On Angel Wings

“Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings.” – Zuzu Bailey

DISCLAIMER: I am not a theologian.

I read the Bible and the Catechism. Sometimes I understand them (with hard work, reflection and help from wise people).

Some of the debates Catholics get into have me scratching my head. “Conservative” Catholics get terribly concerned with rules. “Liberal” Catholics have a tendency to forget that there is a difference between right and wrong. I’m neither a Pharisee nor a Pagan; I’m just a Catholic guy trying to do the right thing and appreciate God’s mercy.

But right here, right now, I’m claiming that in one instance I have a better grip on reality than the most renowned of theologians. And I am taking my stand on the question of whether angels have wings. This is something all Catholics can agree on.

In case you have missed this controversy, it come up a few days ago when Fr. Renzo Lavatori suggested that angels do not have wings. Fr Lavatori is an “angelologist” and has quite a resume:

Rev. Renzo Lavatori is a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy. At the Pontifical University Urbaniana, he teaches diverse courses: Christology, Economic Trinity, Fundamental Theology and Escatology in the first cycle and Theological Christocentrism, Pneumatology and Angelology/Demonology in the second cycle. He also teaches at the ISSR Apollinare (Christology and Soteriology) and the ISSR “Ecclesia Mater” at the Pontifical Lateran University. He read lectures in Pneumatology, Fundamental Theology and Angelology at the Theological Faculty in Oradea (Romania). He has held conferences on the Holy Spirit and Angels at the Theological Faculty in Cluj-Napoca and Blaj (11-15 April 2010). He has published numerous works on fundamental themes of the faith, on biblical theology and numerous articles in various theological journals.

Fr Lavatori is smart about topics I can’t even pronounce, let alone explain. He has a portfolio of degrees, decades of experience and a brilliant brain. I think he is even older than I am, which is getting less common a reality for me to encounter.

However, all of that doesn’t mean he is right about angels and wings. In fact, he is dead wrong. Angels absolutely do have wings.

Great artists have been painting pictures of angels for centuries. They darned near always have wings. If I go to Google Images and put in “angel,” every picture is of a being with wings. In every movie I have ever seen that featured an angel, it had wings. And in every picture I can find of an angel, it is a beautiful female, a male with a bodybuilder physique or a charming child. So, I conclude that angels not only have wings, but are attractive.

Of course, you could point out that in the famous movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the angel Clarence not only lacked wings but was, well, rather dumpy in appearance. But that’s because he was still in training. He got his wings before the end of the movie and I’m betting he got a body makeover at the same time.

But I fear I’m straying from my main point: angels are winged beings. Thus, I find myself at odds with Fr. Lavatori, although I’m certain he speaks with sincerity and bases his comments on a wealth of prayer and study. I’m just going on faith and a strong feeling in my gut.

And if Fr Lavatori wants to proclaim to the world that angels don’t have wings, he can start by trying to convince Zuzu.



About Jim Fair

Jim Fair is a writer and consultant. He lives in the Chicago area and has a wonderful wife, son and daughter. He enjoys fishing and occasionally catches something. He tries to play the piano and sings a little. In addition to writing for Regnum Christi Live, he blogs at Laughing Catholic. And you can follow him on Twitter: Jim Fair (@fishfair).
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One Response to On Angel Wings

  1. Louis Melahn, L.C. says:

    Ah well. The makers of Its a Wonderful Life weren’t theologians either: otherwise they would have known that a human being, like Clarence, is not an angel can never become one. It’s still a great movie.

    Alas, for those who are attached to winged representations of angels, I must bring the bad news (so to speak) that angels, being pure spirits, have no bodies. Hence, no wings either. I am afraid that the “wings” in artistic renditions of angels are purely metaphorical.

    Enough banter, however. Merry Christmas, Jim, and happy New Year!

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