Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review: The Angels and Their Mission

My most recent Catholic Company Book Review is The Angels and Their Mission by Jean Danielou. Truth be told, I've had a hard time with this book. I picked it because I wanted a departure from the family/NFP/mom books that I've been reading. I felt like having a change and broadening my horizons...well, I did that with this book for sure! The cover of the book should have been my first clue that this is not a book about cute little angels flitting about heaven. I was really wanting a book that explained more about angels - the different hierarchies of them etc. In this book, Jean Danielou went a quite a bit beyond that and was definitely writing to an audience more well versed in the subject of angels, and even in the subject of church fathers, than I am. At the first mention of Pseudo-Dionysius I was like, what is a fake Dionysius verses a real Dionysius. And then he mentions Origen and I couldn't figure out why Origen was capitalized or what he was trying to find the origination of. Now that you all know how uneducated I am in our Church Fathers...I'll continue with the review.

I quickly figured out that this wasn't exactly what I was looking for when I chose this book and I admit that I had a tough time getting through it. And I've had a tough time figuring out how to review this book. I did something that I never do when starting out...I looked at another blogger's review. It was my friend Julie D's at Happy Catholic. I know that she loves angels and the curiosity of what she wrote versus what I was thinking just got the better of me! What I read was both shocking and exactly what I expected. Huh?? I know, right? The part I expected was that this was a pretty easy read for her. She's way smart and very knowledgeable already about angels so this for her while, as she puts it "not light, bedtime reading", was pretty easy for her to get through. What shocked me was that the part of the book that absolutely blew my mind because it was such a new concept for me was front and center in her review and apparently a new concept for her too.
Just as, at the Nativity, we see the Word descend, surrounded by the angels of heaven, and meet the guardian angels of earth, so now we see Him rise, accompanied by the angels of earth, and meet the angels who guard the gates of heaven. but these do not recognize Him, because He appears united to the human nature that He assumed and bearing the marks of His Passion. Thus, they question the angels who are accompanying Him to find out who He is.


Thus, the mystery of the Ascension completely amazes the angels of heaven. for what it reveals to them is really a mystery, hidden up to then, an entirely new reality, disconcerting at first glance
I love the image of the angels just being blown away by Jesus coming back to Heaven and they don't even recognize him because of his human nature! Wonderful! Love it!

This book is a tough read, but it is well worth the time and effort it takes to get through it. It has opened new thoughts and concepts to me. It has made me more interested in exploring and studying the Church Fathers which I admit to knowing nothing about. The chapter on The Angels and the Spiritual Life states that the angels try to help our spiritual life progress. I think they did just that in guiding me to read this book.

This book was reviewed as part of The Catholic Company's reviewer program. Read more reviews here. Order the book from The Catholic Company here.

1 comment:

Julie D. said...

Actually, this wasn't an easy read for me. I had to skim/power through some parts but then others I really loved. The fact that I then lent it to Father Libone tells you I thought it was difficult to read! However, I did tell him that I want it back when he's done because I think that it will be very fruitful upon rereading. :-)