Sent in by an Australian reader. I’d nickname my guardian angel Facepalm except for the fact that he never has time to do this, but is rather rushing about saving me from this and that horror.
I don’t know for how many years I had been begging my guardian angel to guide me in living a bit of reverence before our Heavenly Father with words like these:
“Guardian angel, you who see the Face of God, now, and I don’t, but you do, you know I’m lost, but you’re my guardian angel, and you see the Face of God in heaven, now. Help me to have the same reverence before God that you have, since, after all, you see Him face to Face, even now, and I don’t. And don’t forget, guardian angel, that you should just smack me down if I don’t pay attention to your guidance.”
Something like that, pretty continuously, uncountable times each day, that is, until one day in returning to the seminary after attending an Extraordinary Use Liturgy Practicum in Chicago. I was driving along on Highway 65 and, as usual, was harassing my guardian angel about helping me have the very same reverence as he did before the Most High God, whom he now sees face to Face.
It seems that he had had just about enough of blockheadedness, and received permission from our Lord to, in fact, smack me down. And he did. Well, not literally. I wouldn’t be alive to tell the story if he did. Instead, I received an instruction from him that was without words, but was clearer than any words could ever be, he reprimanding me in this way more than he could have done in any other way:
“You will never ever have the same reverence before God as I do, not even in heaven, not ever. I am an angel. You are just so not an angel. I have my way of being in reverence before God, and you have your own way of being in reverence before God. Yes, I behold the Most Holy Trinity, but you are to be even more involved in the life of the Holy Trinity in a way that I will never ever come to know. You are to know that Christ our God has made you a member of His Mystical Body. He sees the Father for you, and you are with Him as He sees the Father. He presents you to the Father, it being through the Holy Spirit who brings all this about, having you go through, with and in Jesus to the Father. My mandate as your angel guardian is to have you come to know this kind of reverence, surely not to have you know my own reverence before the Most Holy Trinity.”
I suppose if there was room in my tiny Nissan Versa – a sub-sub compact car – I would have been on my knees. I repeated the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus many, many times: the weight of the glory of God inspires awe. The more I didn’t see the Father with my own eyes, the more humble thanksgiving I had for how Jesus sees the Father for us, eager to have us see with our own eyes, eager to have us in heaven.
In thinking about this some months later, it struck me that this is great for adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, for we do not see Jesus, but the accidental qualities of the Host: with faith we sense the weight of the glory of God, that Jesus is now seeing the Father for us, having us in union with Him by way of this Most Blessed Sacrament, which He provided through His Sacrifice for us, the Just for the unjust, having, therefore, the right in justice to have mercy on us in this way.
Indeed, the Most Blessed Sacrament, The Sign of Obedience unto Death, our union with the Most Holy Trinity, it being that it is by this Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus that we are drawn before the Father by the Holy Spirit.
I was telling my spiritual directees, the philosopher seminarians of the Pontifical College Josephinum, about how to go before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, that it’s not just about them before Jesus, but also about all those whom the Lord is drawing to Himself in this way through the Sacrifice of this Most Blessed Sacrament. They were never to forget the Humanity of Jesus, I said, never to forget that they themselves are members of His Body, never to forget that when they are before Him, they bring all of themselves, body and soul, as an act of intercession before the Lord for all those He is bringing to Himself, not only those who are in this world, but also all the souls in purgatory.
Some time after this it struck me rather more forcefully that it is with this perspective of faith that anyone is to encourage others to believe or to continue in their belief, with the emphasis being on recognizing the work of Jesus rather than on how close or far someone is from Jesus at any given time: all can come closer to the Father through, with and in Jesus if they are still in this world. And we ourselves, I myself, am the worst of sinners, for I have offended the Most High in ways that only I can do. Our mandate is simply to facilitate for others progress in the spiritual life in whatever way. One can almost hear the flurry of feathers of the Holy Spirit fanning the flames of love within those the Most High is drawing to Himself.
Now, let’s skip ahead in the story of my life to the time in which I had just become a hermit, when my hermitage was non-existent, just another patch of forest on top of a mountain ridge in Western North Carolina.
While getting ready to build the hermitage, I was sleeping in a barn that was fairly open to the elements, with loosely fitting sliding walls and a screen door as protection. Having passed the Winter in sub-freezing conditions, I was now sleeping in a chair in a failed effort to get away from the ever present brown recluse spiders, whose possibly fatal bites I was constantly tending for sometimes hours a day.
While trying to get a bit of rest in this chair, very early one morning,while it was still dark out, there was another incident when my guardian angel spoke to me. “Come with me,” he said without words, a communication altogether clearer than any words could be, “and I will bring you to the Father,” he continued. This was clearly not in reference to a bodily following, but by way of the spirit.
I did not sense that there was anything to fear, but, of course, lacking in the love of God in which I should be living more fully, I was afraid, thinking that that would mean that I was going to die right then and there. How could he bring me to our Heavenly Father without me dying, especially with my being so slow to believe? Yet, it seemed that he now turned and was on his way, beckoning me to follow. I felt very strongly that I could go with him in spirit. It was such a strong yet gentle, eager invitation, such was his delight to bring me to our Heavenly Father. Such goodness, such kindness.
This guardian angel of mine, so very joyful – perhaps because I give him so much to laugh about – was also so very respectful of me, which really surprised me, for I have crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins. I am just so nothing, less than nothing. So obtuse. And yet, this guardian angel of mine was so very eager for me to join him. Did I say that “eager” is the word that comes to mind?
But I held back. I thought that, since this seemed to mean that I was going to die, I wouldn’t therefore be able to write about Genesis 2,4–3,24 and the Immaculate Conception, a popular version of the thesis I had promised to write. I know that I have no right to any entitlement to do such a thing, but I so very much wanted to do this, and still do. I am such a knucklehead.
It was then, in my ever so obnoxious hesitation, in my utterly un-spiritual lack of trust in my guardian angel — such an insult to him! — that I turned to Jesus and begged him that I might be able to have the joy in this world of writing about His Immaculate Mother. So, I tried to trump my guardian angel by going to the very One who sent him! Did I mention that I am without any understanding?
To my surprise, Jesus then reprimanded me, not with words, but with a communication clearer than any words could ever be. Who am I to receive the rebuke of the Son of God? The rebuke was quite severe:
“You are to trust your guardian angel!”
I felt so very ashamed. I hadn’t trusted my guardian angel. I felt so very, very useless, and now feared that my guardian angel would no longer deal with me. As always, this was stupid of me. If Jesus said that I was to trust in my guardian angel, that meant that my guardian angel was still to be with me.
I felt so badly about this, that I sacramentally confessed offending my guardian angel, which, as you might expect, sparked a great discussion on the angels with my Confessor. That was great. And I was happy to receive absolution! How hard it is for us to understand that our guardian angels positively delight in being our guardian angels.
Jesus continued His reprimand, knowing I’m a bit thick of skull and slow to understand. He asked:
“Don’t you think that if your guardian angel brings you before the Father, that he will not bring you straight to myself?”
And that is when the previous reprimand I received on Highway 65 from my guardian angel came crashing back to me, that I could never have the reverence before the Father that he, as an angel has, but rather that I am to have the kind of reverence that I am to have, that is, as a member of the Body of Christ, unlike any angel, so that I go to the Father through, with and in Jesus.
When my guardian angel beckoned me to follow him to the Father, he was beckoning me to follow him to Jesus.
How slow of mind and dull of heart I am! How blind and deaf. I am such a sinner.
My guardian angel has all the right in the world to smack me down as the worst charge that a guardian angel could ever have, smacking me down for a good end, of course, to wake up and die right, as that’s what counts in eternity and now.
But angels are great. They grab us and drag us along, teaching us to become ever more simple, like little children.
Just thanking them for their countless helps that we don’t even know about is a good way to learn to be a bit more attentive to their guidance. But more on that and other moments with my guardian angel later, please God.
For now, I just want to say that it’s great to know a little bit more what I don’t know, the old known unknowns thing. This makes it harder to be the arrogant, prideful, heap of nothing that I would so desire otherwise to be. Knowing a bit more about how much I don’t know makes it just a bit easier to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus.
I need to harass my guardian angel about that, about my learning to be in humble thanksgiving. I so just do not know anything about it.
I talk to my guardian angel, a lot. Do you? If not, why not? If so, you’ll know that this is super-cool, and that reprimands are especially a blessing.
P.S. If anyone wants to say that these are “apparitions” or “locutions” or something extraordinary, or that I am somehow special (except in the sense of my being a bit of an idiot), well, I would just like to tell them that they are totally jerks and knuckleheads almost as totally off the wall as myself, missing the point of this entire article, perhaps maliciously, with the point being that we are all to be open to the guidance of our guardian angels, all of us, without exception, including you. Hah!
The Church is a family, the Church Militant upon this earth, the Church Suffering in purgatory, and the Church Triumphant in heaven. A family works together. The family of faith especially so. We must all of us realize that this is absolutely the case for each of us, without exception, and that sensationalizing this is an insult to the manner in which this family of faith works.
Sure, not everyone will have had or will have such experiences (though many do), but those who do, mind you, may have such experiences because — as Saint John of the Cross I think says somewhere in his voluminous writings — because such souls as myself are so very incredibly weak and need all the helps that we, that I, can get. In other words, if I have gotten some extra encouragement, it is because I am such a complete and total and especially mangy jackass!
If anyone upon reading all this would exclaim that I am such an especially mangy jackass, and that it’s a good thing that my guardian angel smacked me down, well, that would be an occasion for me to rejoice, for that would act as an extra thanksgiving to my guardian angel, for which I most grateful.
Sorry about the aspect ratio of the picture above. I wanted to get some rays of the ad orientem sunrise shining through one of the Blessed Sacrament angels in the chapel of Holy Souls Hermitage during this octave of Christmas.
There are no aspect ratios with my guardian angel or yours. They are always right in our face according to the gracious will of our Heavenly Father, whose Face they behold now. Yikes!
Angels, while instantly available to carry out the justice of God, which they carry out with a continuous humble reverence before the throne of the Most High, also rejoice exceedingly upon the Lord’s mercy accepted by any wayward charge of theirs. They are totally in awe of Jesus and the wounds he received for us, and still bears on His risen body as signs of great love for us.
The love of the angels is a fiery love, prompt, attentive, entirely solicitous for our welfare, especially our spiritual well being. They have no greater joy than to see us in reverence before God, in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, rejoicing in the charity they see in the friendship of God and the likes of even ourselves, me and… and… you.
But we are slow to believe, or at least to act on our belief, are we not? I wonder if, to the angels, our hearts might seem to be a bit icey, much like this hoar frost smashing its way out of the frozen forest floor, which I saw this morning near the hermitage:
This kind of hoar-frost is extremely brittle, fragile, and will crumble with the very least pressure, much like our hearts. Yikes! They are very patient, of course, these angels. I have an idea that my guardian angel must have been chosen for me as being the most patient of all angels. After all, I’m still alive. Thanks, guardian angel!
The thing is — and this is the point — we shouldn’t be so… so… — should I say it rather frankly? — we shouldn’t be so danged ashamed about getting to know our guardian angels, as if this were a most impossible thing in this family of faith. They weren’t sent to us to remain aloof, to never provide us with encouragement and direction and advice. That would be a faithless indictment of our Heavenly Father and His most tender solicitation for our welfare, right? And we wouldn’t want to be shaking our fists at our dear Heavenly Father, would we? I should think not. So, a bit of advice:
Don’t be fearful of asking your guardian angel for his protection, encouragement, direction and advice.
Don’t be fearful of thanking him really very much for all that you have recognized as coming from him and for all that you are too obtuse to notice. I mean, I know that I am so very much blind when it comes to this. But one’s heart and soul is opened up a bit with requests and with thanksgiving.
Also, the more we take their advice, learning to be instruments of the love and truth of the Most High in the midst of all our terrible weakness, the more we are adept at taking this advice, the more agile of soul and heart and mind, the more ferocious in love of God and love of neighbor. That’s not our fault. That’s God’s fault, and that of our angels. And that’s O.K., right?
Recently, I recounted a rather violent moment of my childhood (Part 1 HERE), in which I made a claim about an intervention of my guardian angel, which wasn’t even so much for me (that too) but for someone else. I included that bit in the story because, well, because that’s what happened. And while I was reprimanded with some feedback on that post, I stand behind what I said. It’s not my fault!
I mean, if God loves us, if our guardian angels are there for us, are they not to be praised and thanked? None of this has any reflection on anyone who takes note of such interventions, which, indeed, are the normal course of affairs in our everyday lives. If we only knew! But we are so blind. And we so romanticize anything to do with angels as that which is fantastic, from fairytale land, indeed, as that which is an escape from reality, an opiate for the undiscerning masses, too incredible to really take place.
But our angels see reality, God, in the Face. Don’t offend the angels. They don’t take kindly to that. Indeed, they cannot forgive (Exodus 23,20-21):
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him.
The angels can rejoice in our Lord’s forgiveness of us. And that’s totally cool. But don’t be presumptuous of our Lord’s forgiveness in this regard either. They reflect His love for us. We don’t want to mock our Lord’s love for us, do we? God will not be mocked.
Look at it this way. If as a little kid, in a very trying circumstance, in which another little kid’s life had to be saved, I got a bit of advice from my guardian angel, in a rather forceful way, that doesn’t mean that I was holy or anything like that, not at all. Rather, I must have been so very incredibly obtuse and lacking in all agility of soul and mind that I had to be rather impressed upon in order to see what I was supposed to do. Get it? I was a jerk. That’s why that happened that way.
There are others who took the direction of angels, one being the great Joan of Arc. But she was a saint not because she heard or even followed what Saint Michael had to tell her. She herself learned to be a great saint because she responded to the love of God. Just getting smacked down by one’s angel has nothing to do with holiness. Mind you, it is a great gift to be so smacked down. That kind of sets things right. And for that we can thank our angels.
Indeed, it belongs to the patience of an angel to smack us down should this be what it takes for us to take notice of that which they were sent to let us know. Such patience! Ouch!
Hah! Angels are totally cool. Thank yours right now: “Um… Thanks, guardian angel!”
There. Made you do it. You were talking to an angel. Pretty cool, huh?
Just make sure to do it more often.
What looked and sounded like an AH64, the U.S. Army’s most awesome Attack Helicopter, paid a visit the other day. I tried to get a picture of it as it whizzed by the Hermitage, but, alas, it was too quick this time, just on the other side of the canopy. The army comes alone. The marines, with their super-cobras, come in pairs. Fighters can be alone or follow one another. As I say, with this being a practice area, this is surely the most protected airspace in the world.
Don’t think for a second that guardian angels don’t also use natural means to protect us — should that be God’s will — from harm’s way. Part of those natural means involve the military, those who go out of their way to put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf, to provide for us also the possibility of the freedom to practice religion (not just worship, but acting upon religious conscience in the public square). We owe not only our angels, but our military an eternal debt of gratitude. They take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, even though the president and his cronies do not. I love that.
I might have written on this recently, but I’ll repeat it here. There’s some talk of the black ops crowd supporting Obama more than any other previous president, including Reagan, for the reason that Obama gives them free permission to kill anyone and everyone they think they should kill. In other words, overtime pay, scalp hunting regardless of any connections to terrorism of whatever potential targets.
I doubt this. I mean, honestly… But should there be any such un-American people, I would ask them to consider this. There have been some events of recent weeks which would make one think that Obama is giving free reign to Islamicist terrorism. We have a dead ambassador. Obama rationalized the goodness of that act of war against the U.S.A. by saying that someone, somewhere in the world made an insulting youtube entry. Indeed, it would now seem that one is to protect terrorists from capture while not protecting their targets from harm. I’m thankful that there is much more chatter that finds any such talk of any such un-American black ops crowd to be insulting and dishonest. Great.
I wish the Military would take charge of protecting us from a rigged election. Let’s do a test as the absentee vote begins in the next weeks. I was on the road with the neighbor the other day from Asheville all the way up the mountains, dozens and dozens of miles. Of the hundreds of political signs, there wasn’t not even one Obama sign. Extremely few are for Obama. If he ‘wins’ here, you have to know that the election was rigged.
At least there is a certain Laudie to provide a bit of normality amidst the mayhem that would ensue. Another way, I think, that guardian angels work.
Remember, their main activity with us is to keep us away from sin (though we still have free will) and to direct us to be in humble thanksgiving before the throne of the Most High, before Mary Immaculate’s Divine Son, Jesus. Our angels see the face of God in heaven right now, even as they also behold us, their charges. Do not offend your angels. Listen to them.
In the mid-1980s and for about twenty more years, angels were depicted as dolphins, or, if they had a more human visage, were often presented as feminine and effeminate, often with the Christmas decorations of Western materialism: long blonde hair, gentle facial features, and with ever so dainty, delicate, ethereal wisps of clothing with matching wings. Without the wings, no one would ever have guessed that they were angels, mistaking them rather for a super-model Barbie that had been crossed with Peter Pan’s fairy.
The archangels are all kind of like the more rough and tumble images we have of Saint Michael.
The name Raphael means “Physician-of-God” (not any doctor that God needs, but the messenger of healing that God sends to us). Raphael also, of course, battles with Satan. From the book of Tobit: “The demon [...] fled into Upper Egypt; Raphael pursued him there and bound him hand and foot. Then Raphael returned immediately.” Raphael, mind you, would have had to have appeared as someone fitting the description of a capable bodyguard, able to fend off any danger of any circumstance. The image here is that of Saint Michael’s foot, so to speak, stomping Satan into the dirt. But it is a fitting image of Saint Raphael doing the same with Satan.
The name Gabriel means “War-Hero-of-God”, a kind of black-ops, special forces, seal team type, pretty much constituting an entire military in his own person. You can read about his exploits in the last chapters of the book of Daniel. It is interesting that in all this warfare, Saint Michael is the one who helps Gabriel, not the other way around. Gabriel, when he appeared at the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, must have done so with all the splendor of military bearing that he could muster. She is about to enter into the war with Satan full on, that war mentioned in Genesis 3,15, where we read of the enmity between Satan and herself, between Satan’s “seed” (his followers) and her “Seed” (the Redeemer, and His Mystical Body). Of course, the warrior of all warrior angels is sent to her to make the announcement of the Incarnation of the Prince of Peace, who will lay down His life for us. Since the thesis has everything to do with explaining all this, as will the popular version of that thesis, Saint Gabriel is a patron saint of Holy Souls Hermitage. But I have always felt close to him. The image here is that of Saint Michael dispatching the power of Satan, but this is a fitting image of the work of Saint Gabriel as well.
The name Michael means “Who-Is-Like-God”. He battles with Satan, especially inasmuch as Satan prowls the world looking for the ruin of souls. Again, you can read about him in the last chapters of the book of Daniel, as well as in the Apocalypse.
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Guardian angels are totally way cool: A totally way cool post-abortion journey post!
Satan is all about mind games and power-brow-beating.
Guardian angels are all about getting us to know a bit of love.
If you know someone who’s post-abortive, have them follow that blog!
Sent in today by a reader of the blog who is making a pilgrimage ad limina apostolorum, and who is praying the Saint Michael prayer for my intentions. Thank you! — You’ll find this altar back around behind the confessional area.
Please, once for my intentions, and once for all of yourselves praying this prayer. Thank you!
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle; be our protection
against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
The angels know well how to put us into humble thanksgiving mode before Mary’s Son, Jesus…
The thing is, the angels, spiritual guardians sent from the throne of the Most High, and the angels, human friends part of my life by providence of the Most High, know first hand my utter unworthiness and idiocy before God and men, and… and… they still encourage me. And to think, spiritual angels, our guardians, see God in the Face at this very moment… To be in humble thanksgiving mode makes a person very, very happy. This is one happy priest, because the Lord Jesus, also through these angels, human and spiritual, shows Himself to be good and kind.
The angels pictured above are the angels of the Altar of Sacrifice (which all altars, to be altars, have to be, right?) here at Holy Souls Hermitage. They look down to the tabernacle, where our Lord deigned to dwell, for a while, “a little lower than the angels” (Letter to the Hebrews 2,7.9).
Mary’s Son drags us to Himself in this Holy Sacrifice, does He not? The angels are quite content that they see us also as members of the Body of Christ. How much God loves us!
In Psalm 22, all about Jesus on the cross, we read: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22,2). A few verses later, we read, also in the first person singular: “I am a maggot [ תוֹלַ֣עַת / σκώληξ ] and no man” (Psalm 22,6). Recently I put up a post about Jesus as the Ninja Maggot. It being that I’m really, really, really old (in my early fifties, when memories of one’s youth come flooding back!), that mention of maggots and Jesus brought up some memories of my younger days as a seminarian, when I was a total, total idiot, knowing almost nothing of the faith, nor of morals, nor of anything at all. There was little formation back in the day. I myself was also, I’ll say it again, an idiot.
However – and I say this as an encouragement for those young men who feel they have a vocation to the priesthood, but also feel themselves to be absolutely totally unworthy — the Lord did not abandon me, but, instead, despite my idiocy, filled my heart and soul with an almost frightening loyalty to whatever it was that I knew about all that is good and kind and holy, all that is orthodox Catholic belief and morality, at least when I wasn’t a total idiot in my sin. Actually, that loyalty wasn’t anything praiseworthy on my part. It was actually the very patient and solicitous guardian angel granted to me by our Lord (and to all of us), who went out of his way to direct me to all that is good and kind and holy and Catholic, not that I took his lead all the time… but, sometimes I did, for which I thank the Lord Jesus. I was happy to be make frequent confession an absolute in my life. I tried to get a spiritual director. The one I had, without even speaking to me, said that he couldn’t do anything for me. He left the priesthood altogether some time later. Anyway…
I have two horrifying, glorious stories for you, sketches of accounts which would be part of any autobiography should I eventually get to write it. My life is filled with such horror and glory, I suppose because such is the path Jesus knew I must take to be able eventually to look to Him instead of myself, all by His grace. O.K., so, here we are…
(1) Pope John Paul II had offered Mass just a few miles away from the seminary. It had been a Mass during which the heavens tore open with a pouring rain like I had not seen in the longest time. The mud was shin deep and getting always goopier and stickier with the trampling crowds. The next day I had an inspiration that I could not ignore, lest my guardian angel really whoop me upside the head and I regret not taking his direction. I asked a friend to come with me, saying, “We have to rescue the Blessed Sacrament.” He thought I was crazy, but went along because I insisted so much. I knew this would be good for him to see. When we arrived at the scene, the seeming battleground of the Papal Mass site, my friend stayed on a side street rather than slog through the sea of shin-deep mud with me, as I, without hesitation, went straight out into the mud and flowing pools of water about fifty yards. I just went where I thought I was being directed. Because of the rain, there were worms everywhere to be seen, having come up above the mud and water for some air. At one point, I stopped, looked down, and, there, just half sticking out of the side of a deep foot-print (some six inches down), was a muddied Host. Quite miraculously, it had not disintegrated in the least. My friend was overwhelmed, just not able to wrap his mind around what was happening. We brought the Host to a priest at a nearby church.
All this, of course, was an occasion to want to be all the more attentive to my guardian angel. Not that I always succeeded, for, as I say, I was total idiot. However, the Lord was working away on me in this way and that. He is very patient, good and kind, and does know how to draw us to Himself: “When I am lifted up [on the cross], I will drag [ ἑλκύσω ] all to myself” (John 12,32). “Dragging us”, you have to understand, is part of being patient and good and kind!
(2) A few years later, and now, by the grace of our Lord, having become more loyal to Him in every way, I had another angel/Eucharist/maggot experience. It was Summertime, and I was visiting home. About two and half miles walk on a gravel road winding through the forest and up and down the hard red-clay hills the local diocesan seminary was to be found. I was in the habit of walking this road late at night, making my way to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the seminary. There was always a door open somewhere in the building. I hated the chapel itself. These were the darkest of dark years for the Church in America, mind you. There was a bright orange, deep shaggy carpet with bright yellow bean bag “chairs”, the pews having been shoved off to the side. The tabernacle was a black and silver (mostly black) glop of metalwork. It sat on a granite post perhaps a foot square and four and a half feet tall. I felt terribly, terribly uncomfortable being there, but thought I should do some reparation for what was happening in that seminary, and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was always a good thing, right?
Well, one day, visiting the Cathedral of the Diocese, I spoke to the rector, who was, in fact, the priest who had baptised me there more than twenty years previously. He wanted me to help him move into that very seminary, where he was to become the new rector. He was doing this to troubleshoot the problems that were there. He told me that there were priests there who would not celebrate Holy Mass for six months at a time for the reason that “the Vatican” did not allow women to preside at Mass. On the published student list, I had noted that, in fact, about one third of those studying there were women. I asked one what she was doing there and she said that she was studying for the priesthood, should her being ordained become a possibility. There were other problems as you might imagine.
When we walked into the front doors of the seminary, we put down our boxes and walked into the chapel to greet our Lord. What we saw was a scene from hell. There was what I hoped was merely “bread” everywhere. There was an array of multicolored candles all over the altar. Everything was in disarray. It looked as if there had been some other sort of pagan ceremony combined with the “Mass” that had been celebrated. The sacristy was worse, much worse. I only got as far as the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where I knelt down. I asked the new rector if he could please open the tabernacle, as there was something terribly wrong on the inside. I just knew it. Well, no. I think this was my guardian angel after me. The rector complained that it was locked and so that was the end of that. I insisted, explaining that there was something terribly wrong. I suppose he thought that I was being nice enough to help him out with the moving, so he proceeded to find the key in the sacristy while I remained kneeling there on the floor. He soon returned and opened the tabernacle. He genuflected, but then, standing, he gaped into the tabernacle, unable to take in what he was seeing. He looked at me and then back into the tabernacle and then back at me. He then reached in and took out a paten and held this out for me to see. There were some five or six Hosts and… and… about a half dozen maggots munching away. I don’t know, but this seminary seems to have been one of the epicenters for the darkest of the darkest days in the history of the Church. And there I was, to witness it, to help do something about changing the situation for the better, not because I was any good, not because I was better than anyone else, but because the Lord wanted to teach me something in all this as well, just how evil things can be, and just how much I needed to be with Him, before Him in the Blessed Sacrament…
I’m sure this helped set the tone for what the new rector had to face in this seminary. This was good for me too, bringing me face to face with what had to be done for the seminaries of those darkest of all dark years in the Church. I would later find myself teaching in seminaries, hearing confessions, doing spiritual direction and formation advising. Yikes! Our Lord uses all that which we learn in our lives. He draws good out of even the most terrible of circumstances.
Now, I’m a hermit, with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the hermitage. Jesus, you have to understand, is so very good and so very kind. Now I know even more how much of an idiot I’ve been – and how much of an idiot I can be in any given moment if I am without His grace — all of which knowledge helps me to praise Him all the more and makes me want to encourage all to do a bit of Eucharistic Reparation.
Let’s say a prayer for vocations and for seminarians and for the admins and faculty and formators of our seminaries today… Hail Mary…
And now that you’ve done that… how about making the next Hail Mary you say for that intention be before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Closed tabernacle door or not (that matters little), stop in your church/chapel/oratory, and spend just a moment there, then praying this Hail Mary for this intention. It will do your soul good, and will be good for the souls of so many others. The Lord does hear our such prayers immediately, and brings about results efficaciously. Hail Mary…
I took the above picture when I was a chaplain at the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.
Almost twenty years ago, when I was but a fledgling priest, I was brought into a most horrendous pastoral situation, a true nightmare, in which someone was on the verge of dying, and wanted to return to the Church and receive the last sacraments, and couldn’t get them because of the truly hellish belligerence of others. On my way to meet him, about a half-hour drive, I must say it was like my guardian angel was encouraging me to take out my rosary and to pray for the success of this encounter, which, humanly speaking, could not possibly take place because of that hellish belligerence of others in the house.
I was a bit too anxious to pray the rosary, and felt I had to place my petition even more directly in front of the Immaculate Virgin. What felt like the insistance of my guardian angel to pray to the Immaculate Virgin was overpowering: the weight of the glory of God. I still remember this clearly to this day. I had learned how powerful was her intercession during exorcisms, and now felt drawn to seek her protection right here, right now! This was an emergency!
What came out of my mouth was what I’ve called since then the Emergency Chaplet of the Immaculate Conception. It’s really very easy, just what one needs in an emergency. On the large beads of the Rosary, recite your act of contrition. On the small decade beads, say, “Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” That’s it! I love this chaplet, just love it.
The Immaculate Conception came through, by the way. I think that that was one very, very happy soul, for he had a very, very holy death. It was truly awesome to behold. I was able, I’m sure thanks to my guardian angel working way overtime in keeping people busy in this way and that, to escape the situation unscathed. I was filled with consolation and a spirit of thanksgiving all the way home. Needless to say, I’ve used this chaplet countless, countless times. Try it out!
Part of what I do at HSH is to write and write and write and write about all that will be helpful for the salvation of souls, as is my mandate from the Fathers of Mercy. Very cool! I started just now to work on book on the angels, some commentary about some of the angels in Sacred Scripture and then on the role of the angels in our lives. I won’t hold back on some of my personal experiences with these great and most holy spirits of the Most High God. This work will be imbibed with teaching consonant with that of the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and with the magisterial interventions and those of the Fathers.
Some might think that dirt is a rather odd cover for a book on the angels. However, there is much ado with angels and dirt in the Scriptures, much of it being what those who are visited by an angel see as they lie protrate in the dirt, almost without life, all strength gone out of them until the angel strengthens them. When you’re prostrate with face in the dirt, you see dirt. One hardly dares to look up to him who is a living and loving reflection of the truth and charity of our Heavenly Father… These are, after all, AWESOME ANGELS!
From the description at the MY BOOKS page:
The many who had me for spiritual direction at the last pontifical seminary where I also taught scripture and theology and liturgy, where I heard confessions and had many for formation advising, know some of my stories about my guardian angel, and will rejoice to see this little book come to light. Guardian angels see the face of God now, and, they are just so cool!
Here are pictures of the stained glass windows given to HSH by Father K.L. the very day he received them from the old Poor Clares Convent in Ohio, just before they also moved down to the Diocese of Charlotte. They are not yet installed on either side of the huge window behind the tabernacle of the chapel of HSH since construction is still ongoing!