புத்தகங்களை டவுன்லோட் செய்வது, வேறு வழிகளில் காப்பி செய்வது, சமூக தளங்களில் பகிர்வது அனுமதிக்கப்படவில்லை. மீறினால் Copyright Act 1957படி நடவடிக்கை மேற்கொள்ளப்படும்.

ANGELS GOOD AND BAD: GUARDIAN ANGELS

"He has given His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways" (Ps. 90:11).

The terrestrial globe upon which we live is described as the visible world, because we can see it with our eyes. We can see it, because it is made up of material parts. And what a glorious world it is, so radiant with light and attractiveness! What a variety of minerals, plants and animals it contains!  How numerous and various are the steps to be counted in the scale of gradation, beginning with the lifeless, inanimate stone lying along the way and ending with the marvelous structure of the human body! The human body, thou dust it be, remains to this day a perpetual source of admiration and wonder. But over and above, this visible world which we see around us, God has created an invisible world. Between God, the Supreme Spirit, and man, made up of body and spirit, there exists an invisible world, a world comprised not of material bodies but of spirits, who, as it were, bridge over, the infinite chasm between heaven and earth. We call these spirits, Angels.  This world of Angels, or pure spirits, shall be our subject today.

(O Jesus, assist us with Thy grace!)

Existence and Meaning.--If we could only see this other spiritual world, this invisible world, in the same light as we behold the material world around us, what would meet our startled eyes? No doubt, a universe, probably more extensive, more luminous, more varied, adorned with a greater multitude of creatures than the world we live in. We would be confronted with spiritual being whose entire existence is made up of thought and will; creatures who are in their entire nature the images of God. But the existence of such a spiritual world is beyond the cavil of a doubt. No Christian, be he Catholic or Protestant, can doubt its reality, if he believes in the Bible at all. For, from the first book of the Bible to the last, there is no end to the repeated reminders of the fact that God created the pure spirits which we call Angels.

They are called "Angels," from a Greek word which means messenger. The word, "Angel," therefore does not express the nature of these spirits, but rather the offices for which God at times uses them in His government and ordering of the universe. Some of them are messengers often sent by God. But the essential duty of the Angels is that of forming the Court of King of Heaven, and singing His praises unceasingly. For, as St. John tells us: "And all the Angels of heaven stood round about the throne, and they fell down before the throne upon their face, and adored God, saying: "Amen. Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen" (Apoc.       7:11-12).

Classes of Angels.--But whether their offices be in heaven or on earth, the Angels do not all hold the same rank, nor have they all a like office or duty to perform towards God or man. Some Angels are more perfect than others. They are described by Holy Scripture as God's legions of war, or His hosts. And, as a great army is broken up into various ranks, squadrons or regiments, so Holy Scripture divides the Angels into nine choirs. Beginning with the highest, we have the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Archangels and Angels.  Just what their specific distinctions may be is not easy to explain, for nothing on this matter is clearly revealed to us. Our conclusion is that, if Angels differ in rank or grace, it is because they differ in nature. For, as in man, grace or rank is granted to Angels according to the capacity of their nature. "If we knew perfectly," says St. Thomas, "the offices of the Angels and their differences, then we should know that every Angel has his proper office and his proper order in the universe, and this much more than any star, though it be hidden from us."

Ordinarily, Angels are divided into three groups. (1) Beginning with the highest, the first group, comprising the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, are, according to St. Thomas, occupied with contemplation and adoration nearest the throne of God. (2) The second group, comprising the Dominations, Principalities and Powers, are known for their particular majesty, dignity and strength, which is proper to themselves.  Their duties are more universal  and wider in scope than the first group. (3)  The third group, comprising the Virtues, Archangels and Angels, constitute the connecting link between God in heaven and His creatures on earth. They are God's regular messengers. Or, as St. Thomas further states, "because God is the end not only of the angelic ministrations, but also of the whole creation, it belongs to the first hierarchy (of heavenly spirits) to consider the end; to the middle one belongs the universal  disposition of what is to be done; and to the last belongs the application of this disposition to the effect, which is the carrying out of the work; for it is clear that these three things exist in every kind of operation."

Creation of the Angels.--We must never forget that the spirit world, like the material world, was created by God out of nothing. "For," says St. Paul, "in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers; tall things were created by Him and in Him" (Col.1:16). That these heavenly spirits serve and glorify God, is made clear by Isaias in the Old Testament and by St. John in the New Testament (Apoc. 7:11). In visions, these seers beheld the Angels before the throne of God, bowing down before Him,  covering their faces with their wings. "And they cried one to another, and said: 'Holy, Holy, Holy , the Lord God of Hosts' " (Is.6:1).

God has at times permitted the Angels, who are pure spirits, to assume some human form, so that man might be convinced of their actual existence. Usually, they have appeared before man in the form of a handsome youth. In this form God frequently employed the Angels to communicate His wishes to man. Nothing is more casual and unexpected than the mention of Angels in every portion of the Scriptures. Some we even known by name, such as Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. Their intimate connection with man and his trials from Adam and Eve on becomes apparent as soon as we open the Bible. In the third chapter of the first Book, we note how God "placed before of pleasure Cherubim, and a flaming sword, turning every way to keep the way of the Tree of Life" (Gen.3:24). A little later in the same Book, we read that Jacob "saw in his sheep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven; the Angels also of God ascending and descending by it; and the Lord, leaning upon the ladder, saying to him: "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac" (Gen.28:12-13). Theologians interpret this vision to mean that God employs the Angels to carry His blessings to earth, and in turn, the Angels carry the petitions of man to the throne of God.

Power of the Angels.--The power of the Angels to bring material as well as spiritual blessings to man is beautifully revealed in the Book of Tobias. The Archangel Raphael accompanies Tobias into a strange land where he wins his saintly wife, Sara, and gains material wealth and fortune. When Tobias spoke of compensation for the many favors, Raphael answered: " 'I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the Lord. When I was with you, I was there by the will of God. I seemed indeed to eat and to drink with you; but I use an invisible meat and drink, which cannot be seen by men. It is time therefore that I return to Him that sent me.' And when he had said these things, he was taken from their sight, and they could see him no more" (Tob.12:15).

Angels protected Lot and his family at the burning of Sodom and Gomorrha. They protected the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael, who were thrown into the furnace "seven times heated," by the order of the wicked king Nabuchodonozor. They came forth from the furnace unhurt, so that not a hair of their heads was even singed (Dan.3:49). The Angels protected Daniel from the fury of the seven hungry lions, transporting the prophet Habacuc by the hair of his head to the lions' den at Babylon to console and to feed Daniel. So great is their power of protection, that in one night, "it came to pass that an Angel of the Lord came, and slew in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty five thousand" (4 King, 19:35).

Turning to the New Testament, we read how an Angel appeared to Zachary in his old age, saying: "Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard. Thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke. 1:13). This was the future John the Baptist.  Six months later the Angel Gabriel appeared to our Blessed Lady, and told Her that She was to be the Mother of God. It was another Angel that appeared to St. Joseph in his consternation, saying to him: "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in Her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matt.1:20). Angels appeared at the Savior's birth at Bethlehem. The most human-like of all Angels was the Angel that comforted our Savior in His sorrowful agony at Gethsamane. Angels stood at the tomb and rolled back the stone on Easter Morning.  Other Angels appeared to the deacon Philip, watched over St. Paul, and liberated St. Peter from chains in prison.

Guardian Angels.--These, my friends, are but a few of the many cases recorded in Sacred Scripture where Angels appeared to man. And their mission will continue as long as the world exists. So great is the number of the ministering heavenly spirits that they exceed all human calculations. In his vision, St. John says: "Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him" (cf. also Dan. 7 :10). Jesus Himself speaks of "legions of Angels." Further, we are told that "He hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Ps.90:11-12).

This consoling revelation brings us to that sweet and beautiful doctrine of the Guardian Angels. In other words, by virtue of the natural law of the  spiritual world, every human being,  from the time of his conception, is under the tutelage of a heavenly guardian. This was confirmed by our  Lord when, beholding the little children at His feet, He turned to His disciples, saying: "See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their Angels in heaven always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven" (Matt.18:10). How consoling and comforting, therefore, to know that those sweet words of the prayer to the Angel Guardian which we learned from our mother's lip contain a deep religious truth! And even today, how sweet the words are, when we pray:

Angel of God, my guardian dear.

To whom His love commits me here,

Ever this day be at my side,

To light and rule, to guard and guide.

"Every soul," says St. Anselm, "when it comes into the body of the child, is entrusted to an Angel." Yes, "heavenly spirits", exclaims St. Peter Damian, "daily hasten over the globe, and reach out to us a helping hand in the struggle. For how could man, weak as he is, resist, the cunning of the wily and skillful enemy, if the power of the holy Angels did not keep temptation away from us?"

Fallen Angels.--We must never forget that our struggles here on earth for our eternal destiny are not alone against flesh and blood, concupiscence of sinful man, and human frailties.  There is another struggle for possession of our immortal souls that began long before the fall of man.  That battle first began between the Angels. And the same battle still rages on. "There was a great battle in heaven," says St. John. "Michael and his Angels fought with the dragon. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduces the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his Angels were thrown down with him" (Apoc.12:7-9).

Before God admitted the Angels into heaven proper, it seems that He revealed to them, as their test of fidelity, the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, would one day assume the form of man, and become the redeemer of the world. Being pure spirits, some of the Angels, captained by Lucifer, refused to adore the God-Man. These were the first rebels against God's law, the revolutionaries of heaven. And God cast them out. How many Angels fell, is not certain. St.John, in his Apocalypse, relates how the seven headed dragon, when cast out of heaven, drew down with his tail, in his fall, the third part of all the stars (Apoc.12). We do know that the number was very large. "Pride is the beginning of all sin" says the Holy Scripture (Ecclus.10:15). It was pride, therefore, that caused Lucifer's fall.

But these fallen angels, while they carry with them the pains and punishments of hell wherever they go, are not confined solely in hell. They still remain pure spirits, even though they remain evil spirits for all eternity. And, as spirits of evil, they wage a constant warfare against God and His kingdom.  And knowing that man was created to fill one day the empty spaces made vacant by the fallen Angels, they bear an everlasting jealousy against all who aspire to their once happy heavenly abode. And now, having wilfully and deliberately declared open rebellion against God, and having been permanently banished from heaven, Satan claims the world as his own. Excelling us in intelligence and foresight, Satan employs every cunning and subterfuge to seduce souls away from God. Sometimes he appears, as he did with Adam and Eve, even while they were still in their state of innocence, in the guise of a serpent. At other times, as Scripture tells us, "he goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pet.5:8).

Although himself not subject to concupiscence, yet Satan may suggest the vilest of  thoughts, the most abominable acts of sensuality, the unlawful enjoyments of creatures of earth, and say to the one tempted, as he did to Christ: "All these will I give thee, if falling down, you will adore me" (Matt.4:9). And, sad to say, only too many are caught in his snares to their own eternal destruction. For, says St. Gregory the Great, "although the devil has lost happiness, still he has not lost the excellence of his nature, whose energy surpasses that of men." Untiringly, therefore, does he strive and frequently with great success, until he takes complete possession of entire nations as well as individuals. We are all familiar with the numerous murders, sacrileges, acts of pillage, crimes and outrages committed against all that is sacred and holy--committed, I say, with truly satanical fury.

Conclusion.--Here on earth, then, my friends, we behold raging on that same battle that started in heaven between the Archangel Michael and Lucifer, and their followers. The Mystical  Body of Christ is pitted against the mystical body of Satan. The one represents the noblest and most exalted empire of the whole of God's creation, the holy Angels, where all is light and splendor, beauty and purity, love, joy and harmony;  the other is the most horrible and rebellious empire, inhabited by demons, where there is nothing but darkness, ugliness and despair, blasphemy and utmost depravity, hatred, dissension and unspeakable pain and suffering. Each of these two groups comprises innumerable legions of pure spirits who, by their very nature, far transcend the natural faculties and powers of mortal man.

And between these two opposing camps, we find a third group, the empire of man here on earth. This raging battle is being fought unceasingly for the possession of the souls of men. And predictions are that this battle will rage on and grow in ferocity and intensity as the centuries wear on. This raging battle to the death will terminate at the end of the world, when Christ will encounter Antichrist for the final struggle. The outcome of this final struggle has already been foretold.

Mindful of the havoc wrought by Satan, we are told that the holy Pope Leo XIII passed into a swoon one morning while making his thanksgiving after having said Holy Mass. Those who served the Pontiff thought that he had fainted. They hastened to revive him.  He assured the excited friends that he was not ill; but that, while kneeling at the altar, he beheld in a vision the enormous multitude that Lucifer and his evil spirits were daily gaining to their cause away from their Holy Redeemer. It was after this vision that Pope Leo XIII composed the prayer to St. Michael which he directed all priests and the faithful to recite daily at the foot of the altar after every Low Mass. You know the prayer: "Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. Restrain him, O God, we humbly beseech Thee: and do Thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power drive into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls."

This is our great consolation. St. Michael and his faithful followers, together with our own Guardian Angel, constitute our spiritual armor. They dispel fear and terror at the appearance of the spirits of darkness. And you have the assurance that "He hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands, they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Ps.90:11-12). And remember this: Satan may tempt one to sin, he may suggest evil, but he can never force the will of man to sin. And the avoidance of sin is the one thing that matters. And that is always within our power, through God's grace and assistance of the holy spirits.

To some Saints it was granted the privilege to see many Angels that are at our side, when we live in the friendship of God. St. Bernard one day saw a great many Angels enter the choir as his fellow-Religious were assembled for Divine Office. They were surrounded with a wonderful white light like dazzling snow; their eyes shone with heavenly joy. They joined in singing the praises of God. They spoke to some of the Religious, inflaming the hearts of some in their devotion, encouraging others in their good work. St. John Chrysostom is another who told his friends that on one occasion, when he was about to begin the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he saw a great army of the heavenly spirits, clothed in white garments, appear in the church. Their eyes were turned towards the altar, while on bended knee they prayed in silence throughout the Mass. Then they scattered about in the church, assisting the bishop, the priests and the deacon, who were distributing Holy Communion to the people. They were loath to discontinue their adoration before the Body and Blood of the Lord under the appearance of bread and wine.  On other occasions, too, this holy bishop saw the church filled with throngs of Angels. Hence, whatever heroism may be required from us in the days of our earthly pilgrimage, we have this great consolation that our struggles are known to God and His Angels. And, oh,  the happy thought that a throne awaits us somewhere with the nine choirs of Angels! For Christ, our Redeemer has spoken through the mouth of St. John, saying: "To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with Me on My throne; as I also have overcome, and am sat down with My Father on His throne" (Apoc. 3:21).  Amen.