We ought not to enter into a struggle with evil empty handed. We need to be carrying light with us. This is why in my study on Evil I offer three chapters on the brightness and goodness of 1) the universe and 2) the Earth and 3) the human body before we enter into a discussion of Evil. One should not enter a cave without a lantern.
For this reason it is healthy to invoke the angels and other light beings when we meditate on evil. Consider these teachings from Hildegard of Bingen.
Just as sunshine shows the sun, so also angels announce God through their praise….The entire cosmos sang the song of the angels.
The universe is filled with light and praise.
In wonderful harmonics the angels announce in high song the glorification of God. In indescribable jubilation the blessed spirits through God’s power exalt the wonders which God works. The song of joy and blessedness rules throughout the heavens.
Hildegard is celebrating a cosmic Via Positiva that accompanies humans. She continues:
And so the fire has its flames and it is praise before God. And the wind moves the flames: in order to praise God. And in the voice lives the word: that is also a praise of God. And a voice will be heard. And that also is pure praise for God. Therefore the entire world is praise of God.
The bigger picture, a cosmic awareness, brings joy and praise alive and empowers us to challenge evil.
We humans are being supported by the angels who very much enjoy praising human good works.
Just as God is praised by the angels and as God’s creation is acknowledged through this praise, for they sound God’s praise with zithers and harmony and all voices of praise, because this is their natural office, so also God is to be praised by humanity.
For humans serve two purposes: they sing God’s praise and they practice good works. So God is recognized through their praise and through the good works one can see in them God’s wonders.
So humans are angelic through their praise, but through their holy deeds they are human. But as a whole they are the full work of God, for in praise and in deeds all of God’s works are brought to completion through these humans.
Surely the spirit beings we call angels are supporting us in our wrestling with evil powers whether of greed or mendacity, denial or narcissism.
Indeed, angels praise not only divinity but humanity’s good works.
The angels lift up their voices to God in praise of the good works of humanity. They continually praise the ever-increasing good works of humankind. They climb onto the golden altar which stands before God’s countenance. And from now on they intone new song to honor these works.
Adapted from Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, The Physics of Angels, pp. 136f., 140, 161.
See also Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil and Soul and Society, pp. 45-104.
And Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works: With Letters & Songs.
Banner Image: “Christ ministered to by the angels after his temptation in the desert” by Petr Brandl (1668–1735) A work from the two-volume album of drawings entitled Dessins Originaux from the former Municipal Library (Stadtbibliothek) in Wrocław; now in the National Museum in Warsaw. From Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you find it empowering and courage-building to realize how other light beings and spirit beings we call angels are praising our work and accompanying us in our work?
When was the last time a scientist and a theologian discussed angels together? What are angels? Many people believe in angels, but few can define these enigmatic spirits. Now visionary theologian Matthew Fox and acclaimed biologist Rupert Sheldrake—pioneers in modern religious thinking and scientific theory—launch a groundbreaking exploration into the ancient concept of the angel and restore dignity, meaning, and joy to our time-honored belief in these heavenly beings.
Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
Author Matthew Fox writes about Hildegard as abbess, healer, artist, musician, reformer, and more… and what we can learn from her. This gathering of her work includes 1) her final and most mature book, “Book of Divine Works” and 2) 42 of her most important letters and 3) 12 of her wonderful songs with translations of her lyrics and Gregorian chant annotations.
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them. “If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.