Illuminations

Ascending & Descending Glory

by Anthony Esolen

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers," calls out the Father to the assembled angels in Paradise Lost.

No doubt he meant also to summon the other four orders, the seraphim and cherubim, the archangels and the angels. Such were the nine orders denominated by Dionysius and accepted by Christian theologians and poets of the Middle Ages and beyond. And yet, says Thomas Aquinas, angels do not belong to species. In this regard, they are not like men. Each individual angel is his own kind.

I have no credentials in angelology, and maybe that is why Thomas's conclusion used to puzzle me. How, if each angel is his own kind, can the angels enjoy unity? And . . .

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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books), Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2019). He has also translated Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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