Angel Squad

We can take great consolation in the fact that every single individual human being has a particular angel assigned as a guardian. Everyone has one.

In fact, according to some doctors of sublime mysteries, there are certain individuals who have multiple angels assigned to guard them.

Spurs championsThe heavenly powers take one look at specimens such as myself, and immediately conclude: “Yes, Raphael single-handedly guided Tobiah. That was a successful solo operation.

“But this particular dude here presents a hard case. We better send back-up coverage straight away. He will probably need the angelic equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs starting five just to stay out of trouble.”

However many angels we need to guide us away from hell and towards heaven—that’s exactly how many we have. All joking aside, having one guardian angel beside me at all times—that’s pretty daggone solid.

Even the most fearsome demons cannot overcome my humble angel. Because our guardian angels have something going for them that the demons don’t have. Namely, all the light, truth, power, and glory of the Almighty Creator, Who loves everything He has made. And Who guides everything toward eternal friendship and peace.

Tobit and Prayers in Desperation

We read the book of Tobit at Holy Mass this week.

Welcome, Kyle
Welcome, Kyle
At one point, both Tobit and Sara pray simultaneously to God.

Tobit had been blinded because bird droppings fell in his eyes. The even-more-serious problem he had was that he could hardly get along with his wife.

Meanwhile, as we read, young Sara had problems of her own. The question we hear the Sadducees ask the Lord in the gospel about the seven dead husbands of one woman was no pure hypothetical. They were asking Him about Sara’s case.

Anyone remember who the hero of the book of Tobit is?

Here’s a hint: It’s the name of the first parish I was ever assigned to, back when I was young like Kyle.

Continue reading “Tobit and Prayers in Desperation”

Gaffer and Other Wonderful News

chesapeake-bay-sailing1
My dad loved sailing

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal. –John 6:27

waxsealWhat is the seal that the Father has set on Christ?

Setting a seal involves impressing something upon a recipient, something that was not there before.

From all eternity, the Son of God is divine with the Father. There is no seal-setting in the generation of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Both Persons are eternally divine.

The seal that the Father set must therefore be in the humanity of the Son. It is the seal that has united human nature with God in such a way that there is only one Person: Christ, true God and true man.

We too have our share in this same seal, through the sacrament of Confirmation.

My new nephew, Raphael
My new nephew, Raphael

When we are confirmed, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Divine grace is impressed upon us in such a way that we are equipped to participate fully in the sacrifice of Christ. We become priests. We can come to the altar and offer acceptable sacrifice to God: ourselves and the whole world, along with the divine Victim…

…Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest characters ever created.

elanorgamgeeHe has countless symphathetic qualities. One of them is his loving devotion to his father, who is known as “the Gaffer.” (‘Gaffer’ is a Hobbit term for ‘old man.’)

Sam always speaks of the Gaffer as an old friend whom he wants to make proud. He worries about the Gaffer’s well-being. Sam tenderly overlooks his father’s aged weaknesses.

When the Hobbits return from destroying the ring and conquering the evil Lord Sauron, Frodo tells the Gaffer that Sam is one of the great heroes of Middle Earth. But the Gaffer is not impressed. Sam takes his father’s incredulity humbly:

Kirk White in 1978
Kirk White in 1978

“It takes a lot o’ believing,” said the gaffer, “though I can see he’s been mixing in strange company. What’s come of his weskit? I don’t hold with wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.”

[weskit: waistcoat, vest. ironmongery: in this case, armor]

…Three years ago today, my dear dad went to his eternal reward. I had the privilege of receiving him into the Church, confirming him, and giving him Holy Communion shortly before he died in Easton, Maryland.

As the plan of God would have it, today is also the birthday of my new nephew. Raphael’s older brother is named after my dad, and he also has my dad’s monogrammed cufflinks. (Although, at three, he is not yet ready to wear French cuffs.)

May God be praised! May the dead rest in peace. And may the holy Archangel watch over his newborn namesake and guide him through a holy life.

Tobias and the Archangel Raphael, from the book of Tobit
Tobias and the Archangel Raphael, from the book of Tobit

All-Star Week

This week is just about the best week of saints’ days in the whole year.

Today we keep the Feast of the Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Archangels. Tomorrow we keep the Memorial of St. Jerome. St. Jerome was a learned scholar and orator in Rome, but he went to the Holy Land to give his life to the task of translating the entire Bible. If St. Jerome had not done the work that he did 1600 years ago, we would not have the reliable Bible translations that we have now. When I was in Bethlehem in February, I was able to visit the cave where St. Jerome did his work; it is just a few steps from the place where the Lord Jesus was born.

This Sunday, Bishops from all over the world will meet in Rome for a Synod. For three weeks, they will discuss the Word of God. Our Archbishop Wuerl is one of four bishops from the United States who will attend. Let us pray to St. Jerome that the Synod will be fruitful.

On Wednesday, we will keep the Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (a.k.a. St. Therese of Liseux, the Little Flower), Doctor of the Church. St. Therese’s Story of a Soul is one of the best spiritual reading books you can get. Her “Little Way” is the “elevator” to heaven. On Thursday, we keep the Memorial of the Guardian Angels. Of course each of us should thank our Guardian Angel ever day for all his help. But if we have let a few days slip, we can try to make it up by special expressions of gratitude on Thursday. Your Guardian Angel is the best friend you have. When we get to heaven–please God–we will finally see our Guardian Angels. We will of course effusively thank them for helping us to get there. They will say, “Don’t mention it. Just doing my job.”

Then on Saturday, we keep the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, the second-most popular saint of all time (after the Blessed Mother). In addition to being friendly to animals, St. Francis was also intensely ascetic. He renounced every worldly pleasure for the love of God. He was unswervingly faithful to the Pope and the Church. And he was given the gift of sharing in the Lord’s own wounds, the stigmata.

More people have given up everything to follow the example of St. Francis than any other saint. It is safe to say that no one has ever been closer to Christ, more like Christ.

Assisi is one of the most beautiful and prayerful places on earth. Those of us who will go on pilgrimage together from St. Mary of the Assumption, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, U.S.A., to Italy in November will visit Assisi, walking the streets where St. Francis walked. We will pray at his tomb, and we will remember the rest of you there, for sure.

There you have it: Ecclesiastical All-Star Week. If ever there were a week to try to go to Mass everyday, this is it. Many graces will flow from heaven this week. Thank you, holy angels and saints!