Today is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Pope John XXIII. It is an optional memorial on the liturgical calendar and so the memorial is left up to the discretion of the celebrant. But that today is Sunday, the prayers for his Mass are not prayed because Sunday takes precedence because it is a “Little Easter.” Today also marks the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Everyone remembers the image of Pope John’s smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church’s history Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the “signs” of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: “What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness.” (Pope John Paul II)
As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments,
tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness,
the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the
weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and
dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet
are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as
punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet
making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
sent Saint Denis and his companions to preach your glory to the nations, and you
gave them the strength to be steadfast in their sufferings for Christ. Grant
that we may learn from their example to reject the power and wealth of this
world and to brace all earthly trials.
Let us pray for France, the Church’s eldest daughter and for the Archdiocese of Paris as it commemorates the martyrdom of Saint Denis and his companions. We all know that Catholicism is bit sclerotic in France at the moment and Saint Denis’ intercession would be helpful in rectifying the situation.
O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence has deigned to send Thy holy Angels to watch over us, grant to Thy suppliants always to find safety in their protection and in eternity to share their happiness.
Angels are not mere nice spirits who do good things for us or make feel nice, or even warm our hearts when afraid. They certainly have the inspiration to that when needed. As I mentioned to my 3rd graders on Wednesday at CCD, the Guardian Angels are God’s messengers sent to us guard us, teach us and to protect us. The primary duty of angels after worshipping God, as you know, is to deliver messages. Hence, they these holy spirits are called angels. A few years ago it was popular to wear angel pins and certainly the printing companies made a fortune off angel pictures, cards and posters.
What do we know about angels? We know they don’t have bodies, they are created by God and they worship Him at the His throne, they’re sent to give us something (a message) or to protect us from evil. The Church has always held the presence of angels as a reality since they are present, that is, seen and experienced in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. The sacred Liturgy attests to the Catholic belief in angels especially when you consider the liturgical art, music, especially at Christmas, and poetic texts used in worship. And since 1608 the Church has included the feast of the Guardian Angels in the Roman Missal. The Catechism has a section on angels; review the paragraphs.
A perduring memory of my grandmothers is that of them teaching me the prayer “Angel of God, my guardian dear.” Before bed each night when I slept over their respective homes, we would kneel by the bedside and say goodnight to God through His angels. Every day, right after Mass has finished, I pray the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer and the Angel of God prayer. Why? Because I believe God has given me these gifts and promises and I want to take advantage of the graces God offers through the angels. Do you pray to the angels?
Say a prayer for the monks of the American Cassinese Congregation on this their patronal feast. As the founder of many monasteries, and since 1856 when official documentation from the Holy See came through, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer placed his monasteries under the care of the Holy Guardian Angels. His correspondence shows the confidence he had in the Guardian Angels. How more should we!