The Great Assistance which the Holy Angels afford us at the hour of Death and after Death.

The Great Assistance which the Holy Angels afford us at the hour of Death and after Death.

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.

The Great Assistance which the Holy Angels afford us at the hour of Death and after Death.

IF one of the greatest philosophers held that death was the most terrible of all terrible things, ignorant as he was of that which follows, what ought Christians to think, to whom an all-gracious God has so mercifully  revealed it? When the mind seriously considers that upon that tremendous moment hangs the decision of a blessed or miserable eternity, that few, very few, receive a favourable sentence, and that the greater number are condemned for ever to the unrelenting flames of hell, we must be more than insensible not to feel our heart pierced through and through with the extremest terror. But do we indeed believe those words of the Son of God, which teach us that the way of life is very narrow, and that few are they who find it? (Matt. vii. 14.) Do we believe that fearful truth which He has revealed to us, that very few are saved?[1] Do we reflect that we are ever advancing, or rather say, running towards death, where we must experience the truth of these infallible but terrible words, you who read this, and I who write it? What! is it indeed true that “the just shall scarcely be saved?” (2 Pet. iv. 18)—a thought which makes the most innocent souls tremble—and yet that the sinner may live in security, as if Paradise became his due at death, and that he had nothing to fear? O my God and my Lord! enter not into judgment with Thy poor servant, for in Thy Divine Presence no man shall be justified.[2] The holy Abbot Agathon, being at the point of death, was seized with extreme dread, and as his disciples, astonished, asked him if he had anything on his conscience which could give a reasonable cause for such apprehension, he replied, that, through the great mercy of our Lord, his conscience did not reproach him with anything, but that the judgments of God were very different from those of men. “All our justices,” as Scripture teaches us (Isa. lxiv. 6), are but uncleanness when placed in the light of His divine purity.

If, therefore, the holy angels afford us great succour at that dreadful hour, then it is that they give us clear proof that they are our true friends. The true friend is known in affliction, and when we are in a great state of abandonment. Now, what affliction is like to death, when it is question of losing all or gaining all, when all leave us, and that without exception: husbands their wives; fathers and mothers their children; the most faithful friends those who are dearest to them? No one bears us company to the tomb; the soul passes alone into Eternity; the body goes alone into the sepulchre. Oh, what an awful solitude! and how fitting it is that it should often form the occupation of our thoughts! All the creatures of earth abandon us; not one amongst them comes to take our part at the judgment-seat of God; the closest friendships of this world end at death. It is the privilege of angelic love, that it should extend beyond death itself: thus we cannot repeat too often, that in love the angels are incomparable.

Our Lord has revealed that those souls which had a particular devotion to the holy angels during their lifetime, receive extraordinary assistance from them at the hour of death; and it is just that it should be so; for it is then that our Lord, the God of the great Eternity, rewards the worthy reception of His ambassadors; His honour is interested therein; for the good or bad treatment which the ambassadors of a king receive is referred to his person, and theologians hold that an affront offered to an ambassador is a legitimate ground for war. Now, the holy angels are the ambassadors of the King of kings; what, then, do they not deserve who have scarcely noticed them, have scarcely thought of them, have scarcely thanked them, and have even treated them with the greatest ingratitude, with the utmost contempt, rejecting their counsels, and insolently disregarding their remonstrances? O my God, how many things will that moment of death reveal to us! Blessed are those souls who, by their docility to the holy movements which these spirits of love have inspired, shall, by the love and devotion which they have shown to these charitable Intelligences, have prepared themselves to receive their special aid and the glorious reward of God!

After death, the holy angels present our souls before the tribunal of God, and there defend our great eternal cause. Oh! well will it be for us to have at that time such good and zealous advocates. They accompany us into glory overflowing with joy. They visit us in Purgatory, and render us there all imaginable good offices which can be looked for from the most perfect and constant friendship. They console the suffering souls, but it is after their own angelic manner; that is to say, with consolations altogether heavenly, to which all the joys of this world are only shadows, and mere phantoms; they obtain their relief, or their deliverance, by the prayers, Masses, alms, and mortifications which they inspire persons to offer for them; and sometimes they even appear in visible shape, in order to urge them to do so, availing themselves of the species of our imagination to represent those who have been known to us, and this especially during sleep. In fine, the learned Suarez is of opinion, that at the day of judgment they will collect the ashes of those whose guardians they have been. Is it possible to conceive solicitude more loving or more faithful? But why all this precious love expended on such wretched creatures, if it were not that in the creature they regard God only?

[1] The statement in the text is not to be understood aa if it were undoubtedly a revealed truth that very few are saved. Such a statement or doctrine is simply an inference which may or may not be deducible from our Lord’s words. For, to the question, “Are they few that are saved?” He made no direct reply, but gave this practical exhortation, “Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able” (Luke xiii. 23, 24). The reader will find the question debated by F. Rogacci, “Holy Confidence,” chap. xxv.; and by F. Faber, “The Creator and the Creature,” Book III. chap. ii, who also distinctly states the dilferent opinions that have been held by theologians on the subject.

[2] Ps. cxlii. 2.

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.

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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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