Tag Archives: Angels

October Synthesis

The month of October opens with the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who is known for having preached “the Little Way”. By reminding us of the biblical teaching on spiritual childhood, St. Thérèse of Lisieux taught us that we should not be afraid of God nor of aspiring to be saints despite our weaknesses, because it is precisely our littleness that attracts God’s mercy and compassion.

The following day, October 2, is the feast of the Guardian Angels – our guides and allies in our quest for sanctity.

Devotees of St. Josemaria Escriva know that it was on the feast of the Guardian Angels that he founded Opus Dei – another reminder of the universal call to sanctity and of the truth that sanctity is an accessible, albeit challenging, goal.

The month ends with the eve of All Saints’ Day, more popularly known as Halloween.

The appropriateness of Catholics celebrating Halloween in the popular manner of doing it is hotly debated. It is hard to give a blanket condemnation or approval of it, however, because people do it in different ways. On one side of the spectrum are those who dabble in the occult on the occasion; on the other side are those who hold saint-themed costume parties. In between are those for whom Halloween is just an occasion for good clean fun, playing dress-up, and perhaps a little bit of spookiness.

My own take is that barring downright sinful activities, the celebration of Halloween is a matter for every Catholic’s prudential judgment. Furthermore, while dabbling in the occult is definitely a no-no, neither are saint-themed costume parties obligatory (though they definitely can be a good catechetical tool), nor should a reasonable degree of spookiness be forbidden.

In fact, just as a morbid fascination for the occult is dangerous, it is equally harmful to ignore the reality of evil as if the saints were born with halos and never had to contend with the dark side of life. It is healthy to remind ourselves that spiritual warfare is a reality. And scattered throughout the month of October are feasts to remind us of what are our weapons in spiritual warfare.

October 1 reminds us of the need for childlike trust in God that St. Thérèse of Lisieux reminded us. October 2 reminds us of the help of the Guardian Angels. The feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 reminds us of the need to practice poverty and detachment. October 7 reminds us of the power of the Rosary. The feast of St. Teresa of Ávila on Oct. 15 reminds us of the need to develop a life of prayer. The feast of St. Luke the Evangelist on Oct. 18 reminds us to “use the force” of the Gospel. The feast of the apostles Sts. Simon and Jude on Oct. 28 reminds us that all of us are called to be apostles too; apostolate, after all, is also a form of spiritual warfare.

After the last day of October is All Saints’ Day. We have been reminded the whole month of what our goal is in life and how we are to attain it. So we begin a new month reminding us of the reward for our efforts, and renew our resolve to continue working and to fight once more.

Eternity

2 Peter 3:12-15, Psalm 90, Mark 12:13-17

‘But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.’ (2 Peter 3:13). This is the verse that struck me today because it speaks of eternity. What exactly do Christians mean by ‘Eternity’?

In popular speech, saying that something is “eternal” means that it lasts for an unlimited amount of time. From a Christian perspective, this is incorrect because the term “eternal” means OUTSIDE OF TIME.

We could look at the first verse of the Bible to give us a clearer understanding: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1). St. Thomas Aquinas states that this single verse alone reveals that our Eternal God created four things: 1) Heaven. 2) The Angelic Order (Angels). 3) Time. 4) Corporeal Matter (Earth).

This is why we say that God is ‘eternal’. He was before Time. God simply, ‘is’. That is why when Moses asked for God’s name, His answer was, “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). This is one of the most important verses which all Christians need to know. The ORDER of creation is very deliberate. It is important to realize that God created Heaven and Angels BEFORE Time and Earth. That is why we must believe Angels exist.

Christians who de-emphasize the existence of Angels are denying their own spirituality. Angels are continuously present from the first pages of Scripture, all the way to the end. The problem today though, is that we live in the age of man, of self-consciousness, of science. That is why the world loses belief in Angels, Heaven and God. This is why the world also loses hope in ‘Eternity’.

Reason demands angels.
— Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

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Originally posted on Instagram.

Spiritual Allies

For the past three months, the liturgical calendar has been reminding us of our spiritual allies.

Towards the end of September, we commemorated the feast of the Archangels.

On October 2, we celebrated the feast of the Guardian Angels.  On October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we reminded ourselves of the many victories and blessings that may be obtained through the Blessed Virgin’s intercession when we pray the Rosary.

We began November with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and we are encouraged to spend the entire month remembering the souls in Purgatory whom we can pray for and who can pray for us.

It’s not that God alone is not willing and able to help us; we know He is omnipotent and all-good.  But God knows that we sometimes find it difficult to approach Him directly.  He also knows that, as human beings, we like the help and companionship of those who have gone before us, whom we probably have even known personally when they were on earth, and who have gone through what we are going through now.

Hence, it is by God’s own will that we have the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels, and the saints (including the souls in Purgatory or the Church Suffering) to inspire us, give us good example, and intercede for us.Fra Angelico

It is beyond the scope of this post to distinguish between the Blessed Virgin, the angels, and the saints and the specific ways each of them help us.  It is sufficient, for now, to remember that all of them are our allies, and powerful allies at that.

A lot is being written in the Catholic blogosphere about spiritual warfare, about exorcism, about how powerful and active the devil has become in recent years. At least in my circles of fellow-Catholics, it has become normal to speak of oneself or one’s acquaintances suffering from diabolical oppression.

It is good that we are reminded of the reality of evil, that we are roused out of our complacency in face of the besieging enemies of our salvation.

Unfortunately, there is the danger that this increased awareness of evil would lead to nothing more than a morbid interest in sensational exorcism stories, or worse, that we become paralyzed by our awareness of evil that we despair of the possibility of defeating it. This, in itself, would be a victory for the devil.

To paraphrase a famous movie line, we should definitely not underestimate the power of the dark side. But neither should we forget that we have powerful spiritual allies ready to defend us and help us do the good we want to do.

Just as we, members of the Church Militant, give strength and hope to our fellow-warriors here on earth, our spiritual allies look out for us, help us, and intercede for us before God. Just as we dare not forget our loyal friends on earth, we should not forget that our spiritual allies assist us, often in ways we do not realize. We do not realize everything that they do for us, and how much more they are willing to do for us, if only we’d ask.

In the end, our spiritual allies will rejoice together with us at the final victory.

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Image: PD-US

Rescue the Perishing

Now my soul is troubled.  And what shall I say?  Father, save me from this hour?  No:  for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?  Father, glorify your name.

Happy belated feast days of Saints Augustine and Monica!  To all who pray, fast, weep, and mourn, rejoice and be comforted!  St. Ambrose said to St. Monica, “Woman, go in peace; the child of such prayers cannot perish.”

Do not despair of your loved ones.  One plants, another waters; but God gives the increase.

How small our faith!  How weak our prayers!  Take heart and do not lose courage.  Your mustard seed will grow into a tree.  God will find the gold coin which has gone missing.  He will call back the wandering sheep, and the angels in heaven will rejoice.

Concern for souls bears two fruits:  eagerness for evangelization and vigilance that we not fall away.  St. Augustine preaches, “So mighty is the physician who has come to us that he has healed all our sins!  If we choose to be sick once again, we will not only harm ourselves, but show ingratitude to the physician as well.”  God grant us grace to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.

Think of the consolation of heaven.  If you have devoted your time on earth to saving souls, God will grant you to continue that work beyond the vale.  Patrick Ahern chronicles Therese of Lisieux:  “The whole purpose of her earthly life was to love God and make Him loved.  That would not change after she died, as long as there were souls still to be saved.”  God wants unity of mission between heaven and earth.

The desire for the salvation of souls works in tandem with detachment from the world.  Would that we could say with Therese, “How happy I am to die!”  She speaks with eager anticipation of her death:  “I don’t know the future, but I can tell you with assurance that the Spouse is at the door.”  From her love for God sprang a persistence reminiscent of the widow who wears down the judge with her ceaseless requests.  She writes of heaven:  “I shall give God no rest until He grants me everything I want!”  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Ahern describes Therese’s heaven as participation and deification:  “Heaven, she saw clearly, is not eternal rest but eternal life, a life that is utterly full, without end and without beginning, for it is the very Life of God, the Life into which Jesus will draw all in His Resurrection.”  Maurice, Therese’s spiritual brother, pondered unity with God:  “This love of God for me almost scares me.  Nonetheless I hope that confidence will win out and make me give myself completely.”  Me too, Maurice.

Heavenly Bodies: On the Resurrection of the Flesh

The resurrection of the dead is among the central tenets of Catholicism, and indeed of any branch of “mere” Christianity which could be called “orthodox” [1]. It is the central point of the Gospels, that Christ came to die and then that he rose again from the dead; it is a point mentioned both in connection with Christ and then again with us in the historic creeds. And indeed, it is a central enough point that St. Paul tells us,

“Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:12-15).

The general resurrection is thus intimately connected to the other doctrines—and speculations—concerning eschatology. Our bodies are intimately a part of us—and if our souls are to be separated from our bodies at death, then we are incomplete until body and soul are reunited in the resurrection. As Dante Alighieri writes in his Divine Comedy,

When, glorious and sanctified, our flesh
Is reassumed, then shall our persons be
More pleasing by their being all complete;
For will increase whate’er bestows on us
Of light gratuitous the Good Supreme,
Light which enables us to look on Him;
Therefore the vision must perforce increase,
Increase the ardour which from that is kindled,
Increase the radiance which from this proceeds.
But even as a coal that sends forth flame,
And by its vivid whiteness overpowers it
So that its own appearance it maintains,
Thus the effulgence that surrounds us now
Shall be o’erpowered in aspect by the flesh,
Which still to-day the earth doth cover up;
Nor can so great a splendour weary us,
For strong will be the organs of the body
To everything which hath the power to please us.”
(Paridiso, Canto XIV, Longfellow Translation)

Thus, the beatific vision of heaven—and for that matter the torment of hell—will prove ever grater to us when we are whole, body and soul. We may “experience” these as souls, but that experience is not complete when we lack our bodies, through which we experience the world.

Here is a speculative answer as to why that may be. As Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us, all that is in our minds is first experienced through the five senses (ST I.84.6). Now, our souls may be separated from our bodies at death [2], with the result being that we have in heaven mind and memory and intellect and even will, but not those things which are proper to the body such as the senses. It seems to me that, deprived of the sense, we cannot gain new experiences in their proper entirety.

I’m not necessarily citing this book here, but I generally recommend reading Mortimer J. Adler.

What does this mean heaven will be like for us? Perhaps we can look to the angels—though it seems to me that we don’t actually know much about their experiences of heaven. Again, we have deduced that they do not learn in the same way that we do: rather, they are able to instantly grasp and understand new knowledge, conveyed not so much be sense as by intuition. Will our intellects be heightened in this manner? It is certainly within the realm of possibility, and would speculate that this must be so if we are to judge the angels themselves (see 1 Corinthians 6:3). Perhaps we will experience a heightening of this sort, and then we can apply these heightened intellects to intuit heaven’s joy: but again this is not so much an experiencing of heaven as an understanding of it. It would be good, and exceedingly so, even under these conditions, but how would we experience that goodness? Perhaps through memories of the good things we experienced in this life, but elevated and perfected by heavenly grace [3].

Yet, without our bodies, are we really experiencing the fullness of heaven, or is the whole thing little more than a dream-like state until the resurrection [4]? Reunited with our bodies, we may finally actually experience heaven, and in so doing move beyond memory and imagination to actually participate in the real thing. It is one thing to understand the joy of heaven, and even to have that as our single thought, to take delight in it as it fills our minds, our souls; it is another thing still to be fully present in heaven, to experience it and delight in the experience.

Speculation aside, we are told another thing about our bodies in heaven:

“But some one will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body….So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-44).

From this, and from the resurrection accounts of the Gospels, we can draw a few conclusions about our bodies in heaven:

  1. These bodies will in fact be our bodies, that is, they will be the body we have on earth, albeit perfected. For example, Christ’s risen body still retained the wounds of his crucifixion (John 20:24-29). The resurrection is not a repudiation of earthly man, but rather it is his completion and perfection.
  2. Our risen bodies will be whole. Each of us will have our entire body restored to us (Luke 12:17).
  3. The bodies in their perfection are “spiritual bodies” [5]. Saint Augustine explains in his City of God that this means they are perfected beyond even what our first ancestors (Adam and Eve) had in the garden before the Fall and the entrance of Original Sin. For example, Adam and Eve still required sustenance (e.g. the tree of life, Genesis 2:9, 16), but our resurrected bodies will not. One result of this is that our risen bodies will be immortal.
  4. Our risen and glorified bodies will be impassible. This means that they will be incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42) but that they will also be free from inconveniences, such as the pain of heat or cold or physical barriers (John 20:19).
  5. Our glorified bodies will shine with brightness (or glory). They will have different degrees of glory (1 Corinthians 15:39-42).
  6. Our bodies will have perfect agility. This means that we will be able to move with the swiftness of thought, and so space will prove no barrier to our movements. The body can move instantly to any place the soul desires.
  7. The risen body will be absolutely obedient to the soul, and the intellect will govern the will. This obedience is called “subtility,” and was among the gifts enjoyed by Adam and Eve before the Fall but since then lost.

Suffice it to say that the resurrection is something to look forward to (as the Nicene Creed states), and this as a joyous part of the life in the world to come.

—-Footnotes—-
[1] Orthodox: here I mean that there are certain doctrines which the various branches and schisms of Christianity have traditionally held in common. I will not list all examples here, but some include the doctrine of the Trinity, or that Christ was both true God and true man, or that He died and then on the third day resurrected from death to life. Basically, anything contained in the historic creeds, and a few other points of doctrine or common morality.

[2] This is certainly the bulk of opinion among Catholic thinkers. I suppose that the Orthodox opinion of a general dormition until the resurrection would be one alternative to this. The idea of form (soul) without matter (body) is a difficult one to fathom, so I won’t attempt to discuss it much more here.

Cover from Out of the Silent Planet. In the boat is Ransom with a hross (plural hrossa).

[3] Here I am reminded of a passage from C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet, in which the main character (Ransom) questions the alien hrossa about their mating rituals. The hross which he questions explains that they mate for a single season of life. Ransom asks whether there is pleasure for them, and if so how they can bear to remember it without returning to it. The surprised hross replies that there is as much pleasure in the memory as in the thing itself, and that only in memory can pleasure be completed.

[4] Perhaps there may be something to the Orthodox interpretation, and yet we need not give up the Catholic interpretation to get there!

[5] Note that the fact that the glorified body is a “spiritual body” does not necessarily mean it won’t be “material.” The body s still the matter of which the soul is the form.

For the Love of a Dog

_DSC0090 I recently said good-bye to my 10-year-old Golden Retriever, Hudson.

He passed away on August 20th, hours before my new husband and I moved to   Michigan to begin our life together.

There are many aspect to Hudson’s death that I have contemplated over the last few days. My history with dogs, especially Hudson, made his death that much more poignant. Anyone who knows me, my upbringing, or my history with dogs, understands as much.

Anyone who knew Hudson understands the very special way he interacted with the world, and anyone who knew the two of us together understand that he was more than a fuzzy head that played ball and got ear scratches. His life and death were unique. God spoke to me and worked in my life in many ways by having that dog. I am blessed to have had him in my life.

While I would love to delve into the multitude of topics that his passing has brought up, I only have time for one.

I remember a few years ago at college, a Catholic girl I was speaking with said something along the lines of “ugh. I can’t stand animals.”

Taken aback, I responded sarcastically, “there’s something seriously wrong with you if you don’t like animals!”

“They’re not as important as people,” she replied matter-of-factly, and walked away.

I was stunned for the rest of the day. It’s one thing to get bitten by a dog and, therefore, not like dogs. Or fall off of a horse and not like horses. But to blatantly, across the board, dislike animals? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Especially coming from such an animal-loving home.

My mother always taught us that there are plenty of ways to be pro-life. You don’t have to have 13 kids and plaster Crisis Pregnancy Center bumper stickers on your car to be pro-life. To be pro-life, we in the Smith household understood, meant to love and nurture all life. That, yes, people are and always will be more important than animals, but in practicing proper dominion over animals, showing them proper care, we are caring for a life that God deemed fit to make. In that sense, by loving and serving animals, we were being very pro-life.

If God decided that it was a life worth making, then it was definitely a life worth caring for. To despise animals, then, seems to slap God in the face. To tell Him “that aspect of creation isn’t worth it.” Who are we to say that to the God of the universe?

My understanding of dominion lead me to love animals and to strive to have them in my life in any way possible. Then Hudson entered my life, and my understanding of animal love changed.

I’m sure everyone has had that “one special bond” with an animal, and Hudson was that animal. His undying love and faithfulness, I decided, couldn’t possibly be simply a fluke of genetics. You couldn’t just breed a dog to love the way Hudson loved.

Whether I am right or not is another question, but one thing is certain, I grew to know God better because of my relationship with Hudson. He reflected God’s love in a way no one had before and I began to think about creation in a new way.

All of creation reflects God in some way, shape, or form. Just as hand-woven baskets reflect the weaver, or paintings reflect aspects of the painter, so too does creation reflect the God and Lord we worship. Flowers reflect Hislove of beauty, gentleness, and colorfulness. Trees reflect His grace and strength. People are made in His image – reflecting His relationship, love, logic, morality, creativity, complexity.

And then there are animals. Animals – sentient creatures that cannot talk, communicate, or reason as people do. Sentient creatures that are not on par with God’s magnum opus of mankind. Animals reflect that sentient part of God that is simple.

Especially dogs.

People always talk about the love of a dog as “special.” “Man’s best friend” didn’t earn his title by mistake. People know there is something different in the bond of a man with his dog. I don’t believe that is an accident.

If, as the Church teaches, every man – regardless of religious background, formation, or faith – has a desire for God, then there is in some part of us the ability to see God. Even if we are capable of only seeing a reflection of God, we still have a “God compass” that searches and points to Him so that when we see something beautiful or have a meaningful relationship with someone or something, a part of us can say “that was not for nothing; that comes from something greater.”

I believe God gave humanity dogs for just that purpose.

In a unique way, dogs reflect the way God loves us. Dogs always love us – they don’t care what mood we’re in, what we’re wearing, how tired we are, how successful we were at class or at work. Just as God delights in loving us, in giving us His Sacred Heart, so too IMG_2067dogs delight in showing us affection and giving us their hearts. People talk about the unconditional love of a dog – where else did they learn it, but by having such open and unconditional love placed in their hearts by God?

Men are not always open to letting God love them, but they are open to allowing dogs to love them. St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter Kreeft have both argued that angels come to us, not only in human form, but in animal form too. If this is so, then I believe they must come as dogs most often. If angels are messengers of the Lord, what better way to communicate God’s love for us than in the warm, brown eyes of a dog?

Dogs never care how long you’re gone. They’re just glad that you’re back. So too, God doesn’t care how long we’re gone from Him, how long we stay outside of His love. He simply delights in our homecoming.

A dog doesn’t sit at the door and ask “what took so long??” He simply wiggles and cries and licks and sheds and climbs all over you because it’s just the best thing in the world that you’re back. So too God rejoices in our homecoming – it’s simply the best thing in the world that we’re back in His love.

And, this love of God’s is so great, that He will go to any extent to be with His people – even sacrifice His only Son, if only to be with His people.

How often do dogs do the same? All they ever want is to be with their people. They’ll wait by the door, in the car, in the lawn, patiently just for you to come home. Sometimes they can’t wait to see their people and they sacrifice themselves for it – running into streets, jumping in to frozen ponds, or bolting through fences because they don’t care what the risk is – they just have to be with their people.

There are plenty of reasons why people love having dogs in their lives. But something that is so universally loved, so universally special, must reflect something greater. The loyalty and love in a dog are remarkable because they come from the one being who is wholly loyal, wholly loving. Dogs were given the task of making God’s love of mankind known every day, and they do a fantastic job of it.

So, yes, animals are not as important as people. But any creature that can so perfectly demonstrate God’s undying love for us and direct us back to the divine deserves all the love mankind can spare.

When You Die You Won’t Go to Heaven and You Won’t Become an Angel: the Good News of Purgatory

not angel
First of all: Happy Halloween, Happy All Saints Day, Happy All Souls Day, and Happy Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time!

This sequence of days (okay, it doesn’t always include the thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time) is one of my favorite in the year. I love the children (and adults) dressed up to defy their fears and emulate their heroes. I love the joyful and triumphant music celebrating our forebears who already stand around the throne of the Lamb. I love the incense and the quiet as we remember our loved ones who are somewhere between here and Heaven. I love Sundays in general.

I must retract something from my title: when you (dear Reader) die, you might go to Heaven (with angels there is no “might,” they’re either in Heaven or Hell and have no chance to change their fate). In fact, I highly encourage you to go to Heaven, because I want you to be a saint, and so does God. Being a saint is not as easy as it looks, though. Sainthood does not mean sinlessness, but it does mean virtuous self-sacrifice and extreme dedication to God’s will (whose plan for you gets less attractive the more dedicated you are to it, because the devil steps in and reminds you of everything you would rather be doing) and performing at least a couple of miracles—don’t worry about that part, though: once you have the virtue-doing-God’s-will thing down, miracles will be as easy as walking on water.

But in general, I will probably see most of you in Purgatory before any of us make it to Heaven. And that, dear Reader, is spectacular news, because if I don’t see you in Purgatory. . .well, that probably means I ended up in Hell.

Purgatory is a great place to be. When you die and “wake up” in Purgatory, you will know without a doubt that you are on your way to union with God in the beatific vision. There are worse places you could be, and at this point the only way is “up.” In purgatory you will be “purged,” not in the eating-disorder sense but in the medicinal, poison-control sense. Purging will hurt—there are a lot of deeply imbedded vices in your soul, even if you are a generally good person. Purging the vices from your system is going to involve what feels like slowly tearing bits of you off the rest, emptying you of what makes you unique. In reality, the removal of those vices will leave behind you and only you, you as God made you perfectly and uniquely and wonderfully (well, half of you anyway, you’ll still be sans body, but that will come later).

Purgatory is boot camp for the soul. It is where God sends his trouble children (and most of us are trouble children) to straighten us out and make us fly right. We are not the really good ones who only ever strayed by accident, but we are not the really bad ones who sinned purposely and consistently and, upon death, spat in the face of God and preferred the “choice” of Hell.

In truth, upon death most of us have more in common with the people in Hell than the people in Heaven. We are selfish or prideful or intemperate or inconsiderate and we think we have good reason to be that way (or, worse, we think that our behavior is not viceful). The difference between souls that go to Purgatory and souls that go to Hell is very small and very, very significant: the souls that end up in Purgatory want to love God correctly. Because of that desire, God will keep us in Purgatory until we do love him correctly, at which point we are ready to join Him in Heaven. That is the good news of Purgatory: Purgatory saves you from Hell and facilitates passage to Heaven.

When we do join Him in Heaven, we will not get a pair of wings or join the angel chorus. Within each human person there is absolutely no potential to become an angel. And trust me, we’re better off that way. Human beings are the crown of God’s creation, the only creatures made in both God’s image and likeness. Angels, who are pure intellect, do not get to experience the movements of the appetites which allow for things like desire and love, and so they are unable to image God in His love for Creation. Angels don’t get to have bodies (and let’s be serious: who doesn’t love his or her body [except due to sin]), and you will get your body back at the Last Judgment.

Most importantly, God did not incarnate (increatureate?) as an angel, only as a human being. Angels could have used a savior taking on their nature so as to lead them back to God—that whole Satan and his angels contingent would have benefited from the kind of personalized intervention human beings got when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

After you die and spend some well-needed time in Purgatory, you will make your way to Heaven where you will be something much better than an angel: perfectly yourself in perfect union with God.

Don't Feed the Angels

An important thing to remember about angels is that they are terrifying. I am not sure when angels started to be domesticated, but nearly every time one appears in the Bible, the humans are frightened. So much so that angels had to start saying phrases like, “Fear not!” and “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.”

Angels are celestial beings, created as beings between God and Man. They are warriors, messengers, servants and worshipers of God.

Hebrews 1:5-14 reads:

For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”? Or again: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”? And again, when he leads the first-born into the world, he says: “Let all the angels of God worship him.”

Of the angels he says: “He makes his angels winds and his ministers a fiery flame”; but of the Son: “Your throne, O God, stands forever and ever; and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You loved justice and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions”; and: “At the beginning, O Lord, you established the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; and they will all grow old like a garment. You will roll them up like a cloak, and like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

But to which of the angels has he ever said: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

With a modern twist, does not that last sentence remind you of Clarence in It”s A Wonderful Life? Clarence, an angel who had yet to get his wings, was sent to help George Bailey see all the good in his life and how his life changed other people”s lives for the better.

Clarence looked like a kindly old man, but still he put shock and awe into the bridge attendant and George himself, who could hardly believe it. Yet, Clarence was an angel. He was a warrior for George”s life, saving him before he attempted suicide; he was a messenger, showing the eternal truth that each man plays his role in this world and thus matters; he was a servant for God, sent from above to talk to George; and he was a worshiper of God, receiving his wings when the bell rang for a job well done as God”s good and faithful servant.

The world is a battlefield between Good and Evil; we must never forget that. Thus, angels move among us humans- be it our Guardians Angels, the one who sits on our shoulder, the ones singing above us during Mass, or the one protecting you in dark times. Angels are not our friends; they are our protectors. They have loyalties to God alone and approach us in His name.

The Bible is filled with stories involving angels; so is your life. How can you tell? Perhaps never, if you”re not inclined towards the mystical. Nevertheless, the one thing a person should never do with angels is to lessen the reverence for them by seeing them purely as shiny halos and fluffy wings. Angels are not so docile. They say, “Hark!”– not “hello” or “hey” when greeting or proclaiming. They demand attention. They demand reverence and respect, because they come directly from God.

So don”t feed the angels; they already share in the Heavenly banquet!

Originally published in the the Bright Maidens series.

Don’t Forget Me!!

Right now someone is staring at you…. well not with human eyes, angelic eyes! Remember him? He’s your guardian angel!

Guardian Angel

I think often people forget about their guardian angels because they have “better” things to do. They don’t spend any time with them because maybe they don’t talk, maybe they’re not fun, and maybe you just aren’t close right now. But I’m telling you, if you give your guardian angel a chance, I promise you, he won’t let you down. So who is he? What are the benefits? Is it really him, or have I just lost it and am talking to myself? Well, hopefully this article can help with these questions.

 Firstly, God chose a pure, spotless angel to be your guardian and protector in life. Every minute of every day, he’s always making sure if you’re OK. Remember when you almost walked into traffic and suddenly stopped walking, or dodged a ball that was flying right into your face by the skin of your teeth? Yes…. that was him! He cares about you so much, is always praying for you, and doesn’t take his eyes off of you at any moment in the night. He is the closest friend in your life that God has freely given to you, yet we don’t stop and say hello.

Secondly, he was given to you, not just as a protector, but as a friend. We constantly forget that there is a whole other world out there watching and praying for us, and our angel has been put here to be a piece of the next life… right now! I bet yours is just counting the days when he can slowly show you the goodness of heaven. In little bits you can begin to think of the things of heaven – you can almost feel what it will be like in the next life – that’s him whispering to you!

 Thirdly, guardian angels aren’t just there praying and protecting, but he wants to have fun with you! Excited? Go share it with him! He’ll probably be more excited than you! It’s always more fun to do things with a friend, especially when it comes to striving to go to heaven, and he’s a friend who never leaves.

Finally, he has been put here to be our intercessor. He can take our prayers and offer them to God in a purer way. Or even better, he can purify them, give them to Our Lady, and she can purify them again, and then give them to God, just like a prayer filter. All this is waiting for you, it’s actually already here. But you first have to begin. It takes a little while before you and your guardian angel can form a lasting bond, instead of him just praying and watching over you on his own. Just speak with him, pray to him, think of him, love him!

….. Well go on! Say hello!