The role of the angels is  most fully called to the popular mind at Christmas time. But for the committed Catholic the memory of the memory of the Annunciation nine months earlier, is refreshed and we recall the Archangel Gabriel bringing the Divine message to the Blessed Virgin. Choirs of angels sing at the Nativity to the shepherds tending the Temple sheep in the fields outside the Temple walls :

… “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.”

Later,  an angel appears to St. Joseph advising him to proceed with his marriage to Mary and to name the expected Child Jesus.
In time, an angel warns St. Joseph of Herod’s murderous intentions toward the Child and later still advises St. Joseph of Herod’s death and the possibility of a safe return from the Holy Family’s refuge in Egypt.

The modern mass media is obsessed with angels, but as usual, in a perverse way. Something is amiss – for the commercial “angels” are either chubby cherubs or glamorous (as opposed to beautiful) young women – amiss indeed (forgive the pun). For every angel in Sacred Scripture appears as a young man, brilliant in raiment, strong and truly awesome to behold, possessing immense dignity, authority and power. Far from lolling about on clouds all day, these messengers from God Most High come from Eternity into the dimension of time in the course of a specific commission from God.

Their arrival and appearance in the story of Sacred Scripture is usually the cause of great anxiety for those they visit because of their awesome and electrifying presence. Little wonder they often greet the person they visit with “Fear Not!”

We should not forget that we each have our own Guardian Angel. We have the Divine Authority of Our Lord Himself for that knowledge. God Himself has given us these Guardians, and taken the trouble to inform us of their presence and activity. Surely we must respond in prayer to our Guardians ”to whom God’s Love commits us here” and we should implore them “ever this day be at our side, to light and to guard, to rule and to guide” Amen. The presence and activity of angels is one of those factors which serve to remind us of the immense realities outside our three dimensional and temporal universe. We cannot guess at the extent or nature of those realities except as revealed, and in the work of the angels.

Until Victorian times, the representation of angels in art was always reverential, portraying their awe-inspiring presence before men, and their humble obeisance and reverence before God and their reverent respect for the Blessed Virgin. But the Victorian era - suffused with the wonders of the steam age, its mighty engineering projects and military power - relegated angels to rather saccharine portrayals – watching over little children or in mourning watch over the dead. It seems the mature Victorian Master and Mistress of the World perceived no need for angels until the encounter with Death- mastery over which still eluded them. But it did hold a morbid fascination for them. This led many of them into unchristian dalliance with would be “spiritualists”
promising contact with the next world.

Now, modern society – Masters of the Universe – (or so it seemed until the wheels fell off the international financial system’s gravy train in recent years) had long since given up the truth about angels (indeed even the concept of truth itself in many cases) for the commercial travesties previously mentioned. 

St. Peter had a little to say about those who disrespect the angels :
they “will be destroyed” (2 Peter 2 : 12). A society that does not respect the Holy Angels is putting itself gravely at risk.

Remember God’s mighty messengers and our guardians. Pray most carefully and respectfully to them. And steer well clear of those mocking commercial travesties. Remember the angels’ part in the  whole of the story of our Salvation and their special relationship to God Himself.

But never forget that no Angel has ever been privileged as we are -  to receive the Blessed Sacrament -the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ before Whom the Angels kneel in awed submission.

What a privilege we have! Truly we can never be worthy , nor even nearly so. What a generous God we serve! And what wonders await us in Heaven.

Saint Michael the Archangel Pray for us.


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