In an age when the existence of Angels is doubted and even denied by certain segments within the modern church, in an age when unbelieving clergy and "religious" are teaching that much of the Bible is a "fairy tale," and thence discard the scriptural account of the Annunciation as a myth; a reaffirmation of belief in these heavenly messengers--God's holy Angels--is needed to counterbalance the scales now heavily weighed down by the heretical Modernist spirit of skepticism and unbelief.
Is it not tragic that, at a time when the mighty power of the angelic Prince St. Michael is so needed by all of those engaged in the furious battle with the infernal powers of the anti-Christ, the public invocation of this mighty defender of the Church which Pope Leo XIII ordered to be recited after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, has now been omitted?
Is it not a further sign of tragedy that the Angels of scriptural account--among them, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael--are now scoffingly dismissed as "figurative symbols" by some so-called modern Scripture "scholars"?
And what a loss to the devotional faith of God's children, who no longer esteem the Angel Guardian entrusted by God's love "to light and to guard, to rule and to guide" their bodies and souls.
In an age of such unbelief, let us focus the attention of our tribute to the Angels upon that angelic messenger of our own century, who taught us the beautiful prayers of faith and hope which are so badly needed to counteract the skeptical spirit of Modernism presently infecting so many minds and destroying numerous souls.
Just as the marvelous event of the Incarnation began with the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Queen of the Angels, so too was the visit of that Heavenly Queen in our own time preceded by the visit of an Angel--the "Angel of Portugal."
How inspiring it is to recount and reflect upon the visits of this Angel to the three little children of Fatima--Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. And how understandable that he would appear to innocent souls, who would readily accept his heavenly messages with simple, unquestioning belief!
The first apparition of the Angel took place on the side of a hill called Lopa do Cabešo in the spring of 1916. Although the children had previously seen a nebulous figure of light, this was the first time they could definitely perceive the Angel and hear him speak.
According to Lucia's account, after the children had finished lunch, there appeared before them "a light whiter than snow, revealing the form of a young man, transparent and much brighter than crystal pierced by the rays of the sun." The Angel approached them, saying: "Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me."
The Angel then knelt, bowing low with his head touching the ground. The three children, impelled by a supernatural impulse, did the same, and then repeated after him: "My God, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee. I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love Thee." Having repeated this prayer three times, the Angel rose and said: "Pray thus. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to your supplications."
Lucia later told Canon Galamba about this visit of the Angel: "The supernatural atmosphere which enveloped us was so intense that, for a long time, we were scarcely aware of our own existence, remaining in the same position and repeating the same prayers.
"So intimate and intense was the feeling of the presence of God, that we did not even attempt to speak to one another.
"The next day we could still feel the holy atmosphere. It began to disappear only very slowly. We said nothing about this apparition... it seemed to impose silence on us. It was of such an intimate nature that it was not easy to speak of it at all."
Let us pause here to reflect upon two important aspects of this apparition. First, the beautiful and simple prayer taught by the Angel is a magnificent expression of faith, hope, and charity. And how great a need is there today of these three indispensable virtues! Let us then repeat this prayer often throughout the day as a reaffirmation of our own faith, hope, and charity, while at the same time imploring God's mercy upon those who are lacking in these virtues, and for those also who are lost in doubt, despair, or coldness of heart.
Secondly, let us ponder the marvel of these three small children experiencing such an intimate union with the Divine! Such is the sweetness of union with God -- that sweetness which we can experience in the reception of the Most Adorable Sacrament of the Altar, IF we have made proper preparation through interior reflection and deep, prayerful contemplation of that great and holy mystery of the Divine Presence. And are we not compelled to utter silence as the Sacred Host touches our tongue, and we are swept up in the awesome act of physical union with our Creator, our Redeemer, our Beginning and our very End! Thus we feel so deeply the need for silent thanksgiving during this sacred time of intimate union with Divine Love. Is there any joy like unto this blessed moment? Let us treasure this brief foretaste of that eternal union with God which we shall experience in Heaven.
* * * * *
The next apparition of the Angel took place in the heat of midsummer, while the children were playing by a well not far from Lucia's home. Suddenly they saw the Angel descending towards them and heard him ask: "what are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have merciful designs upon you. Offer prayers and sacrifices continually to the Most High." "How are we to make sacrifices?" Lucia asked. The Angel replied: "Make everything you do a sacrifice, and offer it as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and as a petition for the conversion of poor sinners. Bring peace to our country in this way. I am its Angel Guardian, the Angel of Portugal. Especially accept and bear with submission the sufferings sent you by Our Lord."
"These words," commented Lucia, "made a deep impression on our minds, like a light making us understand Who God is, how He loves us and desires to be loved, as well as the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to Him, and how, on account of it, He grants the grace of conversion to sinners. For this reason, from that moment we began to offer such mortifications as daily befell us... and to remain for hours with our forehead touching the ground, repeating the prayer the Angel had taught us."
The experience of this second apparition again overwhelmed the children, and for days they remained silent and in a spirit of deep reflection. Jacinta said: "I can't speak, nor play, nor sing; I have no strength for anything." "Nor do I," replied Francisco, "But what does it matter? The Angel is more important than anything! Let us think about him."
Again, let us pause to reflect upon the significance of this apparition. Is it not an overwhelming thought to consider that the Angel admonished these little children, aged only nine, eight, and six, for spending their time in playing when the need for continual prayer and sacrifice was so great? Is that need any less today than it was then? To the contrary! And yet how many parents coddle and pamper their children, never teaching these little souls entrusted to them by God the importance of prayer and sacrifice.
How we underestimate the capacity of children for prayer and sacrifice! It has been our happy experience in our work with the Fatima Youth Cells, over a period of many years, to witness the generous response of the little ones to the explanation of the pleas of the Angel and of Our Blessed Mother for sacrifice and reparation. Very often the children's unreserved "offering of self" far surpasses the half-hearted offering of adults, who are overly imbued with self-love and attachment to material wealth, prestige, security, and comfortable living.
Let us also ponder the extraordinary understanding imparted to the children of the workings of grace. Many a modern, sophisticated "theologian" could well learn a lesson from these simple, little shepherds in this regard. For, with all of their intellectual treatises and emphasis on "ecumenical" dialogue, they cannot effect the conversion of even one soul without the grace earned by the prayers and sacrifices of humble souls. "Unless you become like little children you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. 18:3-4).
In the early Autumn the Angel visited the children once more. As they were praying by the cave on the hill of the Cabešo, the Angel appeared, holding in his hands a Chalice surmounted by a Host, from which drops of Blood were falling into the chalice. Leaving the Host and Chalice suspended in mid-air, the Angel prostrated himself and repeated three times: "O most holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in tabernacles throughout the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners."
Rising, the Angel took the Host and Chalice, giving the Sacred Host to Lucia, and the Sacred Contents of the Chalice to Jacinta and Francisco, saying: "Take and eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God." He then prostrated himself again, repeated the prayer three times to the Most Holy Trinity, and disappeared.
The children were again compelled by the supernatural force that surrounded them and prostrated themselves in imitation of the Angel, repeating the prayer to the Holy Trinity. Francisco told the other two, "I felt that God was in me, but I didn't understand in what way." Lucia commented in later years: "So intensely did we feel the presence of God that we were completely overwhelmed and absorbed by it. It seemed that, for a while, we were deprived of our bodily senses. For some days afterwards our physical actions were impelled by the supernatural. We felt a great inner peace and joy which left our souls entirely immersed in God. A great physical exhaustion seemed to overcome us."
We find in the account of this final apparition much to reflect upon. Once again, the simple, beautiful words of prayer used by the Angel provide us with an expression of profound theological truth which surpasses the most brilliant of intellectual treatises. For these words of belief in the Divine Presence are not written by mere mortals; they are words which emanate from Heaven--from the very Essence of Truth--God Himself.
In an age when the true Presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament is doubted, compromised, and openly denied by some, this prayer of the Angel brings forth with unquestioning clarity the absolute, undeniable, profound, and eternal truth that He--the Lord God Almighty is Himself Present--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the Tabernacles of all true Catholic Churches throughout the world.
And we are further taught by this apparition the unmistakable manner in which the Divine Presence is to be adored. For it is our God who resides in the Tabernacle, our God who is worthy of no less than profound adoration.
As we reflect upon the words of the Angel which implore us to offer reparation to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist for the insults, indifference, outrages, and sacrileges of ungrateful men, can we help but ponder the tragic evidence of these latter which surround us on every side?
Indeed, there is much for which to make reparation to the Holy Eucharist in our time--the spreading influence of Secularism, Modernism, and Satanism, the increasing cult of the Black Mass in which the Sacred Host is profaned; empty churches in which adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is no longer offered; the irreverent "communions" of apathetic "Catholics", devoid of fervor and piety; and, most tragic of all, the increasing influence of humanistic liturgists, who scoff at adoration of the Divine Presence. The influence of these modern-day "reformers" has done much to destroy the realization of the faithful that it is their Lord and their God who is truly and physically present in the Most Holy Eucharist, and that He is deserving of profound adoration. The destructive influence of these unbelieving Modernists is readily evidenced in the removal of altar rails (which are meant to separate the Holy of Holies--the throne of the Most High God--from the mundane); in the shunting aside of the Tabernacle to a makeshift stand in the lower part of the sanctuary; in the insistence upon standing at sacred moments, such as the reception of Holy Communion, instead of kneeling in humble and profound adoration.
The innumerable present insults daily offered to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament should compel us to increase our Communions of reparation with deeper fervor and love, to offer more holy hours and all-night vigils of reparation.
This is the vital lesson of the Angel of Portugal for our time--greater devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, deeper faith and increased reparation. Let us learn that lesson well!SWEET SACRAMENT, WE THEE ADORE!
O MAKE US LOVE THEE MORE AND MORE!
O MAKE US LOVE THEE MORE AND MORE!