Choose a topic from Part 1:

58. The Mode or Manner of Angelic Knowing

1. An intellect is in potentiality in so far as it can know; it is in actuality in so far as it knows. An angelic intellect, in its natural knowing, has its full knowledge and there is nothing for it to learn. Yet it is not always considering everything that it knows. In regard to supernatural knowledge, the angelic intellect is always in actuality as to what it beholds in the divine Word; it may be in potentiality with reference to special divine revelations that may be made to it.

2. Angelic knowledge, arising from the vision of the divine Word (the beatific vision) is all possessed at once. In the realm of its natural knowledge, however, an angel may think of many things at once if these things are comprised under the same concept or species, but things comprised under various concepts or species cannot be all thought of at once by any creatural intellect.

3. Human intellectual knowledge is developed step by step; man advances from what he knows to what, at the start, is unknown. The process of human learning is exampled in the manner in which we prove a theorem in geometry. This way of thinking things out, step by step, is called discursive thinking or reasoning. Now,if, in the light of some master truth, we could see all that is implied in our thoughts, we should not need to work out knowledge by discursive thought. We should not, for example, need to work out the theorem in geometry, for we should instantly take in the whole demonstration and understand it thoroughly without effort. An angel actually has this type of knowledge. An angel does not require discursive thinking. In whatever area of its natural knowledge the angelic intellect is employed, it sees the whole picture; it beholds the thing thought about together with its implications and consequences, and therefore has no need to move from point to point to round out knowledge.

4. The human intellect forms ideas or concepts, and the compares these and pronounces judgment on their agreement or disagreement. Two ideas in the human mind are, when brought into comparison for judgment, in the relation of subject and predicate. When the predicate idea is found in agreement with the subject idea, the mind affirms the predicate of the subject, thus, "A stone is a substance." The mind or intellect thus composes or compounds the two ideas into an affirmative judgment. And when the predicate and subject do not agree, the mind divides them by a negative judgment, thus, "A stone is not a spiritual substance." Thus the human intellect works out its knowledge "by composing and dividing"; and from its judgments (made by composing and dividing) it works out other judgments by reasoning or discursive thinking. Now, the angelic intellect, as we have seen, has no need of this knowing process (of composing, dividing, reasoning), for its knowledge is not built up by abstraction from the piecemeal findings of senses. The angelic mind is like a clear mirror that takes in the full meaning of what it turns upon. Yet an angel understands our way of thinking and knows how we go about the business of composing, dividing, and reasoning.

5. In the natural knowledge of an angel there can be no falsehood or error. An angel knows truly all that it knows, and all that can be said of the object of its knowledge. And it goes without saying that in its supernatural knowledge an angel knows all that God wills it to know, without error or falsehood. But the fallen angels (or demons) are totally divorced from divine wisdom, and hence, in things supernatural, there can be error or falsehood in their knowing.

6. Inasmuch as angels know creatures in the Word of God, the beatific vision, they have what St. Augustine calls "morning knowledge." And inasmuch as they know creatures in the creatures' own being and nature, they have "evening knowledge."

7. It seems that St. Augustine makes a real distinction between morning and evening knowledge in the angels, for he says (Gen. ad lit. iv 24): "There is a very great difference between knowing a thing as it is in the Word of God and as it is in its own nature."

"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

* * *

"Though the path is plain and smooth for people of good will, those who walk it will not travel far, and will do so only with difficulty if they do not have good feet, courage, and tenacity of spirit. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

* * *

"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."
St Philip Neri

* * *