Fr. Francis Ongkingco
THE mother proudly asked her daughter to recite to me a childish poem she had just memorized. The poem thanked God for not giving wings to cows because if it had been so, walking outside would be such a precarious thing if the cows decided to relieve themselves while airborne (LOL)!
God indeed, is so good! Not only because He decided not to create winged cows, but because in His wisdom He created everything just perfectly right for us. If there are some things that don’t work out properly in creation, it’s because of man’s sin that has mysteriously affected creation itself. But this is another topic for another series…
God also created everything with hierarchy, that is, some creatures have a greater ‘value’ in God’s eyes. In Genesis God creates in the order of six days from the most inanimate object until man who is God’s most gifted creature. “Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 343)”
But created material reality—the world and everything in it—isn’t all that there is. God has revealed to man that there are also beings that are not within the normal scope of man’s senses: spiritual creatures. In this order belong the angels and the devils (angels too, but bad ones). It is possible that God could have created other creatures we may not know, but He only revealed those that will be helpful for our salvation.
The Catechism teaches that, “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls angels is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. (Ibid., no. 328)” St. Augustine says, “Angel is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is spirit; if you seek the name of their office, it is angel: from what they are, spirit, from what they do, angel.’ (Ibid., no. 329)”
“As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. (Ibid., no. 330)” Despite these ‘super-features,’ they have been created by God as His messengers and mysteriously as our servants with the unique mission of guiding us to Heaven.
The Catechism expresses this wonderfully saying, ‘From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (Ibid., no. 336)”
There are, however, also devils (demons) or angels went rogue. Being endowed with intelligence and free will, they mysteriously chose to rebel against God’s goodness and will. As a consequence they became demons bent in tempting us to sin and rebel against God. This they do, if we consent to their suggestions, in order to bring us to hell with them.
It is said that these ‘bad angels’ are driven by two distorted passions: their hatred for God and their envy for man. Every possible devilish temptation that is viciously and craftily deployed is only a replay of the devil’s failed attempt in paradise to snare man into the trap of offending God and losing paradise.
The devil feels that the greatest way to ‘get back at God’ is by making man offend Him, and losing himself from what God in His love has designed for man. But this was foiled by Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross and won for us infinite graces to always begin again if we do not lose hope in God and the means He has given us (i.e. prayer, sacraments, sacrifice and virtues).
More than fearing this enemy of our holiness and celestial home, we ought to foster a more positive attitude in the spiritual combat. We cannot take upon many wonderful pious practices and customs simply because we are driven by fear of the devil rather than a deep and profound piety out of love for God.
This is not to say that we should not take the devil seriously, what is more important is to take our spiritual life and formation seriously so that we may cover all fronts in our mission as disciples of Christ. In other words, love for God and neighbor will be the driving force of our life. Thus, St. Josemaría vibrantly advices:
“Don’t let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart. (The Way, no. 1)”
And the F.U.N. part?
a) Generic Guardian. Give your guardian angel a name, short and easy to remember. Call on him often, not only in material needs, but also spiritual ones like doing your prayer or attending Mass better.
b) Spiritual Cordiality. Don’t forget to greet your angel and the angels of the people you meet. This is especially helpful to facilitate more difficult encounters with persons we may have some differences with.
c) Treasure Hunting. Ask your angel to give you tips on where to find the treasures of grace that God will grant you and others for the day.
d) Joyful Secret. Remember, that the greatest joy of your guardian angel is that one day you will make it to Heaven. So every now and then, whisper to him this secret: “I want to go to Heaven, but I need your help to get there.”