"...awaken and sharpen your realization of the invisible world about you,... foster a certain familiar acquaintance with the Angels, who are so constant in their solicitude for your salvation and holiness." Pope Pius XII
1. Putnam, CT
2. Putnam, CT
1. Oceanside, CA
2. Oceanside, CA
3. Oceanside, CA
1. Beaverton, OR
2. Beaverton, OR
What is a Retreat?
The word retreat literally means "withdrawal". When we participate in a silent retreat, we withdraw from our activities, from our environments, from our dealings with the world for a couple of days to be alone with God in prayer.
Pope Benedict XVI defines in an address a retreat as "a strong experience of God, awakened by listening to his Word, understood and welcomed in one's personal life, under the action of the Holy Spirit, which, in a climate of silence, prayer and by means of a spiritual guide, offer the capacity of discernment in order to purify the heart, convert one's life, follow Christ and fulfill one's own mission in the Church and in the world".
The Holy Father emphasized in a special way that a retreat should be "characterized by that climate of complete and profound silence which favors the personal and communitarian encounter with God and the contemplation of the Face of Christ. My Predecessors and I myself have returned to this point several times, and it can never be insisted upon enough."
All of us need time to be alone with God, in order to widen our souls for the streams of God's grace, so that we can live out our lives more perfectly according to God's will. God must become more and more the source and the goal of our daily lives. In fact, our entire Christian life must spring from an intimate union with Christ, and be ordered to this union. All we do should be by the strength of God and for the love of God. At silent retreats, God wishes to give us these special graces.
News from our Monastery
Mother Gabriele Symposium
This summer has brought us many blessings, which we would like to share with you! First of all, we are celebrating this year 40 years of the death of the foundress of Opus Angelorum, Mother Gabriele Bitterlich. Mother Gabriele, born in 1896, was a spouse and mother of 3 children, and later adopted 3 war orphans. From the Feast of St. Mark in 1949, it became ever clearer to her that Our Lord Jesus Christ wanted the faithful to venerate and invoke the holy angels more, to join ranks with them and open themselves more to their powerful help. A group of priests formed around the Mother to study and learn to collaborate with the Angels, as well as a group of young women. Over time, these priests, men and women developed into religious communities, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Mother Gabriele spent her last years, after her husband had passed away, at the castle St. Petersberg (the Motherhouse) in Tirol, Austria. She passed away there, being renowned for her holiness and wisdom, on April 4, 1978.
To commemorate the 40th year since her death, the Order held a "symposium" on the writings and theology of Mother Gabriele at the Motherhouse St. Petersberg in Austria with various papers being presented by respected theologians of the Order. Here in Carrollton, we held our own "little symposium" on June 2nd with a PowerPoint presentation on the life and spirituality of the Mother presented by Fr. William Wagner and Sr. Maria Basilea. 70 members and friends in the area, as well as some new faces! joined us on this joyful and grace-filled day of prayer and fellowship.
Elevation of the Sisters Community to Pontifical Status!
One very important and joyful piece of news reached us the night before the Mother Gabriele Symposium, which we were able to announce on that day: The community of our Sisters, the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Opus Angelorum, was elevated from an Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right to an Institute of Pontifical right. With the authorization of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Congregation for Religious promulgated the decree of pontifical recognition on the Feast of St. Mark, April 25, 2018, which was communicated to the Mother General on June 1, 2018. With this step, the governance of the Sisters no longer stands under the Bishop of Innsbruck, but reports directly to Rome and the Congregation for Religious. It is a confirmation of their way of life and mission in the Church, and more firmly anchors them to the rock of Peter, to whom they pledge their fidelity.
The short answer to this most asked of all questions about the angels is simply "no." For the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Sacraments of the Vatican stated in the document The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy of 2001, that "the practice of assigning names to the holy angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and St. Michael, whose names are contained in Holy Scripture" (217).
We do well to reflect, then, that the term "Holy Guardian Angel" expresses very deeply our bond to the angel assigned to us by God for life. For just as there is only one woman and one man in this whole world who can respond to us when we say, "Mom" or "Dad", so too in all the choirs of angels, there is only one angel who can respond to us when we cry out, "Holy Guardian Angel, help me!"
That every baptized person has a Guardian Angel is clear from what St. Basil taught and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church reiterated, "Every one of the faithful has an angel standing at his side as educator and guide, directing his life" (cf. CCC 336). This passage does not state specifically that every human being, without exception, has a Guardian Angel. Nevertheless, in another passage, the Catechism stresses in no uncertain terms that "From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their [that is, the angels'] watchful care and intercession" (CCC 336).
In accord with this, the general teaching of theologians holds that not only every baptized person, but every human being has their own personal Guardian Angel which also teaches the recently published YOUCAT (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church), approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2010, "Every person receives from God a Guardian Angel" (n. 55). This view is biblically based and founded on the words of Our Lord in the Gospels, where He states emphatically to His disciples, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven" (Mt 18:10). Moreover, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the protection of the angels is a gift not only of grace, but also a gift to mankind in the order of nature. Finally, since each individual, based on their own free will, has a unique destiny, it is fitting that there be a one-on-one relationship with an angel. This same position was also taught by St. Gregory the Wonder Worker and St. Jerome, who held that every person has from birth their own special Guardian Angel.
St. Thomas Aquinas maintains that everyone receives a Guardian Angel at birth. Moreover, he states that the Guardian Angel of the mother guards her child while it is still in the womb. Other Fathers and Doctors of the Church, however, for example, St. Jerome and St. Basil the Great, believe that our Guardian Angel is assigned at baptism. St. Anselm, on the other hand, goes a step farther by stating that "every soul is committed to an angel when it is united with a body." In other words, he believes, along with some other saints and theologians, that everyone receives a Guardian Angel at conception. To sum up, then, there are three opinions about when our Guardian Angel may be assigned to us, namely, 1.) at conception, 2.) at birth, or 3.) or at baptism.
The fact, that every human person has a Guardian Angel excludes implicitly that we receive the Guardian Angel at baptism. It remains, then, a question open to speculation whether a human being receives the Guardian Angel at conception or birth. But since a person's life begins at the moment of conception, there is no reason for the angel to have to wait until the person is born. Considering the importance of prenatal care, it is reasonable to believe that the Guardian Angel would be want to be involved. It may also be true, that all benefit from the angelic assistance from the beginning of life according to the natural providence of God, and that in baptism a deeper supernatural bond with the holy angels arises.
A Guardian Angel Story
I felt assured by my Guardian Angel that it would be okay
As a result of chemo therapy for stage four cancer, I had an ICV filter put in because of blood clots. It should have been removed seven years ago. The vascular surgeon said it was a surgeon's worst nightmare, because it had come undone and they probably would not be able to remove it, but they would try. If not, I would have to be sent to UCLA for extensive surgeries.
I started praying and asking for prayer from everyone, received the anointing of the sick and asked my Guardian Angel for help. At the time of surgery, I again prayed the "Sanctus" (the Angel's Holy, Holy, Holy prayer of the Mass) and my Guardian Angel prayer. I felt assured by my Guardian Angel that it would be okay and all would go well.
The doctor explained how the procedure would go, and that, if successful, at one point I would feel the ICV filter being pulled up through my chest and out my neck. I told the surgeon it would not be "if" but "when". He looked at me and laughed.
The surgery team were two brothers, both vascular surgeons and brilliant. When I felt the ICV filter coming up, I called upon my Guardian Angel and felt as if he had surrounded it. The next thing I knew, the doctors said it was OUT! Thank you, JESUS, through my Guardian Angel!.
If you have an inspiring Angel story,
you would be willing to share,
please send it to
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Living the Beatitudes with the Angels
The Angels and Saints in heaven all enjoy perfect beatitude in God. They have passed the test and, by God's grace, have reached the goal. Man on earth, however, is still journeying with the help of divine grace through the trials of this life to reach that state of perfect joy and rest in God. To reach this goal, he must climb up the heavenly ladder, as it were, of the eight Beatitudes which Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5:1-12 and Lk 6:20-23).
The Angels are sent to help us, as our guides and guardians, as counselors, admonishers and leaders in this "vale of tears", to live out those Beatitudes. Yet, given the supernatu.container-fluid pral goal towards which man strives, the Angels' natural capacities would not have sufficed to lead man to heaven. Thus, in order to become a Guardian Angel, the Angels must descend by the rungs of their own "angelic Beatitudes" in order to be able to fetch man and bring him to heavenly glory.
The Priest: Witness to the Joy of the Gospel
In our world and culture today, we see an emptiness, a sadness, a despair which drives people and especially our youth to seek love and happiness in ways which only deepen their despondency: in pleasure, in consumerism, in the "quick fix" of addictions, in useless games, texting and the superficiality of social media among many other things. So many today have lost or have never known the joy of the Gospel, the truly good news that GOD became man and lived among us, He forgives us and wants to raise us up to His Kingdom, a Kingdom of love and communion with the Father. Only in God will man find the true meaning of his life and his happiness, yet how shall this message be known if there is no one to preach? And how can they accept the message unless it is accompanied by the witness of a life on fire with Christ. If one is not on fire for Christ, the Holy Spirit's anointing will not really divinize and all talk about tenderness, mercy and compassion will only amount to a secular humanism empty of divine power and grace.
"An angel has spoken to him."
The Gospel of St. John can be divided in two parts. With chapter 12 ends the description of the first part about the public life of Jesus. The narration of the Last Supper and Passion with the resurrection covers the second part, more than a third of the entire Joannine Gospel. However, still in chapter 12, St. John relates a surprising situation: Jesus says in the midst of his teaching:
"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours." (Jn 12:27-30)
Some people thought it must have been an angel who spoke to Jesus. What justification is there for this position?