Rorate Caeli

"True Devotion to the Angels", by Roberto de Mattei

The month of October, besides being the month of the Rosary is traditionally dedicated to the Angels.  Today we hear a lot about angels, but from a perspective that is not that of the Church. 

There is a false devotion to the Angels, which consists in imagining them as mythological creatures attributing to them almost magical potentialities to fulfill our desires, appease our feelings, regardless of the observance of God's universal law, that is, respect for the objective order of creation.

In fact, according to Catholic doctrine, angels are the invisible ministers God uses to govern created things. And since God, in his relation to the created universe, is Divine Providence, angels are the instruments that Providence uses to order the universe to its ultimate end, which is God himself. This means that angels govern everything that moves in the universe, from the majestic world of the stars to the lowest creatures. The universe is governed by the angels, who are present at every moment and in every place as instruments of Divine Providence. Through the Angels, at every moment and in every circumstance of our existence, God exerts a profound and invisible action on us to lead us to our supernatural end. And we fulfill our vocation by respecting the order of creation and the natural and divine law imprinted by God in our consciences. 

This is why we pray to our Guardian Angel to "rule us" and "govern us." Pius XII, on Oct. 3, 1959, delivered an address to a large group of American Catholics, in which, after recalling the beauties of visible reality, he moved on to the invisible ones, populated by Angels, stating, "They were in the cities you visited... they were your traveling companions."

 Angels are certainly our faithful traveling companions, but they are also warriors who ceaselessly fight. Leo XIII in his encyclical Humanum Genus recalls that the human race, after Lucifer's rebellion, "divided itself as if into two different camps and enemies of each other: one of which fights ceaselessly for the triumph of truth and good, the other for the triumph of evil and error." But the struggle between St. Michael the Archangel and the rebel angels did not end in the first moment of creation, with St. Michael's victory unleashing Satan and his followers into hell. The battle waged by St. Michael and his angelic militias continues and will continue every day until the end of the world. Each of us is called to take sides in this cosmic, invisible, but real war. 

Angels, from the first moment of creation, have sided for or against God, for eternity. This choice we have to make in the historical time in which we live, and the worship of angels helps us to serve God and effectively fight his adversaries.  Therefore, devotion to angels is an act of love for the supernatural order willed by God. This devotion is even more important than the devotion we have to the saints. For the saints are models of virtue whom we should imitate and pray for them to intercede for us. They do not, however, have, except in extraordinary cases, that power over creatures that angels ordinarily have over the created universe. 

Angels are also protagonists in history, in which they intervene as messengers of divine graces and heavenly words. The great message of Fatima opens with the apparitions of the Angel who, in the spring, summer, and fall of 1916, manifested himself to the three shepherd children in the likeness of "a young man of fourteen or fifteen, whiter than snow, whom the sun made transparent as if he were made of crystal, and of great beauty," as Sister Lucia would later declare. 

The visionary continued, "We got up again to see what was happening, and we saw the angel again who had in his left hand a chalice, on which was suspended a host from which some drops of blood were falling into the chalice. Leaving the chalice and the host suspended in the air, he prostrated next to us down to the ground and repeated this prayer three times, 'Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in the tabernacles of the earth, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which he himself is offended. Through the infinite merits of his Most Sacred Heart and the immaculate heart of Mary, I ask you for the conversion of poor sinners.' Then, rising again, he took the chalice and the host in his hands, gave the sacred host to me, and gave the blood of the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco, saying at the same time, 'Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. repair their crimes and console your God.'He prostrated himself again to the ground and repeated with us three more times the same prayer, 'Most Holy Trinity...' Then he disappeared."

It is with an extraordinary angelic prayer that the Fatima cycle opens and it is with the vision of the angels in the Third Secret that Our Lady's Message concludes. To the three shepherd children, Sister Lucia testifies, there appears "at the left side of Our Lady a little higher up an Angel with a sword of fire in his left hand; glittering, he emitted flames that looked as if they should set the world on fire; but they were extinguished at the contact of the splendor that Our Lady emanated from her right hand toward him: the Angel pointing to the earth with his right hand, in a loud voice said, Penance, Penance, Penance!"

Then the vision continues with a procession of bishops, priests, religious and laity, led by the Pope, ascending a steep mountain, at the top of which is a large Cross of rough wood, at the foot of which they are being shot at by soldiers firing gunshots and arrows. "Beneath the two arms of the Cross were two Angels each with a crystal vase in his hand, in which they collected the blood of the Martyrs and with it watered the souls who were drawing near to God." 

We should not be afraid, for Angels are the executors of God's divine designs who always wants and accomplishes our good. In the dark hours of history like the ones we live through let us entrust ourselves to the Angels with deep love and immense trust.