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My Friend

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I have a most extraordinary friend. We became attached one to the other more than 60 years ago. This friend of mine has every quality. He is loyal. Never has he left me alone.

He is intelligent, dazzlingly so. He has only to look at a thing, and he comprehends it through and through.

He is beautiful. There are no words describe the youthfulness of his countenance; he is fresh as the morning dew, and in his eyes, as in pools of crystal, one sees reflections of heaven.

He is strong. Nothing is too heavy for him. Nothing tires him. Nothing can resist his power.

He is lovable, always equal to himself, unchangeably peaceful and pacifying. And wherever he goes he leaves a trail of serenity and of joy.

He is grateful, grateful for the littlest words and gestures. And he remembers absolutely everything. It has happened, and often, I fear, that I have made him weep. Oh, yes, he weeps, but he pardons also, and very quickly. And he never holds a grudge.

He is a physician too. And what a physician! He treats and heals both body and soul.

He is a brilliant psychotherapist. He listens to all my sorry tales. He gives me the wisest counsels. He consoles me and sets me on my feet again. He shows me the path to follow. And he preserves me from ever despairing of the mercy of God.

He is my advocate, forever taking up my cause and pleading my defense. He speaks so in my favour, and when he does so, his eloquence is angelic.

While I sleep, he keeps watch. While I keep vigil, he keeps vigil with me. If I have to travel, he always goes along for the journey. (He has no fear of flying.)

His greatest joy -- perhaps you have already guessed it -- is when he accompanies me to the altar to offer the Holy Sacrifice. There he becomes absolutely radiant. He stands, like a deacon, at my side.

He is completely at home in the liturgy of the Church, and he knows it inside out. He sings with understanding, he bows profoundly, he teaches me how I am to conduct myself in the presence of the Thrice Holy God.

At the moment of the Consecration, he becomes all luminous: beautiful with an indescribable beauty. I feel him trembling with joy next to me. And then he becomes utterly silent; he becomes like a flame of adoration. At this moment he is never alone. All his confrères arrive and sometimes, just sometimes, one feels, but ever so slightly, the hushed movement of wings of light. They arrive, all of them together, to surround the altar and then, they adore, they adore, they adore.

For him Mass is never too long. Holy Mass is what he loves most on this earth of ours: Holy Mass, and then adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He is always directing me towards the tabernacle.

Oh, and one other thing. He is phenomenally in love with my Mother, the Most Holy Virgin Mary. Her always calls her his Queen and his Sovereign. He reminds me often that Jesus, from the summit of the Cross said, not to an angel but to a man, "Behold thy mother." When I pray to Holy Mary, he exhales the loveliest of perfumes: a fragrance of purity, humility and love all at once.

So there you have it: a little portrait of my friend. Each of you has one rather like him. Love these celestial friends of ours, honour them, and consult them; and, today, give thanks to the Father for having given them to us.

Votive Mass of the Holy Angels

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Ferial Tuesdays

The Roman Missal indicates that the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels is suitable for Tuesdays when no other celebration of higher rank prevails. It is also customary, in some monasteries, to celebrate on ferial Tuesdays the Votive Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus, or that of Saint Benedict. There are special graces linked to the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels. I celebrate it often, and invite other priests to do so as well.

Introit

Bless the Lord, all you Angels of His:
Angels of sovereign strength, that carry out HIs commandments,
attentive to the voice of HIs Word.
V. Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is in me, bless HIs Holy Name.

Angels-in-Waiting

The Mass opens with this splendid Introit: Psalm 102:2. The Angels are invited to bless God, to do the very thing for which they were "designed" by God and created. The Church, following the psalmist, addresses them as potentes virtute, "powerful in might," or "of sovereign strength." The Angels use all their strength, all their potential to carry out God's commandments. They wait upon every word that the mouth of God utters and with no delay apply themselves to making it happen.

The Angelic Model of Eucharistic Adoration

What most strikes me in this Introit is that the Angels are described as ceaselessly listening to the Will of God and waiting upon "the voice of His Word," that is upon the voice of Christ Jesus. Even for the Angels the Will of God is expressed through Christ. Gazing upon the splendour of His Face, the Angels listen for the sound of HIs voice. This, it seems to me sums up the attitude of any soul called to a life of Eucharistic adoration: to gaze upon the Face of Christ, and to listen to His voice.

In God's Plan: Angels and Men

The Collect recognizes that God has wonderfully ordered both Angels and men in His perfect plan. It asks that we may be guarded on earth by the Angels who in heaven stand in readiness, waiting upon God.

Epistle

The Epistle, taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John (5:11-14), pulls back the veil on the Divine Liturgy served in heaven. Saint John hears a multitude of angels crying with a great voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and might, and honour, and glory and blessing" (Apoc 5:12). Again, the Angelic adoration in heaven models and demonstrates the prayer of those called to abide in the presence of the Immolated Lamb, sacramentally present upon the altars of the Church on earth.

Gradual and Alleluia

The Gradual takes up the first verse of Psalm 148, sung daily at Lauds, while the Alleluiatic Verse borrows the text of the familiar antiphon sung at Vespers on Wednesday: "Under the gaze of Angels, I sing Thy praises; I will adore before Thy holy sanctuary and give praise to Thy Name."

Gospel

The Gospel (Jn 1:47-51) is Saint John's mysterious account of the vocation of Nathanael, chosen for the last verse in which Our Lord says to him, "Believe me when I tell you this, you will see heaven opening, and the Angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man" (Jn 1:51). Here Our Lord reveals His priestly mediatorship. The Angels, ascending, bear the praises, supplications, and offerings of men into the presence of God through Christ. Descending, they bear God's blessings, graces, and mercies to men, through Christ. The Angels glory in the priestly mediation of Christ, their King. He is the new Ladder stretching between heaven and earth. Apart from Him nothing human enters heaven; apart from him nothing Divine reaches earth. This is borne out in the Preface of every Mass:

It is through Him
that Thy majesty is praised by Angels,
adored by Dominations,
feared by Powers;
through Him that the heavens and the celestial Virtues
join with the blessed Seraphim in one glad hymn of praise.

Offertory Antiphon

The Offertory Antiphon is yet another glimpse into the heavenly liturgy. Saint John draws our attention to the Angel who, holding a golden thurible, stands before the altar of the temple. The Angelic Thurifer is given much incense (an indication of the measure of incense preferred in heaven?), and the smoke of its perfumes rises in the presence of God. At High Mass, when oblations, crucifix, altar, priest, and faithful are incensed, the text of this antiphon is, as it were, brought to life and made visible to all.

Communion Antiphon

The Communion Antiphon names the nine Angelic Choirs, calling upon each choir in turn to bless the Lord, who, in the Sacrament of His Most Holy Body and Blood, feeds mortal men with Himself, the very Bread of Angels:

Angels, archangels,
thrones and dominations,
princedoms and powers,
virtues of heaven,
cherubim and seraphim,
bless the Lord forever.

There is no greater joy for a Guardian Angel than to assist at the worthy Holy Communion of the soul in his charge. He accompanies that soul to the Holy Table; he thrills at the moment the Sacred Host touches his charge's lips; he unites himself to his charge's thanksgiving and remains close, very close, in adoration of the God who descends to abide in a tabernacle of sinful flesh, bring forgiveness, healing, and superabundant life.

Postcommunion

Finally, the Postcommunion makes us ask that, despite our human frailty, we, who have been filled full with heavenly blessing, may, through the ministry of the Angels and Archangels, experience (the Latin text really says sentiamus, feel) the help given us by the enactment of the sacred rites.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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