally pronounces His Word. In the infinite depths of His Being, He speaks only One Word, “... and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” All of God’s thought is completely contained in His Word, which expresses His Being in the most perfect way. His Word is so perfect and beautiful that there can be no other spoken by Him; He has been saying and will say this same Word for all of eternity. His Spoken Word is, of course, His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. The angels, being pure spirits, communicate with God in a language that cannot be expressed with material words. They must be able to listen to the Word of God to be able to repeat it. The good angels opened their spirits to this divine Word and being filled with light they were admitted to the Kingdom of the Father where they contemplate His divine beauty.

The bad angels refused to receive this light and willfully threw themselves into the darkness of hell. Their words are of despair and blasphemy, anger and bitterness, incessant bickering, murder and war; motivated in their angelic intellects by the darkest of hatreds. They chose to never listen to God and they refuse to speak His only-begotten Word. The fallen angels try to persuade man to learn this horrible language of hatred, which belongs to the kingdom of the world, the flesh and the devil. This is the language of sin and despair, the language of bitter revolt against God composed by love of self that excludes God and neighbor. Modern man in this valley of tears speaks it fluently.

The Language of the Kingdom of God

As human beings we must learn the language of the Kingdom of God. Our good angels teach us this language spoken by the citizens of heaven. Since the blessed in heaven see God, they see all creatures in and through God, and only as God sees them. Their manner of speaking is through God and only as God speaks to them. The words spoken in the kingdom of heaven can only be motivated by charity, that is to say our love of God and neighbor.

The common Preface that we pray almost every ferial day at mass encourages us to mysteriously join our voices with those of the angels:

“... through Christ Our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the Dominions worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The heavens, and all the heavenly hosts and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With whom we pray Thee, join our voices also while we say with lowly praise: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts...”

Our Holy Mother the Church asks that we join our voices with the nine choirs of angels to chant the praise of God. The spiritual language they speak is that of Charity. To join our voices to theirs, we must learn this foreign language, which was meant to be our mother tongue. The language of the angels is one of truth, goodness and beauty. They refuse to communicate anything false, evil, ugly and impure. This is our true mother tongue, which we have lost through negligence, disuse and sin. God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy has given us a guardian angel that speaks this language fluently. He lives in the Kingdom of our Fatherland and in order to guide us there, he teaches us our mother tongue that our first parents were unable to teach us. This mysterious language is essentially contained in the person of Our Lord. In a Kingdom where there is no hatred, bickering or war, the subject of conversation can only be an expression of what God is. Once the soul knows God, all that his intellect is concerned with is God. The resulting conversations can only concern the things that please God. “May our conversation be in heaven...” with our angel who eternally contemplates the beauty of the Face of God.