Tag Archives: St. Bonaventure

‘Humanity’ in animals

We humans like to think of ourselves as “like gods” who are superior to the real God’s other creations. We use the word “animal” as an insult, calling the most depraved among us “animals” when it is we “enlightened” humans who consciously and willfully lie, steal, insult, hurt, scheme, plot, plunder, and murder for profit or pleasure. Then to top it off, we use the intelligence that God gives us to justify our deeds with elaborate rationalization.

Saint Bonaventure called animals “creatures without sin” for, unlike humans, they are not born with “the mark” — fomes peccati, tinder for sin.

Saint Francis saw the “humanity” in non-human creatures. He talked to birds and animals, and even preached to them.

Take a look at these pictures. Do you not see their “humanity”? — of intelligence, loving “tolerance” of another species, parental love, unspoken friendship, and quiet companionship . . . .

And then there is their sheer, breathtaking beauty, which no human can match:

Did you know that animals have empathy? — that attribute on which human morality is founded (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” -Matthew 7:12), but which human narcissists and psychopaths lack. See:

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV



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.


Being kind to animals

Serial killers are psychopaths, without remorse or empathy. Before they “graduate” to killing humans, in their childhood or teens, serial killers are known to torture and kill small and, therefore, defenseless animals.

So, if you’re kind to animals, that means you have empathy. It is what makes you fully human.

Here are some examples of human kindness toward animals, whom St. Bonaventure correctly and aptly called “creatures without sin” for it is only we humans who are born as fommes peccati — tinder for sin.

  1. What two young men did to rescue a kitten:
    humans & animals1
  2. Two boys save a dog:
    humans & animals2

  3. A firefighter resuscitates a kitten:
    fireman resuscitates kitten

  4. Another fireman resuscitates a mama cat:
    humans & animals4

  5. This man built a ramp to his car for his dog who’s old with arthritis:
    humans & animals3

  6. Officers salute a heroic police dog:
    humans & animals5

  7. This man found a fox lying on the street, severely injured by dogs. With patience and love, the man nursed the fox back to life and named it Cropper. Cropper refused to go back to the wild and chose to stay with the man. The two have lived together for over six years:
    humans & animals6

  8. Dogs and cats are treated horribly in China, but not all Chinese are cruel. These dogs were in a truck, bound for slaughter, if it were not for an animal rescue center that stepped in and paid about $8,000 for the dogs:
    humans & animals7

  9. In Thailand, an elephant lost his foot and parts of its nose in a landmine. After a few months of recovery, he is fitted with a prosthetic leg:
    humans & animals8

  10. A girl saves a puppy from drowning:
    humans & animals9

  11. A Marine found 4 very small baby rabbits alone beside their lifeless mother in the woods. So he took the bunnies home, fed them until they were big and strong enough to be released back into the wild:
    humans & animals10

  12. A fire fighter gives water to a severely-dehydrated koala bear who survived a forest fire in Australia:
    humans & animals11

  13. Chris P. Bacon the piglet was born without his hind legs. So his owners made a wheelchair for him from K’Nex pieces:
    humans & animals12 Source: AnimalMozo

More “Being kind to animals” tomorrow!

H/t FOTM’s josephbc69



Sunday Devotional: The Messengers

Genesis 18:1-10

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre,
as he sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,
please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,
“Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,
and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.
Then Abraham got some curds and milk,
as well as the steer that had been prepared,
and set these before the three men;
and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah will then have a son.”

3 angels appear to Abraham at Mamre

The above passage from Genesis 18 is one of many passages in the Bible referring to angels, so many that, as (still) Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009, “We would eliminate a significant part of the Gospel” if we did not believe in angels.

The word “angel” is derived from the Greek word angelos, which simply means “messenger.” They are couriers of the divine—incorporeal spiritual beings who act as intermediaries between God and humanity. As St. Augustine (AD 354-430) explains: “Angels are spirits, but it is not because they are spirits that they are angels. They become angels when they are sent. For the name angel refers to their office, not their nature. You ask the name of this nature, it is spirit; you ask its office, it is that of an angel, which is a messenger.” In other words, angels are defined by their function as message-bearers, although this capacity does not exhaust their activities.

To the question of why God would need messengers, the answer is “Of course, not.” God doesn’t need anyone. But our creator God is so bursting with protean creativity that He has fashioned and will continue to create every imaginable and unimaginable, animate and inanimate, that inhabit the fullest range and spectrum of what is possible.

Philosophers and theologians through the ages have offered thoughtful arguments for the possibility and existence of angelic beings. One of the most famous accounts is that by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

According to Aquinas, there are four kinds of substances that are commonly known in the world. They are mineral, vegetal, animal, and human—the last substance being an amalgam of the first three, but with something more. Like animals, human beings have bodies; but unlike animals, humans also have souls, and so are made of both corporeal and spiritual substances. The four kinds of substances comprise a series of grades in the universe, all of which, “participate and represent the goodness of God in various ways.” Aquinas then reasoned that the gradation of substances is completed by the inclusion of another kind of being intermediate between God and humans, which is made of purely spiritual or incorporeal substance. The angelic pure spirits would thus “round out the order of things” because a created universe that does not include such beings will have failed to realize an important range of possibilities.

Similarly, philospher René Descartes (1596-1650) in Meditations On First Philosophy, reasoned that since human beings are composed of mind and body — “a thing that thinks” instead of just a body, which is “not a thing that thinks” — Descartes then concluded that there would also be minds without bodies, i.e., pure spirits or intelligences.

For his part, American philospher Mortimer Adler (1902-2001), who wrote an entire and very serious book on angels (Angels and Us), correctly concluded that in the last analysis, the existence of angels turns on whether God exists for the simple reason that, being divine messengers, angels depend on God for their very creation and existence. In his book, How To Think About God, Adler frames the question concerning the existence of God in the following manner:

“If we are persuaded that the physical cosmos is not the ultimate, inexplicable, and uncaused reality, then we are under a rational obligation to posit the existence of the supreme being as the supernatural—and uncaused—cause that explains the preservation of the cosmos . . . [as well as] its creation.”

In the end, despite his self-identification at the time as a “pagan” (which he defines as an irreligious person who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslims), he concluded that “we have reasonable grounds for believing in God, not with certitude, but beyond a reasonable doubt.” Born a Jew in 1902, Adler was an agnostic for most of his life. Although he held a rational belief in a transcendent supreme being, he insisted that he lacked the gift of grace, finding himself unable to cross what he called the “great gulf between the mind and the heart.” In his last years, however, he made that transit. In 1984, bedridden with illness, he sought solace in prayer and finally accepted the grace he had long sought. After a lifetime as a pagan, Adler professed his belief “not just in the God my reason so stoutly affirms . . . but the God . . . on whose grace and love I now joyfully rely.” He died a Roman Catholic, on June 29, 2001.

Guardian Angel

Being powerful pure spirits without bodies, angels are therefore invisible and genderless. Though invisible, they can assume physical form when they interact with human beings, as three of them did in Genesis 18, appearing as three men to deliver to Abraham an important message from God — that Abraham’s elderly, way past menopause wife, Sarah, will bear a son, which of course is a miracle.

Since angels can assume physical form when they interact with human beings, in theory, that form does not necessarily have to be human, which is a fascinating thought indeed. 🙂

So how do we know when it’s an angel?

When the form, be it human or animal or . . . , delivers an important message, the nature of which always is to urge you toward the good.

Has that happened to you?

For true stories of angelic encounters, go to our “Angels and Saints” page for all the post-links colored green. Here’s a simple but lovely prayer to our wonderful 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.

And may the Peace and Joy and Love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you this glorious Sunday!


Muslim Animal Abuse: Iran injects stray dogs with acid; Arabs push donkey over cliff

St. Bonaventure, correctly, called animals “creatures without sin,” for it is we humans, not animals, who are each born with Original Sin — concupiscence or fomes peccati (tinder for sin).

Every country treats some animals in a utilitarian and unfeeling fashion, consuming them as food. In the United States, meat-eaters are oblivious or willingly blind to the corporate meat industry that confines cows, pigs and chickens in cramped cages where they live out their short wretched lives, fed a diet of hormones and antibiotics.

In some Asian countries, notably South Korea, cats and dogs — bred to be man’s companion for millennia — are consumed as food. (Read more about it and a campaign to stop it here.)

South Korea dog meat industry

To deliberately abuse a “creature without sin” is terrible and bespeaks a person without empathy. Even worse is deriving pleasure from that abuse — sadism that is indicative of psychopathy. That is why serial killers are known to have abused/killed animals in their childhood, before they “graduate” to hunting, torturing, and killing people.

There are heinous animal abusers in the U.S., but they are regarded as criminal aberrations. Some entire cultures, however, treat animals with callous cruelty. Recently, a sickening video surfaced in social media of a dog, believed to be in India, tied up in a crucifixion position, being pelted with cigarettes and shoes.

dog crucified

Muslim countries, in particular, are rife with unimaginable cruelty toward animals. Walid Shoebat has been chronicling horrific cases of Muslim animal abuse. Below are two recent examples:

#1: In Iran, government gets rid of stray dogs by injecting them with acid. Acid is chosen because it is the least expensive poison, but the method is cruel because it consigns the dog to a painful and slow death, as the acid slowly corrodes the dog’s guts.

Below is a video that shows a dog being killed with acid, taking several agonizing minutes to die. The next one in line is just a puppy. You are forewarned!

#2: Muslim men, speaking Arabic, push a poor donkey over a cliff — and laughing about it.

Arab pushes donkey over cliff

YouTube removed the video, but you can see it here.

Walid Shoebat has many other examples of Muslim animal abuse, which collectively show there is something fundamentally wrong with Muslims and their so-called “religion of peace”:

See also:

H/t FOTM‘s CSM and Joan W.


Woman saved from burning car by an angel

In our dark times, more than ever we hunger for signs of God’s grace.

This is a first-person account of that grace, by Dann and Tracey Staddler who were in a horrific car accident, when an Angel saved Tracey from their burning car.


As recounted by CBN, on the night of their 4th wedding anniversary, the Stadlers’ car was hit head on by a drunk driver going the wrong way down the interstate. The drunk driver immediately was killed; Dann and Tracey were badly injured and trapped inside their crushed and burning car.

Dann recalls, “The whole entire car was filled with smoke. I could smell the burning leather. I could smell the burning flesh. I knew that I was going to start on fire very soon because I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my lungs burning. There was so much wreckage pushed in on us that we just couldn’t move. Tracey was literally trapped by the engine and everything else had collapsed in on her.

Tracey and Dann Staddler

Tracey says, “I looked at my husband and he reached over to try to unbuckle my seatbelt, and then whoosh, he started on fire. I tried getting to him but I couldn’t move. I was trapped.”

Motorists arrived on the scene and quickly began rescue efforts to get them out of their burning car.

Dann says, “They stopped their car and ran up to our car which was now engulfed in smoke and flames. They began praying as soon as they came upon the wreckage and they moved into action almost as quickly. They were doing everything they could spiritually to help rescue us; however God’s will was going to play out; they were there involved in it.”

Tracey says, “I remember leaning up and looking at all these people lined up and they were hysterical. And I remember even locking eyes with a woman.”

But the car doors were jammed shut. One man pulled on the driver’s side door frame until the glass finally broke out.

Dann says, “The window then shattered into a thousand pieces and kind of fell away. I was literally on fire at that point, my face, my head, my right side, my right arm, my right leg, they were all burning. And so I pulled myself out and they came over and grabbed me and took me over on the median in the grass and rolled me out and put the fire out that way. In the meantime Tracey was trapped in the car. She could feel her face burning and at that point she was convinced she was going to die.

Tracey says:

“I realized, ‘This is it. I’m leaving.’ And so I prayed. I said prayers I never even knew were in my mind. I said, ‘Father I pray that You forgive me for my sins. You said You have many mansions in Heaven and I pray there’s one for me.’ And I said, ‘Please don’t let me burn to death.’ And then I looked up and there he was.

When I say ‘He’ it was a person who I knew wasn’t of this world. It was a Heaven sent person in an angelic form. And at that point he just lifted me up and I went with him. He pulled me out and we started getting further away from the accident site. At that point I know I left my body. I know I did. He told me I could look back if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. And the further we got away from the accident site the more peace I felt – such peace. And the love? The love can’t be explained; we’re too finite in our words. It can’t be explained in human terms. The love, like you are going home. There was no pain, no regret, only anticipation. The only thing that mattered was my relationship with Christ. And I felt like I was in the arms of God, of Jesus Christ himself.”

Tracey says as they ascended into heaven she saw her grandmother who died when Tracey was a little girl. “And I was so thrilled to see her and she was thrilled to see me. She knew me and I knew her right away. I started to go toward her and I stopped and I said, ‘Megan!’ That’s our oldest daughter who was nine months old at the time. And I said, ‘I have to go back.’ I mean I knew I was going to see the face of God. I knew it. But I couldn’t let Megan grow up alone. And we started going down, and this was just the opposite of going up. It was hard. It was cold. It was fast, and it was painful coming back.”

Tracey says her spirit returned to her broken and burned body. At the same time rescuers saw a man walk out of the woods and up to the car.

Dann remembers:

“And they saw him come closer and closer to the car and he appeared to have a glow about him. And, at the same time there was another man who was behind all of this going on. He was praying fervently for our rescue and our recovery. And, he said just as the angel came upon the scene, he was buckled to his knees because he felt the healing power of Jesus Christ so intensely that it just overpowered and overwhelmed him. One of the rescuers was able to free Tracey, and that’s when he said she was just as light as a feather. She just essentially popped out right in his hands. As the angel was there he bent over her, and he put his hands over her face.

Tracey says, “He took his hands and I knew he was healing me. And he said, ‘Tracey, everything’s going to be alright.’ He healed me.”

Dann Says, “He turned and looked and locked eyes with one man in particular and very slowly and deliberately he said, ‘Take care of Tracey.’ Nobody knew our names at that point. Tracey’s purse was in the car burned up. She was pulled unconscious from the car. I had not been speaking her name, Tracey had not spoken her name, so for him to know her name, he could only have been heaven sent.”

The man turned and walked back into the woods. Soon after, emergency workers arrived on the scene and transported Dann and Tracey to nearby hospitals. The next several months were filled with pain and difficulties as they recovered from multiple fractures and Dann’s severely burned body, but Tracey says the presence and peace of God was with her when she prayed.

She says, “That sustained me. I could feel peace from my head to my toe when I prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It worked better than any pharmaceutical out there. It really did. And the peace again, I prayed to be filled with peace.”

Tracey Wills & Dann Staddler at a reunion of the Washington High School Class of 1980 Germantown

Tracey Wills & Dann Staddler at a reunion of the Washington High School Class of 1980 Germantown

In their book Angels in the Fire, Dann and Tracey recount how God has used the crash to show His Presence in their lives. They say they are thankful they’ve been given a second chance in life, even in difficult times.

Dann says, “God was there for us. Jesus Christ was there for us. He gave us – He gave Tracey in particular, a healing. He’s used what happened to us for many other things. We do have a lot of joy in our lives; not always happiness, not always thrilled with some of the challenges we’ve faced, but the joy of Christ is always with us.”

Tracey says, “Tracey says, “I just recognize that fact that God is with me every day through everything; in the littlest decisions, He’s there. I don’t know why I was saved, but He for some reason thought I was worth saving. I’m very thankful for that. I really am.”

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 very much, more than you’ll ever know.

And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.

See also these other angelic encounters:


An Angel called his name and saved his life

As America grows darker and darker, here’s a reminder that God and His grace are still with us.

Below is a true story from Guidepost of how his Guardian Angel saved William Thatcher’s life.

Guardian Angel (2)

River Angel

By William Thatcher, Shirley, Illinois

William Thatcher

Since sunup I’d been out on the Missouri River, riding around in my 14-foot metal boat. The river was running high and fast, swollen from heavy fall rains. Lots of debris floated past, mainly branches from the willow trees that grew along the shore.

Every once in a while an entangled mess would come my way, and I’d have to maneuver around it. But I was used to the outdoors, and to adventure–small boats, single-engine planes, hiking in nature.

I liked excitement, and I liked that God always made sure I came home safe. This evening I would thank him properly over a fresh duck dinner with my wife.

As I motored along, the sun was high in a bright blue sky. A raccoon at the water’s edge took a little dip. A doe slipped quickly, silently through the trees. Nature was abundantly on display, but I had not come across one other boat the whole day.

“Bill!” The call startled me. Who had snuck up on my boat like that?

I turned around and looked in every direction. Hunters don’t play games. There was no one out here on the river. No one but me. Just as I’d suspected. But still, I could have sworn I heard my name, clear as day.


This time the call came with more urgency. It was a warning call. Unmistakably.

I jerked around to look over my shoulder. Whoa! An enormous log barreled straight toward me. I turned the motor and swerved my little boat out of its path. Seconds later it passed by me. The log must have been 20 feet long and three feet wide. Probably washed away from one of the dams upriver.

About 100 yards downstream was an empty steel barge moored along the shore. The log hit the steel barge so hard and fast that the barge was launched up into the air before finally falling back into the water. That could have been me!

I could barely catch my breath. My hands were shaking so hard I couldn’t hold onto the motor. If I hadn’t moved out of that log’s path, I knew I’d be dead.

That night when I got home from my latest adventure, I had more than our dinner to thank the Lord for. “I heard an angel out on the river today,” I told my wife. “An angel called my name–and saved my life.”

I can confirm that William Thatcher, now in his late 80s, indeed lives in Shirley, an unincorporated community in mid-Illinois.

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.

And thank your Guardian Angel today and every day — for watching over and protecting you, and for loving you in spite of ourselves.

See also “Your Guardian Angel’s Day”.