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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.

"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."
St Nicholas Flue

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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