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52. Angels and Place

1. A body is naturally in a place according to its dimensions, that is, according to its measurable bodily quantity. A body is said to be in a place circumscriptively. But an angel has no bodily quantity or dimensions. Hence an angel is not in a place in the same way as a body is in a place. Still, an angel can be in a place, not as contained by the place, but rather, in a way, as containing the place. We might make a comparison (very distant and very imperfect) between angelic presence and the bodily presence of daylight in a room. The daylight is not contained by the room; we cannot suddenly close and shutter the room and imprison the daylight. It is more accurate to say that the room is in daylight than that daylight is in the room.

2. To be in a place means different things according to what is placed. God is in a place because He is everywhere. A body is in a place by its quantity or dimensions. An angel is in a place in so far as it exercises its powers there and not elsewhere. God is present ubiquitously; a body is located circumscriptively; an angel is in a place definitively. An angel cannot be in several places at once, since, as we have seen, definitive presence means presence here and not elsewhere.

3. Nor can more than one angel be in the same place at once. This is not because of the size of the place, for an angel is spiritual and has no size; size is a matter of quantity, and quantity is a property of bodies. An angel is the complete cause of the effect exercised in its place, and there cannot be more than one complete cause of the same effect. Just as it is impossible for more than one soul to be in the same human body, so it is impossible for more than one angel to be in the same place.

"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."
St Philip Neri

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