02 October 2015

Anscar Vonier: To See the Angels


From The Angels by Anscar Vonier, the Second Abbot at Buckfast

It is evident by all the laws of spiritual life that angelic beings must be, in one way or another, a great element in the constitution of man's eternal happiness. The bliss of the elect will be essentially this — to possess all truth, to be in contact with all reality, to see all beauty. 

To see the angels, to behold them, must of necessity constitute a source of happiness greater than anything which the visible world could afford; in fact, it is the supreme created source of happiness; God himself, clearly seen in the beatific vision, being the uncreated source of happiness. 

To be with the angels, to see them in their glory, is a most legitimate desire in the heart of man, and the saints of God have often given utterance to such a longing. We must always keep alive within us that essentially Catholic principle· of life, that the possession of the supreme Goodness, God himself, never destroys the appetite for created goodness, but, on the contrary, enhances it; to see God face to face produces in the minds of the elect a new capacity to see him in his creatures, and where is he seen to greater advantage than in the world of angels, which mirrors back, with an almost infinite power of radiation, the glory of the invisible God? 

Moreover, through the communion of supernatural grace man is allied to the angels by the bond of charity, he is not a foreigner but he is a fellow-citizen. There will be this truest exchange of love between man and the heavenly spirits: man, besides beholding the angels in their glory, will hold intercourse with them as citizens of the same kingdom, as the children of the same Father. This intercourse with the heavenly spirits will be the last thing in created love; greater love than that there could not be except man's communion with God himself.

There is, however, something deeper than this association with the angels in vision and love. It is Catholic tradition that the elect of the human race are destined to take the place of the fallen spirits, to fill up the gap made by the apostasies of the rebellious angels. This tradition profoundly modifies man's relationship to the angels; it puts him on a footing of equality with those mighty beings which is the most astonishing of all spiritual exaltations.

Anscar Vonier, Buckfast
That there will be more than mere association of men and angels in the glory of eternity is clear from our Lord's words in speaking of the elect at the resurrection: Neither can they die anymore: for they are equal to the angels and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. This equality is entirely based on grace. 

Human nature will always remain what it is, vastly inferior to the angelic nature; but such is the power of grace that the inequality of nature is bridged over, and an elect from the human race may truly become, in all literalness of language, the equal of the highest angel.

Then again there are those human beings who will be absolutely superior by the very laws of their predestination to every angelic order; the blessed Mother of God is certainly one such creature.

The all-pervading principle is this: that grace is greater than nature, greater even than the highest spirit nature, and its scope is vaster than the vastest world.