Today’s Catechism sections discuss the created universe, specifically focusing on the angels. Supplemental material comes from St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica”.

Paragraph 5. HEAVEN AND EARTH

325 The Apostles' Creed professes that God is "creator of heaven and earth". The Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes "all that is, seen and unseen".

326 The Scriptural expression "heaven and earth" means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: "the earth" is the world of men, while "heaven" or "the heavens" can designate both the firmament and God's own "place" - "our Father in heaven" and consequently the "heaven" too which is eschatological glory. Finally, "heaven" refers to the saints and the "place" of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.186

327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."187

I. THE ANGELS

The existence of angels - a truth of faith

328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

Who are they?

329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'"188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word".189

330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.190

IN BRIEF

350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).

St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the angels in the “Summa Theologica” (1, 50):

Article 1. Whether an angel is altogether incorporeal?

Objection 1. It would seem that an angel is not entirely incorporeal. For what is incorporeal only as regards ourselves, and not in relation to God, is not absolutely incorporeal. But Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii) that "an angel is said to be incorporeal and immaterial as regards us; but compared to God it is corporeal and material. Therefore he is not simply incorporeal."

Objection 2. Further, nothing is moved except a body, as the Philosopher says (Phys. vi, text 32). But Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii) that "an angel is an ever movable intellectual substance." Therefore an angel is a corporeal substance.

Objection 3. Further, Ambrose says (De Spir. Sanct. i, 7): "Every creature is limited within its own nature." But to be limited belongs to bodies. Therefore, every creature is corporeal. Now angels are God's creatures, as appears from Psalm 148:2: "Praise ye" the Lord, "all His angels"; and, farther on (verse 4), "For He spoke, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created." Therefore angels are corporeal.

On the contrary, It is said (Psalm 103:4): "Who makes His angels spirits."

I answer that, There must be some incorporeal creatures. For what is principally intended by God in creatures is good, and this consists in assimilation to God Himself. And the perfect assimilation of an effect to a cause is accomplished when the effect imitates the cause according to that whereby the cause produces the effect; as heat makes heat. Now, Godproduces the creature by His intellect and will (14, 8; 19, 4). Hence the perfection of the universe requires that there should be intellectual creatures. Now intelligence cannot be the action of a body, nor of any corporeal faculty; for every body is limited to "here" and "now." Hence the perfection of the universe requires the existence of an incorporeal creature.

The ancients, however, not properly realizing the force of intelligence, and failing to make a proper distinction between sense and intellect, thought that nothing existed in the world but what could be apprehended by sense and imagination. And because bodies alone fall under imagination, they supposed that no being existed except bodies, as the Philosopherobserves (Phys. iv, text 52,57). Thence came the error of the Sadducees, who said there was no spirit (Acts 23:8).

But the very fact that intellect is above sense is a reasonable proof that there are some incorporeal things comprehensible by the intellect alone.

Reply to Objection 1. Incorporeal substances rank between God and corporeal creatures. Now the medium compared to one extreme appears to be the other extreme, as what is tepid compared to heat seems to be cold; and thus it is said thatangels, compared to God, are material and corporeal, not, however, as if anything corporeal existed in them.

Reply to Objection 2. Movement is there taken in the sense in which it is applied to intelligence and will. Therefore anangel is called an ever mobile substance, because he is ever actually intelligent, and not as if he were sometimes actually and sometimes potentially, as we are. Hence it is clear that the objection rests on an equivocation.

Reply to Objection 3. To be circumscribed by local limits belongs to bodies only; whereas to be circumscribed by essentiallimits belongs to all creatures, both corporeal and spiritual. Hence Ambrose says (De Spir. Sanct. i, 7) that "although some things are not contained in corporeal place, still they are none the less circumscribed by their substance."

Footnotes

186 ⇒ Pss 115:16; ⇒ 19:2; ⇒ Mt 5:16.
187 Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3002 and Paul VI, CPG # 8.
188 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 103, 1, 15: PL 37, 1348.
189 ⇒ Mt 18:10; ⇒ Ps 103:20.
190 Cf. Pius XII, Humani generis: DS 3891; ⇒ Lk 20:36; ⇒ Dan 10:9- 12.