Catechesis on the Holy Angels by Pope John Paul II, given at 6 General Audiences from 9 July to 20 August 1986.
Click here for a catechesis on the reality of Angels by Pope John Paul II…
Click here for a catechesis on the reality of Angels by Pope John Paul II…
To bury the dead is a corporal act of mercy. It’s also a spiritual act of mercy to pray for the souls of the dead; those we know and love, as well as those forgotten souls who have no one to pray for them. The object of such prayer, of course, is not to contact the dead, but instead to pray for their entrance into the eternal beatitude of God—Heaven.
Before my wife’s Grandmother passed away, her husband had died. And she use to tell us that following her husband’s death, he appeared to her and comforted her in the living room of their home…
It shouldn’t have surprised me then, that on the night that my wife’s grandmother died in the hospital, I was awakened by the passing presence of a spirit through the bedroom my wife and I slept in that night. We were in my wife’s Grandparents bedroom:
I sat straight up in the bed, and thought to myself, ‘Oh, no, she’s died…’ And the phone rang in the dark moments later.
The hospital confirmed what I already knew…
This account of mine, as you’ll learn within the following article, is a ‘common experience many have of which can be described in technical jargon as a cataleptic somnambulism. a sensed or visual phantasmic perception. And I have no doubt that many who’ll read this post have had the same, or similar visitation experiences. Or perhaps, knows someone who has.
While such visitations appear true, without forgetting that (if authentic) they are a gift of God for the grieving, and call to prayer, there still remains the reality of powerful forces of an evil nature at the level of spirits. It’s not a good thing to be messing around with spiritism, in fact, it can be outright dangerous to both body and soul.
As the Halloween season approaches, I’ve decided to share this great article as both a spiritual warfare aid and call to remember the dead in your prayers. God is spirit, and we must worship in spirit and truth, and if you’re praying properly you yourself can be a great aid to both those you love and so too those wandering forgotten souls who have none to pray for them. Note: The most powerful prayer on behalf of souls on earth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So, I encourage you this upcoming All Souls Day , November 2nd, 2010, to visit any Catholic Church for the purpose of helping souls attain Heaven… Links for personal prayers will be found at the end of the page following the article… jme
Seven Kinds of Ghosts (Revised)
by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM
I. What the Bible Says about Ghosts
A. Seeking out Ghosts
We begin this discussion with an examination of some of the Scripture verses that give us clues on this subject.
Scripture does not have much to say about this and certainly God has made it clear that this is an area we are not to seek out:
*Lev. 19:31 tells us to not turn to mediums or to seek out spiritists.
*Lev. 20:6, 27 equates the seeking out of mediums with prostitution (doing so is an act of infidelity to God that is not just adultery, but involves a prurient interest in the occult things equating it with prostitution — a medium also is “hired” which is also an image of prostitution).
*Deut. 18:10-11 Gives a whole list of prohibitions involving the occult and spirit world.
Whatever Ghosts are or are not, it is clear that we are not to seek them out in any way.
B. What do We Know About Ghosts?
1. Composition of Ghosts
*What are ghosts composed of? Well, we have a little hint of that in Luke 24:39 where the Resurrected Jesus is mistaken for a ghost. Jesus says “a ghost does not have flesh and bones”.
Thus we can know that whatever ghosts are, they are spiritual beings without flesh and bones.
2. Ghostly Visitations during Sleep
*Is there an example of a ghostly visitation during sleep? Job 4:15 “A spirit glided by my face and the hair on my body stood on end”
This “spirit” was most probably an angel, but it does give us a clue of the human experience of meeting a spiritual entity and that such entities can and do come to us in that vulnerable time of twilight and dreams. This account is very close to the common experience many have of which can be described in technical jargon as a cataleptic somnambulism with a sensed or visual phantasmic perception.
Also in 2 Maccabees 15:12-16 is a passage about a dream (vision) of the Jewish leader Maccabeus. In this dream the ghosts of the high priest Onias and the great prophet Jeremiah appeared to him and encouraged him concerning the battle to come.
Maccabeus told this dream to his men which encourage his men greatly. Maccabeus and his men afterward defeated blasphemous Nicanor and his men who thought to destroy the Jewish people.
3. Human spirits in Ghostly Form?
*Can a human being’s spirit be transported? We know from accounts of Padre Pio that bi-location is possible, but those are yet unverified — But what about in Scripture. Well, there are a couple of verses that indicate this. One is in Rev. 21:10 (17:3) where John was “carried away in the spirit”. But the most direct notion of this is in 2 Corinthians 12:2 “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know — God knows.”
From this we know it is possible for man’s spirit to be apart from even his living body at God’s discretion. In the occult world this is called Astral Projection.
*Can a person’s body be transported spiritually? Acts 8:39, after Philip was miraculously running up along the chariot of the Ethiopian, and after Philip baptized him, Philip then disappeared. “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again…”
This episode appears to be a bodily transport in the spirit, but I suppose it could also be a corporeal bi-location too. Who knows?
4. Other examples of ghostly visitations
*1 Samuel 28 The Witch of Endor. In this story Saul goes to a medium asking her to contact the dead Samuel. She apparently succeeds and Saul talks with Samuel and Samuel prophecies. The Scripture specifically states that “Samuel said”. There is no indication at all that this was a demonic impostor.
*Sirach 46:20. Again Samuel prophecies from the grave.
*The Transfiguration Matt 17:2 Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus to Peter, James, and John
*The Rich Man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31 In verse 25 Abraham says that there is a great chasm between him and the Rich Man that cannot be crossed. This is not talking about a chasm between the earth and hell; it is a chasm between Abraham’s bosom (which, in principle can be likened to heaven), and that of hell. Those in hell cannot come to the place of the saved, and the saved cannot reach down with compassion to those who are lost. It is in the next request from the Rich Man that we have a possible clue. The Rich Man wants Lazarus to go to his brothers to warn them of hell. Abraham says that there is no point in doing so. v.31 “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead”.
This passage implies the possibility of at least Lazarus being able to go to the living (it implies the Rich Man in hell cannot), but Abraham refuses the request not because it is impossible to do so, but because there is no point in doing so.
C. Conclusion *So what do we have?
II. Comments from Peter Kreeft
Now, let’s take a look at what Peter Kreeft says about this. He wrote at least two books that mention this subject, “Angels (and demons): What Do we Know About Them?” and “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven”. His comments stem from his study of Thomas Aquinas, Philosophy, and other Catholic saints and observers on this subject.
Kreeft makes mention that many very reputable people, such as C.S. Lewis, have reported seeing a “ghost” of their wives. There are many instances from reputable sources of experiences that do not have ANY flavor of the demonic.
Based upon these anecdotal accounts Kreeft and others talk about identifying three kinds of ghosts. I would add a fourth and a fifth category (from Kreeft’’s material that he talks about but doesn’t categorized) and a sixth and seventh type from my own thoughts and observations.
III. Seven Kinds of Ghosts
1. GHOSTS OF THE FIRST KIND: The first kind Kreeft calls the “sad ones” or “wispy ones”. These Ghosts seem to be working out some unfinished business of some sort, or suffering some purgatorial purification.
He says that these Ghosts would seem to be the ones who just barely made it into Purgatory, who feel little or no joy yet and who need to learn many painful lessons about their past lives on earth. God, in his compassion, may realize that to allow the person to get through Purgatory that it may be useful for them to learn some lessons on this earth.
2. GHOSTS OF THE SECOND KIND: A Second kind may be some of these purgatorial ghosts who might have been so material minded in their earthly life that they can’t detach themselves from these Material places or possessions. God may allow them to remain attached as they work out their need to “let go”.
3. GHOSTS OF THE THIRD KIND: A third type might be those who don’t yet realize they are dead. Again, in God’s compassion, I can see why He would allow a spirit to linger for a short while so that they may realize their fate before leaving this world completely. In both the “second kind” and “third kind” God could, of course, force the person to let go of the material place or to come on through the “gate” and not linger. But a compassionate Father can also allow for a “little” tolerance to help the person to adjust.
4. GHOSTS OF A FOURTH KIND: A Fourth type are the malicious and deceptive spirits. These are the one who probably appear at séances and the like and are most likely from hell. And most likely are demons disguised as dead loved ones and not the human persons themselves.
5. GHOSTS OF A FIFTH KIND: A Fifth type are the bright, happy spirits of dead friends and family who appear unbidden at God’s will, not ours, with messages of hope and love. They seem to come from heaven. These type may come to a loved one to say goodbye or to comfort them after a funeral, for example. Or these type may come to a relative or friend in “great” need. God may allow these dead relatives to come to the bedside of a loved one just before death. This would be an act of compassion to comfort the person as they pass from this life to the next. There are very trustworthy empirical and psychological evidence for these phenomena.
6. GHOSTS OF A SIXTH KIND: (updated: 9/4/08) A sixth type involves the ghost performing a certain scene repetitively. For example, a ghost of this type may go from the top of the stairs to the bottom and then disappear. This may happen over and over again. It never changes. The Ghost never interacts with anyone, and we cannot interact with it. It never changes facial expression nor does it ever acknowledge anything around it.
There are many theories to explain this phenomenon, but no real explanations. A popular notion is the concept of a “Residual Ghost”, which I originally posited in 1999. Since that time, after a more careful study of physics changed my position on this. The notion of a Residual Ghost is well expressed recently by Jason Hawes of the Atlantic Paranormal Society: that “A residual haunting is like having an impression made in time. The entity may seem to be lost in a time warp. The spirit really isn’t even there, only the energy is.” The Glossary on their website gives a more formal definition:
Psychic imprint of a scene which is repeatedly played out, where the witness of such phenomenon essentially is peering into the past. The ghostly participants of these time-displacements often seem unaware of their living observers.
There are significant problems with this theory. The physics of matter and energy makes this theory nearly impossible. Cody Polston, Founder and President of the Southwest Ghost Hunter’s Association, gives a very good and succinct scientific explanation of why the Residual Haunting is implausible in his article, Residual hauntings, a flawed hypothesis.
Ockham’s razor (“All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best”) advises us to avoid complex explanations. The theory of Residual Ghosts creates all sorts of problems that must be resolved before it can be plausible. A more plausible and simpler explanation is that “residual ghosts” are actually demonic in origin.
We know from cases throughout the history of the Church that one of Satan’s tactics is to instill an unhealthy curiosity into things concerning the paranormal. To experience a “residual ghost” usually creates an interest and curiosity on the part of the experiencer in the paranormal. Sometimes the experiencer will further explore contact with the spirit world or other dangerous explorations into the paranormal. God warns us of the danger to our soul by trying to contact the dead. Our Lord calls these activities an abomination (Deut. 18:9-12). Satan would love to inspire such curiosity and to lure a person into his sandbox.
7. GHOSTS OF THE SEVENTH KIND: Some “apparent” ghostly apparitions or effects may be the bi-location of the living…the Astral projections of living people. This can be postulated from scriptural evidence (Rev. 17:3; 21:10; and 2 Cor 12:2), and from verified reports of bi-location of people like Padre Pio.
IV. What should our demeanor be toward “any” ghostly event?
READ THE REST FROM THE SOURCE: St. Michael’s Scriptorium & Library
END OF POST
Love’s the greatest healer to be found…
To The Family and Friends of Ron Provost:
This past Sunday I offered my heart in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the soul of my friend of many years, Ronald Provost.
I will again this Sunday.
Since hearing of Ron’s death earlier this week I’ve found myself, even now, conflicted over his passing. If truth be told, my friendship with Ron occurred during a time when dissipation of life ruled both our days and our nights. Alcohol, drugs, false philosophies and lying political movements, all of which, could never set us free. No, underlying this dissipating cloud was our shared need–and at times–desperate search for, love and truth. Yes, this is what Ron and I shared in common during our time together on earth, the search for love and truth–the meaning of life.
For many years this search of ours always ended in terrible defeat. On too many occasions we found ourselves in the position of men full of sorrows and woe. Yet, thankfully, it was at those very times–when one or the other of us was most in need–that we were there for the other, even though neither of us possessed the cure to what ailed us. ..If it’s true that the human mind can only take so much, and it is, it’s true because of the absence of authentic love and truth within these frail human hearts of ours—something only God can provide in full, and does. It is just as St. Augustine states, “O’Lord our hearts are always restless until they rest in you.”
With his passing, my friend has flown on ahead of us all and met up with the heart of God’s love and truth in fullness—Jesus Christ. Little did we in our day discuss together this merciful God of Love who for our sake became the man of all sorrows for his creatures; and thus the only way, truth, and life capable of leading these thirsty souls of ours up and into the needed love, peace, joy, and rest that is the eternal beatific vision of God the Father in Heaven…
Ron knows well today the meaning of life: to come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next… On this, I’m not conflicted. And so, may his soul ever increase in such blessedness as a true child of the Light. This is the prayer of my heart I’ll be offering up along with the Virgin Mother of God, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters this coming Sunday…
Rest in peace Ron Provost.
I send herein the love of our family and continued prayers on behalf of the entire Provost family, relatives, and friends.
A closing song for my friend I think he’d enjoy; followed by the Sacred Scripture readings of the day, on this his memorial…
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
END OF POST
2009 USCCB Fall General Assembly
Archbishop Dolan (Yankees) vs. Cardinal Rigali (Phillies)
Pre-Series chatter: Bagels vs. Tastykakes…
“These two long-time friends spoke on Tuesday evening (before the series began) to settle the terms of the bet. If the Phillies win, Archbishop Dolan will ship a dozen bagels to the City of Brotherly Love; if the Yankees prevail, Cardinal Rigali will send a box of Tastykakes to the Big Apple.”
The churchmen exchanged the usual jocularities, with Rigali expressing “great esteem for Archbishop Dolan” but adding: “We have the cream cheese ready for the bagels that I know will be arriving shortly after the Repeat in the City of Brotherly and Sisterly love.”
(“Sisterly” love? An oddly inclusive usage coming from Rigali, a member of the Catholic committee charged with producing new and literal — and decidedly non-PC — Mass translations that will arrive soon to a parish near you.)
Dolan in turn called Rigali “one of my closest and dearest friends” but then adding: “I know he has exquisite taste in most matters. I just wish he had better taste in baseball teams.”
H/T David Gibson
Post-Series humble kake…
Archbishop Tim Dolan of New York and Cardinal Rigali meet to settle a wager on the outcome of the World Series.
The terms of the wager were simple. If the Phillies won, Dolan would present Rigali with a box of bagels. If the Yankees won, Rigali would bring Dolan a box of tastykakes.
So Cardinal Rigali graciously presented — and Archbishop Dolan gleefully received — the tastykakes, which he made available to everyone.
Cardinal Rigali also presented Archbishop Dolan with a Phillies jersey …
… which Archbishop Dolan promptly inverted as a signal of distress.
Dolan also presented Rigali with a 2009 World Series champs jersey …
… which Rigali never did hold up for the camera.
Bishop Tod Brown (Angels) and Cardinal Roger Mahoney (Dodgers) were nowhere in sight…
SOURCE — USCCB FALL MEETING
END OF POST
BEND – The Conference which I attended in Chicago this week dealt with the spiritual activity in the Church known as deliverance ministry and exorcism. I wrote about this last year after I had listened to a series of tapes from a conference on the same topic which was held in 2007. Many aspects of deliverance and exorcism were covered in the course of the four-day conference including the canonical, the theological, the psychological, the spiritual and the personal. At the very foundation of the conference stands the truth that we live in a world surrounded by spiritual beings and those spiritual beings, including angels, saints and demons, interact with us in a variety of ways. Some of that interaction is very helpful and supportive, some of it is not. Obviously any interaction with satanic or demonic spiritual beings is fraught with spiritual danger and we as Catholics need to be aware of the reality of Satan, aware of his wickedness and snares, and live in such a way that we do not fall under his sway or influence. Just as we were accustomed, perhaps more so as children than at present, to recite the Guardian Angel Prayer asking for our Angel’s light, guardianship, rulership and guidance so we should also pray to be protected from the “wickedness and snares of the devil.”
In the course of the conference I was pleased to engage in a conversation with a young priest who reminded me of a book on the activities of the devil which is very much a classic. The book, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, is a series of one-sided letters written by senior devil Screwtape to his nephew apprentice devil, Wormwood. Uncle Screwtape gives guidance and direction to a sometimes hapless and quasi incompetent Wormwood who repeatedly fails in one way or another to properly ensnare his assigned subject. It is a wondrously topsy-turvy world in which, from the devil’s perspective, blessedness is devilishness, success in resisting temptation is failure, and human causes of genuine joy are disastrous losses for Satan. Repeatedly the despicable (which is a high compliment) Screwtape chastises Wormwood, who is perhaps too good (what a horrible insult) for his failure to be devilish or shrewd enough in his assigned duty as junior tempter. Besides being quite entertaining, the book awakens the reader to the reality of the spiritual or supernatural world and very imaginatively portrays the machinations and strategizing of the evil one in “winning souls.”
While there is a great deal of interest in and curiosity about the devil in the realm of possession and exorcism, there is much less interest in him in the realm of one’s day-to-day life. Indeed, in the realm of our own lives. For the most part, people of America generally proceed with their daily lives as if Satan did not exist at all. An undue fascination with the details of possession is perhaps not spiritually healthy but neither is ignoring the existence of the devil and the reality of evil. We can be sure he is not ignoring us.
The devil is insanely jealous of us. He is jealous because God, bypassing the angelic spirits, chose to link His Divine nature with our human nature in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The singular purpose of Satan then, with a fervor which is fed by jealousy, is to sabotage as many of the individual relationships with God as possible. We are assured that those who maintain a strong relationship with the Lord in prayer and sacraments are extremely unlikely to fall prey to possession but we are all victims of ongoing temptation. It is this role of tempter which C.S. Lewis explores in The Screwtape Letters. A sensitivity in the spiritual life needs to include an awareness of the tactics of the devil and a firm resolve to avoid and resist the wickedness and snares of the devil. This is precisely the purpose of the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. In that prayer, we acknowledge that we are involved in a battle with the forces of evil, “Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle” and we ask his specific intervention, “be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” We then go one step further invoking God’s own direct assistance, “May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,” and then back to Saint Michael and all the angels, “and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits.” Then at the end of the prayer we take note of the reason why we have sought the intercession of the great Saint Michael in the first place. This is because those evil spirits are the ones “who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” These souls whom Satan and his evil minions prowl about the world seeking to destroy are not anonymous other souls but rather our own souls and those of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
It is certainly important that we not become excessively consumed or obsessed by the presence and activity of the evil one but it is also most important that we not be oblivious to his presence or activity, for it is real. All one needs to do is look at the state of moral confusion which reigns in our present society. The killing of the sick or elderly because they want it is being promoted as some kind of right or good but this can be so only in the topsy-turvy world of Screwtape and Wormwood. When taking the life of an innocent pre-born child is seen as right and a right and when the preservation of precisely that right becomes the object of a political campaign, I suspect the letter from Screwtape to the demon master of that campaign would be filled with praise. When a whole society begins to question whether marriage really requires one man and one woman, faithfully committed to each other in an exclusive and child-centered relationship, Satan must be very pleased indeed. Screwtape’s letters to the untiring tempters who pulled off that coup would have to be filled with devilish pride. For that kind of confusion and moral inversion to have made this kind of progress in our society, it was and is necessary for Satan to have been very active and at the same time to remain very hidden. When he is so subtly hidden, there is no limit to the wickedness and snares of the devil.
When we look at our society and see the depths of depravity to which it has already sunk we must, like in the parable of the wheat and the tares, come to the unmistakable conclusion that “an enemy has done this.”
213. With the clear and sober language of catechesis, the Church teaches that “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”(280).
Tradition regards the angels as messengers of God, “potent executives of his commands, and ready at the sound of his words” (Ps 103, 20. They serve his salvific plan, and are “sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hb 1, 14).
214. The faithful are well aware of the numerous interventions of angels in the New and Old Covenants. They closed the gates of the earthly paradise (cf. Gen 3,24), they saved Hagar and her child Ishmael (cf. Gen 21, 17), they stayed the hand of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice Isaac (cf. gen 22, 7), they announce prodigious births (cf. Jud 13, 3-7), they protect the footsteps of the just (cf. Ps 91, 11), they praise God unceasingly (cf. Is 6, 1-4), and they present the prayer of the Saints to God (cf. Ap 8, 34). The faithful are also aware of the angel’s coming to help Elijah, an exhausted fugitive (cf. 1 Kings 19, 4-8), of Azariah and his companions in the fiery furnace (cf. Dan 3, 49-50), and are familiar with the story of Tobias in which Raphael, “one of the seven Angels who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of God” (cf. Tb 12, 15), who renders many services to Tobit, his son Tobias and his wife Sarah.
The faithful are also conscious of the roles played by the Angels in the life of Jesus: the Angel Gabriel declared to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk 1, 26-38), and that an Angel revealed to Joseph the supernatural origin of Mary’s conception (cf. Mt 1, 18-25); the Angels appear to the shepherds in Bethlehem with the news of great joy of the Saviour’s birth (cf. Lk 2, 8-24); “the Angel of the Lord” protected the infant Jesus when he was threatened by Herod (cf. Mt 2, 13-20); the Angels ministered to Jesus in the desert (cf. Mt 4, 11) and comforted him in his agony (Lk 22, 43), and to the women gathered at the tomb, they announced that he had risen (cf. Mk 16, 1-8), they appear again at the Ascension, revealing its meaning to the disciples and announcing that “Jesus …will come back in the same way as you have seen him go” (Acts 1, 11).
The faithful will have well grasped the significance of Jesus’ admonition not to despise the least of those who believe in him for “their Angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven” (Mt 10, 10), and the consolation of his assurance that “there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner” (Lk 15, 10). The faithful also realize that “the Son of man will come in his glory with all his Angels” (mt 25, 31) to judge the living and the dead, and bring history to a close.
215. The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their “mysterious and powerful assistance”(281), venerates these heavenly spirts and has recourse to their prompt intercession.
During the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the role played by the Holy Angels, in the events of salvation(282) and commemorates them on specific days: 29 September (feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael), 2 October (the Guardian Angels). The Church has a votive Mass dedicated to the Holy Angels whose preface proclaims that “the glory of God is reflected in his Angels”(283). In the celebration of the sacred mysteries, the Church associates herself with the angelic hymn and proclaims the thrice holy God (cf. Isaiah 6, 3)(284) invoking their assistance so that the Eucharistic sacrifice “may be taken [to your] altar in heaven, in the presence of […] divine majesty”(285). The office of lauds is celebrated in their presence (cf. Ps 137, 1)(286). The Church entrusts to the ministry of the Holy Angels (cf. Aps 5, 8; 8, 3) the prayers of the faithful, the contrition of penitents(287), and the protection of the innocent from the assaults of the Malign One(288). The Church implores God to send his Angels at the end of the day to protect the faithful as they sleep(289), prays that the celestial spirits come to the assistance of the faithful in their last agony(290), and in the rite of obsequies, invokes God to send his Angels to accompany the souls of just into paradise(291) and to watch over their graves.
216. Down through the centuries, the faithful have translated into various devotional exercises the teaching of the faith in relation to the ministry of Angels: the Holy Angels have been adopted as patrons of cities and corporations; great shrines in their honour have developed such as Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, San Michele della Chiusa in Piemonte and San Michele Gargano in Apulia, each appointed with specific feast days; hymns and devotions to the Holy Angels have also been composed.
Popular piety encompasses many forms of devotion to the Guardian Angels. St. Basil Great (+378) taught that “each and every member of the faithful has a Guardian Angel to protect, guard and guide them through life”(292). This ancient teaching was consolidated by biblical and patristic sources and lies behind many forms of piety. St. Bernard of Clarivaux (+1153) was a great master and a notable promoter of devotion to the Guardian Angels. For him, they were a proof “that heaven denies us nothing that assists us”, and hence, “these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us”(293).
Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:
devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;
an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God;- serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels.Among the prayers to the Guardian Angels the Angele Dei(294) is especially popular, and is often recited by families at morning and evening prayers, or at the recitation of the Angelus.
217. Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.