This week we heard of the terrible mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. We extend our prayers for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, and the people of Sutherland Springs. To paraphrase Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, they stood on holy ground, ground marred by horrific violence. We, each of us, must continue to build, in the little corners of the world where the Lord has put us, a Culture that respects the dignity of all human life. Pray that the Lord, who himself is Peace, will send us His Spirit of charity.
The readings this weekend teach us that we seek many things in this life, but we should seek first the Lord.
Continuing with our Catechetical lessons on the Last Things:
What is an Angel?
The word “angel” means “messenger.” This tells us what angels do, not necessarily what they are. God created the spiritual, non-corporeal (bodiless) beings we call angels, ex- plains the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 328-336).
Each angel has intelligence and will, and each is a personal and immortal creature. In other words, each heavenly angel is a unique being who has chosen to love and serve God, its Creator. It is a being who will never die. They sing forever in the presence of God. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”
Angels and humans are separate and different beings. Angels are pure spirit, they never have had a body. Since they have no bodies, they aren't made male or female. They are purely spiritual beings.
Humans are both spirit (soul) and body. A human being's soul is immortal; his or her body dies. When the soul leaves the body at death, it is not transformed somehow into an angel. Rather, a soul that has gone to heaven enjoys God's presence with the angels and joins with the angels—and saints (human souls)—in praising God.
What is a Guardian Angel?
Firstly there are nine choirs, or ranks, of angels. In ascending order from lowest to high- est they are: Angels (from whence come our guardians), Archangels (like Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael) Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. You may recognize some of these titles from the Preface at Mass.
Throughout our lives God's angels are there to offer care and intercession. It was St. Basil the Great (who died in A.D. 379) who said, "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Every person is assigned a guardian an- gel to watch over them. Some day, we shall see them. There is a theological speculation that every human being who ever was, is, or will be, has their own guardian angel. The angel is not re-assigned when a person dies but accompanies and comforts the person even through purgatory (though the angels have no need of being purified) , and remains with them in heaven.
The practice of ‘naming’ one’s guardian angel is to be discouraged, since to ‘name’ something is to have authority over it. We do not have authority over our guardian angel.
May our voices, especially at Mass, join with the nine choirs of angels to sing the praises of the Lord, both now and forever.
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona
“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