One of my favorite genres of literature is the paranormal. I know I’ve spoken of it before, but I do enjoy a good read. I enjoy stories about fighting evil and having angelic assistance, or supernatural beings helping you. The funny thing is that when you tell people this, they think you’re a little off. But interestingly enough, angels and demons are very much a part of who we are, and the world in which we live. We accept the Good News of Christ, and He warned us over and over about the “evil one” and there is more than one mention of angels in the Bible. The Angel Gabriel came to Mary to announce that she would be the “God-bearer,” or “Mother of God,” the Theotokos. She was uncertain but not fearful of the angel…just a little taken aback by his announcements to her and was more than puzzled at how God would accomplish His task with her, as she “did not know man.” But she did not run and hide from an angel. We should not, either.
I used to tease my sons that we had an entire troop of angels guarding us whenever we drove our van. I used to get them giggling when imagining the angels hanging onto the front of our van, or holding onto the luggage racks on the top, with their wings helping them balance and keep us safe through the crazy traffic that is Southern California (not to mention my heroic driving skills). We would all ask our Guardian Angels to be with us as we drove those congested highways and byways. We would pray our angel comfort someone in need, or call the angels of the doctors treating a sick person to nudge them to perform their best, and to help heal our friends and family. Conversely, we would have our home blessed to keep out evil. If we know and accept angels, we should know and realize the fallen angels are everywhere, too. Each choice we make that takes us away from God was a nudge from an evil, fallen angel, working for the evil one, trying to win a soul away from God. We need to block those nudges from evil by counteracting them with prayer, and with actions. For example, in addition to our priest blessing each and every home in our parish once a year, we would have parish-wide car blessings every year! Every year! Father would bless and anoint with holy water each and every vehicle, inside and out. He would pray over them and ask the angels to watch us as we traveled. It made us all feel better, and safer, invoking a blessing and the action of our angels.
There are jokes about cars and driving that have to do with angels, and one of my favorites is, “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.” Ha-Ha! I’ve always imagined my angel to be a very old, very wise, and a very strong male angel. I don’t think a shy, young, woman would have been able to keep up! But perhaps I am wrong. I only know that there have been times when I have reached for my angel and felt a strong, protective presence. And that is something I cling to some days.
My reading of paranormal literature also keeps me on my toes. I read about all these battles and it reminds me that my life is a battle, too. I am constantly waging a war against my worse self, reaching for my best self. I feel nudges that push me away from God – and I have to fight those, too. We all do. The battle is for our eternity, for our soul.
I posted yesterday about my hurt with my community and the realization that our battles are in our community, too. I used to tease people that sloth sits on one shoulder, gluttony on the other. Those are rough companions. There are many other sinful traits that people cling to because they have become habit, and are part of our comfort zones. I know some of the issues facing us as a community revolve around the sin of pride..and part of that is the fear, I think, of being of non-importance to the people around you. How scary to think that if you were not prideful, no one would pay attention to you. So to cling to your “position,” you hold on to pride. Humility and being humble in a group is the flip side of pride. Being truly humble does not mean you allow others to walk all over you. Rather, it means you think of others, and you value others above and before self.
I do not think pride is at the root of all the issues our community faces, but it sure plays a big role. And we are all battling the sin of pride when we allow ourselves to become more important than our faith, than our Church, than our community, than anyone else. Who cares who does what? Get in and serve, shoulder to shoulder, with your fellow believers. Serve others, first and always. Do not think of self…lay self aside. I think it is amazing how much room in your life you have for others when you take yourself out of the equation. Serving the poor in our community came to define who we were as a community in my former parish. Before we took that on in earnest, truly committing to it, we were wanderers, getting lost in the world. We put our actions where our beliefs were and we served the poor all around us. We got out of our own way, and we began to live what we believed. We battled the evil all around us and we prayed…man oh man, did we pray. We offered our time, talents, and treasure to helping those around us with less. There was a push to not serve by many…once we talked and once they saw our commitment, they slowly joined in. Fear kept them from diving in and helping. Fear of the unknown. Fear of germs. Fear of having those less fortunate “rub off” on them. And you know what? Pride was less and less in the forefront and humility and service began to flourish. Peace was slowly creeping into our community.
My prayer today is that we somehow find a way to extinguish the flame of pride and become the light of Christ. First we have to love one another, but then we need to put our love to work, helping the poor around us. Because our poor are always with us. God gives us ample opportunity to serve them, we just need to stop blocking our view of opportunities to serve, with our thoughts of self, and our pride. The healing can be incredible. So let’s all put on the angelic armor of God, fight this ugliness, and win hearts and minds for Christ.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen.