Category Archives: Angels

Sunday Devotional: The chosen people

Romans 15:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God.
For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised
to show God’s truthfulness,
to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,
but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
As it is written:
Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.”

Matthew 3:1-2, 7-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

I am the way
Today is the second Sunday of Advent, a joyous season of preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ at Christmas.
The readings from Matthew 3 and  St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 15 are a reminder that when the Second Person of the Triune Godhead became incarnate as a vulnerable little baby, born to “nobody” parents in a humble stable instead of a palace, He came for all — Jew and Gentile.
Henceforth, all who pick up their crosses to follow Him, are the self-chosen people — the children of the Light. We who choose to follow Jesus are nothing special. Like Him, we are nobodies with nobody parents, born in humble circumstances instead of palaces. But we choose to follow Him, even though He promises only hardship and persecution:

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple
must deny themselves
and take up their cross
and follow me.”

In contrast, Jews’ understanding of the term “chosen people” is a narcissistic one — that Jews were and remain “chosen” because they are a superior people, better than the Angels and almost an equal of God. For that matter, in parts of the Talmud — the real Scripture of Jews, which supercedes the Torah (or Old Testament) the words of rabbis actually supercede God’s. (See Michael Hoffman, Judaism’s Strange Gods.)
It took a Christian-convert Jew to properly present the real meaning of “chosen people”. From Roy H. Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming (pp. 20-21):

“The Jews were…to host the Incarnation itself, to be the people among whom God would become man. If God were to be on a uniquely intimate basis with the Jews and eventually to become incarnate among them, they would have to be free from involvement with other deities, free from all spiritual pollution. Hence the severity of restrictions in the Old Testament against any form of idolatry or sorcery . . . . This purity, and the development of virtue and piety among at least some of the Jews, would have to reach its ultimate fruition later in producing an individual of such devotion and virtue that she could give her flesh to be the flesh of the God-man, that she could be His human mother. This individual was, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If redemption through the Messiah, when He came, would require a high level of moral behavior, then mankind would have to be prepared for this higher moral standard, too. Judaism performed this function when it introduced God’s morality to man through the revelation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
If mankind were to be able to recognize the Messiah for He was when He came, it would have to be prepared by being taught before hand to expect His coming. Judaism performed this role, too….
God wished there would be a people on earth who would worship and adore the Messiah even before He came and who would fervently pray for His coming. This role, too, was fulfilled by the Jews….
Finally, God would need a people to provide a temporal home for the Messiah when He came and to announce His arrival to the world. This, too, was entrusted to the Jews.”

In other words, God didn’t choose the Jews because they were special. Jews became a “chosen people” not because they were specially wonderful and superior to all others, but because God chose them for the Incarnation of His only Son — a role and mission that should be the cause of humility instead of grandiose narcissism.
In Luke 4:24, 28-30 is a description of Jesus’ first public ministry, after spending 40 days and nights in the desert in preparation:

And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place….”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

What murderous narcissistic rage! — an illustration of what we moderns now call the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Greatest Commandment
Just remember the “neighbor” in “You shall love neighbor as yourself” includes Jews and Gentiles.
May the joy and peace and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, be with you!
~Eowyn

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Fidel Castro said he was going to Hell – and the nature of evil

What is it with Marxists and Hell?
Saul Alinsky, Obama’s mentor in community organizing agitprop, so admired Lucifer, who became Satan, that he dedicated his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer.
Alinsky dedicated his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer
Alinsky so admired Lucifer/Satan, he wanted to join the demon in Hell. (See “Obama’s Mentor, Saul Alinsky, was a Luciferian”)
In a 1972 Playboy magazine interview, Alinsky professed agnosticism about the existence of God, but said that “whenever anyone asks me my religion, I always say—and always will say— Jewish.” The Playboy interviewer then asked Alinsky if he believed in “any kind of afterlife,” to which Alinsky said:

” . . . if there is an afterlife . . . I will unreservedly choose to go to hell . . . . Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there. They’re my kind of people.

Clearly, Alinsky knew Hell is, well, hellish, full of bad wicked people who are “short of virtue” — wicked being the antonym or opposite of virtuous. Despite that, he chose Hell because bad wicked people were his “kind of people”.
saul-alinsky-fidel-castro
Another Marxist also prefers Hell — Fidel Castro, Cuba’s longtime dictator who finally died on November 25, 2016 at the ripe old age of 90.
In an interview with Paris Match‘s Jean-Luc Mano in Havana on October 27, 1994, Castro said he was going to Hell. From an FBIS (Foreign Broadcast Information Service) translation of the interview published on lanic:

It is two in the morning. A final word of farewell. [Fidel Castro said] “You know, I’ll go to hell, and I know the heat will be unbearable, but it will be less painful than having expected so much from heaven, which never kept its promises… And also, when I arrive, I will meet Marx, Engels, Lenin… And I will meet you too, as capitalists also go to hell, you know. Especially when they like to enjoy life!”

Like Alinsky, Castro too recognized that Hell would be hellish — “I know the heat will be unbearable”. And yet, like Alinsky, Castro preferred Hell to Heaven. To top it off, Castro blamed Heaven for his going to Hell because “heaven . . . never kept its promises” (whatever that means).
The Paris Match interview also revealed the ridiculous mental contortions Castro took in refusing to be criticized and to be found wanting in any way. Interviewer Mano asked Castro about the Cuban government’s economic failures. Castro answered:

“Cuba cannot be judged in this way. The Revolution includes some tremendous achievements.”

Mano then pushed further and asked about political prisoners. Castro airily replied:

“There are none in Cuba. It is a matter of philosophy. A counterrevolutionary in prison is not a political prisoner.”

In other words, there are no political prisoners in Cuba because of a linguistic trick — Fidel Castro simply refused to call people imprisoned for their political dissent “political prisoners”. What a neat trick! Henceforth, we should tell the world there’s no crime in America because we don’t call crimes “crimes”!
Back to Saul Alinsky, Fidel Castro, and Hell . . . .
Are you as nonplussed as I am that Alinsky and Castro actually preferred Hell, well knowing it would be hellish?
The late Fr. Malachi Martin, in his 1976 book on exorcism, Hostage To The Devil, noted that we instinctively react to evil and evil people with revulsion, and that our repugnance serves a protective function because, feeling repelled by evil people, we naturally seek to avoid them.
By the same reasoning, the opposite must also be true — evil people must also find goodness and good people repugnant.
And so, a simple explanation for why Alinsky and Castro preferred Hell to Heaven is that they are thoroughly evil and prefer to be with Satan and other evil people in Hell. Finding goodness repellent, Alinsky and Castro do not want to be with God, the angels and saints in Heaven. For them, Heaven would be hell.
H/t John Horvat II
See also “Pope Francis ‘grieves’ over death of Fidel Castro who persecuted Catholics & lived in luxury while Cubans starved“.
By the way, the story that Trump talked Obama out of attending Castro’s funeral is a hoax. Shame on sites like The Last Line of Defense (TLLoD) for reporting it as truth. The embedded link to TLLoD‘s supposed AP source doesn’t work. I searched the AP and found AP made no such report. Conveniently, TLLoD has closed that post to comments, so I can’t even write this as a comment there.
It’s sites like The Last Line of Defense that lends fuel to MSM’s — especially the despicable Washington Post — malicious characterization of Alternative Media as “fake news”.
~Eowyn

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Maria Carmen, 9, heard angels sing at her foreseen death

The 2016 presidential election season is particularly vicious and vile.
Do you feel disgusted and soiled when a Hillary Clinton political ad pops up on TV? Do you feel you need, not only a bath, but a soul-cleansing?
I do.
Here’s a reminder of purity.
blessed-maria-carmen
Maria del Carmen Gonzales-Valerio was born in Madrid, Spain, on March 14, 1930 into a noble, militantly Catholic and Spanish Nationalist family and lived during the turbulent Spanish Civil War.
Soon after her birth, baby Maria was baptized after she became very ill. She was confirmed at the age of two, and made her first communion when she was only six years old.
As a child, Maria was known for her deep piety and compassion for the poor. At the age of five, she would give the little money she had when a poor person came to the door.
In 1936, Maria’s father, Julio González-Valerio, became a martyr of the Spanish Civil War when he was taken away by Communist militiamen and executed. As he was led away, Julio told his wife, Carmen, to tell their children that “their father gave up his life for God and for Spain, so that our children may be raised in a Catholic Spain, where the crucifix reigns over in schools.”
Knowing that their lives were in danger for being Catholic, Carmen and her children sought refuge at the Belgian Embassy, where they were granted asylum when the Belgian ambassador learned that Spanish Communists planned to abduct the children and send them to Russia to be raised as Marxists. The family later sought safety in San Sebastian.
When Maria was nine, she contracted scarlet fever. She offered her sufferings and later her death for the conversion of those who had killed her father, and for the conversion of then-president of the socialist Republic of Spain, Manuel Azaña.
Maria predicted she would die on July 16, 1939, the feast day of her patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. When she learned that her aunt would be married on that day, Maria predicted she would die on the next day instead.
Maria told a nurse in the hospital: “My father died as a martyr. Poor mommy! And I am dying as a victim.” On July 17, 1939, at around 1 p.m., Maria began to pray. She said she heard Angels sing. Her last words were:

“I die as a martyr. Please, doctor, let me go now. Don’t you see that the Blessed Virgin has come with the Angels to get me? Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul with you.”

Witnesses at her death bed said her body emitted a sweet fragrance — the distinctive scent of sanctity.
On November 3, 1940, 15½ months after Maria’s death, Manuel Azaña converted to Catholicism on his death bed.
On January 16, 1996, Pope John Paul II declared Maria del Carmen Gonzales-Valerio venerable, a step before canonization.
Sources: Wikipedia, Church Pop
~Eowyn

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Today is our Guardian Angels' feast day!

Guardian Angel

Today is the feast day of our Guardian Angels!

A 2007 Harris poll found that 74% of U.S. adults believed in angels.
The word “angel,” in Greek is angelos, in Hebrew is malach, in Arabic is mala’ika– which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. Although the word “angel” means “messenger,” this does not limit their activities. Instead, they are created by God to serve Him by fulfilling any and all tasks assigned to them.
St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each Angel is unique, a species unto itself — a truly mind-boggling idea. (Sidenote: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents are analogous, in that each Ent is also a species unto itself.) That means each Angel is truly an individual, with his own personality and quirks. This may explain why some guardian angels are pro-active, while others are not.
Major philosophers — such as the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), René Descartes (1596-1650), John Locke (1632-1704), and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler (1902-2001) — have put forth compelling reasoning for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home“.)
Scripture tells us there is a hierarchy of Angels — there are various gradations or “orders” of Angels. We know this because in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
According to Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, there are nine orders of angels, but only the last five angelic orders (Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels) minister to bodily creatures and, of them, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity — of nations or countries.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers and guardians of individual human beings.

Sidenote: By logical inference, then, the orders of Virtues and Powers minister to nonhuman bodily creatures, which would include animals whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin.” Isn’t that a happy thought? — that our pets also have angels?

How do we know each of us has a guardian angel?
Because Jesus tells us so!

“See that you despise not 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.” -Matthew 18:10

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, a guardian angel is appointed by God’s loving providence to each human being from the moment of birth because “the dignity of human souls is great.”
Throughout the lives of “changeable and fallible” human beings, their guardian angels assist them toward goodness. Although the guardians never fail or forsake their human charges, they eschew interfering with Divine providence or with our free will—to commit sin if we so choose, to endure trials and troubles, and to suffer punishment.
When I see a drunk or derelict sleeping on a bus bench or curled up in a street corner, I can’t help but wonder how very sad their guardian angels must be. Imagine what it must be like to be the guardian angel of a serial killer . . . .
In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas also wrote that at the end of a human being’s earthly life, the guardian angel of the virtuous person will be replaced with an angelic companion because the guardian’s mission will have been successfully discharged. What a wondrous thought: That our Guardian Angel who has known and loved us all our lives will be our friend and companion through all eternity!
But the wicked in Hell “will have a fallen angel [or demon] to punish him” for eternity. Let that thought sink in . . . .
Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean our Guardian Angels aren’t with us all the time. In fact, there are many stories of angelic encounters and assistance. See, for example:

You’ll find more angel stories on FOTM‘s “Angels & Saints” page.
My days are so busy with blogging and family-, house- and garden-work that the only time when my mind is at rest is when I’m taking my solitary walk in the hills. On one such walk several years ago, I talked to my guardian angel and humbly asked him to show me he’s there. Instantaneously, I felt his presence walking alongside me, to my right. I can’t tell you what he looks like (he is a bodiless spirit after all), but what I felt was his staggeringly-profound LOVE — a love that is unconditional and wholly unearned, the depths of which I have never (and will never) experienced from a human.

Here’s a simple prayer to our guardian angels, by St. Bonaventure (1221-1274):

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom His Love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.

Talk to your Guardian Angel!
He loves you very, very much, more than you’ll ever know.
Tell him you love him.
And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.
~Eowyn

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Today is the Archangels' feast day!

Today is the Feast Day of the Archangels!

September 29 traditionally was set aside as the Feast Day of St. Michael the Archangel. (The word “saint” simply means “holy.”) Then the Church made it the feast day of all the Archangels.
Three Angels are named in the Bible:

  1. Michael: in Hebrew, the name means “Who is like God?”.
  2. Gabriel: in Hebrew, the name means “God is my might”.
  3. Raphael: in Hebrew, the name means “God has healed”.

Notice that all three names end with “El” — which means God, in Hebrew. Thus, each Archangel’s name ending in “el” means they are “of God.”
The word angel, in Greek, is angelos; in Hebrew, malach; in Arabic, mala’ika — which all mean “messenger.”
Angels are incorporeal (bodiless) spiritual beings who act as messengers and intermediaries between God and humanity. St. Augustine said that although angels are defined by their function as messengers or message-bearers, their activities are not limited to just this function. Created by God to serve Him, angels fulfill any and all tasks assigned to them.
my angels2In other words, being an angel or messenger simply denotes one of their functions, not their nature. St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that each angel is unique, a species unto itself — truly a mind-boggling idea.
Major philosophers — such as Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, John Locke, and most recently, the American philosopher Mortimer Adler — have put forth compelling reasons for the existence of Angels. (For the conversion of Adler, a Jew, to the Catholic faith, see the moving account, “A Philosopher-Pagan Comes Home.)
Theologians maintain there is a hierarchy of Angels, due to the fact that in Genesis 3:24, Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1, 10, Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 2:15, allusions are made to “seraphim,” “cherubim,” “thrones,” “dominions,” “mights,” “powers,” and “principalities” in the “heavenly places.”
Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas delineated three hierarchies of Angels, with each hierarchy comprised of three orders:

  • 1st hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones.
  • 2nd hierarchy: Dominions, Virtues, Powers.
  • 3rd hierarchy: Principalities, Archangels, Angels.

Of the nine angelic orders, five are sent by God for external ministry among bodily creatures, as indicated by their names of Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels—all of which refer to some kind of administrative or executive office. Of these five orders, only the last three minister to human beings:

  • Principalities are in charge of the whole of humanity.
  • Archangels minister to nations — their leaders and those persons whom God tasks with special work to do on Earth.
  • Angels, the last order, are God’s messengers to and guardians of individual human beings.

That leaves the orders of Virtues and Powers who, by logical inference, minister to other bodily but nonhuman creatures. The latter would include the non-human animals, such as our pets, whom St. Bonaventure called “creatures without sin” — which is a happy thought indeed!

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

Archangel Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, 1485.


Gabriel’s name means “God is great.” The angel Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible:

  • To the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16).
  • To the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19).
  • To the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). As the angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel is the one who revealed that the Savior was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

St. Gabriel is recognized as the patron saint of messengers, telecommunication workers, and postal workers.

St. Raphael, the Archangel

st-raphael1The angel Raphael‘s name means “God heals.” This identity came about because of the biblical story that Raphael “healed” the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.
Raphael appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. , where he, disguised as a human named “Azarias the son of the great Ananias,” accompanies Tobiah, the son of Tobit, in his travels. When Raphael returns from his journey with Tobiah, he declares to Tobit that he was sent by the Lord to heal his blindness and deliver Sarah, Tobiah’s future wife, from the demon Asmodeus. It is then that the angel makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15).
Although only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name in the New Testament, the Gospel of John 5:1-4 speaks of a healing pool at Bethesda where “An angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under.” This passage is generally associated with St. Raphael, the Archangel.
St. Raphael is the patron saint of travelers, the blind, bodily ills, happy meetings, nurses, physicians and medical workers. He is often pictured holding a staff and either holding or standing on a fish.

St. Michael, the Archangel

The name “Lucifer” means “Morning Star,” “Son of the Dawn,” or “Light Carrier.” For that reason, theologians believe that Lucifer was a high-order Angel, most likely the highest order — a Seraphim. Aquinas thought him to be “probably the highest of all the angels.” But Lucifer admires and loves himself more than his Creator and thinks himself to be “as God.” And so, swollen with narcissism and grandiosity, Lucifer rebelled, taking a third of the angelic beings with him.
StMichaelTheArchangelA lower-order Angel, full of courage and love of God, rallied together two-thirds of the angelic ranks against Lucifer and the other apostates, in the First War that began the enduring conflict between good and evil. As related in Revelation 12:7-9:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. 

That braveheart’s name is Micha-el, which means “Who is like God?” — Michael‘s battle cry.
St. Michael the Archangel is the prince of the heavenly armies and the most beloved of all the angels. He is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he led the heavenly armies against those of the “great dragon”).
Described in Revelation 10:1 as a “mighty angel…with a halo around his head; his face was like the sun and his feet were like pillars of fire,” St. Michael is generally portrayed by artists as wearing full armor and carrying a sword or lance, with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the martyred St. George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)
Michael has four main titles or offices. He is:

  • Patron of the Chosen People in the Old Testament.
  • Patron saint and defender of the Church.
  • The Angel of death, who assists Jesus in the final judgment (thus, Michael is sometimes depicted with a scale).
  • Leading the good angels against the fallen angels or demons. For that reason, Christians consider St. Michael the most powerful defender of God’s people against evil. As such, Michael is also the patron saint of soldiers and policemen. (For the Prayer to St. Michael, go here.)

All of which is why St. Michael, the Braveheart of Angels, is my most favorite saint, whom I admire and love with all my heart. He is my commander in chief. As you can see from this blog’s masthead, he is also the protector of Fellowship of the Minds.

Happy Feast Day, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael!

Thank you for inspiring us with your humility, courage, goodness, and love for God.
Thank you, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for creating the marvelous Angels!
~Eowyn
For a fascinating account of one man’s experience with the Archangel Michael, click here. Check out FOTM‘s other angel posts here!
Sources:

  1. Mortimer J. Adler, The Angels and Us (New York: Macmillan, 1982).
  2. Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), pp. 181-184.
  3. Michael H. Brown, Prayer of the Warrior (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1993), p. 34.
  4. René Descartes, Meditations On First Philosophy, trans. by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis & Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).
  5. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited with an introduction by A. D. Woozley (Cleveland & New York: Meridian Books, 1968),
  6. Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One(New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947).
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Trust your gut instincts

In his bestseller, The Gift of Fear, now a classic, Gavin de Becker tells us that victims of violent behavior usually feel a sense of fear before any threat or violence takes place, but too many ignore that sense. De Becker’s counsel:

Trust your instinct.

But too many choose not to heed that inner voice, which theologians maintain is the voice of our Guardian Angel.
Angels are masters of intuition because, being bodiless pure spirits, they do not learn the way humans do. We learn through our senses, incrementally, over time. Angels, however, receive their knowledge when they were created by God. Angelic knowledge, therefore, is intuitive. And so, when you have a “gut instinct” — a flash of intuition — it’s probably your Guardian Angel communicating with you.
Guardian AngelNow science has confirmed the wisdom of our intuition — a 1997 study by a team of University of Iowa and Salk Institute neurologists (Antoine Bechara, Hanna Damasio, Daniel Tranel and Antonio R. Damasio), the results of which were published as “Deciding Advantageously Before Knowing the Advantageous Strategy” in the journal Science, February 8, 1997. (For the PDF of the article, click here.)
The neurologists hypothesized that in decision-making about a complex situation, our intuition (“a nonconscious biasing step”) precedes “overt reasoning.” Note the jargons:

  • “Overt reasoning” is deliberation that is conscious and fact-based.
  • “Nonconscious bias” is intuitive knowledge that uses neural systems other than those used in “overt reasoning”.

To test their hypothesis, two groups of subjects were asked to perform a gambling task: A group of “normal,” i.e., unbrain-damaged subjects and a group of patients with damage to their prefrontal cortex and resultant defects in decision-making.
The study found that:

  • The “normal” group made the right decision even before their conscious deliberation: “Normals began to choose advantageously before they realized which strategy worked best, whereas prefrontal patients continued to choose disadvantageously even after they knew the correct strategy.”
  • “Normals” intuitively sensed risk or danger: “normals began to generate anticipatory skin conductance responses (SCRs) whenever they pondered a choice that turned out to be risky, before they knew explicitly that it was a risky choice, whereas patients never developed anticipatory SCRs, although some eventually realized which choices were risky.”

The study’s conclusion is that:

  1. Our intuition or instincts (“nonconscious biases”) guide our behavior before conscious knowledge does.
  2. We need that intuitive knowledge in order to make the right decisions: ” Without the help of such biases, overt knowledge may be insufficient to ensure advantageous behavior.”

Guardian Angel (2)Some advice on how to listen to our intuition/guardian angel:

  • Give yourself mental space to reflect. Spend time alone, even if it’s just a few minutes.
  • If it’s a really important decision, create a larger window before you decide. Tell people “I need to sleep on this, I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
  • The “should” reasons we think of usually mean we’re not listening to our guts.
  • Tune in to how your body feels.
  • If it’s the right decision, you’ll be at peace about it.

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Jesus came for all, Jew and Gentile

Luke 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

I am the way
This Sunday Devotional is a continuation of two recent devotionals: January 24’s “He spoke with authority” and January 10’s “The New Covenant” where our Lord Jesus Christ made clear that He came to make a new covenant with all peoples, Jew and Gentile.
The conventional understanding is that the Jewish court of judges, called the Sanhedrin, condemned Jesus to death because He dared call Himself Messiah, “the king of the Jews”.
For that, this man who not only had committed no crime, but only healed the lame, sick, and blind, cast out demons from the possessed, and mended the broken hearts of the family of Lazarus by raising him from the dead, was horrifically tortured, forced to carry a heavy cross on His already broken body, then nailed to that cross to die — crucifixion being the worst punishment the Romans reserved for the worst criminals. (See “Remembering His Passion”)
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Jesus was delusional in claiming to be the Son of God and the Messiah who had long been prophesied and promised by Hebrew prophets. (See “The Old Testament foretold the Coming of Christ”)
But can that possibly warrant a death sentence from the Sanhedrin? Does a delusional man warrant the venom and hatred from the mob gathered at his mockery of a trial, who shouted to Pontius Pilate, “Crucify him?” Really?
In today’s passage from Luke 4 is the clue to the real reason.
When this son of an unlearned carpenter, who himself was a humble carpenter, spoke in the synagogue, we are told that “all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.”
But upon being told by this amazingly-knowledgeable carpenter that instead of helping fellow Jews, the Hebrew prophets Elijah and Elisha chose to minister to Gentiles — “a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon” (Sidon is the third-largest city in contemporary Lebanon) and a Syrian leper named Naaman” — that was when the people in the synagogue went berserk:

“When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.”

So full of homicidal rage were they that “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong” — all because Jesus had the temerity to say that Elijah and Elisha assisted Gentiles.
That’s the real reason why our Lord was condemned to death:

The old covenant was with Jews, but the new covenant is for all peoples, Jew and Gentile. In other words, He is not a tribal god, but a universal God — a God of all humanity.

That’s what the Sanhedrin and the gathered mob could not abide — and still can’t, for those who cling to the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. For according to the Talmud (source: Rev. I. B. Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians, p. 51):

A Jew, by the fact that he belongs to the chosen people and is circumcized, possesses so great a dignity that no one, not even an angel, can share equality with him. In fact, he is considered almost an equal of God. “He who strikes an Israelite” says Rabbi Chanina “acts as if he slaps the face of God’s Divine Majesty.” A Jew is always considered good, in spite of certain sins which he may commit; nor can his sins contaminate him, any more than dirt contaminates the kernel in a nut, but only soils its shell. A Jew alone is looked upon as a man; the whole world is his and all things should serve him, especially “animals which have the form of men.”

In other words, the Talmud‘s understanding of the term “chosen people” is a narcissistic one — that Jews were and remain “chosen” because they are a superior people, better than the angels and almost an equal of God.
It took a Christian-convert Jew to properly present the real meaning of “chosen people”. From Roy H. Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming (pp. 20-21):

The Jews were…to host the Incarnation itself, to be the people among whom God would become man. If God were to be on a uniquely intimate basis with the Jews and eventually to become incarnate among them, they would have to be free from involvement with other deities, free from all spiritual pollution. Hence the severity of restrictions in the Old Testament against any form of idolatry or sorcery, both of which establish ties between the practitioners and fallen spirits. This purity, and the development of virtue and piety among at least some of the Jews, would have to reach its ultimate fruition later in producing an individual of such devotion and virtue that she could give her flesh to be the flesh of the God-man, that she could be His human mother. This individual was, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If redemption through the Messiah, when He came, would require a high level of moral behavior, then mankind would have to be prepared for this higher moral standard, too. Judaism performed this function when it introduced God’s morality to man through the revelation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
If mankind were to be able to recognize the Messiah for He was when He came, it would have to be prepared by being taught before hand to expect His coming. Judaism performed this role, too….
God wished there would be a people on earth who would worship and adore the Messiah even before He came and who would fervently pray for His coming. This role, too, was fulfilled by the Jews….
Finally, God would need a people to provide a temporal home for the Messiah when He came and to announce His arrival to the world. This, too, was entrusted to the Jews.

In other words, God didn’t choose the Jews because they were special. Jews became a “chosen people” not because they were specially wonderful and superior to all others, but because God chose them for the Incarnation of His only Son — a role and task that should be the cause of humility instead of grandiose narcissism.
I’ll conclude with this wondrous sentence from Luke 4:

But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

Wouldn’t you love to be there to see that miracle? 🙂
Greatest Commandment
Just remember the “neighbor” in “You shall love neighbor as yourself” includes Jews!
May the joy and peace and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, be with you!
~Eowyn

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St. Thomas Aquinas, the ‘dumb ox’

Today, Jan. 28, is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose nickname was “the dumb Sicilian ox,” because he was stout in body and slow in manner.
But the mind of St. Thomas was nothing but slow. Not only was he a superb theologian, but — without exaggeration — he one of the greatest minds in human history. Just read a piece of his writings, and you’ll see how he reasoned with unassailable logic.

That is why the Catholic Church not only honors him as a Doctor of the Church, but considers Thomas to be the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. I especially love St. Thomas because of his writings on angels. For that reason, he is also called “Doctor Angelicus” or the “Angelic doctor”.

FOTM, therefore, is re-publishing joandarc’s post on St. Thomas, but with this addition — a video of Fr. & Dr. Chad Ripperger on Thomas Aquinas (h/t FOTM‘s Sher):

Fr. Ripperger is the author of the tome, Introduction to the Science of Mental Health, which maintains that the science of modern psychology has not made any real progress in helping the mentally ill because it is fundamentally flawed in that “it has no true understanding of the immaterial, spiritual dimension” of human nature. Highly recommend!

~Eowyn

Today, January 28th, we celebrate one of the most illustrious and influential Saints of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas is by far, the spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and divine revelation, being one of the greatest teachers of the Catholic Church, which is why he is named a Doctor of the Church and the Angelic Doctor.
Thomas was born in or about 1225, the youngest of four sons, in the castle of Rocca Secca, to Landulf, a knight, and to Theodora, his mother of Norman descent.  At the age of five, his parents took him to the Benedictine Monastery at Monte Cassino, hoping that he would join this Order and rise to the position of abbot.  In 1239, he went to the University of Naples in Italy, to study the arts and sciences, and it was through this experience that he became interested in Aristotle.

In or about 1243, Thomas joined the Dominicans, which was against his family’s desires.  In fact, his mother ordered that his brothers capture Thomas.  Accordingly, they did so and he actually remained at his home, wherein his family hoped to change his mind.  You might say that he was put under “house arrest” because of his defiance.  While he was imprisoned, he studied the Sentences of Peter Lombard and learned by heart a great portion of the Bible.
After two years, his family gave up and allowed Thomas to go back to his Order of the Dominicans.  Thomas then went to Cologne, finishing his studies under St. Albert the Great.  Thomas, being reserved and a humble man, was not very well liked by his colleagues.  He was a large man, receiving the nickname of “the dumb Sicilian ox.”  However, St. Albert, his professor, said this of Thomas, “We call Brother Thomas the ‘dumb ox’; but I tell you that he will yet make his lowing heard to the uttermost parts of the earth.”  Thomas’ brilliance was exceeded by his piety, and after he had been ordained a priest, he became so very close and united with God.

In or about 1252, St. Albert and Cardinal Hugh of Saint-Cher insisted that Thomas go to the University of Paris to teach.  Four years thereafter, he became a master and received his doctors chair.  His duties included lecturing and preaching.

In or about 1259 to 1268, he was made Preacher General in Italy and taught in the school of selected scholars attached to the papal court, teaching also in other towns and cities in Italy.

His writings created harmony between faith and reason, between divine revelation and natural human knowledge.  But Thomas was so in-depth a thinker and lover of God, that he was able to merge the two in his writings, seeing the whole natural order as coming from God, the Creator, and seeing reason as a gift from God to be used for His honor and glory.  He wrote the Summa contra Gentiles, a textbook for missionaries, a defense of natural theology against the Arabians, and the Summa theologiae, setting forth Catholic theology with faith and reason.  And he wrote about the Angels of God using logic, wisdom and the Bible, which is why he is called, “the Angelic Doctor.”

In 1269, he went back to Paris, wherein St. Louis IX consulted him regularly with regard to important matters of state, as the king so respected Thomas.  But the university referred an issue to him, a question upon which they were divided, whether in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar the accidents remained really or only in appearance.  St. Thomas prayed fervently and with great love asked for direction from God.  He wrote a treatise and laid it upon the altar before he submitted his answer publicly.  Our Lord then appeared to St. Thomas saying to him, “Thou has written well of the Sacrament of My Body,” asking Thomas what He could give him as a reward.  Thomas said, “I want only You, Lord, only You.”  Oftentimes during Mass, especially during the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, Thomas would cry, sobbing, being so touched of his role as a priest, and of the precious love of Jesus, knowing that he was in the Real Presence of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

In or about 1272, Thomas was called back to Italy, being appointed regent of the study house at Naples.  On the Feast of St. Nicholas the following year, he was celebrating Holy Mass, wherein he received a revelation that affected him so, that he did not write or dictate anymore, leaving the magnificent work of the Summa theologiae, unfinished.  Thomas told Brother Reginald, “The end of my labors is come.  All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” 

Pope Gregory bid Thomas, although ill, to attend the general council at Lyons for the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches and to bring with him his work, “Against the Errors of the Greeks.”  He became worse during his journey and was consequently taken to the Cistercian abbey of Fossa Nuova.  He was lodged in the abbot’s room and the monks attended to him.  After Thomas made his last confession receiving the Holy Eucharist from the abbot, he stated these famous words:

“I am receiving thee, Price of my soul’s redemption:  all my studies, my vigils and my labors have been for love of thee.  I have taught much and written much of the most sacred body of Jesus Christ; I have taught and written in the faith of Jesus Christ and of the holy Roman Church, to whose judgment I offer and submit everything.”  Two days later, March 7, 1274, being about 50 years of age, he died.  St. Albert who was in Cologne, burst into tears in front of his community and said,  “Brother Thomas Aquinas, my son in Christ, the light of the Church, is dead.  God has revealed it to me.”

St. Thomas was canonized in 1323, wherein his body lies in the cathedral of Saint-Sernin.  St. Pius V conferred upon him the title of Doctor of the Church, and in 1880, Leo XIII declared him the patron saint of universities, colleges and schools.

Thomas’ theological and philosophical writings fill twenty thick volumes and he was the first to comment on Aristotle, whose teaching he utilized in order to build up a complete system of Christian philosophy.  Indeed, his most important work was the Summa theologiae, the most thorough and full exposition of theological teaching ever given to the world.  This work was one of the three reference works used at the Council of Trent, the other two being the Bible and Pontifical Decrees.

His achievements were not just attributed to his incredible writings.  When Pope Urban IV, influenced by the visions of Blessed Juliana of Liege, decided to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi, he deferred to St. Thomas to compose the liturgical office and the Mass for the day, wherein Thomas showed his remarkable expression, known for doctrinal accuracy as for their tenderness of thought.  Famous hymns, Pange lingua, O salutaris and Tantum ergo, written by Thomas, are regularly sung at Benediction.

In spite of his greatness, he thought the best of others, thinking they were better than him, being extremely modest whilst he stated his opinion.  He did not lose his temper in an argument and was extremely poised.

St. Thomas Aquinas has always been one of my favorite saints.  Whilst I was in high school studying philosophy, I would take books home containing his writings.  I was drawn to these books, so I did not go out with my friends because I would rather stay home with St. Thomas and read what he said in my cozy bedroom.  In fact, though they were kidding, my friends called me a “wallflower” because of my devotion to St. Thomas.  I would laugh and tell them that they did not know what they were missing, and that at some point, they might understand. . .

It is my childlike vision in my mind’s eye that sees a great celebration in Heaven today for our dear and great St. Thomas Aquinas!  We love and respect you! We hope to some day be with you in Our Lord’s heaven, and maybe you can teach us there too!  God be praised for this great and holy man!
With respect and love,

Joan

Sources:

  • One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press.
  • Saint of the Day, Edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Edited by F.L. Cross.
  • Read more about St. Thomas Aquinas on Wikipedia.
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Wondrous signs in the sky from New York to Hawaii

On January 8, 2016, a golden cross appeared on the horizon at sunset, which was captured by Erika Rener Winn of Pine Valley, New York. (Source: Facebook)
sunrise-cross-ny-2016-0110-erika-redner-winn
On the morning of Jan. 13, Mechaele Loraff pulled her car over in Buchanan, Michigan, to take a photo of the sunrise.
It was only when she looked at the photo that she noticed the blazing cross.
Loraff’s photo of the sunrise cross went viral after she shared it with a meteorologist at a local TV station.
sunrise cross by Mechaele Loraff Jan. 13, 2016
On the morning of the same day, January 13, in Hawaii, Amy Langley, a former photojournalist for a network TV affiliate in Florida, was on her way to work in the town of Koloa on the island of Kauai.
At 7:15 a.m., struck by the beautiful sunrise, she stopped on the side of the road, got out of her car and took this photo with her Samsung 5 phone.
Sunrise angel in Kauai by Amy Langley, Jan. 13, 2016
Langley’s friends on Facebook variously see in the image an angel or a dove.
Interestingly, as with Mechaele Loraff’s sunrise cross, Langley only noticed the angel when she saw the photo. Langley said, “The shape is only in the photo. It looked like a normal giant pink sun [when taking the picture]!” She believes the image was a “an incredibly bright” flare in the camera lens, mixed with southern winds that pushed volcanic haze from a big island volcano across Hawaii.
Source: WND
~Eowyn

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These birds need names

cute-birds-0001
I saw this on someone’s Facebook post. They were so cute I had to share them. They’re so cute they make my cats jealous.
My thanks to Karina, who identified the Russian artist who made this pair. (I thought they were real) Her name is Marina Yamkovskaia. https://www.facebook.com/marfayam

Please suggest names for this pair.

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