Angels in Our Life

With the feast of the Archangels Rafael, Gabriel, and Michael today, and the feast of the Guardian Angels this week, it is good to reflect on these heavenly messengers and their place in our lives. Angels are not fat little babies with wings; they are powerful warriors whom God has given to us for our protection.

Angels are mentioned some 300 times in the Bible and these highly intelligent spirits have played a key role in salvation history — from assisting the Israelites crossing the desert, to being present at all the important events in the life of Jesus, to their role in helping us today. While they are spirits, they can and do take on human form, and there are many credible accounts of angelic interventions that have rescued people from harm in recent years.

We know that from the moment of our birth a special angel was assigned by God to each one of us, and if you are not already saying the following prayer every day, you should start immediately:

Angel of God, my guardian dear

To whom God’s love commits me here.

Ever this day be at my side

To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

Should Holy Communion Ever Be Denied?

Last week a priest in South Carolina refused to give Communion to presidential candidate Joe Biden because of his longtime public support for abortion. Some Catholics applauded the priest’s action; others condemned it. Biden’s own bishop in Delaware said that refusing him Communion would be “politicizing the Eucharist.”

Was it a political act by the priest, or was he trying to protect the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist? Perhaps he was also trying to keep Biden from committing a grave sin and to prevent his parishioners from being scandalized. If he gave Communion to Biden, wouldn’t that say to those in the church that day that it was okay to receive the Body and Blood of Christ while advocating the killing of babies in violation of the Fifth Commandment?

Canon law and the longstanding policy of the Diocese of Charleston, SC forbids giving Communion to politicians whose consistent public support of the evil of abortion puts them in a situation of “manifest grave sin.” The words of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) are relevant:

“Whoever eats the blood or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord …. For anyone who eat and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

The Power of the Holy Spirit

For three years prior to His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus had been trying to educate the Apostles about the Kingdom of God and what their role would be in spreading that Kingdom. But it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles on Pentecost that they finally began to understand what the Lord had been telling them.

The Spirit not only gave them the gifts of wisdom, under-standing, and knowledge, He also gave them the gift of fortitude or courage that would be essential if they were to survive the coming persecution. James was murdered in Jerusalem in the year 42, Peter and Paul were executed in Rome around the years 65 to 67, and the other Apostles, with the exception of John, were also brutally killed.

All they had to say to escape death was that Jesus was not God, that He had not risen from the dead, and that their whole mission was a lie. But they persevered in the face of terrible persecution because they knew Jesus had risen and that they, too, would one day rise from the dead and spend an eternity of joy with Him in Heaven.

Fast forward 2,000 years and we find thousands of our fellow Christians giving up their lives rather than renounce Jesus. Would you be willing to die for Jesus if confronted by enemies of our Faith? Or would you be willing to live for Jesus in a culture that is hostile to our beliefs?

Only the naïve can think that we will not soon face such a crisis in our lives. Will you be like St. Peter and deny even knowing Jesus, or will you proudly say that He is your friend and that you will never turn your back on Him? To do this, you must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why Jesus Said He Came to Earth

Advent is a good time to recall four reasons why Jesus told us that He came to earth. As Stephen Beale explained in an article on “Catholic Exchange,” we know that He came to save us from our sins, but He has given us other reasons to pay attention to Him:

(1) “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49). Fire is often associated with the divinity of God. It can be a purifying fire that represents the burning love of God for each one of us.

(2) “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). Jesus is often described as the light of the world, and He wants us to become lights in the darkness of the world.

(3) “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus came not only to save us from sin and death, but also to give us new life here through the Holy Eucharist and eventually through the Beatific Vision in Heaven.

(4) “I have come to bring not peace but the sword” (Matthew 10:34). This is a rather startling statement from Jesus, who is often known as the Prince of Peace. What He is saying is that true peace can only come to the one who accepts Him as Lord and Savior, who keeps His commandments and receives His sacraments.

Let us use the time remaining in Advent wisely and strive to come closer to the Lord before Christmas.

Saint Stephen Parish  - Framingham Massachusetts