Monday, October 4, 2004

Christian Heritage - October 2 - The Angels

"The angels are friends of the bridegroom, so they listen to the soul's words, and make them known to the bridegroom. The soul's words are its desires, which the friends, that is the angels, listen to and delight in. They make them known, and they invite the soul to come; they console it, and advise it to seek and knock, because anyone who seeks finds, and to anyone who knocks the door is opened.

"Meanwhile, until the bridegroom comes, they frequently visit such a fervent soul, and by an increase of grace prepare it more fully for his arrival. They draw its thoughts toward a perception of their presence, and an awareness of their friendship, so that through this knowledge it may advance to divine knowledge.

"Thus the soul searching for God is found by the blessed angels, and after going round the city in its quest, deserves to be approached by them. It sees them coming to meet it and is taken in charge by them. In fact, they come before the bridegroom, manifesting their presence and revealing themselves, for being angels of light they accompany the Light, and the soul, flooded with light, is both illuminated and moved, so that it perceives their coming and is conscious of their presence."

Richard of Saint Victor (AD ?-1173), Song of Songs 4: PL 196, 417-418

Richard was an Augustinian canon and one of the great mystical writers of the middle ages. He greatly influenced Bonaventure and the Franciscan school. This quote from him is, I must admit with angelic swiftness, way over my head (existentially, if not intellectually). The first few lines remind me fondly of *City of Angels* (Meg Ryan, Nicholas Cage), an otherwise awful film.

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