Celebrating Angels


At last Sunday’s Masses I made reference during the homily to the interview with Pope Francis that had been published simultaneously in La Civiltà Cattolica, America, and 14 other Jesuit journals on the previous Thursday. It can be found at http://americamagazine.org/pope-interview, and I know you will find it easy and interesting reading. As I continue to read it, I am left wondering how different people can see the same words and take away such vastly different messages. There is nothing in the interview with which I disagree. But the daily newspaper tells me the Pope “sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic Church.”

I believe it was the media that sent around those shock waves by saying, for example, that the Pope said “that the church had grown ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception…,” whereas he said, “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently,” having referred to “abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods” in the preceding paragraph. It has occurred to me that members of the media may have the impression that if they hung around a Catholic parish, they would hear constant references to these issues in homilies. The reality is that few homilies mention these things. The Holy Father is quite right in saying our emphasis ought to be on healing people, on considering the person, on accompanying them “through the dark night… without getting lost.” I hope all of you who come here will hear in the words and actions of your priest and fellow parishioners a proclamation of the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.

I would like to mention two feasts on the Church’s calendar that have to do with angels. If September 29 were not a Sunday this year, it would be the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. The Memorial of the Guardian Angels will be Wednesday, October 2. The September 29 feast, of course, honors those angels who have the title “archangel” because they bear messages of great importance. Gabriel is the best known, since it was he who visited the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Annunciation. The October 2 feast celebrates the angels who watch over each person individually. Jesus himself tells us (Matthew 18:10) that we are not to despise one of his little ones because their angels in heaven constantly behold the face of our heavenly Father.

People became fascinated with angels a few years ago. As a fad it seems to be fading away, this love of angel books and so on, but angels will probably always be popular in art. We would do ourselves a disservice, though, if we were to say that angels are just a part of holy stories. We cannot dismiss the testimony of Scripture. As the Vatican II document on Divine Revelation puts it, “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum 9). That is why the Catholic Church teaches the following:

The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (Catechism of the Catholic Church 328).

St. Augustine says:  “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’… (CCC 329).

As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness (CCC 330).

Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him.” They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” … (CCC 331).

From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God … (CCC 336).

One final item about the angels: every time the Mass is celebrated, as the Eucharistic prayer is about to begin, we lift our voices to join the angels’ song. The Sanctus (“holy, holy, holy …”) is the song of the angels and saints, and when we sing it we are joining the voices of those who are now in complete union with God. Let’s think about this during Mass, and recall through our participation in the angelic song that we are surrounded by the angels and saints during the Eucharistic prayer. We all are together as one Church during our worship of God.

Pancake Fundraiser in Rosemount

The people of area parishes are invited to a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help defray the cost of Fr. Paul Jarvis’s medical bills. This past spring, Fr. Paul Jarvis became one of the 10% who survive emergency surgery for an aortic dissection. He also amassed $250,000 in medical bills. His financial responsibility is pretty significant on his priest’s salary. The Knights of Columbus – who make a practice of helping out brother-knights and their families – offered to organize a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help with Fr. Paul’s medical bills. The breakfast’s price: free will offering towards his debt. The pancake breakfast will be after the 8:30 and 10:30 Masses on Sunday, October 13, at the Church of St. Joseph, 13900 Biscayne Avenue West, Rosemount.

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