What is wrong with our world? If you were to make a list right now of what is wrong with our world, what would you put on that list? What would be on the top of that list? There are many things that we might at first list off—abortion, the breakup of the nuclear family, child abuse, drug abuse, pornography, alcohol abuse, suicide, racism.
And yet, I would actually say that those are not the problems in our world. Those are solely the symptoms. It’s very easy for us to get confused by the symptom and the disease. It’s very easy for us to notice the overt and the obvious and to not actually take the time to look at the actual root cause. What is the root cause of abortion, child abuse, divorce, the breakup of the family, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, pornography, and the like? It is one thing: the spiritual attack of the human soul.
Every Catholic should be trying to end abortion, but I will tell you we will never end abortion until we take the time to understand the life of that young girl, where her soul is attacked and she no longer sees herself as a daughter of God with a child of God within her womb. We will never win the battle of abortion until we first win that battle—the attack of the human soul behind every overt and grievous offense against God is first and foremost the attack on the human soul. We are in a spiritual battle and yet we as Christians constantly are battling in the flesh and battling in politics and battling in the world and, if we don’t realize where the battle actually is,we will never ever win.
It is first and foremost a spiritual battle. So, let’s look at the spiritual realm in a very clear and articulate way that we Catholics really just don’t talk enough about. In the book of Daniel from the Old Testament we read this: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, the guardian of your people” (12:1). In the entire Bible there are only three angels that are given names—Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. All three of them are archangels. In the realm of theology we have what is known as angelology, which is the study of angels. It’s a fascinating topic.
Saint Thomas Aquinas is known as Doctor Angelicus because of his writings on the angels. I’d like to share a little bit of that. When God created the world, when He created the heavens and the earth, He created the angels. So God Himself is uncreated, He has no beginning and no end. But when God created the universe, as we profess in the Nicene Creed, we say that God created the heavens and the earth. He created all that is visible and invisible. God created all the angels before He created humanity. In fact, we believe that all of the angels were created when He created the heavens, when He created all that was invisible. Then He created mankind, we know that the angels are created first because mankind is created last—His crowning glory.
The angels, prior to the creation of mankind, were given a glimpse into the future and they saw that God, the uncreated, was going to actually become a human being in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. One third of the angels rebelled against God. Why? Because God was going to become a human and not an angel. It was envy that God was going to not become an angel but become a human and actually drop to a lower class. There is a huge distinction between the realm of the angels and the realm of human beings. Angels do not have bodies. They are a completely different realm than we are. They are 100% spirit. They’ve never had bodies and they never will have bodies. That being the case, we also will never become an angel. I know that’s hard for some of you to comprehend because we often say things like “my deceased relative is now an angel in heaven.” It’s actually theologically inaccurate.
The demons prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Within the realm of angels there are nine choirs. The highest ranking angels are the seraphim and the cherubim. We then have the principalities, powers, thrones, dominions, and the last two choirs of angels are the archangels and the angels. Satan was believed to have been in the highest realm of the angels, among those demons that now prowl about the world seeking after your soul and mine, are all different rankings of angels. And everything that the angels can do in the good, the demons can do in the opposite.
I was speaking to someone and they said “Father, I was literally just talking to someone about angels the other day and they said angels aren’t real, they’re a fairy tale. The person said ‘I’m a Christian, I believe in Jesus, but I sure don’t believe in angels.” I want to make it very, very clear it is impossible to believe in God and not believe in angels. It’s not an option, like a multiple choice—do I like lima beans or do I like broccoli, which do I prefer and can I choose to have. If you choose to believe in God, you have to choose to believe in angels. And if you choose to believe to be a Christian, you clearly have to believe in angels. Angels are integral to the life of Christians, so integral that the four gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John could not comprehend telling the life of Jesus without talking about angels all of the time.
I want to quickly run through the life of Jesus and the role of the angels because it’s almost mind-boggling. Jesus does nothing without the role of the angels taking place in His own life. I’m just going to tell you the same is true for you and the same is true for me. At the Annunciation, before Jesus is even conceived, who announces to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she’s going to be the Mother of God? An angel.
Joseph, who is betrothed to Mary, is going to divorce her because his wife is pregnant and he doesn’t know what to do. What does Joseph do? He goes to sleep and, in a dream, who appears to Joseph? An angel. And the angel says to Joseph one of my favorite lines of Sacred Scripture. “Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home” (Matthew 1:20). A great question for all of us, is Mary in your home? And I’m not talking about a statue. Is the Blessed Virgin Mary in your home when you pray the rosary, when you do Marian devotions, and consecrate your life, your home, your children to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Then, what happens? Jesus, ultimately, is born and a bunch of shepherds are on the field. And what happens to the shepherds? Angels appear. On cards angels are often holding a ribbon-like banner that says what on it? “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.” Every time we sing the Gloria at Mass we’re quoting the angels coming to the shepherd (Luke 2:14). For those of you who know Latin, the angel says Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. What is that? It’s the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the whole world.
Then, Jesus is born. Joseph goes back to sleep and he’s told what in a dream? Take the child to Egypt. Why? Because someone wants to kill your baby. So, take the child and his mother and go to Egypt. Who wants to kill baby Jesus? Herod. Isn’t it funny how governmental leaders want to kill children? It was the case then, it’s the case now.
Then Jesus, at the age of thirty, makes His public appearance. He’s baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. And then what happens? He goes on to the desert where He’s tempted for 40 days. And who then appears to Jesus forty days in the desert? Satan, who is what? An angel. (see Luke 4:2) And then, after Jesus of course defeats Satan. For forty days in the desert, who then appears to minister to Jesus in His temptation? Angels.
Then, we end up in Jesus’ agony in the garden. He is sweating drops of blood thinking of your sins and mine. He is overwhelmed by the suffering to come. And who comes and ministers to Jesus in the garden? An angel. (See Luke 22:43) So, let me ask you about agony and temptation. When you are tempted to eat too much food, to drink too much alcohol, to not get out of bed, to press snooze one more time, to swear, to curse, to be angry, to not come to Church, do you pray to your angel? Because your angel is right there in every single temptation. When you’re overwhelmed with anguish and frustration, when you’re tired, when you feel you’re at your wit’s end, do you realize that your angel is right there in your agony?
When Jesus rises from the grave and the tomb is found empty, who greets the women and who greets the apostles? (see Luke 24:4) At the resurrection angels and the last time we see Jesus on earth is at his Ascension. And who appears next to Jesus as He has ascended into heaven? Angels.
So, let me ask you a question. If you wrote your autobiography, how many chapters would be dedicated to angels? How often would you as the author talk about the role of the angels? Because every time you talk about everything that happens in your life, you talk about your guardian angel. We have to open our eyes to the spiritual world that is before us. Did you know that you really have a guardian angel? It’s not just some sort of fairy tale and some little cute prayer that we teach to children. I have to be totally ashamed that I had no idea I really actually had a guardian angel until I was in seminary. And I really didn’t foster a relationship with him until I was a priest. But every conceived child, which means that every aborted child, every miscarried child, has a guardian angel.
You have a guardian angel to protect you, to lead you, and to guide you. You are never alone and that angel enters into the battle for your soul. Did you know that not only can you pray to your guardian angel and talk to your guardian angel, but that you can pray to other people’s guardian angels? You can pray to your spouse’s guardian angel. You can pray to your child’s guardian angel. You can pray to your grandchild’s guardian angel and your godchild’s guardian angel. Do you know that you can send your guardian angel to someone else? I can ask my guardian angel to go to someone I know that is in need and to pray with their guardian angel for that person. Do you know you can pray to Joe Biden’s guardian angel and Nancy Pelosi’s guardian angel?
A battle is raging, my brothers and sisters, and we constantly see the wreckage. We see the overt and the obvious. We see the casualty of what is happening and those are called symptoms but that’s not the problem. The problem is the battle that most likely was lost months and days and weeks previous when someone’s soul clearly left its purpose, its mission, and its calling.
In the United States of America, if you turn on the news right now, what do we talk about? Inflation and unemployment. I will tell you that in the Catholic Church there are more unemployed guardian angels than in the unemployment rate in the United States of America and it needs to change. If you do not have a relationship with your guardian angel, foster one. If you have one, employ your angel to be sent everywhere in the world—to family members and to foes and to enemies.
Ephesians Chapter 6:10-12, is one of my favorite verses. “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” Listen to verse 12: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and rulers of this present darkness and the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God that you may be able to resist on the evil day and having done everything to hold your ground so stand fast with your loins girded, the truth clothed with righteousness. This is a breastplate and your feet shot in readiness and for the gospel of peace.”
My brothers and sisters, we are not in a battle of flesh and blood – that is solely the wreckage and the symptom that lies underneath of a world that is losing its soul. We are in a spiritual battle and thanks be to God the angelic realm is here to battle with us. It’s a battle of souls. I invite you, I encourage you to pray to your angel. I think there is tremendous power, my brothers and sisters, in us praying to Saint Michael the archangel at the end of Mass. I will tell you if you understand what is happening when you receive our Lord in Holy Communion, there is no greater battle that Satan wants than to steal the grace that is given to you when your receive our Lord in Holy Communion. When you come forward and receive the flesh and blood of Jesus, Satan hates you at that moment more than any other moment in your life and that is why we call upon the angelic realm. That’s why we call upon Saint Michael who we hear about, our greatest defender, our guardian, to keep us from the wickedness and snares of the devil.
My brothers and sisters, may we not be overwhelmed by the symptoms and the wreckage in our life. May we realize that the angels are at our side to protect, to lead, and to guide through God’s grace with the angels that we reach our heavenly homeland.
Photo by Merve Sehirli Nasir on Unsplash