Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Encounters with Angels
gospel account. The two-fold task is expressed in the phrase, 'Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to his people on earth.' in the first phrase we praise. In the second we proclaim peace to his people on earth. Proclaiming the gospel with our words and in our lives is the second way we work with the angels.
The third way we work with the angels is to ask for their protection, guidance and help. This is where Christian practice sounds a bit similar to New Age practice. But there are some important differences. We do not ask the angels to help us 'affirm the God that is within us' like New Age religion does. Neither do we summon the angels and open our lives to them. The Holy Spirit may dwell within our hearts, but angels don't. They guide and guard us by walking beside and before us. In this respect it is especially good to invoke St.Michael and our guardian angel. When we are in a time of danger or temptation we can ask their help as we would ask the help of an experienced guide while climbing a mountain. They are there to lend us a hand, point out the way and to help keep us from falling.
Praise and Proclamation and Protection may not seem quite as exciting as 'listening to the light within' or summoning up dark spirits, but our faith is incarnational. The child in the manger reminds us that Christianity is real and practical not esoteric and otherworldly. We have real bodies and live in a real physical world, and our religion does not help us to escape this, but to enter into it more fully. The angels respect and admire our physical bodies. They love our physical-ness because their Lord took on human flesh and was born of a woman.
Angels do not wish for us to go above the physical and ordinary things of life. They know that it is in flesh and blood and sweat and tears that we find God. As the poet Henry Vaughn has written, 'Here in dust and dirt, Oh here! the lilies of His love appear.' And it is in this dust and dirt of ordinary prayer, and pleas for protection that we co-operate most powerfully with the angels in heaven and make the simple story of Christmas and Easter come alive in our lives.
Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish and Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit his website and blog at www.dwightlongenecker.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: angels, cherubim, seraphim, archanges, angelogy, angelic, communion of saints, Incarnation, Fr. Dwight Longenecker
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