When I was a child my mother taught me the Guardian Angel prayer, and for twenty years that was all I knew about these mysterious heavenly creatures. Recently, I started saying that prayer three times a day and was inspired to learn more about my Guardian Angel. As I researched, I learned that Guardian Angels belong to just one of nine choirs of angels.
I learned their names and their roles and was intrigued especially by what Tradition teaches they do during Mass: taking the Precious Blood of Christ in the Eucharist to quench the thirst of the suffering souls in Purgatory.
I’ve always prayed for the souls in Purgatory, but what is better than consoling them with the Sanctifying Blood of Christ? Recognizing its great value I hastily took up saying various times a day the famous St. Gertrude prayer: “Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus, in union with all the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”
The more I prayed, the more I saw the relationship between the ministry of the Angels and the gift of the Precious Blood. As a result, I’ve lately begun practicing a neat yet obscure devotion during Mass: when I receive the Eucharist I offer it in thanksgiving for the work of the Nine Choirs of angels and specifically to the Seven Angels around the throne of God.
Next time you go to Mass you might offer Communion in thanksgiving for your Guardian Angel, as you sometimes would offer Communion to encourage a good friend. Then you might go down the line of Choirs. The Seraphim make up of the first choir of angels, and they are known to express the love of God. They guard the Holy Throne of God in Heaven. The Cherubim (see image on left) make up the second choir of angels; they express the wisdom of God. They guard the Holy Throne of God on Earth, i.e. the tabernacles in all the various parishes. The Thrones make up the third choir of angels and they express the peace of God. These first three make up the first hierarchy of angels.
The second hierarchy of angels is made up of the Dominations, the Virtues and the Powers. The Dominations assert the will of God, while the Virtues carry out the orders. If any obstacles present themselves then the Powers step in to block them out. A football analogy might help to imagine all of this: the Dominations are like the coaches, yelling out instructions; the Virtues are like the running backs (they run with the football); and the Powers are like the fullbacks (they tackle anyone who is in the way of the running back).
The third and final hierarchy of angels is made up of the Principalities, the Archangels, and the Angels. The Principalities make up the seventh choir of angels, and they are known to protect towns, cities, nations and their leaders. The Archangels make up the eighth choir of angels and are known to make intercessions in times of great need. Finally, there are the Angels, including those life-long companions who inspire us to do good and avoid evil.
Based on these, then, there are nine possible intentions during Mass: when you need to feel the love of God (Seraphim); when you need an insight into the wisdom of God (Cherubim); when you need to peacefully submit to the will of God (Thrones); when you need to know the will of God (Dominations); when you need help carrying out the will of God (Virtues); when you need help removing obstacles keeping you from doing the will of God (Powers); when your nation and its leaders need protection and guidance (Principalities); when you or a loved one need special intercessions and protection (Archangels); and, finally, when you or a loved one need guidance in daily life (Angels).
Alexandra Richards is a long-time Atlanta resident and a senior at at Holy Spirit College. Her major is philosophy and her particular interests include ethics, phenomenology, and classical metaphysics. Alexandra actively participates in several ministries and outreaches within the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where she teaches numerous catechetical subjects, especially Theology of the Body.