instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Triumph all ye Cherubim

Ever wonder what order of angel you are?

Of course not. That's silly. You aren't an angel, you're a human.

Still, I took the quiz, and felt myself being inexorably drawn toward an order that turned out to be... the Cherubim.

Of course, thanks to that oaf Raphael (the painter, not the archangel), I can't say, "I'm a cherub," and impress many people. But it seems to make sense, granting the absurdity of the question, as does Steven Riddle's answer of Seraph.

St. Thomas, in what is not his most rigorous treatment of a subject, writes on the various properties of the angelic orders:
..."Cherubim" ... is interpreted "fulness of knowledge," which Dionysius expounds in regard to four things: the perfect vision of God; the full reception of the Divine Light; their contemplation in God of the beauty of the Divine order; and in regard to the fact that possessing this knowledge fully, they pour it forth copiously upon others.
And those last two things have more than an echo of the Dominican motto "to contemplate and give to others the fruits of contemplation."

Dionysius expounds the name "Seraphim" according to the properties of fire....

[Seraphim] are borne inflexibly towards God.

...the action of these angels, exercised powerfully upon those who are subject to them, rous[e] them to a like fervor, and cleans[e] them wholly by their heat.

...these angels have in themselves an inextinguishable light, and that they also perfectly enlighten others.
And finally,
the "Cherubim" have the excellence of knowledge and the "Seraphim" the excellence of ardor.
So I'd allow as that the Seraphim are to Carmelite spirituality as the Cherubim are to Dominican spirituality, while noting that "in the angelic orders all spiritual perfections are common to all the angels."