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Vol. IV, March 1998

 

United in the Worship of God

Dear Brothers in the priesthood!

For a good two years now we have been reading the books of Moses, and have tried to understand the presence and mission which God has entrusted to the holy Angels in the life and history of mankind and especially in that of the Chosen People. We saw the different dimensions of their activity; we reflected on their character as pure spirits who adhere exclusively to God. God willing, we have also come to a deeper conviction about their constant presence and to a firmer belief that God sends them to man, and in special mission to priests. Hence, our awareness increases that we are never alone, that we have powerful helpers with us when we live and speak or act in behalf of God!

1. Gen 1, 1 gave us an insight into the entire history of salvation and into the Divine plan with His creatures: the union of all with God in the "beginning", in Christ, the Divine Word, both as to the plan - "He [the Father] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1, 4) - as well as to the execution because "all things were created through Him and for Him" (Col 1 ,16). We saw the manifold correlation's existing between the created pure spirits and men in many events.

The last chapters of the books of Moses, the Pentateuch, refer several times to God "Who rides through the heavens to your help" (Dt 33,27; see Ps 18,10, which expressly identifies the Cherubim as the 'wind' upon which He flew; Ps 68,5 etc.). The holy Angels surround God and they call man near to the dwelling place of God, as they did Moses. He gave the testimony: God "came from Sinai,... He came from the ten thousands of Holy Ones, with flaming fire at His right hand" (Dt 33,2). Moses taught the people to say before the Lord: "Look down from Thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Thy people Israel and the ground which Thou hast given us" (Dt 26,15). The Angels' proximity to God expressed here explains and testifies to their undivided and total consecration to God.

Consequently, the Angels are the first to be called to witness to God's Holiness and Majesty: "I lift up My hand to heaven, and swear, as I live for ever" (Dt 32,37.40). They are witnesses to His orders: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse" (Dt 30,19; cf 4,26), and again: "Assemble to Me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them" (Dt 31,28).

For God's sake alone do these holy Servants of God stand in the service of mankind; out of love for God they love their neighbors - in the manner and measure that God permits! Whoever, therefore, does not correspond to God's holy Will and does not respect His Divine rights, will be destroyed by His zealous defenders: "He would not pardon such a fault" (Ex 23, 20), "and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven" (cf Dt 29,20), that is, out of the presence of the Angels. Indeed, the Angels are God's servants in the execution of these chastisements (cf Ex 12, 23).

2. However, these references do not reveal the final intention of God "in the beginning." He wants both together with Him, Angels and men. That might be one reason why Moses directs his final song to Angels and men: "Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth" (Dt 32,1). God has plans of love for Angels and men: those who were bound to each other as comrades in arms should enjoy their reward together as well: "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of men. He fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God" (Dt 32,8).

Through a comparison of texts (eg Job 1, 6 and Ps 29,1 ; 82,1 and 89,7) the majority of exegetes understand the "sons of God" here to be the holy Angels. Some are more concrete and identify them as the Guardians of the nations (cf Comment in the Jerusalem Bible).

3. Towards the ideal of a heavenly society of men and Angels the last books of Moses give guidance, leading both men and Angels to a perfect surrender and submission to the Divine plan in Christ: "Let all the Angels adore Him" (Dt 32, 43, following Heb 1,6 in the Septuagint) and to Israel: "Set your hearts on all the words which I testify to you this day ... Every one should live in them, and that you may continue a long time in the Lord" (Dt 32, 46-47).

Adoration is the goal of all creation. In the Catechism the Church teaches: "Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation" (Catechism 347; cf 337). Therefore, to adore God is to acknowledge Him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love ... in respect and absolute submission, the 'nothingness of the creatures' who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt Him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that He has done great things and holy is His name (CCC 2096 and 2097).

"Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence" (CCC 301). "Angels and men as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love" (CCC 311). What else should we expect from the Angels, whom we saw to be transparent before God, thus revealing Him with all their being and action! And we men, what reason could we have to hesitate? Let us join them in this most sublime act of love and respect of which a creature is capable.

In this, we men and Angels together with all creation will reach our final fulfillment and perfection: For "the ultimate purpose of creation is that God 'who is the Creator of all things may at last become < all in all >, thus simultaneously assuring His own glory and our beatitude' (II. Vat., Ad Gentes, 2)" (CCC 294); "the ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity" (CCC 260)!

4. Dear Brothers in the priesthood, what a wonderful vision and holy way is discreetly disclosed to us in the ministry of the holy Angels as it is revealed in the first books of Sacred Scriptures!

Like the holy Angels we should live out our daily life, so that we might be numbered among their companions in heaven, like the holy Angels, we should adhere to God totally hand with an undivided heart and then serve men for God's sake, "to love all men as You love them" (Opening Prayer, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time), like the holy Angels we want to submit ourselves in the daily adoration of God, so that we will reach our fulfillment and contribute to that of all men entrusted to our fatherly care.

May we live lives in union with the holy Angels, and may we strengthen our confrères in the priesthood, where possible, through the monthly reunion of the Confraternity of Priests in Opus Angelorum and through reciprocal help.

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC