Jakarta, 28 July 2022
A Christian Pilgrim
Jakarta, 28 July 2022
A Christian Pilgrim
“He has given His angels charge of you, to guard you in all your ways,” Let the Lord be thanked for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men. Let the nations praise Him and say that Lord has done great things for them. Lord, what is man that You are so much of Him, that You set Your mind upon him, You are solicitous for him, You care for him. Indeed You send Your only Son to him, You infuse Your Spirit, You promise him the sight of Your countenance. And that no being in heaven may rest form the work of caring for us, You send those blessed spirits to minister to us, You assign them to watch over us, You bid them be our guardians. (From the sermons of St. Bernard)
Prayer: Lord God of hosts, in Your all-wise providence You send angels to guard and protect us. Surround us with their watchful care on earth, and give us the joy of their company for ever in heaven. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 2 October 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
Today, 2nd of October, we honor our guardian angels, those spiritual beings privileged to gaze upon God and worship Him even as they watch over us and safeguard us.
Vatican Council II recognizes that non-Christian religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, contain parts of the truth, reflections of the Word. “The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions. She looks with sincere respect upon those ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what she holds and sets forth, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men (Declaration Nostra Aetate, on relations with non-Christian religions, no. 2). These rays of truth which enlighten all men normally, according to St. Thomas, are spread with the help of angels.
Thus the teaching of the Church on the protection of angels which all men enjoy, without exception, throws light on the doctrine of “sufficient grace” – the doctrine that everyone is granted grace enough to be saved: the lights the angels bring are a concrete expression of sufficient grace. St. Thomas Aquinas state in De Veritate: “it is proper to divine Providence to provide everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that the person does not raise obstacles. It could happen that someone grows up in the wild, in the middle of wolves; if he follows the line of conduct his natural reason dictates, seeking good and avoiding evil, it is certain that God will reveal to him, by inward inspiration, everything that it is necessary to believe, or will direct him to a preacher of the faith, just as He sent Peter in search of Cornelius. Following this teaching, in the case proposed this inward light regarding those things he has to believe normally reaches a person through the intervention of his angel, just as it is by the mystery of angels that someone receives the gift of tongues or of prophecy. “God has not chained His power to the sacraments.” The non-Christian who, though invincibly ignorant of Revelation, still lives an honest and upright life, can be saved outside the confines of the visible Church.
How do angels go about fulfilling their mission in our daily life? “He will give His angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot” (Ps 91:11-13).
How do guardian angels intervene in homes, schools, factories, cinemas, parliaments, on the highway, in the air? Can these incorporeal beings actually influence social and professional life, politics, etc? Do they exercise any real, substantial influence in a person’s life? Have they a role to play in the history of mankind?
St. Thomas Aquinas discovers the answer to these questions by investigating the very nature of the angels. Their knowledge of the natural universe and its laws is incomparably superior to man’s. They hold a mysterious power over the material world; their dominion goes way beyond the limits of science and technology – to the extent that some things the angels do seem to us to be miraculous when in fact they are purely natural. We can see parallels to this in our own experience: people in a tribe in the middle of nowhere, completely cut off from the rest of the world, would think it was a miracle if they saw an aeroplane land or heard a transistor radio. Yet there is nothing miraculous about them: the makers of these machines have an advantage over the tribesmen simply because they know much more about nature and its laws.
In this connection we might look at an episode in the Acts of the Apostles. After being shipwrecked, St. Paul and his companions land on Malta. A fire is lit. Paul gathers some firewood and throws it on the fire. A viper jumps out and fastens itself on to Paul’s hand. The Apostle shakes the reptile off into the fire and suffers no harm. The natives expect him to swell up or fall down dead. They watch him for a while and when they see that nothing happens to him they change their attitude. “He is god”, they exclaim (Act 28:6).
The islanders regard this stranger’s immunity as something miraculous. They take him for a god. But it is very possible that the Apostle was protected because his angel acted on the viper – just as one might attribute to angels the quietness of the hungry lions in the pit where Darius had thrown Daniel. “O King”, Daniel said, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me …” (Dan 6:23)
Note: Taken from Georges Huber, MY ANGEL WILL GO BEFORE YOU – A book about our Guardian Angels, Manila: SINAG-TALA Publishers, Inc., pages 65- 67.
Jakarta, 2nd of October 2013
A Christian Pilgrim
TO DENY OUR VERY SELVES
[FRIDAY, 1 MARCH 2013]
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.” (Mt 16:24-27 RSV)
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, teach us what it means to deny our very selves. We know that we must let go of all material things in this world, of anything that would keep us from possessing You. We ask You to enter into the depths of ourselves, so that we can see and understand how we must let go of the life we cling to, how we must abandon everything into Your hands, that we must somehow embrace nothingness, in order to have You. Teach us, Lord Jesus Christ, to deny ourselves day by day, so that at Your coming, we will have no hesitation in leaving all things in this life, to be with You for all eternity. Amen.
The prayer is taken (with slight changes) from Fr. Killian Speckner OFMConv., THE PRAYERS OF FATHER KILLIAN – A Franciscan Missionary’s Guide to Daily Devotion, Paraclete Press, 1986.
A Christian Pilgrim
OUR ANGEL GUARDIANS
By: Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, OP
WE will now speak of what is for us the most interesting and important of all the facts concerning the Angels, namely, their role as our dearest, most intimate, most loving Guardians. Every Christian should strive to have a full comprehension of this doctrine and should realize vividly the presence of this Angel by his side.
WHEN DOES OUR ANGEL BEGIN TO TAKE CHARGE OF US?
The great St. Thomas (Acquinas) tells us that the moment a child is born God calls one of His glorious Spirits and gives the newborn babe into his special care. It is not when the soul is created and united to our bodies – which takes place before our birth, for then the child is still one with its mother and protected by the mothers’ Angel – but it is when we are born into the world that our Angel begins his care of us, even before Baptism.
Every man, whether pagan, heretic or Catholic has a Guardian Angel. Though one Angel would be powerful enough to take perfect care of a thousand souls, yet God in His infinite goodness has given to each one of us a special Angel, an Angel who is all our own, whose great duty henceforth will be to watch over us day and night, asleep or awake, alone or in the midst of company, in our homes, in the street, working or resting, everywhere, every moment of our lives, in joys and in troubles. He never abandons us for a single instant; he sees our every movement; he is ever at our sides.
EACH ONE HAS A SPECIAL ANGEL
It seems at first sight incredible that God gives each of us poor mortals a glorious Prince of Heaven to guide and guard us all the days of our life, who is with us night and day, who devotes all his time, all his care, all his unceasing vigilance to secure our happiness.
But in pure truth, it is only one of the many immense proofs of love which our dear Lord has given us.
What personal favors has not God Himself already done us. Did He not create us with His own hands, making us to His own image and likeness? Did He not raise us up to the highest possible destiny that He could give us, namely, to be with Him as His dear children forever in Heaven, seated on thrones in His presence, enjoying infinite joys, the most perfect happiness for all eternity? Is He not our Father?
Did He not suffer and die for each one of us? Does He not come into our souls, uniting Himself to us most intimately, countless times in Holy Communion? Does He not watch over us every moment so that not a single hair falls from our heads without His permission?
True, indeed, it is a wonderful proof of His love to give us a special Angel all to ourselves, to be our friend and protector, but it is only in keeping with what He has already done for us and it is to prepare us for what He still wishes to do for us.
But what is really amazing is that we do not appreciate, do not understand as we ought this divine favor; that we do not prize and love and seek to know better this glorious Angel who is so good to us. Our neglect of our dear Angel is appalling.
WHAT DOES OUR ANGEL DO FOR US?
Now when an Angel takes charge of a soul, he devotes all his glorious intelligence and knowledge, all his power and vigilance to protect, defend and help in every possible way the person whom God has given into his charge. He does this, firstly, because God gives him the command to do so, and the Angels most earnestly desire to do what God wishes; secondly, because he has himself an immense, personal, affectionate love for us.
(a) He longs to share with us his joy, his happiness, his love, his holiness, and this with such a generosity and earnestness of desire as we selfish mortals cannot possibly understand. He labors every moment, day and night, to make us better, holier and happier.
(b) Not satisfied with his own efforts on our behalf, he prays for us unceasingly and with incredible fervor to God.
What would we not give to have certainty of the prayers of a great Saint like St. Dominic, St. Francis or St. Ignatius, but we have those of an Angel, burning with the love of God and full of intense love for us, interceding constantly for us before the throne of the Most High.
God can refuse him nothing that he asks for his client, since it was God who gave him charge over us and ordered him to take every care of us.
(c) This great Angel too, is constantly whispering into our ears counsels full of love and wisdom.
Our Angel may not interfere with our free will, abut he can and does act on our memories, recalling vividly something we ought to do or warning us of something we ought not to do.
He acts benevolently on our imagination and on our reason, persuading us, urging us to correct our weaknesses, to fight against our evil inclinations, inspiring us with new ideals, and stimulating us to fresh and greater effort. If we do wrong, he is angry.
(d) He is ever on the alert to defend us from the fierce attacks of the demons, who are our relentless foes and who use all their malice to ruin us, to tempt us, to make us sin and who stir up every sort of trouble against us.
(e) Our Angles, moreover, save us from many other dangers and evils, of which we are utterly unconscious. Only in Heaven shall we come to know the favors and benefits that our Angel confers on us every day, the sorrows from which he saves us, the perils from which he snatches us.
It could not be otherwise since he is devoting to us all his angelic vigilance, all his bright intelligence. His efforts on our behalf are unceasing.
(f) The Angels most especially give us help in the important events or our lives. The great bulk of men and women are called to the married state. There is nothing more vitally important for them than a happy marriage; nothing that ruins and wrecks their lives like an unhappy marriage. Now the dear Angels are more eager that their clients should obtain this great grace than father or mother, or even than they are themselves.
What happy marriages would there not be if only young men and women earnestly besought their Angels to obtain this blessing for them. Those therefore who desire a happy marriage should earnestly pray to their Angel for this grace. No one better than he can secure this blessing for them.
We read how St. Raphael obtained for Tobias a beautiful, virtuous and wealthy spouse. Our Angel can do the same for us.
SICKNESS AND SUFFERING
Another all-important fact in our lives is suffering. All must suffer, but suffering is easy to bear if only we know how to suffer, and if we have a clever nurse and an able doctor to help us when sick and if we have a kind friend who can help and console us in other troubles.
Again, our Angels are all-powerful to help us in sickness and suffering. We shall see later on how the Angels helped the martyrs to bear even with joy their cruel torments. Much more can our Angels help us to bear our little sufferings.
How many sufferers in their own homes and still more in hospitals are condemned to spend days and weeks on beds of pain and pass long interminable nights of wakefulness and agony.
What help and consolation they could have if only they knew and loved their dear Angels and called on them constantly for help, as we saw in the case of St. Gemma Galgani.
It is indeed criminal to neglect to teach boys and girls all about the Angels, for thus they are deprived during all their lives of the greatest blessings.
Examinations have much to say to the future happiness and welfare of boys and girls. No professor, howsoever clever he may be, can impart knowledge like our Angels, if only we ask them.
Students who are devoted to their Angels will study with far greater ease and will make far more brilliant examinations than others. Their Angels will give them a love and passion for study which is the best guarantee for acquiring knowledge.
We have frequently to embark on important business arrangements, which may bring us much gain or much loss. There are doubts and difficulties which we cannot resolve. Once more our best counselor is our great Angel. Let us appeal to him for help and advice.
Note: Taken from Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, OP (EDM), ALL ABOUT THE ANGELS, Rackford, Illinois: TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC., 1990, pages 54-60.
Jakarta, 2 October 2012
A Christian Pilgrim
THE ANGELS OF GOD ASCENDING AND DESCENDING UPON THE SON OF MAN
(A biblical refection on THE FEAST OF SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS – Saturday, 29 September 2012)
Gospel Reading: John 1:47-51
First Reading: Dan 7:9-10,13-14 (or Rev 12:7-12; Psalms: Ps 138:1-5
The Scripture Text
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (Jn 1:47-51)
Nathanael made an amazing profession of faith in Jesus at his first personal encounter with Him: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn 1:49). How did he so quickly perceive the true identity of this itinerant preacher from Nazareth who had simply told him that He had seen him under a fig tree?
An honest and guiless Jew, Nathanael was hungry for God. In his day, it was common for rabbis and their students to study Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) while sitting in the shade of a leafy tree. In fact, in the Jewish tradition, the expression “to sit under the fig tree” meant to be engaged in studying the Scriptures. Perhaps Nathanael had been reading God’s word under the tree when Jesus saw him there. Maybe he had been pondering the prophesies about the Messiah, seeking to understand their meaning.
Jesus rewarded Nathanael’s faith and desire to know God with a promise that he would see “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (Jn 1:51). Jesus invited Nathanael – and us, too – to move from a faith based on reason and intellect into the heavenly realm. By coming to us in the flesh, Jesus made heaven accessible. He is the point of contact between eternity and time, the ladder joining heaven and earth. Through the incarnation, God reached down to touch us and to raise us up to be united with Him. What greater joy could we possibly know?
Through faith in Christ and baptism into His name, the heavens can be opened to us every day. We can experience the heavenly life as it transforms our lives on earth. Are you weighed down by guilt? Your sins are forgiven in Christ. Have you been hurt by someone who has wronged you? Those wounds can be healed. Do you feel dry and dull in prayer? The Holy Spirit can revitalize your praise and melt your discouragement with the joyful hope of seeing God face to face. Yes, as a new creation in Christ, we can “sit with Him in the heavenly places” (Eph 2:6). Let’s take our place there today!
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, open the heavens for me today! Let me see the realities of the spiritual realm all around me. Help me fix my eyes on you and my heavenly inheritance. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 September 2012
A Christian Pilgrim
THE EXISTENCE OF ANGELS AND DEVILS
THERE IS an interesting phenomenon today concerning the existence of angels and devils. On the one hand, some people deny the existence of any spiritual reality. They claim that belief in devils and angels is simply superstition. Even some Christians who certainly believe in God’s existence question the existence of these spiritual beings; they explain scriptural references to them as examples of symbolic language. On the other hand, hardly a year goes by without filmmakers exploiting the theme of demon possession and the conflict between the spiritual forces of good and evil.
Catholics do indeed believe in the existence of angels and devils. Both scripture and tradition attest to this belief.
Angels are created, spiritual beings. Like us, they are free, knowing, loving beings created by God for union with Himself. Unlike us, angels are pure spirits; they do not have bodies.
The word angel means “one who is sent” or “messenger.” This tells us something about the angels’ function in relation to us. Both the Old and New Testaments have many examples of God sending His angels.
The Church has instructed Catholics to honor the angels who are our spiritual friends and guardians. The Church has traditionally taught that each person has a guardian angel.
We believe that when the angels were created they were given a basic choice, similar to our choice here on earth, to accept God or reject Him. Those who chose themselves over God – thereby choosing to be alienated from Him in hell – are called demons or devils. God permits devils to tempt us, but He does not allow them to harm us. (The Church does teach that there is such a thing as demon possession, but the Church’s ritual of exorcism warns against concluding too quickly that a demon possesses a person. Many examples of possessions have turned out to be the result of emotional disturbances or fraud.) By resisting the temptations of evil spirits we are given the opportunity to draw closer to God.
For self-reflection: Do I sincerely believe that the existence of angels is not optional to Catholic faith?
Note: The text is taken from Michael Francis Pennock, THIS IS OUR FAITH …, Notre Dame, IN 46556: Ave Maria Press, 1990 (second printing), page 266.
Jakarta, 28 September 2012
A Christian Pilgrim
CHRIST predicted His Kingdom on earth would be small – small in members and small in its own humble estimation: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This indeed is the smallest of all seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in its branches.”
Opposed to the kingdom of the anti-Christ is the visible, organized, universal Kingdom of Jesus Christ. These two kingdoms are in constant conflict – “by their fruits you shall know them” – The Kingdom of Light against Darkness; The Kingdom of Truth against Falsehood; The Kingdom of Sanctity against Sin; the Kingdom of Salvation against Destruction; The Kingdom of Life against eternal Death; The Kingdom of Love against eternal Hate.
There are two – and only two camps – that of Christ and that of the anti-Christ. Which leader do I habitually follow? Are my habits those of Christ? If not, God help me!
Purify my heart, O Jesus, my King, from all the pursuits of sinful self-love, and grant that my whole ambition and happiness may be to serve and love you as you deserve.
Note: Taken from “A THOUGHT A DAY – LITTLE THOUGHTS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE TO HELP THEM BECOME GOD’S GREAT SAINTS” (Assembled by A Father of the Society of St. Paul).
Jakarta, 27 September 2012
A Christian Pilgrim