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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.

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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"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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"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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