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The Principalities

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Purity of intention is the virtue ascribed to Principalities. In their high functions they never seek but honor the interest of God alone.

In the thirteenth century, Roman Catholic teaching on angels was formally defined. Angels were taught to be incorporeal substances that were pure spirit, essentially immortal and in possession of intellect and free will. The definitive teaching was pronounced by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215).

The lower hierarchy and the closest to mankind is composed of Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Principalities have been assigned the care and rule over the universe, they are the guardians of all earthly kingdoms; watching over nations, provinces, dioceses, religious communities, and, to avert them from the effects of divine wrath. Therefore, every kingdom and every person on earth has its own guardian angel.

Principalities teach people to honour their rulers and influence the hearts of rulers to use their power worthily for the glory of God and the good of their subjects; guiding events under God’s direction for the benefit of a country or district committed to their care.

All these holy angelic ranks live one common life, helping one another in the sacred and joyous process of attaining greater and greater knowledge of God, of becoming more and more like Him.

The disciple of the great Apostle Paul, Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, to whom the Lord revealed the entire angelic world, writes: “The heavenly hierarchy is established in such a way that the lesser spiritual beings receive enlightenment from the higher ones, and represent for each other a ladder of ascension to supreme perfection.”

Only the Lord God can say what the orders of importance the angels take. The Seraphim, Cherubim and Archangels are identified in the Bible with such detail that we can reliably know some of their characteristics and duties, and be assured of their responsibilities and rankings in Heaven.

Thrones, Dominions, Principalities and Powers are identified as ranks of angels according to Colossians (1:16- 17)… “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

With this interpretation, the ranks of Thrones, Dominions, Principalities and Powers for some of the angels in heaven can be established with general attributes assigned. If we examine and compare the same governments established by God on earth, then we can easily imagine the unseen government of angels to have the same characteristics as the known.

Romans adds, “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Christ has been set at the right hand of God and given authority to reign over all Principalities and Powers, both in the spirit realm and in the earthly realm.

When we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and saviour of our life, we are seated with Him, far above every Principality and Power in the spirit realm. We are told to beware lest any man spoil us through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Jesus Christ dwells in all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. We are complete in Christ, and Jesus Christ is the head of all Principality and Powers (Colossians 2:8-10).

We ought to pray to the angel who guards our country as well as to its Patron Saint. Principalities are appointed to transmit to the archangels and angels the orders of God. Purity of intention is the virtue ascribed to Principalities, because in their high functions they never seek but the honour and interest of God alone. Let us imitate the Principalities and pray to them for purity of intention.

Prepared by Noreen Bavister, UK