Angels Among Us
I’ve been trying to take my kids to daily Mass when I’ve had the opportunity. It has sort of been an experiment in patience, but so far it has gone pretty well, and I enjoy being able to teach my children about the faith in a more intimate setting. I’m not always sure how much my two little ones are actually absorbing, since they mostly seem preoccupied with going through every hymnal in the pew ad nauseum or trying to pick up the elusive Cheerio on the floor, left behind by another Sunday Mass-goer (proof that there ARE other young children at Mass! At least I hope that’s the reason…).
On our way out the door one morning my son started talking to me about angels, and that we were going to see angels at the church. Intrigued, I asked him what the angels were doing at church.
“Angels carry Jesus’ cross”
“Really? What else”
“Angels carry cross, and put it down. Open book for Jesus”.
Aspirations of my son’s mystical visions began dancing in my head as he animatedly continued his description.
“Open book. Jesus say ‘Lord be with you!’”
My excitement at having a great mystic for a toddler came tumbling to the ground as I understood he wasn’t talking about the angels and Jesus, but the priest and the altar servers. Apparently, in my attempts to teach my son about the True Presence in the Eucharist, I’ve only managed to confuse him into thinking that the priest is Jesus. It’s understandable, there certainly isn’t anyone else visibly up there when I point and say “Now, Jesus is here!” during consecration.
As for the angels, there are two twin girls who altar serve at our parish, who with their cherub-like corkscrew curls, and white altar serving vestments, do in fact, look an awful lot like the pictures of angels in many of my kids’ books.
I shook my head at the silliness of it all, and tried to explain to him who all these people truly in fact are, but I began to realize that my son had a point. In his child-like innocence he reminded me of the reality of the fact that Mass is heaven on earth. In that moment, the angels are present, ministering to Our Lord who is sacrificing Himself on the cross.
It reminded me of this little pamphlet I had seen years ago, left behind in the back pew in the Basilica. It detailed the testimony of Catalina Rivas in a vision where the Holy Mass was explained to her by Jesus and Mary. In it she says:
Immediately, the Archbishop said the words of the Consecration of the wine and, as the words were being said, lightning appeared from the heavens and in the background. The walls and ceiling of the church had disappeared. All was dark, but for that brilliant light from the Altar.
Suddenly, suspended in the air, I saw Jesus crucified. I saw Him from the head to the lower part of the chest. The cross beam of the Cross was sustained by some large, strong hands. From within this resplendent light, a small light, like a very brilliant, very small dove, came forth and flew swiftly all over the Church. It came to rest on the left shoulder of the Archbishop, who continued to appear as Jesus because I could distinguish His long hair, His luminous wounds, and His large body, but I could not see His Face.
Above was Jesus crucified, His head fallen upon His right shoulder. I was able to contemplate His face, beaten arms and torn flesh. On the right side of His chest, He had an injury, and blood was gushing out toward the left side, and toward the right side, what looked like water, but it was very brilliant. They were more like jets of light coming forth towards the faithful, and moving to the right and to the left. I was amazed at the amount of blood that was flowing out toward the Chalice. I thought it would overflow and stain the whole Altar, but not a single drop was spilled.
At that moment, the Virgin Mary said: “This is the miracle of miracles. I have said to you before that the Lord is not constrained by time and space. At the moment of the Consecration, all the assembly is taken to the foot of Calvary, at the instant of the crucifixion of Jesus.”
It’s easy to forget the enormity of what is happening during the Mass, to be dismissive even of all that is actually occurring unseen before our eyes. I often wish that God would just lift that veil and let us see all that we can’t. Then of course, the world would know, would understand, would come on bended knee before Our Lord and Maker in reverence and awe.
But would we? How could we approach Him if that veil was lifted? How could we in our wretchedness even dare to come close? I think in our fear and trembling we would hide and stay as far away as possible. So instead, He hides Himself, and all the glory that surrounds us when we step foot into a church and hear those words “This is My Body….This is My Blood”. There is so much hidden from our eyes during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially when distracted by the antics of a couple of toddlers, but my son reminded me of something important that day, and I’m going to try to see a little bit more from the heart, because he is right, there are angels at my church.