September 29, 2015

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:47-51

Of the nine choirs of angels, the archangels are unique in that we know the names of three of them. It can be difficult to understand the significance of angels outside of those few who interacted with human beings in the Bible. I'd like to propose two ways to think about angels that have been useful to me:

1) Angels are proof that the spiritual realm exists and is constantly active. Angels are pure spirit, but some angels (like our guardian angels) are working 24/7 to protect and intercede for us. This constant activity is true of the fallen angels as well. St. Peter tells us to "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Never forget that our actions in the physical world have a spiritual component and spiritual consequences as well. The human soul is an intense battle ground, and through cultivating virtue we can help ourselves make more holy choices during those day-to-day struggles.

2) The angels constantly adore God in heaven. One friend's spiritual adviser told him, "If you don't like Eucharistic Adoration... you won't like heaven." In heaven we too will be constantly adoring and praising the Lord like the angels. But our enjoyment of heaven (if we make it there) will be even greater the more we can bring our hearts and souls to purity and praise here on earth. This contradicts our frequent mindset of just "coasting" or "getting by" in the Christian life by avoiding serious sin. Instead our goal should be to be alive in our praise, to seek out encounters with the Lord in prayer, and, lest we get swept away by mere feeling, to anchor ourselves peacefully in a prayer life with trusted advisers and friends.

On their feast we ask Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael to pray for us, and we ask them to continue to intercede for our world and our fellowship.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

Frassati NY