Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Sexagesima Sunday—15 February AD 2009
On the Angels

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

“Lest the greatness of the revelations should puff me up,
there was given me a thorn for the flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.”

“The devil comes and takes away the word from their heart,
that they may not believe and be saved.”

    The readings today speak of angels and of devils.  The Church wants us to understand that both of these have an effect upon us during our life on earth; and that they are very real, in spite of worldly efforts to dress them up in lacy costumes with wings, or in red suits with pitch forks and pointed tails.

    We hear first about St. Paul being given an “angel of the devil” to keep him from false pride, and to remind him that his strength came only from God.  Scripture scholars are not in agreement about what Saint Paul meant here.  He seems to be speaking ironically, for it seems unlikely that God would have allowed, so to speak, a “guardian devil” to follow Paul around—although it is possible that God allowed a demon to inflict Paul, making good come out of evil.

    Some say that Paul's affliction was lameness, an impediment which would have always been on his mind, because of all of his travels.   Others think that he might have borne the stigmata; wounds in his hands and feet, like those of the crucified Christ.  And, yet others feel that Paul's affliction was blindness or poor sight—perhaps a remnant of his conversion, in which he was thrown off of his horse on the road to Damascus and made temporarily blind.

    But, whatever the affliction, we see that God made use of an angelic messenger to channel Paul's energies in the right direction; to ensure that his great adventures and experiences in preaching Christ did not “go to his head,” and cause him to forget the reason for these things.

    We know from revelation that all of the angels are God's creatures, made out of nothing, endowed with grace, and intellect and will.  Just as we, they were created to “show forth God's goodness, and to be happy with Him in heaven.”   Unlike us, they were created as pure spirits, not being hampered by the limitations of a physical body.  They are not, therefore, constrained by distance, or time, or by the need to see and to touch things in order to know them.

    We know too, that the Angels were created with free will, just as we are.   Both we and they have to be free, otherwise our activities would give God no more glory than the activities of a robot.  Our free will is the root of our ability to merit; to do things which are good and praiseworthy in God's eyes.

    But free will can also be a liability.   It allows both angels and men to do whatever they please.  It allows them to mistakenly believe that the gifts which they possess—gifts like intellect, beauty, strength, and so on—belong to them independently of God.  It allows them to think that they can revolt against God, eat the forbidden fruit, become “gods,” and perhaps even overthrow God Himself.  In short, free will can allow the lower instincts of angels and men to overshadow their intellect and their prudence.

    And so, just as Adam and Eve forfeited their original justice and grace, and were thrown out of earthly paradise, so too the angels who revolted against God were cast down into Hell.  Those who think that they are above God; that they can live without God—they are condemned to live without God forever—to their everlasting shame, and eternal loneliness.

    But lest anyone doubt, the devils in Hell are still powerful—they were, after all, God's greatest creatures.  And whereas they were created with great power to do good, that power is redirected by envy to do evil.  If they can't have happiness in heaven, they don't want anyone else to have it either!  So, they do go about, seeking the ruin of souls.  The book of Wisdom (ii: 24) tells us that the devils tempted our first parents and brought about the fall of the entire race.  Sometimes, they just make life difficult, as with Saint Paul.  Other times, they may even take direct possession of human beings, as we read several times in the New Testament.  Sometimes their effects are physical—more often they are not—but they are always directed toward the spiritual ruin of those whom they afflict.

    But there is a bright side to this story, for those angels who remained faithful to God were confirmed in grace and glory.  And just as the fallen angels are filled with envy, the loyal angels are filled with generosity and compassion for their fellow creatures who are still undergoing the test of their loyalty to God.  They are God's messengers, bringing mankind the good news of our salvation—one need only think of the Annunciation to see this.

    They willingly serve as our guardian angels, helping us to counteract the temptations placed before us by the fallen angels.  This is another example of an important aspect of our Catholic Faith which has been minimized in the modern mind.  Our Guardian Angels are real and we should call upon them when we find ourselves in temptation.

    This brings us to the message conveyed in today's Gospel.  We are the seed sown in the field.  What will happen to us is still uncertain.  Our seed may be eaten by the birds, or be choked by the thorns, or may wither away for lack of moisture.  We may “have no root, and fall away in time of temptation.”   We may allow the “cares and riches and pleasures of life” to choke the spiritual life out of us.  We may allow the “devil to come and take away the word of God from our hearts, so that we may not believe and be saved.”

    But there is another way—for unlike seed, which has no control over where it falls and what happens to it, we have both free will, and the assistance of our Guardian Angels.  We have, at our disposal, all the means of salvation:  The Mass, the Sacraments, the sacramentals, Sanctifying and Actual graces, prayer, fasting, even the support of the angels and the saints:






Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!