Category Archives: Angels

Guardian angel assigned to me, or not!

guardian angel

I’m such an idiot. Even though I say the Guardian Angel prayer all the time, I’ve always payed attention to the last parts but not the introduction:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, rule and guide. Amen.

So, up to now, I’ve always stayed with the common understanding always expressed with hesitancy (because it’s wrong) that Guardian Angels are assigned to us. Um… No!

We, instead, are assigned to Guardian Angels. When’s the last time you thanked your Guardian Angels for tolerating (with love of course) that we are assigned to them?

This paradigm shift in understanding sheds light on what I always knew, that it would be wrong and reckless and arrogant if we were to name our guardian angels like we might name a dog, something cute and fluffy to be sure, and also wrong to depict them as that which is all chiffon and wispy and cut and fluffy.

saint michael police officer down

By the way, they want to do whatever it takes to get us to heaven, which doesn’t necessarily include saving us from some earthly mortal danger. Just so you know.

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Guardian Angels and our ineptitude. Gotta repost this.

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  • Guardian angels see the face of God. Quite a perspective, that. They also see us, and in comparison to seeing the face of God, you have to know that they are amazed at the love of Jesus for us, letting Himself be tortured to death for us as He takes on what we deserve so as to have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
  • The angels cannot forgive us as they have not become incarnate and cannot stand in our place to have the right in justice to forgive us, but they can rejoice in the Lord’s forgiveness of us. There is no greater joy for the angels than this.
  • But when we are not interested in such forgiveness, any angel is at the ready to end our lives at the command of the Most High. Just one angel – one, mind you – took on the Assyrians and, in one night, killed 185,000 soldiers. We might wonder about our access to them, amazing the angels who have plenty of access to us.
  • To have some awareness, so to speak, of the angels is not about being a tender snowflake who thinks he is entitled to being some sort of gnostic new-age guru channeler of self-importance.
  • Being aware of the inspirations of the angels, who see the face of God and who want us to have the reverence before the Most Holy Trinity we as members of the body of Christ are to have while we are given as a gift to our heavenly Father through, with and in Jesus by the fiery Holy Spirit, being aware of the inspirations of the angels isn’t about us trying to control the mechanism by which we are aware of the angels but about following their lead in humble thanksgiving, the reverence of a creature before His Creator, of a friend before the One who makes us His friends.
  • When we talk to our guardian angels making this request — Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide —  when we make that request, are we not asking to be inspired, that is, to be enlightened (to wit: “to light”), thus admitting we are not inspired, not enlightened, in need of their assistance but that we can nevertheless receive that help?
  • Are we not asking to be guarded (to wit: “to guard”) because we know we are so ridiculously unguarded in every way, so that we are even asking to be smacked down – whatever it takes – so that our souls are first of all protected, admitting in this way that we can, in fact, allow ourselves to be guarded?
  • In asking to be ruled (to wit: “to rule”) are we not saying that we can recognize that and allow that, unruly as we might otherwise be, so that we have some sort of capacity to follow up on that being ruled?
  • And if we are asking to be guided (to wit: “to guide”) are we not admitting, finally, that we are out of control without their guidance, and that we can nevertheless recognize and benefit from such guidance?
  • To put it Thomistically, the angels can use the same mechanism to inspire us that is used by supernatural faith which our natural brains cannot otherwise grasp, that is, that which the conscience founds itself upon in order to make judgments that we can either go along with or not. This can be recognized readily by any soul in the state of grace who therefore has some purity of heart, some agility of soul. This is not gnosticism, not anything special, just the normal state of affairs in the family of God.
  • Guardian angels can also use other means to help us along. They can intervene to manipulate the physical universe in whatever way according to the will of God. They can make an impression of an apparition upon us even as we are very aware of their presence, even to just about bring about our deaths, crushed by the weight of the glory of God that they reflect (this being the experience of Daniel and John…).
  • Having said all that, is one to reject what seems to be an extraordinary intervention? Discernment is a good thing as John of the Cross points out. If it is something that makes perfect sense in view of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Magisterium of the Church, and if it is not something about spooky future events, about anything that would push the self-importance of the human subject, or is about otherwise unknowable things about times and places and people and the thoughts and motivations of others, if it is that which would have one recognize oneself for the fool one knows oneself to be but at the same time if it is that which places one in profound humble reverence and thanksgiving in all friendship before Jesus, if it is that which makes one all the more want to regularly participate in the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, if it is that which smacks one down for the sake of the Kingdom of the Heavens, one might go ahead and take it for what it’s worth. Thus, John of the Cross didn’t have himself or Teresa of Avila excommunicated by the Inquisition.

Example One: Before beginning the Genesis project, I made brave and asked my guardian angel if it were possible to figure out the mechanism of the transmission of original sin by propagation instead of by imitation using the most ferociously pedantic scientific historical philological examination of the ancient texts to date, and thus giving honor to the Immaculate Conception, showing how she is that woman, the mother of the redeemer, in Genesis 3:15. There was no verbal answer, but I must say I did take note of the weight of the glory of God in all my darkness, feeling terribly unworthy but that it is possible, but I had better make my number one objective in the present to be the tiniest little child, following Jesus, with the rest falling into place. In other words, the answer wasn’t about the future, it was about what is happening starting now if only I would remain in reverence before Jesus.

palestinian donkeyExample Two: I’ve told this story many times before, but it is ad rem, to the point. This happened in the Summer of 2010 on Highway 65 between Lebanon and Indianapolis, Indiana, on the way back to the Josephinum from an Extraordinary Form practicum up in Mundelein. As usual, for the hundred millionth time over the space of very many years, I was asking my guardian angel to assist me in having the same reverence before God as he did, it being that he sees the face of God and I don’t. What I was asking was incorrect theologically, impossible in reality, and simply a rejection of the present economy of salvation. He answered me while I was driving. It didn’t cause an accident though I did want to drop to my knees should that have been possible in a car while wearing a seat belt. It’s not that I heard words at all, but the communication was crystal clear, full of irony, full of humility on his part, full of putting me in my place, but with the most tender solicitation for my welfare. John of the Cross may well be annoyed with such events, but they do happen, and he admits that, adding, however, that this is usually done for souls who are so weak and such asses that they need this extra help. This was his answer:

“I’m an angel. You’re not an angel. I see the face of God directly. You don’t. I’m to have the reverence before God that I am to have as an angel. You will never have this kind of reverence before God that I do. I’m an angel. You’re not. [Sounds pretty dire, right? But watch what happens now…] You’re to have the kind of reverence before God that you are supposed to have, and which I will never have, because you are a human being, but I’m not. I see the Most Holy Trinity directly, but right now, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you are to see God the Father, but through, with and in Jesus, for you are a member of His Body of which He is the Head. He sees the Father for you, for you one with Him by grace. This is the kind of reverence you are to have before God, a reverence you can have but I cannot ever have, for you are a human being and I am not.”

As you might imagine, my response, first stunned, then full of joy, then laughing with glee, was this:

“So, O.K. Guardian Angel, therefore, help me to have the kind of reverence before God that I am to have, through, with and in Jesus, for you see the face of God in heaven right now, and I’m so weak in walking with Jesus who sees the Father for me. You are strong and I’m not. Help me to live the reverence I’m to have in humble thanksgiving.”

I’ve told that story to plenty of skeptical theologians, you know, that my guardian angel told me something, and they are eager to hear the story so as to pounce on me for being an idiot visionary. And then as they listen you can see them turn right around and finally say, “Well, yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s exactly what you should do.” What they were impressed with is that it was just so normal. Nothing esoteric, nothing gnostic, no new revelation. Just. Normal. Logical.

Remember Mary’s meeting with Gabriel. Joseph’s meeting with the angel. Zechariah’s meeting with the angel. Remember that Jesus said he could call on more than twelve legions of angels to assist Him in Gethsemane (well over 60,000 angels), but did not. And remember that just one angel can in one night take out 185,000 soldiers. Just one.

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Homily 2017 09 29 – Archangels!

You’ll have to excuse me. I didn’t actually talk to much about the angels or archangels today, but rather followed the Gospel, which is always a good idea. I talk about figs, of all things. But you’ll be surprised that this is the key to being open to work of the holy angels in our lives. This is the key to understanding the exclamation of Nathaniel about Jesus and the exclamation of Jesus about Nathaniel. Humility brings us purity of heart and agility of soul. Both are necessary when dealing with the holy angels.

 

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The Angel of Peace and the Lady who appeared in Iria, i.e., Peace, in Fatima

angel of fatima

[Lucia writes:] We began to see, in the distance, above the trees that stretched to the east, a light whiter than snow in the form of a young man, quite transparent, and as brilliant as crystal in the rays of the sun. As he came near we were able to see his features. We were astonished and absorbed and we said nothing to one another. And then he said:

Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me.

He knelt, bending his forehead to the ground. With a supernatural impulse we did the same, repeating the words we heard him say:

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

After repeating this prayer three times the angel rose and said to us:

Pray in this way. The hearts of Jesus and Mary are ready to listen to you.

[Later that year:] The angel calling himself the Angel of Peace held a chalice over which was suspended a Host. Drops of the Precious Blood fell from the Host into the chalice. The angel prostrated himself on the ground before the Host and Chalice, and repeated the act of reparation three times. He then administered Holy Communion to the children saying,

“Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console Our Lord.”

[Then there is this:] An Act of Reparation From the Angel of of Peace at Fatima:

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore You profoundly and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. And by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.

[So, Fatima is very much about Eucharistic Reparation. On 13 May 1917, Our Lady of Fatima, who is “Our Lady of the Rosary” had this conversation with the children:]

“Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you? In atonement for all the sins that offend Him? And for the conversion of sinners?” “Oh, we will, we will!” “Then you will have a great deal to suffer, but the grace of God will be with you and will strengthen you.”

Lucia relates that as the Lady pronounced these words, she opened her hands, and we were bathed in a heavenly light that appeared to come directly from her hands. The light’s reality cut into our hearts and our souls, and we knew somehow that this light was God, and we could see ourselves embraced in it. By an interior impulse of grace we fell to our knees, repeating in our hearts:

“Oh, Holy Trinity, we adore You. My God, my God, I love You in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Then the Lady said:

“Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”

[The Angel of Peace prepared the children well for the apparitions of Our Lady who appeared in the Cova of Iria, that is, of Peace. The messages are consistent, profound, drawing one in reverence before, through our Eucharistic Lord.]

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Humiliating training just like the angels

target political

This is not a political statement, just a junked post-election political sign that is apparently being used as a target at an undisclosed location in Western North Carolina.

Anyway, ignoring that, I continued on my way to a parishioner’s house. He had set up a typical law enforcement qualification renewal course, which is wonderfully humiliating, showing me how much I don’t know. That’s the only way to learn. I love it. So, with three tiny targets vertically placed on a wooden stake, with preferably timed stations drawing on a suddenly provided scenario with the necessity of barking commands depending on the situation, providing one’s own perception to onlookers, e.g.: “Drop the gun!” “Drop the knife!” “Show me your hands!” but never “Drop to the ground!” as the first command (obviously) and never using untoward language which will come back to bite you. Such exercises may seem silly to some, surreal even, but here’s the deal, in a real scenario, you have only muscle memory the mechanics and your mouth is only going to say what you’ve previously practiced. Period.

  • At 10 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario
  • At 20 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a knife scenario
  • At 25 feet — 1 hit 1 hit 1 hit with a hands/knife scenario
  • At 35 feet — 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits 2 hits with a gun scenario with available cover going low and high and low and high on either side with mag change and purposed jams placed arbitrarily in the replacement mag.

We did this cycle three times, he once, me twice, with me getting 100% better the second time through (lots of room for improvement). Now I know what to work on, which is great. The hit/miss ratio is very high on the hit side, so that, in preparing for this, one had better get 100% a hundred percent of the time if one hopes to re-qualify when under pressure. The reason for this level of perfection is that, in an actual scenario, the hit/miss ratio can again be very high, but this time in favor of the miss side.

Homework is holster work and mirror work (no bullets in the gun!). I’ve heard this many times before including at the North Carolina CCW course (CCH in North Carolina). Again, people can think this is silly and surreal. But, here’s the deal, you either do it right or you don’t do it at all. As I say, I would like to prepare for the FBI training course for those who assist LEOs such as chaplains, the only way to assist as a chaplain in some parts of the Diocese.

Analogy with the spiritual life: our guardian angels surely inspire us to turn positively to the Lord, yes, but it seems to me that they also want to be trained up in difficult situations of distraction in whatever way that that comes about. We can either get nervous and frustrated and upset and then sigh and sigh and sigh again, or we can be enthusiastic and thank our guardian angels for the super cool training that they put us through all the time with the scenario and that.

Saint Teresa of Avila says that she would be scared to death not to have such scenarios as she can’t imagine how we could possibly grow without being trained in this way. Saint Thomas Aquinas says that someone without this opportunity of being trained up is either an angel or a beast. Yikes!

The important this is not to think we’re so important that we waste time getting depressed over our failures while we are being trained, but instead always turn to the Lord who is the only One who is important. Our angels see God in the face, and they want more than anything that we walk with God.

The difference in the training is that one is planned and the other, with the angels, cannot be planned, as they want to take us where we cannot begin to imagine where we will be when we arrive, as the love of God is infinitely beyond our poor imaginations. Our training consists in learning to assent to this love with the lead of the angels.

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O Angel of God, I’m such a coward!

guardian angel

Some quick points:

chiffon-angel

We get nervous about angels and rush to be dismissive about them, you know, with the fluffy chiffon pastel crafty thingies you see around Christmas time, or the fat-faced cherubim with wings coming out of the back of their heads in baroque architecture, or with naked infants in Renaissance paintings, or as demon-like transformer-like monsters in children’s computer games.

jeannieWe can even go out of our way to be cute about the presentation of angels in such monstrosities as we see with the Islamic presentation of jinn, who can be good or truly evil (such a perversion of the Judeo-Catholic Scriptures!) and which the West presents ever so weirdly as “I Dream of Jeannie.” Up to date silliness includes angels as dolphins, and on and on and on, pretty much anything but anything like what they may be like. Although there are representations which are a bit more respectful, such as that in the Annunciation by Fra Angelico.

annunciation-fra-angelico

  • You’ll remember when the angel visited the Fatima children, how Lucia later described this (I paraphrase) as the weight of the glory of God, an experience of glorious manifestation of justice.
  • We do have angel guardians. Does Jesus not say that they see the face of God in heaven?
  • Just because they have the beatific vision does not mean that they do not see us. How could they guard us if they do not see us?
  • Angels, who have not become incarnate as has the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, cannot forgive us (as we read in Exodus, which warns us therefore not to offend them), for they cannot have the right in justice to forgive us as they cannot take our place for the punishment of sin as did Jesus on the Cross.
  • Angels respect the forgiveness Jesus commands of His Heavenly Father after having obeyed the Father to stand in our place, having become incarnate: “Father, forgive them!”
  • Angels rejoice in heaven over the conversion of a sinner with very great rejoicing indeed; they are in awe of Divine Mercy.
  • Angels want us to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, walking in His presence, and do all they can to assist us to that end, whatever it takes, their guardianship not necessarily to protect us from physical or emotional harm unless that would also be to our benefit or that of others.
  • You’ll remember when the angel visited Daniel in the Hebrew Scriptures and John in the Apocalypse; Daniel and John both face-planted, prostrate, as if dead. The presence of angels is powerful indeed.
  • Angels are well capable of smacking us down or in letting us be smacked down if that’s what it takes for us to get pointed to heaven. They know how to work with us afterward. They’ve been doing this a long time. And they’re really smart. Yet, of course, we still pray: “Ever this day be at my side to […] guard […]”
  • We can ask our guardian angels to assist us in coming to have proper reverence before Jesus. If we ask this of them, they will make it happen if we follow their inspirations. They may have to go way out of their way to make us pay attention. Just be aware of that. Don’t run away if you make that prayer. They will take it seriously. You will be brought to your knees one way or the other. And that’s a good thing, right? Just remember this: respect your guardian angel! Here’s the prayer:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

  • I’ve had lots of seminarians over the decades tell me ever so stupidly that that is an insipidly saccharine prayer. I fear for them. They will be smacked down hard. Will they run away as the cowards they were at the time they said such a thing? If we are asking such majestic persons to be at our side, they who see the face of God in heaven, a presence which would crush us, we are asking a great deal, no? If we are asking to be enlightened by them who see Truth in the Face, are we not asking to see ourselves as we are before God, we whose sins crucified the Son of the Living God, and will so much truth not crush us if our guardian angels do not take account of our weakness and cowardice? Are we not asking primarily that our souls be guarded so that our angels do “whatever it takes” to make sure that we are on the right path, and is that saccharine, knowing that that kind of guarding could well have us horrifically smacked down? And if we are asking to be guided, is this not admitting, finally, that we are out of control without their guidance, and that such is the speaking of truth as we never have before? And these were seminarians, mind you, some few, but they were in fact in the seminary. What about us? Do we also run away from such a frightful prayer by being arrogantly dismissive of it, you know, because we’re ever so sophisticated and up-to-date? Let’s try it again, and mean it:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide.

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I’m extra work for guardian angels

seatbelt-failureToday will be rather interesting. The vehicle is scheduled for an oil-change at the dealership on the East side of Asheville. But now there is one more thing for them to do: the driver side seat belt needs replacing. After early Mass in Graham county at Prince of Peace this past Sunday morning it was fine. But then, having returned to Andrews, starting from the Rectory to go over to Holy Redeemer, I couldn’t get the clip to latch into the receiver. I don’t like that one bit. After all, this particular seat belt assembly is only as old as mid-April 2016. This particular vehicle is rather infamous for its seat belt failures. It is rather misleading to say that the seat belts have a “lifetime” warranty if you don’t live very long because of the failures.

switchblade

There weren’t always seat belt laws, and I was rather annoyed as a teenager when the law came in requiring them in cars and then again requiring them to be worn. This particular seat belt failure is an anomaly as it is usually the case that once you’re in this particular vehicle you can never get out, necessitating bringing a pocket knife with you to cut your way out.

I will be saying a particular prayer, perhaps more than once. As usual, I will ask my guardian angel about some extra help using the traditional request:

“Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light, to guard, to rule, to guide.”

After all, I am otherwise so in the dark, unguarded, unruly and generally misguided. For those of you sharpening up your Latin skills:

Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietate superna hodie illumina, custodi, rege et guberna. Amen.

Update: They’re giving me a temp replacement… 

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Angels, the weight of the glory of God, final perseverance, death and donkeys

saint michael police officer down

I’ve been posting only rarely. I’ve been screamingly busy these past number of weeks and it’s only picking up steam. I entirely blame guardian angels for this. And thank them. In my experience, the angels like arranging things and doing stuff when they know this will do good both for others and even for me. Let me give you an example.

The other day I got a call from a wonderful 191 million year old lady who is on my weekly Communion Call list. She’s way up in the backsides of the beyonds in Northwest Graham County. It’s hard to get more remote than that. Her nephew, the exact same age as me, was dying of cancer, with only hours to live at the hospice on the far side of Asheville. “Could you say a prayer for him?” she asked. “Yes. And I will go see him,” said I.

Meanwhile, right away, like clock work, as soon as one emergency was over, another one came up, things which could not be delayed with others that I had to take care of. I’m thinking the whole time about the nephew. Finally, about 8:00 PM I was able to get on my way to the hospice, stopping halfway, an hour into the journey, for the Breviary, but starting up again immediately.

I got to the main medical campus at about 10:30 PM but couldn’t find the hospice for the life of me. The campus takes up an entire mountain top and has, it seems, dozens of clinics for every ailment under the sun. No hospice. I’m now despairing, as it is now 11:00 PM. Finally, I headed down a tiny alley that seemed to go off campus straight down the mountain. There were still more clinics. Finally, the last building in the most unusual place with a most unusual name seemed like it might possibly be the hospice and it was. It’s open 24/7, of course.

No one was on duty out front. “Go to the nurses station down the hall” was the sign up on the desk. So, off I went. My friend was in the room adjacent to the nurses desk and they were happy to send me in. I’ll just relate to you a few of the events that went on in the next 20 minutes or so with this man who was filled to the brim with cancer.

His eyes were closed and he was in the death rattle which I’ve witnessed it seems a thousand times, head way back, throat way out in bulbous fashion, having difficulty breathing. I took his hand in mine and rocked it back and forth, arm wrestling fashion, but ever so gentle and reassuring. He gave plenty of squeezes, happy someone was there. Finally, I said, “This is Father George.” He opened his eyes with some effort and confirmed that that was the case and gave a little smile, closing his eyes once again, squeezing my hand in appreciation. After a few minutes, I said a long prayer for him, a prayer which is sure to set the soul on a straight path to Jesus, and looking forward to a heavenly meeting. To this prayer he added the most peaceful, all encompassing, affirmational, assenting to everything that is the will of God “Amen” I think I ever did hear. And that was through the death rattle breathing.

Saint Thomas Aquinas says that such agreement with the faith is consonant with the gift of sanctifying grace, but that the grace of final perseverance is a special gift that kicks in right at the time of death for the person either to accept or reject.

After more minutes of rocking his hand in mine I offered him something else, a joke, of sorts. If you tell a joke when someone is actively and immediately dying, it had better be pretty good. I think I had told him about this bit of humor previously, but now was the time to repeat it. I told him that I had a request of him, that I wanted to give him a message to deliver to Jesus, saying that if he was too embarrassed to say it, the whole heavenly court would say it for him, or even Jesus Himself, so he may as well go ahead and repeat my request. I told him that I had made this request, by now, to I think some dozens if not hundreds of dying people in my priesthood. By this time, he was all ears.

I said that I wanted him to tell Jesus that there’s a donkey-priest still down on earth who especially needs His watchful protection and guidance. That, of course, made him laugh, death rattle or not, as it has for everyone else. This is something that sets those who are dying totally at ease with what they are about to do, with where they are about to go, with whom they are going to meet. They are happy and peaceful, in a good place, aimed at the heavens, able to rest with no fear in the prayers that had been said, like little kids about to jump into the arms of Jesus. It is then that he died.

But there is more. A couple of things. The first is that this was all impossible without the direct intervention of the angels since early that morning and more. I had been delayed and delayed and delayed and, I must say, almost gave up and turned around fifty miles into the trip already, thinking I would never be let in at that hour of the night, and who would blame me for avoiding a further one hundred and fifty miles in the middle of the night when maybe I could see him the next day? None of these delays or my perseverance were coincidences. As soon as one thing would finish, the phone would ring. And on it went until I arrived at that precise time of his dying with those exact of amount of minutes before he actually expired. This had to be the angels, right? Well… there’s also this:

The second thing is that the angels made themselves evident, not by appearing, but – how to say it? – almost appearing. I think they were so very happy and let this be known. You have to know that the angels are part of the family and are always with us. Jesus says they behold the very face of God in heaven, and yet are with us, and that they rejoice over us being with Jesus and that we not to offend them. We must not ignore them! After this gentleman’s “Amen!” to the prayer and until he died there was a – what? – I don’t know what to call it… perhaps a visitation of sorts.

While I had his hand in mine, with me looking up to heaven (only seeing the ceiling, mind you), I received a very strong impression, very personal, very immediate, that the heavens had opened up right then and there and that the heavenly court was looking down at this spectacle of a Catholic priest and a Presbyterian layman in a hospice room in the middle of the night more than a hundred miles away from the priest’s parish. Very peaceful, though with much rejoicing, as if to say that my petition for his soul was granted by the Most High and the angels were now eager to bring him on his way. They didn’t have to wait long at all. The weight of the glory of God was upon us. His final perseverance, it seemed to me, was assured. I felt very self-conscious, thinking I was just a bit of a donkey-priest, doing only what I absolutely had to do. And not that this had anything to do with my weak prayers. The prayers of his 191 million year old aunt were always before the throne of God.

I experienced what Lewis and Short secondarily define for admīrātĭo , ōnis, f. admiror, that is, II. Wonder, surprise, astonishment. I must say that I rejoice in all this as a tiny little child.

There is a danger in writing about such things. Some might think I’m special. I’m not. Some might think the nephew who died is special. No, not really, though he did make it a campaign to let it be known that “God belongs in Graham County.” Some might think it is improper for me to write that showing love to a fellow Christian is good since they think that this offends against ecumenism because they say you can only be kind to someone who is Catholic because otherwise non-Catholics won’t become Catholic, or some other absurdity like that. Some might think that writing such things is offensive to those who are not Christian. Why? Some might think it’s simply improper to write about such things because it causes them to think about the end of their own lives and they don’t like it one bit. Ahhh…. Yes, the ol’ takin’ offense at the proclamation of the Gospel tantrum. O.K. Whatever. I just think that Jesus and His mom and the angels are all pretty cool and that we can love them and share the greatest love of our lives with others. I think that that’s not a bad thing, is it?

Having said all that, let’s all of us go to Confession and be at the ready!

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Update: Father George’s head on collisions day (with guardian angels)

I had two incidents which by all means should have been head on collisions with everyone dead. I was prepared by my driving advisor guardian angel with another almost catastrophic accident some hours previous to those incidents:

(1) The first was on the ramp between State Highway 74 and Interstate 40. One lady driver seemed to be ambulance chasing from ahead. She finally pulled over to let the ambulance pass her while she passed me on the one lane wide ramp. Problem: no room for three vehicles in the same place at the same time, since time is greater than space, except where they intersect. Someone had to put it in the ditch. Hey! I know how to do that! I slammed on my brakes and severely steered into the ditch and then back so as to create a double-fishtail effect spinning the car into the ditch even while leaving one tire on the pavement with the other three smashing sideways through along the ditch spitting up turf and rubbish, all at a zillion miles an hour, even while the nice lady cut me off as the ambulance passed her. Then, of course, we were next to each other in a traffic jam because of the accident to which the ambulance was rushing. Hey hey hey. Thanks guardian angel!

(2) Later in the day, very high up in the mountains, a double-cab truck loaded up with teenage boys came around a blind curve with a tire over the double yellow. It’s not that they didn’t see me; they purposely sharply swerved fully into my lane when they saw me. A game of chicken was underway, with only a few seconds to be a chicken. Not that I’m a chicken, it’s just that I didn’t want to wreck my vehicle, so away to the ditch I went, using another double-fishtail manuever to spin the car away from the oncoming truck at the same rate as its approach, spinning away even while it passed, just getting missed by inches from the front to the back. Kind of like the coriolis effect worked with steering, so that the outside spin is reversed.

Whatever. Back in the day I suppose I would have given chase, and it wouldn’t have been pretty. But now I just don’t care. One tire on the pavement going straight ahead and three spinning sideways in the ditch spitting up turf and rubbish, all at a zillion miles an hour. I had good practice that morning. Thanks guardian angel! Anyway…

(3) The exact same incident as (2) happened again only another mile or two along the road, another double-cab truck full of teenage boys coming around a blind curve with a wheel already over the double yellow line. Whatever with that. You get used to that in the mountains. But when they saw me they purposely sharply swerved fully into my lane. I did the same double-fishtail manuever spinning away even while they passed within inches, just missing my vehicle, one tire on the pavement going straight ahead and three spinning sideways in the ditch spitting up turf and rubbish, all at a zillion miles an hour. Thanks guardian angel.

I was now fully prepared for a fourth incident. Being on the lookout for such things is useful, but boring, as boring as sin. The only thing absolutely enthralling is Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. Of course, the reflection of the Most Holy Trinity in guardian angels is pretty cool too! Thanks guardian angel! (Not that I see him, but, you get a sense of this.)

I’m guessing that the last two incidents were a kind of a suicide pact GoPro film your own death type of idiocy that teenagers can get into. Had I not avoided them it would have happened as I don’t think they could have steered their cumbersome trucks so easily out of the way. So, it wasn’t really a game of chicken. They fully intended to end it. I hope they live to grow out of this and come to know Jesus. The idiocy of youth. I’m glad I learned to fishtail at a zillion miles an hour when I was into extreme sports as a kid. I’m glad I have a super cool guardian angel. And if there are those who think that the following prayer is mere pious piffle, let them know my guardian angel spits on them!

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day (or night) be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

And to put it another way:

“If you do away with religion, you can’t hire enough police.”

A 90 second video well worth everyone’s time, because not everyone knows how to drive defensively and not everyone pays attention to their guardian angels:

Update: I mentioned these three stories to my EMT/Fireman friend, and he reprimanded me pretty severely. He thought it was just terrible that I didn’t turn around and follow them and at least get the tag number. O.K. Fair enough. I should have done that. But here’s the scenario:

There are two trucks, twelve youngsters total, all of them surely with guns. There is no cell phone signal for a full thirty miles, and when you do get it, you are still a full twenty minutes driving from any police in one direction, or a full forty five minutes driving from any police in the other direction. I could easily out-drive the trucks on the curves, but when it got to the straightaways, they would easily catch up and simply shove me off the road at a hundred thirty miles an hour. Of course, they could also just shoot me while I tried to escape.

What should I have done? Simply drive away like I did and it’s over? What should I do when that happens again? And it will, for sure. Should I attempt to make a contribution to society by reporting jerks like these and just get told that since there was no damage to the vehicle no harm was done and it’s my word against theirs, etc? And then what: will I ever be able to drive on that road again, or in that region of Western North Carolina? Do I get front and also rear facing GoPro for such purposes? That’s an expensive idea and only takes care of one vehicle and perhaps one driver for a time. But what about after that? If you become a persona non grata in a region here, you’re simply done for.

The ragamuffin crowd in these parts are only used to local shoot-m-up tit-for-tat cage fighting till the death don’t ever bother me or I might just kill you “justice.” One kid I know (kid means 34 years old), scrawny but who grew up cage fighting and therefore knows how to fight, cold-cocked two deputies (both ex-Marines), leaving them on the pavement next to one of the cruisers. To get away, he rammed the other cruiser into the ditch. When the sheriff asked him why he hit his deputies, he said they pulled him over for no reason. The sheriff didn’t press charges, asking just enough money to fix the cruiser up again. That kid was the law in that part of that county. So, do you report that kid or someone like him. Anyway, I’m a good friend of his and could ask him to get the word out that I’m not to be bothered. But, somehow that doesn’t seem quite right. Is that the society we want? And then I would owe him. It’s a mafia thing. So, just no.

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Scraps falling from the Master’s table (Questions of unworthiness edition)

chapel saint michael

My neighbor in Transylvania County likes to talk to Jesus during Adoration, not out loud, mind you. But he likes to ask Jesus questions, because, as He said, Jesus answers the questions. Mind you again, my friend asks the questions our Lord is happy to answer. If you’re not getting answers, perhaps you’re not asking the right questions. He asked Jesus the following question this past Tuesday during Adoration at Sacred Heart Church in Brevard:

“Jesus, what’s it like for you to be received in Holy Communion by someone who is not worthy?”

So, when’s the last time you asked Jesus something like that? My neighbor reports that the answer from Jesus was immediate:

Imagine a bathtub which a huge crowd of people use as a toilet, defecating and urinating and filling it right to the brim and overflowing with all sort of diarrhea and disease, emanating a stench just about knocking you unconscious. And then imagine taking a bath in that horror. That’s something of what it’s like to be next to the heart and soul of one who is in sin.

Yikes! When I first arrived in these mountains of WNC, the very first day, I went on a long trip to the Sylva hospital to anoint Father Bill Evans. He’s dead many years now. He had the same question for Jesus, and received the exact same answer, verbatim, as my neighbor: “Imagine a bathtub…” You know the rest of the story. Double-Yikes!

padre pio high massThis all reminded me of the time that Saint Padre Pio stopped dead in his tracks going out the sacristy door into the sanctuary of the church to offer Holy Mass. He turned white as a ghost and was dropping to the floor, having to be caught by his deacon and subdeacon. They asked him what happened. He said that the Lord revealed to him in that instant all the priests who at that very moment were offering Mass unworthily, nearly bringing him to his death.

As I drove the 2 ½ hours back to Andrews that Tuesday evening, I talked to Jesus about this, telling Him of my fear to be in solidarity with Him just as He is in solidarity with us, for I am very weak and surely couldn’t support knowing even the tiniest smidgen about what it’s like for Him when a priest unworthily recites the Consecrations at Holy Mass, Jesus’ wedding vows with His Bride, the Church, His body and blood sacrificed for that Bride. I asked my guardian angel that if I should make such a request of Jesus, that he, my guardian angel, would please have to have pity on me. I complained to him too of my weakness. Of course, you know what happened next…

I got back to the rectory, made a bee line straight into the tiny chapel, right to the altar, right before the tabernacle, and asked Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament that if He thinks it’s O.K. that then He might let me know the tiniest smidgen of what it is for Him when a priest unworthily offers His Holy Mass, and this, so that I might in my own little way be in solidarity with Him in His solidarity with us, I myself knowing just a little how unworthy I am, or thinking I do, but not really, because…

That was Tuesday night. Nothing. Nothing Wednesday. Nothing all day Thursday. But then, the vigil of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the answer to my request started to be given. Great! But there was a problem. I had forgotten about the request I had put before Jesus. What was to happen was, for me, now devoid of the context which brought it about. This is stupid of me, and Jesus was going to let me fall to teach me a lesson. I had said I had wanted to be in solidarity with Him being in solidarity with us, and then I forgot my request. I guess I wasn’t very serious in my request, was I? I was just spouting off words however sincere I thought I was. But Jesus ALWAYS takes such requests seriously, and I know this both from the accounts of others told to me and by my own personal experience, which damns me all the more. This forgetting is just how self-referential I am. But Jesus knows that, and I think He purposely waited until I forgot, not to be cruel, but to let what was going to happen to me have its full effect. I deserved everything I got. Moreover, what I was to experience wasn’t at all what it’s like for Jesus when a priest offers Mass unworthily. Instead, I was to know what the spiritual reality would be if I myself were to offer Mass unworthily. After all, priests say the Consecrations in the first person singular: this is my body and blood given in sacrifice and poured out... But remember, in my mindlessness this was all experienced devoid of the context of my request to Jesus:

I started to feel entirely, fatally, helplessly alone in front of real evil, of living, marauding, predatory death – how to say it? – an oxymoronic purposely conscienceless malice… a personal evil meaning harm not just to me, but to the entire Church, to humanity, to God, but I myself was in its sights right now. I was immobilized. The darkness was crushing. I felt a deep and immediate fear personally riveting me before this monstrous and ever so personal, diabolical evil. I was cringing in my spirit. Cowering is really the word, though there was no escape, no retreat. Throw into this mix an acute sense of all the grotesque self-referential church politics there are by which Satan mocks God. There I was, in the midst of all of it, in chaos, in fear, helpless, alone.

Fear is key to understanding this. Fear before Satan is the very definition of impiety, giving honor to one to whom no honor at all is due. Such fear is a betrayal of Jesus, abandoning Him to all of the hell which was broken out on Calvary. Such fear is playing politics with Satan, a most violent darkness. That’s easy to say with one’s brain, but it doesn’t mean that one can extract oneself at will from the grip of him who is the most damned of all.

Meanwhile, I was nevertheless entirely able to pray and was asking Jesus and my guardian angel about all this hell all of a sudden in my life. Why? I just didn’t understand. They didn’t want to tell me quite yet that this is what it is for a priest to offer Mass unworthily, and therefore what it would be for me to offer Mass unworthily, however much I might want to congratulate myself as being, you know, O.K., good enough.

Since there was no answer from them, my own answer to these and lesser problems is always to go to sleep. It was now late, so, lights out. At whatever time I would awaken during the night, however, I noted that it hadn’t stopped in the least. I was continuously captivated in the worst way by all this darkness. The next morning, Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was just from hell. I had hoped for better, given the great feast day. But waking up for the day brought all this to a greater intensity. And this was terribly frustrating, making me angry. And yet I would praise the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation. It’s not like I wasn’t with Jesus. I was entirely with Him, close to Him, heart to Heart with Him, and yet, all this hell was captivating me and grabbing my attention and letting me know a bit more just how weak I am. This was exhausting. I went before Him, begging to understand. Nothing.

cooking lessonsI did some office work, offered the Noon Mass, and then took care of more office work, and then I was away to Huntersville for the diaconate ordinations which would take place on Saturday. I stopped on the way to speak with a priest and have a wonderful dinner (He’s giving me cooking lessons; I have a mental block about that…). We, of course, solved all the problems in the Church and the world. I let him know many times in that conversation about the darkness I was suffering, the sense of abandonment, the purposely conscienceless evil before which I had such a deep fear, but not knowing the reason for this experience in the least.

cooking lessons2As the meal continued, and as the conversation turned to some topics which I meet with particular dismay, in my weakness I gave vent to cynical and terribly ironic and uncharitable judgments that were ever so incredibly very easy for me to make being in such a terrible state of non-stop darkness, a kind of imposed oppression it seemed to me.

That was that, unfortunately, and I was on my way again to Huntersville to stay the night at a house owned by the parish where the ordinations were taking place. I got there past midnight and crashed in the basement, going to sleep in darkness of every kind. Every time I awoke, there it was, mocking me. When I awoke for the day, I lay in bed, begging my guardian angel to let me know what was going on. I have never in my life had such a terrible terrifying experience. I was trying to be polite with him, maybe even humble, but I must say that I begged and I begged for understanding from him.

And then, on that morning, on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he told me in four words what the explanation was for all this: “You asked for it.”

He said this almost like an accusation, for I had not been up to the task of solidarity at hand. Surely he had wished better things for me. Yes, I remembered my request to Jesus. Yes, the oppression was instantaneously lifted. But my guardian angel was not happy with me. I had said some silly things the evening before, things which I fear might have brought me into some unworthiness in regard to offering the Holy Sacrifice. How ironic.

But, it was now time for the ordination Mass. While vesting for Mass, I told this story to those who would listen. The effect was that many confessions were going on before Mass. I also went to confession, confessing my conversation the night before, along with my lack of trust in the Lord. Guardian angels also set up such things as Confession, thanks be to God. There is no greater joy for the angels than that a sinner repents.

The ordination Mass was absolutely beautiful, everything it should be. I was entirely happy, though sobered by my experience. I had a great time meeting a gazillion friends, and had a peaceful time on the way home, though, again, taken aback by the experience I had had. The drive home, taking many hours, put me before Jesus. I apologized for my weakness in not having been able to bear up under the weight of the truth of what it is like for Jesus when a priest offers Holy Mass unworthily. In speaking with cynicism the night before, I had run away from Calvary. Our Lord always works with irony. Repentance and conversion is good for the soul. It’s a coming back to life. This is a joy.

I spoke of all this in my homilies this weekend. And if anyone should think speaking of all this is scandalous, let me just say that while, yes, some of the older parishioners said that the moral of the story is “Be careful what you ask for!” there was nevertheless a number of teenage boys afterward who said that they wanted to go on the priestly vocations discernment retreat to be put on later this month (June 2016) at Belmont Abbey.

No one is interested in the priesthood if it is about priests saying how good they are. They are interested in the priesthood if it is all about learning to be with Jesus, to love Jesus, to serve Jesus and serve those for whom He laid down His life. As it should be.

Whatever the questions there are about unworthiness, Jesus and our angels are great teachers. They want us in heaven. That’s what we need to know and want to hear. If it takes telling people what a knucklehead I am to get some interest in vocations to the priesthood, then I’m at the ready! Praise to the Divine Heart which wrought our Salvation!

P.S. All that stuff about fear and darkness, that’s all a hypothetical, not the way I am: all of that is what Jesus was saying a priest would be susceptible to if he were to offer Mass unworthily, because that’s the situation he would actually be placing himself in whether he realized it or not. I mean, that was really my request to Him, to know a smidgen of that in order to be in solidarity with Him.

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Tattletale angels: Did you hear what little George David is doing now?

img_20160520_090315.jpgThis is, of course, the best monochrome of Our Lady of Angels ever produced. I mean, the expressions of the angels and of our Lady are entirely appropriate to plotting the undoing of my silly ways (and yours?) are they not? The angels are looking for some direction, what with me being an especially hard case, and Mary is looking rather impressed with the kind of mischief I can get into, and yet is concerned of course, to figure out some way to break me of my infantile instead of childlike ways. It seems Mary is plotting some humorous ways, mischievous even, for the angels to deal with me, at least from what is indicated in the painting here. Perhaps I am entirely misguided, but I just think that the extended Holy Family in heaven is entirely capable of the most hilarious scenarios of irony that would ever set one in awe inspired contemplation and rejoicing in God’s love for us. “Try this with little George David,” says our Lady, whispering some directions to the angels. Yikes!

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Leo rugiens… cui resistite fortes in fide

LEO

Jesus of the scars, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the only one left standing after Satan, the pretend lion, is smacked down.

“Your adversary, the devil, is prowling about like a roaring lion searching for someone to devour: resist him, strong in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

The other night I had a visit from one of Satan’s minions. I woke with a start instantly to recognize the most evil presence truly like a lion, not visible, though I didn’t even look in that direction, though having my eyes wide open. I quietly said my prayers with trembling voice:

  • Jesus! Help me!
  • Mary! Help me!
  • Guardian Angel! Help me!

That’s all it took for such a minion to be thoroughly disgusted with me and leave forthwith. Just like that. Just that quick. I went right back to sleep.

I can describe the disgust… It’s like he was certain that it would be a matter of course to come into this little rectory, and, just like he did with Judas, take possession of me as he might do to anyone else in this world. My little prayers, I must say, were said with the most eager childlike trust I could muster in my trepidation. That’s what disgusted him. And the disgust increased with every invocation until fear forced him away. Asking one’s guardian angel to smack down one of Satan’s minions is like asking an invincible warrior to go into battle. They need only make a move and the enemy runs away.

But note that I didn’t even have to use an exorcism, not imprecatory, not deprecatory. I just asked Jesus, Mary and my Guardian Angel for help. That’s something all of us can do at any time, anywhere. You don’t have to be an exorcist to ask for help. Remember that even when an Exorcist takes up an exorcism in an imprecatory or deprecatory manner, he is nevertheless throughout this exercise calling on Jesus and Mary and hopefully also his guardian angel.

And this is what it means to be fortes in fide, strong in faith: a childlike trust in Jesus, in His Immaculate Mother, in our guardian angels, not trusting in ourselves, but in them. Simplicity. Not being in control, but looking for security to the Holy Family. That doesn’t mean that I am not otherwise a knucklehead! All praise to the Lord.

I could tell many stories like this, one more frightening than the other, going way back to when I was just a few years old. At that time my brother and myself had common experiences, that is, both in frequency and together, verifying that I wasn’t just making it all up about Satan’s machinations.

Satan hates us because he hates Jesus. Jesus loves us. Satan attacks us to offend Jesus. Otherwise, Satan couldn’t care less about us. Imagine hell: Satan beating on us continuously in order to manifest his hatred of God. Don’t be afraid of Satan. Just turn to Jesus and Mary and your guardian angel.

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Fatima @100 years: annihilation angel

angel of fatima

“The Apparition of Our Lady plunged us once more into the atmosphere of the supernatural, but this time more gently. Instead of annihilation in the Divine Presence, which exhausted us even physically, it left us filled with peace and expansive joy.” (In her own words [pdf]).

The annihilation spoken about here is wonderfully positive, recalling Saint Paul: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This is an annihilation because of the very Author of Life is present, He who is love. This is the weight of the glory – βάρος δόξης – spoken of by Saint Paul, following up on the Hebrew Scriptures: the weight/glory of the Lord: כבוד־יהוה. This weight of the glory of the Lord pushes us to our knees in humble reverence, in thanksgiving before the Most High. Mary is such a good mother.

In trepidation, I just might ask my guardian angel for a bit more of a smidgen of a sense of this annihilation. Trepidation, mind you. After all, who am I if not already a nobody asking to know just that before the presence of the Most High? This would be so that I might more adequately thank Him who is to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, thank Him for coming into this world, standing in our stead, being annihilated for us that we in turn might be brought to life in Him.

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A visit to Jesus’ rectory…

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The priest’s house, you know, the rectory, you know, the presbytery for the pre-Edwardian crowd, or parsonages to those presently of other persuasions, is one of those institutions undergoing a paradigmatic shift, in this case a movement right off the public church campus to a non-office, non-meeting place location. That’s a great idea. The practice of the Charlotte Diocese (started with the previous bishop) is becoming ever more important for the spiritual lives of priests, namely, to allow chapels in those residences of the priests, so that it’s also the High Priest’s house.

Since we have a small parish, I try to do the Communion Calls myself, and the rectory having a chapel has the added benefit of convenience regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament. And not only for that reason, but also, of course, for prayer, and not just liturgical prayer, the occasional Holy Mass and the breviary, but in view of our Lord’s insistence that we pray always. The rectory is a place of peace, truly a sanctuary. It’s not “Father George’s rectory.” It’s the rectory of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. He’s here. This is an occasion of humble thanksgiving for the goodness and kindness of Jesus, which is always a source of amazement to me. There is always, always more for us to know about God being Love. Deus est Caritas.

Above is a picture of the Gospel-side of the gradines of the altar of Jesus’ little rectory. My neighbor in the days of yore, of hermitage times, is a bit of a seamstress, and, having an old humeral veil, torn in many places, she made up some regal vestments for the Divine Infant of Prague. I’ve had a devotion to Him since I myself was an infant. He has an angel, prompt and eager in service, to do His bidding. Regarding me, that also means whooping me upside the head.

The angels, you have to know, are always in the presence of the Most High and see the face of our Heavenly Father. Therefore, do not offend them! They teach us reverence and humility before the Most Holy Trinity. They rejoice to see us filled with sanctifying grace. I’m happy to be in Jesus’ rectory.

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“Guardian Angel!”

guardian angel

I call my guardian angel: “Guardian Angel.” He knows who he is.

I’m amazed at people who say they know the name of their guardian angel, almost always some epic name just like New Age “channelers” of the 1990s “channeling” only super-epic or super-mysterious figures, or like the pioneers of modern genealogies some decades ago, who always found people having ancestry with royalty or with world conquerors of politically correct origins.

I am also incredulous at people who give their guardian angel a cute nickname as if they were pet dogs because they really don’t believe that guardian angels are with us, because, I don’t know, I guess they think Jesus is a liar. Guardian angels for them are fluffy and nice, chiffon and pastel, or perhaps a dolphin… They are afraid, I think, of thinking that God would care for us so much as to send a guardian angel to us. That jacks up the stakes. We had better pay attention to our guardian angels, who want to teach us that God loved the world so much as to send us His only begotten Son…

Do some angels have names? All of them do. I’m guessing we don’t know any of them. Those who are named in the Scriptures seem to have titles so as to make it easy on us who couldn’t possibly understand their real names, at least not until heaven. For instance:

  • Gabriel: The Great War Hero of God
  • Michael: Who is Like unto God
  • Raphael: Doctor of God

In heaven, please God we get there, we will each receive a name known only to Jesus and ourselves. The first time we will hear that name, it seems to me, will be when we enter into heaven, when He calls that name, and we will know the Most Holy Trinity even as we are known, as the Apostle says. But now, we could not possibly bear hearing that name; we could not continue to live.

Anyway, before original sin, Adam was able to name the angel who was the Oracle of God, the most intelligent of all creatures, much more so than Adam. As we know, that Oracle, the ancient dragon, later fell from that position. And after original sin, what do we know about anything? Really, not much.

Could we give a title instead of a name to our guardian angels? Names and titles are pretty much interchangeable with each other in the days of yore. But again, what do we know about anything? We would never get it right. So why try? We should ask our guardian angels for assistance, and it makes it easier for us to call on someone using a name or title. Yes, that’s true. So, why not just use the title Jesus implied for us: guardian angel. See Matthew 18:10-14.

I call my guardian angel: “Guardian Angel.” He knows who he is.

 

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(6) Father George, tell me now, where are the guardian angels of dying kids?

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This picture was taken by yours truly during the transfer of relics of Padre Pio and Padre Leopoldo, accompanied by all the Missionaries of Mercy gathered in Rome.

This terribly sad comment came in, which deserves its own post:

Father – you often mention your guardian angel and the ways in which he has helped you throughout your life. Today in Scotland twin boys, aged just two years old, tragically drowned in a garden pond. How does one explain to someone who asks ‘where were their guardian angels?’ I am at a loss to answer this.

dove pope francis 2This reminds me of a similar question Padre Pio had for his guardian angel if I remember it correctly. It seems that while he was getting smacked down, very nearly to death, by a demon, he noted his guardian angel up above, circling about, praising God, ever so happy, seemingly oblivious to the dire straits of the merely human priest below. “Why did you abandon me when I needed you most?” he asked his angel. The response was similarly a kind of reprimand, “Because your fidelity to God in the midst of your weakness gave more glory to Him than me saving you.” And Padre Pio was happy to get this rebuke.

angel gethsemaneOr, how about that angel in Gethsemane sent to comfort Christ our God? Surely he belonged to those twelve legions of angels who would fight for Jesus. This good angel is surely consumed with thoughts of wrath. I mean, look at the eyes. Surely the artist has in mind here that this angel is thinking of all the ways in which he could utterly smack down Judas and the Roman soldiers and all the brigands from the chief priests and the scribes of the Pharisees, all in less than a nanosecond. But instead he watches Jesus pray about doing the will of His Heavenly Father. Unexpectedly awesome on our behalf. So, O.K., he strengthens Jesus in His terrible agony which, by the way, was not about His facing His passion and death, but about permitting that His Immaculate Mother would have a sword of such terrible sorrow pierce her heart. How can a such a Son permit this terrible infliction of agony on His own dearest mother?

Let’s be clear. The mission of Jesus was not in the least to save us from the effects of original sin (or of our own personal sin), not in this world. He came to give us the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity while we make our way through this vale of tears, with that grace turning to glory in heaven where all the effects of original sin fall away. No more sickness. No more death. No more weakness of mind and will. No emotions all over the place. These two kids would not have been in such a position if there had been no original sin. We would look after each other better than that. And also the angels would have had full rights to protect us, whereas now, actually, they do not. It is not their job to save us from any effect of original sin freely chosen with the sin, though God may also permit this as He did in my case so very many times. That’s not really any favor for me over anyone else. I will be judged extremely severely if I don’t follow up on such deference, which I firmly believe has nothing whatsoever to do with me, but with what I might be able to do for others because of having been saved myself. For instance, I was able to save my fellow 7 year old from suicide because of the extended intervention of the angels. God knows the best time for us to go. That includes those two kids. That includes us. I could die in a head on collision with some drunk tomorrow morning. Just like that. With the angels watching. Hopefully with the joy of seeing another soul on its way to heaven, even if delayed to the end of the world in purgatory! Again, their job is not to second guess Jesus or to save us from the present economy of salvation, wherein mercy is founded on justice, with mercy using justice, with mercy glorying in justice. Do kids die because of original sin? Yes. That’s how serious sin is. And that’s why Jesus came to save us. The trick here is to note how serious sin and its consequences are, but then immediately to turn to Jesus and praise Him for coming into this world to save us from ourselves and bring us to heaven. We will all die like those two little kids, one way or the other. O.K. We thank Jesus for dying for us to bring us to heaven, by the way. I don’t think you’ll find those two kids complaining right about now!

When Jesus mentions guardian angels, He does so as a terrible threat. Those who have not repented of their ways, including abuse of youngsters, will have to face the angels. The chief priests and scribes of the Pharisees would have fully known the intended threat. I repeat that threat to the string pullers and those who manipulate them ever so easily, those social engineers whose lust for power and lust for lust brought them to what some might think are unheard of levels of evil. They are to be permitted to do their worst in this world. But not in the next, and the next lasts forever. Our home is not in this world, but, please God, in heaven, forever.

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New Series on the great joy of the angels (n.b. — this series is really cool!)

LOURDES-MICHAEL

In the Saint Michael Chapel above the grotto in Lourdes, below the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, next to the Chapel of Saint Bernadette, just behind the “private” Mass chapels.

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