A Devotional Thought

The Annunciation wall panel – ca. 1933

     “Who can explain the kind of bodies in which the angels appeared to men, so that they were not only visible but tangible as well?  And again, how do they, not by impact of physical stimulus but by spiritual force, bring certain visions, not to the   physical eyes but to the spiritual eyes of the mind, or speak something, not to the ears, as from outside us, but actually from within the human soul, since they are present within it too?  For, as it is written in the book of the Prophets:  “And the angel that spoke in me, said to me…” (Zech 1:9)  He does not say, “Spoke to me” but “Spoke in me.”  How do they appear to men in sleep, and communicate through dreams, as we read in the Gospel:  “Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying…” (Matt. 1:20)  By these various modes of presentations, the angels seem to indicate that they do not have tangible bodies; yet this raises the very difficult question:  How, then, did the patriarchs wash the angels’ feet? (Gen. 18:4; 19:2)  How also did Jacob wrestle with the angel in such a tangible form?

     To ask questions as these, and to guess at the answers as one can, is not a useless exercise in speculation, so long as the discussion is moderate and one avoids the mistake of those who think they know what they do not know.”

St Augustine (ca. 410 CE),  Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love 

Found within the daily readings of Phyllis Tickles book The Night Offices:  Prayers for the Hours From Sunset to Sunrise, page 346.

blessings to you this day,


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