This year the Holy Father recalls Jesus' request in a special way: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful" (Lk6:36). What does it mean to "be merciful"? The common understanding is that having compassion leads one to help another in need.
When we are pushed to the limit, when a problem prevents us from sleeping at night, when we don't know the answer to the child's question, when we don't know how to reconcile with a brother... and seek help call. And who do we call? Of course someone who can help, someone who has the wisdom and strength to find a solution and help implement it. We don't call a mechanic when we need food, or go to the dentist when our car breaks down.
It is God in His mercy who knows our needs and can help. He often sends us appropriate help through his holy angels. Mercy, precisely as to its effect, "belongs [to God] to disperse this misery, whatever fault we call it" (Saint Thomas Aquinas,theological summary, I, 21, 3).
"I won't stop singing the song of your mercy."
In the Old Testament, we hear about Tobias. In his anguish, he encountered the angel Raphael who, in the guise of a young man looking for work, was willing and able to accompany him on his journey to recover the family fortune and, in the process, rid Sara of demonic possession and heal her father. of his blindness.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells a lawyer how to be merciful. He didn't do this with a philosophical definition or a paragraph of law. He told him the story of the good Samaritan. A man fell among robbers on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho. They left him half dead. A priest and then a Levite passed by; they saw him and passed by. But a Samaritan came, took pity on him, bandaged his wounds, put him on his own animal and took him to an inn, took care of him and gave the innkeeper two denarii to continue taking care of him. He had mercy, that is, effectual compassion, and helped (Lk10:25-37).
We all occasionally overstep our limits and get into trouble. But where do we find help, where is our “good Samaritan”? God said to Moses, "I will send an angel ahead of you to protect you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.... If you listen carefully to his voice and do whatever I say, then I will be an enemy of your enemies" (Ex23:20,22). Therefore, St. Raphael is just one of the many holy angels with whom God surrounds human life “from the beginning until the death, . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 for his watchful care and intercession” (CCC336). They are commissioned to protect us in all our ways (cf.PS91:11). There is above all an angel, says the Holy Father, who is "a friend we do not see, but we hear". Our personal guardian angel, our heavenly helper, our personal angelic Good Samaritan is "a friend who will one day be with us in the eternal joy of heaven" (Pope Francis,sermonon October 2, 2015).
We may wonder what life would be like if we only got to know these heavenly brothers of ours better. Let's hear from someone who was very familiar with angels, St. Faustina. She confessed: “I make no demands on [human] creatures and communicate with them only as necessary. … My communication is with the angels” (Saint Faustina Kowalska,Daily,Marian Press, Stockbridge, MA, 3thirdEdition, 1200; hereinafter referred to as D.). And so she could say: "I saw the angels and the saints of the Lord giving glory to God" (d. 1604). So she decided for herself: “With you, Jesus, I go through life, through storms and rainbows, with a cry of joy and singing the song of your mercy. I will not stop singing my love song until the choir of angels takes it up again” (D. 761).
Let's hear her explain who the angels are and when and how they help us.
Who are the angels?
"All heaven catches his flame and is filled with love" (died 1808). Saint Faustina speaks of angels under the general terms "heaven" or "heaven".pure spirits' (D. 180) or more explicitly as 'choirs': 'I see the choirs of angels who honor you without ceasing, and all the heavenly powers who praise you without ceasing' (D. 1805; cf. 80). Notice how she speaks of all angels as "powers" (D. 85, cf. 309) or„Power and dominion” (d. 1810), although on other occasions these terms denote only one of the nine choirs into which holy and pure spirits are classified. Saint John Paul II explained this in hisCatechesis on Angels:
“Ancient authors and the liturgy itself also speak of choirs of angels (nine according to Dionysius the Areopagite). ... Scripture also refers to angels in terms that are ... "collective" (such as the titles: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, powers, dominions, principalities), as well as distinguishing between angels and archangels. … these beings and persons, as it were, grouped together in society, are divided into orders and degrees according to the degree of their perfection and the tasks entrusted to them” (Saint John Paul II,Catechesis on Angels, 6. August 1986, 3).
Saint Faustina clearly writes about the existence of a hierarchical order among the choirs of angels: "This great majesty of God... . 1604). She explicitly refers to individual choirs, for example in the explanation of the image of Divine Mercy: "From two radiant streams emanated from the heart of Jesus, not for angels, nor cherubim, nor seraphim, but for the salvation of sinful man" (D. 522). She speaks more frequently, at least 16 times, about theSeraphim, those "closest to Him [God]" (died 1805). The Lord once told her about a cherub: “My daughter, the moment you passed through the gate, I placed a cherub over it to guard you. Be at peace ”(died 1271). She often talks about themcherubim(D. 781 etc.), then on theThrone(gest. 1805),archangeleEngel, as well as about therulers, powersevirtues(cf. D. 180; 1810). The only chorus not explicitly mentioned in thediaryis the refrain ofprincipalitieswhose identity is clear in Scripture(Ef1:21;Kol1:16).
It also speaks of certain "groups of angels". In 1935, the saint wrote: “I saw a spirit of great beauty saying these words to me: 'Do not cry - says the Lord' After a moment I asked: 'Who are you?' He answered me: 'I am one. 'of the seven spirits who stand day and night before the throne of God, praising Him unceasingly.'” (D. 471). This reminds us of Saint Raphael, who also once and with similar words revealed himself: "I am Raphael,one of sevenholy angels offering the prayers of the saints and entering into the presence of the glory of the saint" (to B12:15).
In addition to the reference to groups, we do well to remember that angels are individual persons: "they are personal and immortal creatures" (CCC330). The individual character of angels is vividly presented to our eyes in a series of Faustina's remarks. For example, she wrote that she "heard the voice of an angel" about to cause a devastating storm (d. 1791), or she saw "an angel, the executioner of divine wrath. He was dressed in a dazzling robe, his face radiant. shining, a cloud under his feet. From the cloud thunder and lightning shot into his hands; they left his hand, and only then did they fall to the ground” (D. 474) – a description that reminds use10:5-6,not8:2-3 orRev10:1-3 e 18:21.
“When I rode the train, I saw an angel standing at the top of each church we passed” (D. 630). “Holy Archangel Michael, I saw this great leader beside me, talking to me” and “I feel his presence and help” (D. 706; cf. 480, 667). And then, of course, there she is.guardian angel, another individual angel she mentions and talks about.
Manifestations of Angels
St. Paul says of angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister to those who should receive salvation?" 🇧🇷Hb1:14) The holy angels do not center on God alone; at the same time, they also have a task related to human creatures and even the entire material world.
The angels she saw “on top of each church” help us better understand the angelic world. The whole note about them boils down to this:
“I saw one of the seven spirits near me, radiant as before, under a form of light. I saw him constantly beside me when I rode the train. I saw an angel standing on top of each church we passed, but surrounded by a dimmer light than that of the spirit that accompanied me on the journey, and each of those spirits that guarded the churches bowed their heads to the Spirit that was near. from me” (D. 630).
Observing the difference in luminosity between the angels, Santa Faustina indicates that the angel who accompanied her belonged to a higher choir than the angels who watch over the churches. The higher or closer to God a creature is, the more brilliantly it manifests itself.
Saint John of the Cross confirms our conclusion in a text that explains communication between angels:
“Normally these works and inspirations are derived from God by the angels, and the angels, in their turn, readily admit them to one another. This communication is like a ray of sunlight shining through many windows in a row. Although the ray of light penetrates all of them on its own, each window communicates this light to the other with some modification according to its own quality. Communication is more or less intense as the window approaches or moves away from the sun” (João da Cruz,the dark night, Washington, DC 1979, II, XII.3).
When observing men, one realizes that some people have a certain charisma and are capable of transferring special beauty, light or power to the environment. This is also found with angels, depending on which choir they belong to. On the natural level, it is a question of the participation of these creatures in the perfections of God. Even when they are raised to the supernatural dimension, the relative position and hierarchy of angels is maintained in accordance with the opinion of Saint Thomas, who taught that angels received grace and supernatural light in proportion to their nature (Sum Theological,I, 108, 4).
St. Faustina's observation of "...in every church there was an angel" or "those spirits who guarded the churches" means that it is not fair1Angels to all churches but this oneWorldwideThe church has its own spiritual guardian or protector. The same applies to the various tasks that angels have over parts of the material world. St. Augustine and after him St. Thomas Aquinas teach that "all corporeal things are governed by angels" (St.theological summary, I, 110, 1). Of course, we can expect special care from her for areas that affect men in the strictest sense. For example, Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote: "The presidential powers of angels were divided according to nations and cities" (Saint Clement of Alexandria,Strom., 6, 17). The biblical argument goes back to Deuteronomy 32:8, which says, "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, separating the children of men, he determined the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the children of God", which here means angels . This is why St. John Paul II invoked St. Michael as protector of the city of Rome (September 29, 1986) and why Pope Francis recently entrusted the Vatican to St. Michael: “By dedicating the Vatican City State to St. , let us ask him to defend us from evil and drive him out” (July 5, 2013).
These different forms of angelic manifestations confront people with the serious problem of discerning spirits and asking who is this person before me? Among the angels: is it a good or fallen angel? How can we see communication from this invisible world to us in the visible world? We can also find important information herediaryof Santa Faustina.
What particularly sets them apart are the effects they produce on people, the "fruits" by which the spirits must be examined and discerned (cf.Berg7:16-20;Girl5:22). from thatspirit of great beautywhom our saint saw, said: "Her beauty comes from her intimate union with God" (D. 471). Of the seraphim she said: "The seraphim was surrounded by a great light reflecting the divinity and love of God" (d. 1676). Her closeness to God did not bring fear, but confidence and peace. And about the cherubs at the monastery gate she says: “I saw a small white cloud and on it a cherub with folded hands. Her gaze was like lightning, and I understood how the fire of God's love burned in that gaze ”(D. 1271).
Sister Faustina felt positive effects when holy angels revealed themselves to her: a feeling of beauty and strength, peace and above all a longing for heaven! “I saw a spirit of great beauty... this spirit did not lessen my desire, but made me desire God even more. This spirit is very beautiful and its beauty comes from intimate union with God. … Her voice was like that of a thousand voices; it is impossible to put into words” (D. 471). And she could say about her guardian angel: “I saw my guardian angel next to me again. He was absorbed in prayer and contemplation of God, and I followed him in my thoughts” (D. 490).
In relation to those they serve, guardian angels act as good instruments of the Holy Spirit, comforting, enlightening, encouraging and protecting. "Perfect love inhibits fear" (1 João4:18; I see.Girl5:22-23). That is why Jesus continued to admonish the disciples, “Do not be afraid” (Berg14:27), and so, for example, “the angel of the Lord” who appeared to Saint Joseph: “Do not be afraid…” (Berg1:20; I see.e10:12...). This encouragement is also found in the mouth of the Guardian Angel of Saint Faustina and certainly also in the mouth of the Guardian Angel of all who are faithful followers of the Son of God: "Do not be afraid, wife of my Lord" (D. 419 ).
The Help of Angels - Our Good Samaritan
Would these perfect and beautiful holy spirits, immersed in the blessed vision of the triune God, care for us weak worms who dare to offend God? Santa Faustina often wondered about this. But we just saw that God gave them responsibility for all the world below them in the hierarchical order of creation. And so S. Faustina also expressed her amazement at people. She wrote: "I thanked God for His goodness in giving us angels for companions. Oh, how little do people think that they always have such a guest at their side and at the same time a witness of everything! Remember, sinners, that you also have testimony of all your works” (D. 630).
Consider the many ways in which the ministers of angels, as an expression of God's mercy, St. Faustina and, through her, invites us to turn to her with confidence.
Santa Faustina received help from the holy angels in moments of daily life, e.g. by a cherub, on hearing "how dangerous it was to be at the door" of the monastery (died 1271); "one of the seven spirits... I saw him constantly beside me when I rode the train" (D. 630; cf. 490); another angel “does not abandon me for a single moment, but accompanies me everywhere” (D. 471; cf. São Miguel, D. 706;e14:33-39).
However, it is important that all sincere devotion to the holy angels is aimed at salvation and growth in relationship with God. This is the main reason why God put her in our lives and this is, without a doubt, his first interest. An angel at the end of the book of Revelation clearly says: “And when I heard and saw them, I fell down and lay down at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, "You must not do this! I am your fellow servant and of your brothers the prophets...Worship God'" (Revelation 22:8-9).
That is why Saint Faustina rejoices that the angels help us to praise God worthily. “In her liturgy, the Church joins the angels in adoring the thrice holy God. She asks for your help" (CCC335). What the Church believes God has caused some saints to experience or see: "One of the seven spirits who stand day and night before the throne of God...began to sing these words during Holy Mass, before the exaltation: 'Holy, holy , holy'” (D. 471).
When the saint remained in the hospital and was too weak in the eyes of the people to attend Holy Mass or even to receive Holy Communion – what a heavy cross it is for a loving soul like Faustina – God had mercy: “I saw beside my bed a seraphim who gave me Holy Communion and said these words: "Behold the Lord of angels." ... This was repeated for thirteen days" (died 1676). We know similar graces from the lives of other saints and the three shepherd children of Fatima. However, when she “asked the seraph: 'Perhaps you can hear my confession? power that he gave neither to angels nor to archangels" (CCC983), and the saint confesses: "Jesus... You shared your power and your mystery with them [the priests] more than with the angels" (D. 1240).
Saint Faustina even speaks of the angel's guidance in her inner growth. She must not give in to emotions and still long for God: “One day, when I was worshiping and my spirit seemed to die for Him and I could no longer contain my tears, I saw a great spirit of beauty expressing these words spoken to me: " Do not cry, says the Lord "... But this spirit did not soften my desire, but awakened me to an even greater desire for God" (D. 471; cf. 470).
God can direct our lives much better through the guidance of the holy angels, especially through the personal guardian angel. Similar to Saint John Bosco, the angel led our sister to purgatory (D. 20), to heaven and hell (D. 683 and 741). She was taught by her guardian angel to help the dying: “God has given me wonderful contact with the dying!” (D. 835; cf. 314, 820, 828, 834, 1565).
What if evil spirits seem to threaten our lives? God promised help to the angels, and this is confirmed by the example of St. Faustina: "When ... a huge number of demons blocked my path ... I immediately asked my Guardian Angel for help and immediately the luminous and radiant figure of my Guardian Angel appeared and said to me: 'Do not be afraid, wife of my Lord'" (D. 418, 419).
Something similar is told to us in the Book of Tobit. After expelling the demon, Tobias' companion, the archangel Raphael, followed the demon, who "fled to the ends of Egypt", and there "the angel bound him" (Tb8:3); In this way, Tobias was able to have a peaceful and blessed married life with Sarah.
This example from the past and the experience that S. Faustina revealed encourage us all to believe: God in his mercy created a wonderful world of angels, which is also close to each of us here and now. In the holy angels, especially in our personal guardian angel, we really always have a "good Samaritan" by our side, who may not even allow us to be beaten by thieves, and if God allows us to participate in the suffering of Christ then they are also with us to help and heal.
Pe. Titus Kieninger, ORC