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54. The Knowledge of the Angels

1. The act of an angel's understanding or intellect is not to be identified with the very substance of the angel. Only in God is operation one with the substance of the operator. An angel is a creature. Therefore, in an angel, to understand is not the same as to subsist.

2. Nor is an angel's operation of understanding the same as the angel's existence. It is in God alone that operation and existence are identified.

3. Nor is the angel's intellect the same as the angel's essence. The intellect as a faculty or power, and the exercise or operation of that power, are things which the angel has, not things which constitute the angel and make it what it is. In a creature, power, or the operation of power, is not identified with the creature's essence.

4. In the human intellect or understanding there is an active and a passive power: the active intellect (intellectus agens) works on sense-findings and renders them understandable; the passive intellect (intellectus possibilis) receives the understandable objects and expresses them within itself as ideas or concepts or expressed intelligible species. Now, an angel does not need to work out its knowledge in this way. It has its knowledge from God; its knowledge comes to it with its nature, that is, with its essence equipped for proper operation. An angel has no need to work out intellectual knowledge from sense-findings; an angel has no senses. An angel's intellect is not distinguished as an active and a passive faculty. An angel's knowledge is not acquired by effort of the knower; an angel's knowledge is imparted to it by its Creator at its creation.

5. An angel is a spirit, and hence has no sense-knowledge; it has only intellectual knowledge. But, an angel can have intellectual knowledge of the material things which human beings know by use of the senses.

"It is better to be burdened and in company with the strong than to be unburdened and with the weak. When you are burdened you are close to God, your strength, who abides with the afflicted. When you are relieved of the burden you are close to yourself, your own weakness; for virtue and strength of soul grow and are confirmed in the trials of patience."
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

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

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