Practice: to have a Profound Reverence and Extraordinary Love for the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.

Practice: to have a Profound Reverence and Extraordinary Love for the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.


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.

Practice: to have a Profound Reverence and Extraordinary Love for the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim.

THE first hierarchy is composed of the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; it receives its lights immediately from God, which by it are communicated to the two other hierarchies.

The Seraphim excel in the pure love of God only, their very name signifying ardour and burning. All the angels are admirable in the love of God, but the Seraphim are incomparable therein. All these angelic spirits love exceedingly, but when we speak of the love of the Seraphim, we mean a fervour of love which is beyond compare—always excepting the most holy Virgin, the Queen of holy love. Seraphic love signifies intense love, which is ever burning and consuming. The great St. Denis mentions eight properties which belong to it, and which he compares to those of fire. Fire is in constant motion, and the spirits of the Seraphim are continually tending in an ineffable manner towards God. Fire is ever active, and the Seraphim are incessantly intent on God only, never being occupied, even for the space of the briefest moment, either with themselves or with any created thing. Fire is inflexible, and the love of the Seraphim is invincible; nothing can prevail against it. Fire is intensely hot; and the love of the Seraphim is a burning love. Fire, so long as it flames, never loses its light, and the strength of Seraphic love abides ever in its fulness. Fire is penetrating; and the love of the Seraphim, not satisfied with an ordinary degree of union with God, desires the closest and most intimate. Fire not only penetrates what is combustible, but permeates it throughout; and Seraphic love plunges, loses, and ingulfs itself in the abyss of the Divinity by a glorious transformation. Fire communicates warmth and purifies; the Seraphim carry love and light into all the choirs of the inferior angels.

Light is attributed specially to the Cherubim, as love to the Seraphim. They are not only styled learned in the divine science of Heaven, but St. Gregory affirms that they have the very fulness of it. Divine light imparts to them admirable knowledge, and the holy effulgence with which they are replenished is reflected in abundant streams upon the other hierarchies. They are represented by the Prophet Ezekiel (i. 18) under a sensible figure, with eyes on all sides, because these spirits are all light and brilliancy.

The Thrones are thus styled with a reference to the thrones of the sovereigns of the earth, because as these material thrones are raised above the ground, so also these celestial Thrones are exalted to a most sublime height, into a close vicinity to the glory of the Majesty of God; with this difference, that the great ones of the earth are seated, support themselves, and repose upon their thrones, whereas, on the contrary, the Thrones of Heaven derive their firmness and all their repose from the Sovereign of Paradise. We are told, it is true, as St. Bernard remarks, that God is seated upon these spirits of peace, whence also they are styled Thrones but God (continues this Father) would not be seated upon them if they did not repose upon Him: hence flows that incomprehensible peace which they possess, surpassing all that we can possibly conceive. We must add, that, like as kings sometimes cause themselves to be borne in their royal chair, so also God in a certain manner conveys His Spirit by these angels, and communicates It to the inferior angels and to men; as kings give judgment upon their thrones, so also it is from the midst of these Thrones that God pronounces His decrees: it is there that the Dominations learn them; it is there that His Divine judgments and counsels are manifested.

If this be so, we may well say that we are in every way bound to love the Thrones, the Cherubim, and the Seraphim; and, if it be most meet that we should feel respect and love for all the angels, for these we must entertain unparalleled reverence and surpassing love. The Lord, says the Scripture (Ps. lxxv. 3), has chosen His abode in peace. In time of war, then, let your devotions be offered to the Thrones, to obtain that peace which the world cannot give. Beseech of them that you may enjoy it with yourself, with God, and with your neighbour. “If I did yet please men,” said the great Apostle (Gal. i. 10), “I should not be the servant of Jesus Christ.” There are certain persons, preachers, superiors, men who hold offices in the Church, who have so great a dread of displeasing creatures, and so great a desire to content them, who fear so much the censure of the world and the judgment which may be passed upon them, who are so alarmed at contradiction, that they allow those who are under them to wage war against God by sin and infidelity to their trusts. This is the peace which the Son of God protests aloud (Matt. x. 34) that He came not to bring upon earth; and thus our amiable Lord was ever on earth a sign of contradiction (Luke ii. 84); men would not endure His presence among them, and it cost Him at last His Divine Life.

In order to be firmly established in this divine peace which all devils and men united cannot disturb, we must (to express it in a few words) fear nothing and hope nothing from any living creature. In these few words is comprehended a peace which is beyond all thought. To this we may add, Believe only in God, hope only in God, love but God only; never believe the world, or its arguments, or its maxims; never hope for anything from the world, from its honours, its pleasures, or its goods; never love the world, and behold you are settled in a profound peace. No longer make account of any created things; never look at them save in their nothingness; never desire any share in the esteem or in the heart of any one; banish the good from your heart as well as others; make no exception; be ready to suffer at the hands of all creatures without reserve, of your nearest friends as well as of your enemies; never believe that any injury can be done to you, but live in a state of entire abandonment to Divine Providence, prepared to enter upon ways the most distressing, be they exterior or interior; make no reservation with respect to any particular cross; entertain no longer any desires; lose them all in the good pleasure of God; let God alone suffice you, and behold you already enjoy the peace of Paradise! And here you must remember that disturbance in the inferior part is quite compatible with the peace which resides in the depths of the soul, and which sometimes even remains hidden from us; thus it frequently happens that we are never in a better state than when we think ourselves in the worst. The devil gives us a false peace, which sooner or later fails to keep out disquietude and trouble. However, if peace is the gift of gifts, and if our Lord ordains it through the ministry of the blessed Thrones, no doubt can remain but that we ought to have a very singular devotion to these spirits of peace.

I say the same with respect to the Cherubim, since they are the angels of the most brilliant lights of Paradise, who best know how to instruct us in the excellent science of the Saints. It is said with truth, that we already know more than we perform; that in the ways of virtue light abounds more than practice; nevertheless, it is also true, though you will scarcely believe it, that perfect light is rare. I speak not here of that light of human science which learned men derive only from their books—we all know that such light is common enough in our day—but of that of the Saints, which is more often to be found in some poor lay brother, or some poor simple woman (simple femmelette) of truly mortified life, than among the learned. Oh, how rare it is, not only to love contempt, abjection, poverty, self-renunciation, the hidden and unknown life, but even to be thoroughly persuaded of the excellence of these things! It is true you will hear people occasionally talking about them because they have been reading of them, or have heard the subject treated in a conference, but this does not spring from any thorough conviction of the mind; or, if the soul is touched with these truths, it is but very superficially. It is at the feet of Jesus Christ Crucified that this science is learned; and this, not so much by means of the exercise of the understanding in prayer, by the discursive method, or by meditation, as by a bright supernatural light which is vouchsafed, and which is scarcely ever given save to the poor, the abject, and the humble. Few, even among those who make profession of devotion, learn this great lesson of the school of God: that it is good for us that men should not so much as know that we are in the world; that we should live therein utterly unknown, or known only to be crucified, and to be held in utter contempt; that there is nothing greater than to be trodden underfoot; that the highest consolation is to suffer terrible crosses, both interior and exterior; that everything in the world is nothing. Scarcely are directors to be met with who, esteeming no longer anything save God only and Jesus Crucified, and being intimately persuaded that there is nothing on earth—neither honours, nor pleasures, nor riches—which deserves to occupy the attention of a Christian, help souls to walk in the safe path of self-annihilation. If peradventure some are to be met with, instantly all hell conspires against them; it excites a dread of them; they are feared, no one knows why; it causes a thousand rumours to be circulated about them; it endeavours to create mistrust of them; a thousand other directors or preachers do not alarm the devils so much as one of this sort. A devil, constrained by the authority of Holy Church, confessed that the person on earth he feared most was that holy man, Father John of the Cross, because, said this spirit of hell, he teaches men to go to God only by the road of nothingness; accordingly, the effects of the rage of these diabolical spirits against the man of God were soon evident in the calumnies they raised against him, in the inquiries which superiors instituted into his life, and in the ill-treatment which he received at their hands.[1]

As the Cherubim are the sacred ministers of the light of God, so are the Seraphim of His love. Whoever, then, aspires to pure love, ought to feel an extraordinary love for these amiable spirits, and to cultivate a special intimacy with them. The saints who have excelled the most in pure love received marvellous aid from them; as, for instance, St. Francis and St. Teresa. It was a Seraph, as we have already noticed, who imprinted on St. Francis the Wounds of the Saviour; it was a Seraph who lovingly pierced with a sacred arrow the generous heart of the great Teresa. All the great lovers of the Son of God, those who have excelled even among the greatest saints, can have no higher glory in Heaven than that of being placed in the choir of these spirits who are all love. It is to their blessed company that the souls most eminent in perfection may aspire. The late M. Gallemant, a most apostolic man, and one of the first superiors of the holy Order of the Carmelites in France, said that this Order was destined to fill up the choir of the Seraphim, if it made good use of the super-excellent grace it employs. In the miraculous apparitions with which the Blessed Virgin favoured the Venerable John of the Cross, this Queen of Angels was seen holding a casket, or, as it might be, a book, of marvellous whiteness, which rested on the head of a Seraph, and which she presented to St. Teresa, and to this man of God, who was kneeling at her feet. Now this casket evidently signified the Carmelite rule; it was laid on the head of a Seraph, to intimate that they who were called to observe it were under obligation to live as Seraphim on earth; and this Seraph appeared without a crown, because he represented those who are yet in the way; above were to be seen others with their crowns on, to show at the same time that, after this life, these earthly Seraphim should share the crowns of the heavenly Seraphim, and fill the seats from which the apostate spirits of this choir were miserably precipitated.

[1] See supra, p. 69.


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


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


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,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


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,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


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


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.

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:
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.


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:
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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