Monday, October 24, 2016

Fr. Chuck's Column, October 9. 2016

Let’s talk a little about angels. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Archangels on Sept 29, had the St Austin School Angels Mass, in which the First Graders dressed as angels, complete with wings and halos, and sang a lovely song about angels! This was good because the usual Feast of the Guardian Angels was skipped this year because it fell on a Sunday.
So what about angels? If someone tells me they have seen an angel I immediately get very suspicious and begin wondering if they have been taking their medications. Though a vision of angels is possible, it is rare and unusual. However, the founder of the Paulist Fathers, Isaac Hecker, as a young man, confused about his future, did have a vision of an angel that gave him a feeling of “most heavenly pure joy.” Therefore I should not rule out angelic sightings all together.

On the other hand I have often had people tell me, and have had personal experience, of angels providing support and help to people. My most obvious case occurred in Henry Coe State Park in California, back when I was stationed in San Francisco. I went there for a day hike, but got totally lost. I wandered around trying to find my way out of this enormous state park, but only got more lost. I came across a deer carcass which had been killed and eaten by a mountain lion, so I knew they were active in the area. I ended up spending the night, with almost no sleep, in the park. The next morning I trudged on. I was totally spent, tired, thirsty, hungry, and not a little annoyed. I was also worried because later that afternoon I had a wedding rehearsal to lead. I began praying asking my guardian angel for help. And then out of nowhere, down the road, came a while Lexus SUV. Now if that is not an angel straight out of central casting, I don’t know what is. I got a ride back to my car, and after getting rehydrated, all was well.

Cosmologists and their ilk like to tell us that all that we can see and know, billions and billions of galaxies, millions of massive black holes, billions of stars and planets in each of those galaxies, an absolutely mind-boggling amount of stuff spread over a mind-numbing expanse of space, all this counts for ONLY 4% of what is actually there. The other 96% of creation is dark matter and dark energy. It is dark because we don’t have a clue as to what it is. We don’t even have an idea of what it is.

Now if created reality is this mind-blowing and weird, who is to say that there are not spiritual beings like angels? The spiritual world is even more fantastic and spectacular than the physical world. Truly, it would be rather a disappointment and a let-down if angels did not exist.

I often think of angels when celebrating Mass and the sun shines through our beautiful colored windows. The light plays off of the recesses of the windows, and splotches and areas of color shine off the recessed walls. It reminds me that all that space above the head of the congregation is not really empty. When we celebrate the Mass we believe we are somehow in touch with the Liturgy of Heaven. At our celebration of the Eucharist we transport ourselves in a way out of the current space and time and are present, in the effects of what is celebrated, at the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, some 2,000 years ago. The Catechism of the Catholic Church  #1367 states that “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.” And in #1369 states: “The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ.” Saints and Angels are present when we celebrate Eucharist. The shifting splotches of color are – to me at least – a reminder of that. And that is pretty awesome!

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