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51. Angels and Bodies

1. Angels have no bodies. An intellectual nature (that is, a substantial essence equipped for understanding and willing) does not require a body. In man, because the body is substantially united with the spiritual soul, intellectual activities(understanding and willing) presuppose the body and its senses. But an intellect in itself, or as such, requires nothing bodily for its activity. The angels are pure spirits without a body, and their intellectual operations of understanding and willing depend in no way at all upon material substance.

2. That the angels sometimes assume bodies is known from Holy Scripture. Angels appeared in bodily form to Abraham and his household; the angel Raphael came in the guise of a young man to be the companion of the younger Tobias.

3. In bodies thus assumed, angels do not actually exercise the functions of true bodily life. When an angel in human form walks and talks, he exercises angelic power and uses the bodily organs as instruments. But he does not make the body live, or make it his own body.

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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