In this part of The Dream of Gerontius, Newman teaches us a lot about the angels. The soul of Gerontius begins telling us the mission of the angels.
“It is a member of that family
Of wondrous beings, who, ere the worlds were made,
Millions of ages back, have stood around
The throne of God:—he never has known sin
But through those cycles all but infinite,
Has had a strong and pure celestial life,
And bore to gaze on the unveil’d face of God,
And drank from the everlasting Fount of truth,
And served Him with a keen ecstatic love.”
Next, the angel praises God:
“O Lord, how wonderful in depth and height,
But most in man, how wonderful Thou art!
With what a love, what soft persuasive might
Victorious o’er the stubborn fleshly heart,
Thy tale complete of saints Thou dost provide,
To fill the thrones which angels lost through pride!
He lay a grovelling babe upon the ground,
Polluted in the blood of his first sire,
With his whole essence shatter’d and unsound,
And coil’d around his heart a demon dire,
Which was not of his nature, but had skill
To bind and form his op’ning mind to ill.”
The angel recounts the “long relentless fight” to win his human charge purchased by Christ at so great a cost.
“Oh, what a shifting parti-colour’d scene
Of hope and fear, of triumph and dismay,
Of recklessness and penitence, has been
The history of that dreary, life-long fray!
And oh, the grace to nerve him and to lead,
How patient, prompt, and lavish at his need!”
The angel linked to the “ransomed race” – mankind- describes his charge:
“O man, strange composite of heaven and earth!
Majesty dwarf’d to baseness! fragrant flower
Running to poisonous seed! and seeming worth
Cloking corruption! weakness mastering power!
Who never art so near to crime and shame,
As when thou hast achieved some deed of name;—”
The soul at last acknowledges it is separated from its body, and it feels safe in the hands of its angel. A beautiful dialogue ensues between soul and angel. The soul exclaims:
“Mighty one, my Lord,
My Guardian Spirit, all hail!”
The angel replies:
“All hail, my child!
My child and brother, hail! what wouldest thou? ”
The soul answers:
“I would have nothing but to speak with thee
For speaking’s sake. I wish to hold with thee
Conscious communion; though I fain would know
A maze of things, were it but meet to ask,
And not a curiousness.”
That “conscious communion” is an awareness of the inspirations of the guardian angel, affection for and obedience to him. Like Blessed Newman and all the saints, we, too, should strive to hold conscious communion with our angel, and with his assistance prepare to meet Christ.