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The Church has always invoked and paid a religious honour to the holy angels. St Thomas Aquinas believed that the angels were not equal in power and intellect. Indeed, based on the readings of St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians and to the Ephesians (Eph 1:21 and Col 1:16). The “Powers” (lat. potestas (f), pl. potestates), or “Authorities”, from the Greek exousies (Ephesians 3:10) appear to collaborate in power and authority with the Principalities (Rulers).
The Powers are the angelic representatives of all lawful authority, ecclesiastical and civil. They are from the second order of angels composed of the Choirs of the Dominations, Powers and Virtues. The Dominations, which is the choir of angels at the pre-eminence of the order of angels, are given the duty of appointing tasks which are to be done by the Virtues and Powers.
Powers are warrior angels against evil spirits defending the cosmos and humans. They are known as potentates. These spirits hold one of the most dangerous tasks and are responsible for maintaining the order between heaven and earth. They are the major line of defence and battle during heavenly warfare. Powers maintain order around planet earth and protect it from being overthrown by Satan and oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.
The Choir of Powers direct the lower choirs on how to order creation (Mark 13:25) – “and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.” The Powers are also tasked with guarding the celestial byways between the two realms. They are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history and as created warrior angels they are completely loyal to God.
Their power is of a more intensive character than that of the Virtues, and the Devil must give way before them. Paul used the term rule and authority in Ephesians 1:21, and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 3:10. However, he may have been referring to the rulers and authorities of humanity, instead of referring to angels. According to the writings of some early Fathers the Powers guard the priests more carefully in their ministries. Priests under the protection of the Powers have great influence over souls, and their work is very fruitful. Powers are assigned to priests who are confessors of very devout souls. These angels lead the priests to a better self knowledge and instil in them a desire for perfection. www.catholictradition.org/Angels/angels
Prepared by Noreen Bavister, UK