2 October, Saturday — You cannot go astray from God without consequence

Oct 2 – Memorial for The Guardian Angels

The term ‘guardian angels’ refers to the belief that each soul has an angel who is available to shepherd the soul through life, and help bring them to God.

Belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God, and Man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. Cherubim kept Adam and Eve from slipping back into Eden; angels saved Lot and helped destroy the cities of the plains; in Exodus, Moses follows an angel, and at one point an angel is appointed leader of Israel. Michael is mentioned at several points, Raphael figures large in the story of Tobit, and Gabriel delivered the Annunciation of the coming of Christ.

The concept of each soul having a personal guardian angel is also an ancient one, and long accepted by the Church:

“See that you despise not one of these little ones [children]: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 18:10

“How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” – St. Jerome in his commentary on Matthew.

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14

The feast, celebrating the angels who helped bring us to God began in many local calendars centuries ago, and was widely known by the 16th century. Pope Paul V placed a feast venerating the angels on the general calendar on 27 September 1608. Ferdinand of Austria requested that it be extended to all areas in the Holy Roman Empire.

Initially placed after the feast of Michael the Archangel, it was seen as a kind of supplement to that date. Pope Clement X elevated the feast, celebrated on 2 October, to an obligatory double for the whole Church. On 5 April 1883, Pope Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major.

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“O angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom whose love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to rule and guard, to light and guide. Amen.” – Prayer to our guardian angel

Bar 4:5-12,27-29
Mat 18:1-5,10

As by your will you first strayed away from God, so now turn back and search for him ten times as hard.

God’s words are documented — they live and remain alive through ages into eternity — and the accounts in the Holy Book, the Bible, serve as reminders in teaching us, in thoughts and expectations. The writers of the messages were inspired; and God’s inspirations continue to this day; they are hinged on His revelations that continue to guide and protect humanity. For human beings, we are made in the image and likeness of God, uniting the spiritual and material worlds. Creating man is a wondrous vision, and the human race could be contemplated in the unity of its origin in God. And for that reason, we cannot stray away from God without consequences.

In 1988, a young man called Paul was ordained a Catholic priest in Southwest part of Nigeria. His ordination attracted strong commendation and solidarity from the Church hierarchy and the local community. The priest came from a mixed-faith background — his father was a Christian and Catholic, and his mother was Muslim. He served as an associate priest in a parish for three years and in 1992, he was sponsored for a postgraduate study in theology abroad. He went for a three-year course and, upon completion, refused to return to continue his service as a priest. Surprisingly, he left the country where he was sent for his studies and relocated to another country, cutting off communication with his local ordinary and brother priests; members of his family insisted they had no contact with him. Years later, his parents died and no one was able to reach him; some speculated that he might have died. So for eleven years, he was away without trace.

Then in 2003, he came back to Nigeria with conflicting tales surrounding his time outside of his vocation; it was obvious from investigations that he wandered into the secular world with absolute delusion. Returning to his vocation was a big problem but finally, his local ordinary resolved to send him to a monastery for an extensive retreat for six months. Thereafter, he returned to his vocation. For the next fifteen years, he was a vibrant priest, he held ministrations and crusades in parishes in many parts of Nigeria, spreading the gospel far and wide. Shockingly, in February 2020, he collapsed while delivering a sermon in his parish and died on the way to a health facility. It was shocking and yet revealing; for me, this has one lesson — that straying from God is risky. When you go astray from God, endeavour to return on time to settle your accounts with Him because He may call for the accounts at any time.

(Today’s Oxygen by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike, KSJI, JP)

Prayer: Lord, Our Father, help us not to go astray from you, guide us to live in ways according to our vocations pleasing to you. We trust that you will help us through paths that will guide us into salvation at the end of our time in this world, Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us and guiding us through the path of our vocation pleasing to you. We thank you for providing us the guide to achieve this desire and promise not to depart from you, Amen.

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