Today is the Feast of Michael, Rafael, and Gabriel. No...not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...the Archangels. The only angels that Sacred Scripture has revealed the names of. Why aren't more people aware of the angels? Are they unimportant? Hardly...they just aren't Dogma or official Catholic beliefs in which we are required to believe. However, the Catholic church has a long Tradition of belief in these beings.
I am no expert in church tradition or dogma. I try not to preach, in fact I often just relate things heard at Mass or on EWTN and then do some cursory research if I want to talk about it. So I don't forget is my motto! But I can tell you that these beings have been made a laughingstock by Hollywood and book writers for a long time. In fact, they are NOT bumbling humans trying to earn their wings in their after-life. In fact, humans don't turn into angels after death. Angels are beings created by God, to serve Him. Like us, Angels primary responsibility is to praise God. There is some who theorize that there are categories of angels...seven. The highest being the Archangels who's job is to praise God. Some of these highest level angels have sent messages from God and they have been named in scripture, such as Rafael, who announced Jesus's birth. Satan was one of these most glorious angels...in fact he was said to be the most beautiful angel of all. In his arrogance, he challenged the Lord; a created being challenging his creator. The Lord didn't even deign to respond himself, charging another archangel, Michael, to do his light work. Let that be a lesson to us all...the battle has already been won. If God created all of them, why would He let a lesser angel be in a position to triumph over him. He could smite us all. And has. But in His great love and wisdom He allows us to choose which side we want to be on. Knowing He created all the players and knows the outcome, which side to you really want to bet on.
Sundays first reading is from Isaiah5 1-7. It tells a parable about a farmer who plants a vineyard and takes every precaution to ensure it will yield great fruit, even building a watch tower... but it yields wild grapes. The owner then plans to destroy it. He makes sure no rain can fall in it and leave it to go to weeds. I was listening to EWTN this week and a caller tried to tell the father who was hosting the show that the God of the Old Testament was different from the God of the New or Jesus. The caller could not understand how our God would ask Jewish soldiers to destroy whole cities; even the women and children. To not believe that, is to believe that our God is afraid to do what has to be done. Unlike us, God can look into the soul of small children, who are not innocent but born with original sin and a fully developed sin nature, and see what will be the fruit of this child. We cannot...the wildest child can, and history will bear this out, become a Saint. We cannot know this, but God can. He created us for one purpose...the Baltimore Catechism says he made us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. Not for his purposes but for ours. We cannot know His purposes, but we know that when He created us it was "good." And if He can look to the future and see that this one vineyard will produce no good fruit, then there is no need for it.
Not a fun topic for the kids, but they need to know we have biblical superheroes in the saints and the angels to help us in our journey which is not to be the best at school, best in sports, or even the best behaved child. It is to do God's work on earth and to praise Him. Yes, we can go to Hell and there is a purgatory. And the angels we talk about the most and have special prayers for...guardian angels. Want to guess which of the seven layers they belong to? Yes, guarding the humans comes in at the bottom of the rung at number 7. We are last; praising God is first!
Here is a work sheet to help you talk with your children about this weeks first reading.
Father, please help us as parents to prioritize according to Your will what is most important. Please help us to model that getting to Heaven is the most important thing in our lives, even when the living room is a huge mess and the homework is still to be done. Help us to always remember that even in the chaos of life here on earth, we need to keep You in front of us as a model of perfect parenthood. We need to teach our children to know You, to love You, how to do Your work on earth in order to gain Heaven and spend eternity loving and praising You...amen.