Believing in angels, isn’t that out of fashion?
Anne Bernet: It is a belief that we abandoned at one time, without realizing that if we forgot the “invisible universe” of the Creed, we undermined a part of Christian revelation. Today the Church speaks again of angels because, in the 1990s, certain currents of the new age took hold of them. These currents hold esoteric discourses on angels which have nothing Christian about them and which, for the Church, even border on Satanism. It is therefore necessary that it proposes a theologically correct vision of angels.
Why believe in angels? Isn’t believing in Christ enough?
A. B. : Without the angels, who are pure spirits but are not God, there would be a lack of a degree between the material, which characterizes the human, and the spiritual, proper to God. It would drive a wedge between the divine and the human. Certainly, Christ is true God and true man, but he is one of the three divine persons. On the other hand, even if it is self-sufficient, the trinity has the desire to create and to communicate itself, and only the angels are able to respond fully to the love of God by their permanent praise.
According to the Church, do they intervene in our world?
A. B. : Yes, constantly, discreetly, by small touches, by suggestions. The Church once taught that they kept the planets from colliding. I’m not sure that there is only a poetic vision of their action. I believe that they intervene concretely, by protecting us from a host of misfortunes. Father Lamy, parish priest of La Courneuve at the beginning of the 20th century, said that they are “our very loving big brothers”. It is a real consolation to think that they are on our side in a world that engenders so much suffering and loneliness.
Why believe in the existence of bad angels?
A. B. : God left them the same freedom of choice as human beings: the possibility of preferring to him something other than himself. Some angels preferred themselves to God. They searched within themselves for a happiness and a freedom that they could not actually find there. No longer able to commune in divine love, they found themselves filled with a hatred commensurate with the love that filled them before. They seek to sow evil by separating creation from its creator, to prevent humans from achieving the happiness they themselves have deprived themselves of.
Does the Catholic faith hold them responsible for the evil that humans do?
A. B. : We never allow ourselves to be influenced by the devil if we have not opened the door to him. The human responsibility is there. What opens the door to the devil is serious sin, or certain imprudences consisting, for example, in invoking spirits which one believes to be beneficial, but which are not and can make you fall under their influence.
Do we all have a guardian angel?
A. B. : Yes, and you don’t have to be a Christian for that. Every human being receives at birth an angel whose mission is to watch over him, so that he escapes evil and one day enters the Kingdom of God. It watches over our spiritual growth, but it also happens that it protects us from concrete accidents.
Can we perceive its existence and maintain a real relationship with it?
A. B. : Saint Camille de Lellis, in the 16th century, was approached one evening by a young man whose grandmother, he told him, was dying. Camille went to the old woman’s bedside. After receiving the last rites, she told him that she lived alone and had no grandson. She had simply prayed to her guardian angel… Padre Pio, Françoise Romaine or Don Bosco also felt their presence. But, for the most part, we have to believe, without knowing it, that our guardian angel is there. This does not prevent us from maintaining a relationship of respect and affection with him. And, if we call on him, we will often find that his help is undeniable and that he is always there at the right time.