Exhortation to Love and Devotion for the Holy Angels.

Exhortation to Love and Devotion for the Holy Angels.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Exhortation to Love and Devotion for the Holy Angels.

THE knowledge of the wise, says the Holy Spirit in Ecclesiasticus, is like, in its abundance, to the overflowing of waters;[1] for even as we see fields and whole lands covered and submerged by the incursion of rivers or of the sea, so the mind of a Christian, divinely illuminated by faith—wherein is to be found the knowledge of the wise, and without which there is no true wisdom—is sometimes so surrounded with floods of light, that it is necessarily lost therein, by reason both of their abundance and their brightness. This truth is marvellously displayed in the revelation which Christianity makes to us of the holy angels; and we may truly say that this science of love and of those admirable spirits is a holy and divine inundation. We have but to think of it seriously for a moment, and a host of reasons will crowd in upon the mind, overwhelming it with their force and multitude; it is, indeed, an abyss of love in which we lose ourselves. We discover so many motives and so many reasons to love these spirits, who are all love, and all these motives are so touching, and all these reasons so urgent, that we feel altogether bewildered. We desire to declare them because the zeal of our devotion impels us to do so, and we are unable to express them. It is the property of great things to be unutterable. This illumination causes a species of martyrdom in the soul which loves; it is wonderful how its love increases its light, and how the light it receives increases its love; and how, by virtue of its very greatness, this love at last makes the soul feel as though it were powerless to love, because, love prompting it to make known the dear object of its affections, the great knowledge it possesses thereof takes away from it the power of expressing how lovely it is. It rejoices, however, in the thought that the holy motives which dispose our hearts to love the good angels are greater than language can convey; and this thought brings with it a sweet satisfaction; for it is much to say of these sublime intelligences, that it is not possible worthily to declare their excellencies. But after all, love is a fire which cannot be hid, sooner or later it must burst forth; and if it is difficult to know how to speak of devotion to the holy angels, it would be still more difficult to be silent.

In a word, then, all possible motives, all imaginable reasons, urge us to love these spirits of love, and to such a degree, that a man must surely have neither mind to reflect nor heart to love, or he must confess that nothing can be more just than devotion to the holy angels, and that they ought to be loved at any rate. Thus I have always said, As for me, I am not afraid of not loving the holy angels—always supposing the aid of divine grace—for that seems to me impossible: but I am afraid of not loving them enough. God, on His part, obliges us thereto, and the creature also obliges us: this is, to say everything in few words. If you regard God, you must love the angels; if you regard the creature, if you regard yourself, you must love them. Pure love commands it; self-love requires it; God Only wills it; the most holy Virgin and all the Saints desire it; our own pleasure and satisfaction, our own interest, demand it.

If you have given yourself to God only, you must give yourself to the holy angels; if your love is mixed with self-interest, that again obliges you to be devout to them. In truth, the hearts of men are moved to love in very different ways. There are some, but they are few in number, who possess a generosity of spirit so divine, that, looking no longer in a manner at what concerns themselves, neither at temporal nor spiritual interests, neither at heaven nor hell, time nor eternity, regarding neither their own salvation nor their own glory, in an entire forgetfulness of self, they look to God alone. God alone is their only all in all things. God alone it is who is their motive in everything; it is He alone whom they desire in life, in death, and after death. There are others, again, who look to God and love Him; but at the same time that they have an eye to God and to His love, they have an eye to their own interests. The hearts of some are attracted by beauty, others are led by honour, others again are allured by profit. You will see some impressed by greatness, or captivated by extraordinary excellencies and perfections; others again who are won upon by constant love, faithful services, and particular obligations. Thus men who have hearts, and hearts which love, are attracted to love in very different ways; as they have not the same inclinations, so neither are they moved to love by the same considerations. He who loves profit will not trouble himself so much about honour, because the things that are most honourable are often not the most useful; and so again, he who loves honour will despise money; he will not set his heart upon it like the miser; he must spend in order to attain that eminence to which glory leads him to aspire. But were there anything in the world which could equally bestow riches, honour, and pleasure, assuredly it would be loved greatly by all.

Here, then, O men! I call you to love and devotion for the holy angels. Every kind of good is to be found in their love. If you love God, you must love the angels; if you love the rare perfections with which God has endowed creatures, you must love the angels; if you love yourselves, you must love them; if temporal things interest you, their services in this respect are beyond belief. If you love pleasure, honour, and profit, these blessed spirits will procure them for you in this life, provided it be for the glory of their Master or the good of your soul; but it is perfectly certain that they will obtain for you in eternity pleasures which surpass all human thought, as well as honours and treasures inestimable. If you desire the patronage of the powerful, there is nothing more powerful among created beings than the angelic nature. If you desire the consideration of the great, ah! they are the great princes of the empyrean, the princes and the kings of a glorious eternity. But that which is very sweet to think upon is that they share their crowns with their friends; they make them their associates in power: to be a true friend of the angels is to be on the certain road to a kingdom, and to be well assured of receiving one day the sceptre. and the diadem of an imperishable glory. Ah! how unlike is their conduct to that of the great of this world, who set their hearts upon nothing so much as upon reigning alone; while what these princes of love most ardently desire is to have companions in their empire. If your heart is captivated by beauty, they are preeminently beautiful; but their beauty is not like to that earthly beauty which is but on the surface of the skin, and which an illness effaces: their loveliness is unchangeable, and remains for ever unchanged. But as the matter of salvation is of the last importance, it is in this one great business that we receive from them the most extraordinary assistance.

In fine, they are friends matchless in merit, in love, in constancy. Their merits, their perfections, and their excellence no pen can describe, no mouth, however eloquent, can declare. Their love for men is altogether marvellous, for it comprises every kind of love. Their constancy is incredible, since they are never weary of loving us, whatever cause of displeasure we may give them. They keep untiring watch over everything which concerns us. They serve us as a fortress against the power of the devils. They are our protection and our defence against all our other enemies. They are all at the service of all men, and that for every manner of service, however vile and abject it may be. Great truths these in few words!

In short, if you belong to the number of those pure souls who act only according as the Spirit of Jesus Christ moves them, and who regard God only, you must, as we have already said, love the angels; and whither could our inclinations lead us with more justice and holiness than towards these objects of the sweetest complacency of God? If it be true that the love of God must be the rule of our love, how exalted should be our love for the angels, who are the matchless creations of the love of God! Assuredly we often deceive ourselves in the objects of our friendship, but in loving what God loves, and as God wills we should love, we cannot possibly be deceived. Whichever way, then, we turn, we find ourselves constrained to have devotion to the holy angels. The heart of man must change its nature, or he cannot but love the angels; for whither shall he go to escape angelic love? If he ascend up to heaven, there he will meet with those enrapturing splendours of a blessed eternity; and their beauty is irresistible: it must conquer him, or he must cease to love. If he make the circuit of the earth, and seek the farthest limits of the world, all elements, fire, air, water, earth, and all that he finds therein, proclaim aloud the love of these sovereigns of love. The sun in his perpetual course, which a presiding angel guides, announces every day this love from one end of the world to the other, and that bright orb, with its illuminating rays, plainly declares this truth to all creatures here below. The dawn which precedes the rising of the sun publishes from the very break of day the loving care of these spiritual lights, the morning stars of creation; and the night is never dark enough to hide their goodness. The light of these divine stars knows no setting. Stationed on the walls of the mystic Jerusalem, these sentinels watch by night as well as by day. If we go down to the very centre of the earth, we shall see, amidst the fires of Purgatory, the love of these charitable spirits burning with more intensity even than the purifying flames. Countries the most forsaken receive assistance from them. These suns of the empyrean rise upon sinners as well as on the just. There lives not a pagan, not a savage, not one reasonable creature, however mean and wretched, but has an angel for his guardian. They are to be found in the vilest hovels of the most degraded beings on earth, as well as in the palaces of princes; every soul experiences their help; all nature is assisted by them; in short, it may be truly said that on every side we behold the triumph of their love.

How is it possible, then, to resist so many charms, so many sweet and powerful motives? O ye sons of men! how long will you be dull of heart? How long will you love everything but what you ought to love? We can but weep over the insensibility and blindness of men. These are undoubted truths, and it is evident that we have every conceivable motive to love the holy angels. Nevertheless, devotion to them is very rare; and if these spirits are very loving, they are also very little loved. It is true that devotion to our angel guardians, who generally belong to the lowest choir, begins to be more common; but there are few who practise devotion to all the other choirs of these celestial hierarchies. Few cultivate any love to the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the Thrones, the Dominations, the Virtues, the Powers, the Principalities, and the Archangels.

I know that this defect is to be ascribed to the absence of the interior life in the majority of souls. They are all immersed in the flesh, and nothing but the things of sense affect them; there are few who, by their detachment from material objects, and their perfect disengagement of spirit, give scope to those pure elevations of grace which raise our minds to a heavenly conversation, while our bodies still live here below upon earth, and which, by revealing to us the spiritual world, fix our attention on what passes there. Looking upon our guardian angels as near to us—and this is so far well; indeed, we cannot think too much about them—and regarding them as ever watchful to procure for us that which is good, and to deliver us from evil, we feel a little more interest about them; and yet, after all, the return we make is as nothing when we attentively consider the extraordinary obligations we owe them. But why not cultivate a friendship with the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and all the other angels? The more exalted they are, the greater is their power as well as their love; and, what ought to move us still more, there is more of God in them, which is the one great motive with those souls who love God purely. You, who read these pages, tell me if the kings of the earth were willing to receive you to their private friendship, and to place you in the number of their greatest favourites, what would you do? Examine your heart a little upon this question, and let it be honestly; then reflect that it rests solely with yourself to contract sweet and everlasting friendships with a countless number of the kings of heaven; it rests solely with yourself to enjoy their highest favour. If you do but desire it—-and I conjure you to reflect repeatedly on this truth—it will be your own fault if, through their interest, you do not become, like them, kings in the blessed abode of the empyrean.

Truly it would be my desire to use every possible means, with the help of divine grace, to arouse the minds of men, and bring them in some measure out of their state of blindness on the subject of devotion to all the choirs of angels. It is this motive which has prompted me to compose this little book in their honour. I have long been pressed to do so, not only by excellent persons to whom I owe deference, but much more by those inward solicitations which I have experienced. For more than fourteen or fifteen years I have felt myself so strongly urged thereto, and with so many proofs that it is the All-Good God who asks me to undertake this little task, that I should consider myself to be very unfaithful to grace were I to resist. After composing my other little works of “God Only.”’ “The Love of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament,” and “Devotion to the Most Admirable Mother of God,” it is but just that I should write of love and devotion to the nine choirs of holy angels. I shall be reminded, perhaps, that the number of devotional books is already large, but a great Saint of our days, the glorious Francis de Sales, has long ago replied to this objection. Alas! we never hear it made matter of complaint that people are almost always speaking of earth; for do but take notice, and you will observe that almost the whole conversation in society turns upon the objects of sense. The earth, and the men who inhabit it, the pleasures and the profits of this world, form well-nigh the whole occupation of minds and hearts, and consequently the whole subject-matter of their conversation and writings.

Just reflect a moment seriously how few there are in any single city whose conversation is of God, and of those precious ways which lead to the blessed fruition of Him, as poverty, chastity, mortification, or self-denial How many letters are written every day in all parts of the world! And is it not true that almost all these letters have reference only to the affairs of earth?—letters about lawsuits, rents, farms, money, letters to promote the writer’s establishment in the world, to keep up his interest with creatures, to secure their friendship and esteem, and to avoid their contempt and estrangement—in short, for the honour and glory of this miserable world: yet who complains of all these letters? But O the blindness and frightful insensibility of creatures, O darkness and hardness of heart, worthy of tears of blood: people cry out that too many writings are devoted to the love, the honour, and the interest of God! How abominable in all things are thy ways, O world! I resolve never to entertain for thee anything but horror, and every imaginable aversion. I do not trouble myself, therefore, about what thou thinkest, or mayest think or say: God only, God only, God only—and He suffices me. Thy esteem, O world, and thy friendship, and all thy talk, do not deserve a moment’s thought, unless it be to detest them. If we are told that all the little things we say in these books of ours are very worthless, we most readily agree; we believe and say the same thing: but this it is that makes us look for greater blessings from heaven; the less there is to expect from the creature, the more there is to be looked for from God. My very nothingness supports me, for I know that God has drawn His greatest works out of nothing.

[1] “Scientia sapientis tanquam inundatio abundabit,” xxi. 16.

Nihil Obstat:
Henricus S. Bowden.
                   Censor deputatus.                          
Imprimatur:
Edm. Can. Surmont,
                    Vic. Gen. 
Westmonasterii,
Die 9, Martii, 1911.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

_______________________________________________

October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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