Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 20, 2010
Angels abound to serve, care for us
Next week the Church's liturgical cycle enters that brief period when it pays tribute to the angels. Sept. 29 is the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, while Oct. 2 is the memorial of Guardian Angels.
The existence of angels is a truth of the faith in which we ought to revel. First, angels are beings whose very existence is a challenge to our rationalistic age. They are purely spiritual beings who cannot be detected by any form of human measurement. For the rationalist, it is not just that angels do not exist, but rather that they cannot exist.
That there are more than 400 references to angels in the Bible is, to the rationalist, proof positive that the Bible is myth. To people of Christian faith, that angels do exist is a sign that God's love for us is infinitely more important than anything we can see, feel, taste, touch or smell.
Second, we ought to revel in angels because they show us the path to God. Unfortunately, we too often fail to ask angels for the guidance they can provide. The saints in heaven can intercede for us; the angels not only intercede, they directly intervene in our world. Humans move through space and time; angels move in and out of space and time.
Several 20th century popes had a great devotion to angels. Pope Pius XI counselled his protégé, Angelo Roncalli (later John XXIII), to seek the help of angels in his work in diplomacy. Before entering a troublesome situation, he should ask his angel to ask the angel of his counterpart to intervene to help overcome any difficulties.
Pope Pius prayed to his guardian angel every morning and evening and several times during the day. Quite literally, his governance of the Church took place half on earth and half in heaven.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the most logical, rational of all Catholic thinkers, but also the angelic doctor, gave a great portion of his attention to angels. "The angels cooperate in all our good works," Thomas wrote.
Angels exert influence over our imagination to steer us away from evil and toward good, he said. They help us to see things more clearly and often arrange information for us so we better understand how we ought to act.
Distractions are common in prayer. If we mouth the words of a prayer, while our minds are elsewhere, how can we expect God to pay attention to that prayer? Some saints maintained that our angels gather and organize our prayers to present them to God in a more worthy manner.
We teach our children to say the prayer to their guardian angel and then fail to pray it ourselves. But teens and adults need angelic assistance much more than do little children. We need our angel to guide us and protect us from moral evil as well as from physical harm.
So, turn to your angel. He is waiting to guide in the ways of the Lord.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.