LITTLE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Chapter 20
OF A BEAUTIFUL VISION WHICH APPEARED TO A YOUNG MAN WHO HATED THE HABIT OF ST FRANCIS SO GREATLY, THAT HE WAS ON THE POINT OF LEAVING THE ORDER
The main story here is about a vision at the altar. The traditions vary from denominationt to denomination, and from congregation to congregation in some denominations, about reverence around the altar. Some churches don't have an altar. The point of the traditions, where there is an altar and where there are such traditions, is to inculcate in the worshippers a feeling of awe and reverence. God is everywhere, no more present at an altar or in an icon than elsewhere. The awareness of that has caused iconoclastic movements at various times and in various places in history. But, there's something sacramental, if I can be allowed to so use the term, in using a place or an item to represent the Ultimate Being we seek to revere. There may be an analogous reason why there are angels. Why would God need to send an angel someplace, when God is already there? and to do what? God doesn't need angels to do things for Him, He can do it all Himself. It's for our benifit. It's easier to relate to an altar, an icon, or an angel, than to an incomprehensible Being.
In the vision in our story, there was a procession of angels. In a sense, this was something in the mind of the beholder of the vision. I take it to symbolize things that actually took place, but not in a way that we could have understood, eternal things, that didn't take place at a particular time or place. When the young man beheld the vision, he learned things which changed his attitude towards the order and his calling to it.