Angels and the Rosary

St. Alphonsus Liguori once said that each time we pray a Hail Mary we attract the angels and repel the devils. Now think about how many times we say the Hail Mary in the Rosary. Hmm. That’s a pretty effective pest repellent, I’d say.

As satisfying as it is to know we’re chasing away sulfurous little creeps when saying the Rosary, it might be more beneficial to focus on the real angels and unite our prayers with theirs, keeping in mind the important roles their kind played in the lives of Jesus and Mary. They were there for every event, major and minor, public and private. Indeed, the angels illuminate the very mysteries we meditate upon during this devotion.

In honor of this month's Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I'd like to share this reflection from Pope Leo XIII:
The Angels revealed each of these mysteries [of the Rosary] in its due time; they played a great part in them; they were constantly present at them… Gabriel was sent to announce the Incarnation of the Eternal Word to the Virgin. In the cave of Bethlehem, Angels sang the glory of the new-born Savior. The Angel gave Joseph command to fly with the Child into Egypt. An Angel consoled, with his loving words, Jesus in His bloody sweat in the garden. Angels announced His resurrection, after He had triumphed over death, to the women. Angels carried Him up into Heaven; and foretold His second coming, surrounded by Angelic hosts . . .
What more divine, what more delightful, than to meditate and pray with the Angels? With what confidence may we not hope that those who on earth have united with the Angels in this ministry will one day enjoy their blessed company in Heaven?

(From the encyclical, On the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, promulgated on Sept. 12, 1897)

Feast of the Guardian Angels - A Short Reflection

Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels

Pope John XXIII, October 2, 1959

According to the teaching of the Roman catechism, we must remember how admirable was the intention of divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter. In this earthly life, when children have to make their way along a path beset with obstacles and snares, their fathers take care to call upon the help of those who can look after them and come to their aid in adversity. In the same way our Father in heaven has charged his angels to come to our assistance during our earthly journey which leads us to our blessed fatherland, so that, protected by the angels' help and care, we may avoid the snares upon our path, subdue our passions and, under this angelic guidance, follow always the straight and sure road which leads to Paradise...

Everyone of us is entrusted to the care of an angel.

That is why we must have a lively and profound devotion to our own Guardian Angel, and why we should often and trustfully repeat the dear prayer we were taught in the days of our childhood.

May we never fail in this devotion to the angels! During our earthly pilgrimage we may often run the risk of having to face the natural elements in turmoil, or the wrath of men who may seek to do us harm. But our Guardian Angel is always present. Let us never forget him and always remember to pray to him.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen and the Angels

Archbishop Fulton Sheen was famous for attributing stagehand help on his television show, Life is Worth Living, to his "little angel." The reference was always good for a chuckle, especially when a very visible hand was shown erasing his infamous chalkboard in full view of the camera.

But as much as the good Archbishop joked about angels, he could be also be pointedly serious about them. As he said on one of his shows, "There are angels. I have one of them with me on this program. You've got one of them too, if you only knew it, incidentally."

Archbishop Sheen was renowned for his expressive–some would say overly dramatic–preaching style, and for his work in radio and television. At the peak of his media career, he reached an estimated 30 million viewers. Deservedly, he is often referred to as one of the first televangelists.

Archbishop Sheen died on December 9, 1979. His remarkable career as a priest, speaker, writer, radio and television personality has produced innumerable stories and testimonies about the personal holiness of this great man. As Pope John Paul II told him during an meeting with the Archbishop shortly before his death: "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You have been a loyal son of the Church!"

The Church is now returning the favor by considering Archbishop Sheen for canonization. His cause was opened in 2002 by Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, where Sheen was ordained a priest. In June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had found Archbishop Sheen to have lived a life of “heroic virtues,” thereby conferring on him the title of “Venerable” and paving the way for the next step of beatification.

In the meantime, we can enjoy and benefit from the many writings, audio clips, and videos Archbishop Sheen has left behind. Among his works was a wonderful talk on the angels he gave on his Life is Worth Living show. Luckily, it has been reproduced on YouTube in three separate videos. Parts 1 and 2 are about 10 minutes each; part 3 is only four minutes. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy.




Wisdom from St. Philip Neri

Today, May 26th, is the Feast of St. Philip Neri. St. Philip was a 16th century Italian priest who founded a secular order of fellow priests called "The Congregation of the Oratory." St. Philip was known for his down-to-earth manner and humor as much as he was for his sanctity.

He had no money, but contributions poured in from his friends, rich and poor. Pope Gregory and Charles Borromeo gave generously, as did other prominent men. Cardinals and princes were now among Philip's disciples, though he sometimes shocked them by his impulsiveness. His desire was always to establish a close, human bond with others, even though it meant indulging in a wine-drinking contest, practical joking, or other undignified behavior. He acted in a jocular manner to conceal his deep emotion, or to put himself on a level with those around him. Humility was the virtue he strove most of all to practice, but of course he could not conceal his extraordinary gifts or sanctity. More than once he foretold events which later came to pass. He lived in such a state of spiritual exaltation that at times it was with difficulty that he carried on his daily labors. Men declared that his face often glowed with a celestial radiance.
(Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc., 1954.)

St. Philip left us with an amazing collection of thoughts, instructions, and sayings. Here are but a few.

"Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.”
"Nulla dies sine linea: Do not let a day pass without doing some good during it."

"Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow.”

“Sufferings are a kind of paradise to him who suffers them with patience, while they are a hell to him who has no patience.”

"First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow."

"Give me ten truly detached men. and I will convert the world with them."

"Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength."

"If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience, humility and charity.”

“Believe me, there is no more powerful means to obtain God’s grace than to employ the intercessions of the Holy Virgin.”

If you'd like to be inspired daily by St. Philip, bookmark the website The Maxims and Sayings of St. Philip Neri. There is a quote there for every day of the year from this holy man who taught us, among other things, that's it's okay to be cheeky at times.

St. Philip Neri . . . was called "The Humorous Saint," and at his door was a little sign that said, "The House of Christian Mirth." "Christian joy is a gift from God flowing from a good conscience," he said. Once, a young priest asked him what prayer would be the most appropriate to say for a couple after a wedding Mass, and Philip Neri thought and said, "A prayer for peace."
(Taken from the essay "Laughing with the Saints: Joy, Humor, and Laughter in the Spiritual Life" by James Martin, S.J.)

Happy Easter

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

Good Friday

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

Good Friday
Theodore Maynard

The priest unveiled the crucifix, and I
Went up -- but oh, my heart was numb and dry!--
To kiss His image who once heard, "Crucify!"

Tears rained from Peter down the rugged rock
When, thrice denying, he heard the crowing cock:
I dull-eyed, with my sins a countless flock.

I kissed Christ's wounded bosom in my turn--
Death-cold, I colder. Would that I could learn
That piteousness with which the strong saints burn!

Next an old feeble, shabby woman came.
She kissed His feet, and was transformed to flame;
Then hands and face and side, and sobbed His name.

Compassionate and hungry, in eager bliss
Crucified with Him! Would that I could kiss,
Dear stranger, your poor, faltering feet for this!

(From Not Even Death: A Book of Poems by Theodore Maynard, 1941.)

Saint Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese had an intense devotion to her guardian angel. Following the examples and instructions of her parents and sisters, she spoke familiarly to her angel from earliest childhood. Throughout her short life she continued to have a deep and sweet love for her own angel and all the angels of God. Known as she was for her writings, it is only fitting that St. Therese penned a beautiful poem to her angel in 1897, the year that she died from tuberculosis.

Read more about "The Little Flower and the Holy Angels" on the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum website.

To My Angel Guardian

O glorious guardian of my frame!
In heaven’s high courts thou shinest bright,
As some most pure and holy flame,
Before the Lord of endless light.

Yet for my sake thou com’st to earth,
To be my brother, Angel dear;
My friend and keeper from my birth,
By day and night to me most near.

Knowing how weak a child am I,
By thy strong hand thou guidest me;
The stones that in my pathway lie,
I see thee move them carefully.

Ever thy heavenly tones invite
My soul to look to God alone;
And ever grows thy face more bright,
When I more meek and kind have grown.

O thou who speedest through all space
More swiftly than the lightnings fly!
Go very often, in my place,
To those I love most tenderly.

With thy soft touch, oh! dry their tears;
Tell them the cross is sweet to bear;
Speak my name softly in their ears,
And Jesu’s name, supremely fair.

Through all my life, though brief it be,
I fain would succor souls from sin.
Dear Angel, sent from heaven to me,
Kindle thy zeal my heart within!

Naught but my holy poverty,
And daily cross to give have I;
O Join them to thine ecstasy,
And offer them to God on high.

Thine are heaven’s glory and delight,
The riches of the King of kings;
The Host in our ciboriums bright
Is mine, and all the wealth pain brings.

So with the Cross, and with the Host,
And with thine aid, dear Angel Friend,
I wait in peace, on time’s dark coast,
Heaven’s happiness that knows no end.

(February, 1897)

The Watchmaker: More About St. Josemaria Escriva and the Angels

Between the years 1928 and 1940, St. Josemaria owned a faulty alarm clock that he couldn't rely on. Not wanting to spend what little money he had on repairing it, he instead asked his angel to get him up at the appointed time. Not once in all those years did the angel fail him, which is why St. Josemaria often referred to his guardian angel as “mi relojerico” (“my dear watchmaker”).

My post a few weeks back on St. Josemaria Escriva and the angels inspired me to do a little further digging into the life of the man whom, I admit, I really only knew as the founder of Opus Dei. My searching came up with gems like the above anecdote (related in an article by Bishop Alvaro del Portillo), as well as much, much more.

The life and wisdom of St. Josemaria are way beyond the scope of this blog. (Read his book, The Way, to see what I mean. It contains 999 points of meditation and prayer. For many of us, enough for a lifetime.) But for my limited purposes here, I thought it appropriate and doable if I shared some of his specific wisdom about the angels. May St. Josemaria's thoughts inspire us all toward a greater love and devotion to our own holy guardians.

“Familiarity with, and devotion to, the holy guardian angels is at the heart of our work. It is a concrete manifestation of the supernatural mission of Opus Dei." (St. Josemaria founded Opus Dei in 1928 on October 2, the Feast of the Guardian Angels.)

"Have confidence in your guardian angel. Treat him as a very dear friend–that's what he is–and he will do a thousand services for you in the ordinary affairs of each day."
The Way, 562

'Win over the guardian angel of the one you want to draw to your apostolate. He is always a great 'accomplice'."
The Way, 563

"If you would remember the presence of your guardian angel and those of your neighbors, you would avoid many of the foolish things you let slip into your conversation."
The Way 564

"You seem amazed that your guardian angel has done so many obvious favors for you. But you shouldn't be: that's why our Lord has placed him at your side."
The Way, 565

"You say there are many occasions of going astray in such surroundings? That's true, but aren't there any guardian angels as well?"
The Way, 566

"Turn to your guardian angel at the moment of trial; he will protect you from the devil and bring you holy inspirations."
The Way, 567

Quotable Wisdom from St. John Vianney

"The Devil writes down our sins - our Guardian Angel all our merits. Labor that the Guardian Angel's book may be full, and the Devil's empty."   (St. John Vianney, the Cure De Ars)

Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Angels

It seems only fitting that the first post of this blog should center on the Church's newest saint, Blessed Pope John Paul II. According to author and noted angel authority Msgr. Marcello Stanzione, Pope John Paul II said on several occasions that he asked his guardian angel for help every day.

In the summer of 1986, the Pope delivered a series of talks at his General Audiences entitled Catechesis on the Angels. These six speeches reflect the Church's teachings on the nature of angelic spirits, their importance and participation in salvation history, the fall of the rebellious angels, and, finally, Christ's victory over evil. He concludes his lesson with this reminder to the faithful:

"And while the existence of the wicked angels requires of us that we be watchful so as not to yield to their empty promises, we are certain that the victorious power of Christ the Redeemer enfolds our lives, so that we ourselves may overcome these spirits. In this, we are powerfully helped by the good angels-- "

"Be not afraid!" was the exhortation famously resounded by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Remaining mindful that our guardian angels are always at our sides, we can truly take the Pope's message to heart.

The entire text of the Catechesis on the Angels is available on EWTN.