October 2, 2015
A snippet from today's first reading: "Thus says the Lord: 'See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.'"
...and second: "'See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.'"
My dear fellow pilgrims,
I greet you on this happy feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, from a Friday afternoon mental lull and a desire for rest in the coming Sabbath day. I pray that your weeks have been full of a constant awareness of the Lord's love for you, full of your receptivity to His beckoning, His grace.
Today's Mass readings beautifully tie in today's feast with yesterday's feast, of St. Therese, the Little Flower, my Little One and friend. There is this sense of God's protection of those like St. Therese: those who are small, admitting their nothingness in the reality of God's infinite glory.
"Do not despise them," said Jesus, because their angels, their guardians, the protectors of their soul, have the attention of the ultimate authority in the Father: those angels are face-to-face with the Father. If there is one unique characteristic of the Father within the Trinity, it is protectiveness; He is the One with the Final Word on who gets struck down and built up. In a sense, I think of all the "little ones" on earth (specifically, children who are protected by their developmental level of cognition and do not have much capacity to be selfish, or those with the capacity for vanity and selfishness and yet choose to yield to God's will and view of themselves as ever-children of God), and how pleasing they are to God, how their angels do less of protecting them from themselves and more of protecting them from others.
In the first reading, the angels had the specific task to guard the Israelites from those groups who were trying to thwart their journey (bible scholars - correct me if I'm wrong) - the "Amorites, Hittites" etc. The Lord said that the angel would "go before them" and "bring" them to these groups, but that He would "wipe them out." In this reading, it's clear that guardian angels may also bring us to those who could strike us down, but they do so only in order with God's Will, which is always to build up your trust in Him.
In both readings, the Lord and then Jesus in His Humanity call us to "see" this spiritual reality in which the guardian angels uniquely dwell. Angels are pure spirit, which means they have special qualifications to be the protectors of our pure spirits, our souls, from the evil one and those in whom the evil one reigns.
I went to Mass earlier this week; for the other angel feast day, the feast of the archangels; and was inspired simply to try and "see" this reality more, try to meditate on this reality I cannot readily see, but is nevertheless more "real" than what my perception allows me to understand. Even in just this prayerful attempt to see this reality, I started to feel the vastness of the spiritual battle for souls, and my soul particularly. It was as if I was standing at the edge of the grand canyon with my eyes closed, feeling a spiritual vertigo. I thought of the risks of being subject to the flesh, subject to inborn human sin, original sin, and the many manifestations of sin around me, how weak I am to continually resist.
My weaknesses have become more and more apparent to me, especially since marrying my wonderful husband. However, these feasts of the angels surrounding the feast of the Little One remind me that for as much as I am bombarded with my own sin and the wiles of the evil one tempting me to despair and frustration with habitual sin, I am protected by my angels, my army that "goes before me," and will always guide me to battles God can and will win for me if I submit my power to the Almighty.
In other words, re-appraising the battle IS the battle, half the time, in my recent experiences: for the battle is always already won. The battle we should be fighting is not this battle of self-promotion, how we can be "successful," it is the battle to claim His success through the Cross, within every cross He brings us. He calls us to see His Battle within our own battles. He calls us to be small and to allow our protectors, the angels, to go before us.
Holy Jesus, please help us see our guardian angels, help us call them to mind, pray to them to go before us.
Guardian angels of the world, keep protecting the little ones, and making way for the Lord to smite those who despise them.