Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Angelic Beings: We Report, You Decide

Just for fun I checked out the Catechism to see if there is any possibility of reconciling Corbin's take on angelic beings with the minimum demands of sanity.

The bare existence of angels is not at issue, for "the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." Rather, the question is, what do they do all day?

"Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels," such that "he has made them messengers of his saving plan.... for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation." And "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession."

As it pertains to Corbin, it is noteworthy that the Catechism teaches that "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life."

So, this is not too far from the idea that "Each human soul has a counterpart in Heaven, who is the eternal and perfected individuality of the soul" (Cheetham).

For Corbin, we have a kind of "dual structure that gives to each one a heavenly archetype or Angel, whose counterpart he is" (ibid.). (Reminds me of our bilateral cerebral hemispheres, only on a vertical spectrum.)

The more we are in contact with this transcendent self-other or other-self, the more real and more alive we are; conversely, the more alienated from it, the more life becomes a living death.

As such, "being a man is possible in many degrees, from being a demon with a human face to the sublime condition of being the Perfect Man."

This implies that we do not simply exist or not exist, but that existence has degrees of intensity. In turn, this "intensification of being is accomplished... through the struggle of the human person with and for the angel of its being."

The question is not "to be or not to be," but rather, to not be, to be somewhat, or to really be.

Note that this whole reality is eclipsed if we begin with the wrong cosmology. If we flatten the space of the vertical world, then "there is no way this contact with the Angel can occur."

It reminds me of what Jesus says about the Kingdom of Heaven being both at hand and within -- or right now, if not sooner, just over the subjective horizon.

In any event, "there is quite literally no way home in a world without the Place where this encounter can occur." To the extent that we forsake our celestial pole, we are reduced to an aimless life "in vagabondage and perdition."

The following sounds like something Schuon might say: "It may befall a soul to 'die'... by falling below itself, below its condition of a human soul: by actualizing in itself its bestial and demonic virtuality.

"This is its hell, the hell that it carries in itself -- just as bliss is its elevation above itself, the flowering of its angelic virtuality."

You can't kill your angel, but you can make his life pretty miserable: "It is not in the power of a human being to destroy his celestial Idea; but it is in his power to betray it, to separate himself from it."

Then, upon your death, it is apparently a little like going to court and trying to be your own attorney: such a person stands before the Judge, and for the first time comes "face-to-face" with "the abominable and demonic caricature of his 'I' delivered over to himself without a heavenly sponsor." Habeas crapus!

The Picture of Dorian Gray comes immediately to mind.

Then you babble to the Judge, "I can explain," and the Judge says "go right ahead, I've got all the time in the world."

You think you're putting yourself across pretty effectively, but then he calls your Angel to the witness stand.

(Concluding afterthought: I would prefer to say that we and our angels are not two, but rather one. They are just two complementary aspects of one being, not two different beings.)


mushroom said...

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 18:10, ESV)

Has anyone mentioned this yet? It's in red.

julie said...

Interesting thought. If we each have a personal guardian angel, why should we think it is something that isn't part of ourselves?

mushroom said...

You can't kill your angel, but you can make his life pretty miserable.

Imagine the stories they tell.

John Lien said...

I'm liking all this angel talk.

I'm believe I'm so post-post-modern in my thinking that maybe I'm pre-modern.

So, I'm open to this. Makes me happy.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The question is not "to be or not to be," but rather, to not be, to be somewhat, or to really be."

That was be-youtiful, Bob.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie, that's an interesting idea.

There is certainly a connection between our guardian angels and us, and yet how much more of a connection, indeed a relationship when we acknowledge and speak to them.

I mean, if we know they are real, why wouldn't we seek to know more about them?

And what better way than to communicate with them? and to learn about that connection.

Obviously, without idolizing them or ourselves.
However, I have the utmost respect for my guardian angel I tell you what.

Paul Griffin said...

mush, I did a bit of reading into some commentaries yesterday, and apparently that verse is the basis of the concept of a personally assigned guardian angel. There is some debate over whether the "their" is supposed to mean "the angels of the little ones," or "the angels of heaven" (as opposed to those that were cast out). Apparently the meaning is not as clear in the original text.

The first meaning has been preferred because there appear to be other verses in the bible that could be seen to support such a view, hence the idea of a "guardian angel" was never really seen as something worth fighting over on the part of the Church.

Interesting stuff!