The former things have passed away… Behold, I make all things new (Rev. 21:4-5)

Archive for November, 2012

The Envelope, Please…

I’m not entirely sure, but I think I have received some kind of award from somebody in the blogosphere.  I mean, I’m sure I have been nominated (she told me so herself), and it seems that the nomination itself is sufficient for actually receiving the award, or at least that’s how I understood it.  If some terrible mistake has been made, I’ll give back all the money, cars, and honorary doctorates I’ve received thus far.

It is sort of nice to be nominated for some sort of award.  Mostly I usually just get punished for stuff, so an award is a relief.  I don’t know if I’ve ever received an award before—though I seem to recall that I might have received some dinky cheap trophy for coming in fourth place at an eighth-grade bowling league or something like that.  Or maybe it was one of those deals where everyone got a trophy so no one would feel bad.

Sometimes I receive an award if I make a little donation to some charity.  I get a certificate with my name on it (sometimes spelled correctly), praising my wonderful self for all the world to see. This handsome certificate is calculated to flatter me enough to make another donation.

But now I have this “Food for Thought” award.  I’m not sure what that means.  Do I have to start thinking up some pithy aphorisms or weighty reflections so as to justify the bestowal of this award?  Or maybe I’m misunderstanding “food for thought.”  Maybe it’s a different kind of award, to be understood as a sort of exchange, or prize, in the manner of “bowling for dollars,” and if I think hard enough, someone will deliver a pizza to my door.

There are certain things you have to do concerning this award, though.  I forget if you have to do them in order to get the award, or if you are just expected to do them, as an act of gratitude for even being considered in the first place.  I’m going to be a sort of killjoy here and not do all the stuff, though I’ll do some of it.  Certain things about it sort of remind me of a chain letter, so I hope I don’t find myself in Hell someday because I refused to follow all the directions.  But perhaps my partial compliance will get me as far as Purgatory.  I’m discovering that it’s really hard work to maintain an award-winning blog!

The first thing I’m supposed to do is post the award.  I think that just means pasting in the little clip-art picture, which I did above.  Then you have to thank the one who nominated you and link to their blog (see link in sidebar).  But I’m already in a quandary. Do you thank the person using the name of their blog or their made-up screen name (this seems to be how she thanked her generous benefactor), or do you just come right out and use their real name?  I could thank Catholic by Choice, but that seems a little impersonal, so I will say, “Thank you, Pauline.”  I’m not revealing any secrets for identity thieves; it’s right there on the “about” tag of her blog.

Here’s the part where I go to Purgatory.  You’re supposed to list your seven favorite Scripture passages and why you like them.  That seems like too much work, so I’ll just mention a couple and add my own little twist after that.  The one that really would be my favorite doesn’t exist.  It would be some sort of absolute, unconditional guarantee of salvation, but there aren’t any of those in the Bible (contra what some people seem to think).  But I like stuff like this: “God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).  Since I’m quite fond of Our Lady, I like this one, too: “Behold, your mother” (Jn. 19:27).  This one is pretty important: “He does not treat us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our faults” (Ps 103:10).  I like stuff like this, too: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:3).

But since I’m being a killjoy about all this, I thought I’d mention a few of my least favorite passages: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…” (Mt. 25:41).  Or this: “You are not of God” (Jn. 8:47).  Or this: “But God said: ‘You fool!’” (Lk. 12:20).  All right, so this is the last award I’ll ever get, but we really do have to accept the Bible as a whole and not just focus on the sweetest passages.  It’s all the word of God.

Then you’re supposed to nominate seven other blogs you like to read.  Seven blogs!  That must mean I’m assumed to be a reader of at least that many.  I hardly have time to check the weather and my email.  Seven blogs!  I even forget what I’ve written in my own.  Isn’t there something written about reading one blog and then being led to seven other blogs worse than the first?  Or maybe I got it a little mixed up…

Anyway, enough of this tomfoolery.  One has to be careful about accepting awards, though.  Didn’t Jesus say that the Pharisees had already received their awards and therefore wouldn’t get anything from the Heavenly Father?  I don’t want to be like one of those guys. All I want when I die (you can’t take your bowling trophies with you) is to be found to have served well—faithfully, humbly, lovingly, sacrificially—even in the obscurity of non-recognition by others, and to hear these words from the mouth of Him who created, redeemed, and put up with me all my life: “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt. 25:21).

Where is the Lamb?

A few weeks ago I gave a homily at the COSJ healing Mass, and I thought I’d try to reconstruct some of it here.  That First Friday happened to be All Souls Day, so I wondered how I might somehow connect the idea of healing with that of the faithful departed.  I suggested that for the Christian, death is the ultimate healing, but I hastened to add that none of those present, God willing, would have that experience when they came up to be prayed over!

The Gospel I read (about a dozen options were possible) was John 6:51-58, part of Jesus’ precious “Bread of Life” discourse, which is appropriate for All Souls Day because He says that those who eat his Flesh and drink his Blood “will live forever.”  Eternal life, salvation, and the Kingdom of Heaven are fairly common themes in the New Testament, but I noticed in a commentary that the specific phrase “live forever” occurs only three times in the whole Bible: twice in the Gospel I had read, and once in the Book of Genesis, referring to eating of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

So there’s a connection between God’s original plan for our happiness—which was ruined when death entered the world through sin—and his plan for our redemption in Jesus Christ.  Both have to do with eating and thus living forever.

The hymnographers of the Byzantine tradition sometimes speak of Our Lady as the new Tree of Life, because she bore Him whose Flesh and Blood fills us with divine and hence eternal life.  We eat of the fruit of Mary’s womb and so we live forever in the new Paradise of the Kingdom of Heaven.  A hymn for the Byzantine Office for the Dead reads: “Hail, holy Virgin, who for the salvation of all have borne God in the flesh. Through you, mankind has found salvation; through you, may we find Paradise, O Mother of God, pure and blessed!”

The Holy Eucharist can be given to us only because Christ sacrificed Himself on the Cross for the atonement of our sins and hence for our salvation. “Take and eat, for this is my Body, given up for you; take and drink, for this is my Blood, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of sins,” said the Lord at the Mystical Supper just before his Passion.

There are several prefigurations of the sacrifice of Christ in the Old Testament, and as I was reading something from the Venerable Fulton Sheen, I was led by his reflections to the (attempted) sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham.  As the two were approaching the place of sacrifice, Isaac (with not a little anxiety) said: “Father, here are the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb?”  We know how the story goes, that at the last minute God stayed the knife-bearing hand of Abraham and pointed out a ram caught in a thicket to be offered as a substitute, so Isaac didn’t have to die.  Christ died so that we would not have to die the eternal death, but rather that through communion with Him we could live forever.

But let’s return to Isaac’s words: Where is the lamb?  This question, perhaps hidden in the depths of the human soul, nonetheless reverberated throughout the centuries of the Old Testament.  Where is the lamb? Where is the sacrifice that will be acceptable to God, the definitive sacrifice?  Does such a sacrifice, such a lamb, even exist?  Or are we condemned to be banished from Paradise forever?

When the fullness of time had come, John the Baptizer stood on the banks of the Jordan, bearing a revelation, an earth-shaking announcement after which nothing in this world would ever be the same: “Behold, there is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”  The answer to the burning question of the ages—Where is the lamb?—was standing before John and all the people.  There is the Lamb, who takes away sin; there is the Lamb, who makes all things new; there is the Lamb, who says to paralytics, “Rise and walk”; there is the Lamb, who says to lepers, “Be made clean”; there is the Lamb, who says to repentant sinners falling at his feet, “Go in peace, your faith has saved you.”

What about us?  We live 2000 years after that revelation, and we stand in as much need of healing and salvation as those who were gathered at the Jordan to receive John’s baptism and his revelation.  Blessed are we to be here tonight, for in a little while the main celebrant of this Mass will raise the Sacred Host and the precious Chalice, exclaiming: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world!”  He is here, in our midst.  We can eat from the Tree of Life and live forever, for the sacrifice of Christ stands perpetually before the Father in Heaven, and it is made present here on Earth at every altar where the ordained priesthood of Christ is validly exercised.

“Unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood, you do not have life in you,” said the Lord.  So He invites us, urges us, to receive this divine life in Holy Communion, because He wants us to live with Him forever.  He came to restore us to Paradise, to turn death, the penalty for sin, into the means of passing over to eternal life. We cannot overcome death if we do not have the life of Christ within us.  That is why Hell is called in Scripture the “second death.” It is definitive and forever.  But the second death cannot touch those who die in Christ, who leave this world with his divine life in their souls.

Having beheld and partaken of the Lamb of God in the Holy Eucharist, we now, as it says in the Book of Revelation, “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”  For we are still on pilgrimage and have not yet attained our ultimate goal.  This Eucharistic foretaste of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb prepares us to enter into his Kingdom and participate fully in this feast forever.  For Heaven is thus described in Revelation, and it is the place where all the angels and saints worship God and the Lamb in the Holy Spirit with joy and thanksgiving forever and ever.

So this mystery is revealed throughout Holy Scripture and the life of the Church that Jesus founded: the symbolic sacrifice by Abraham, the revelation of the Lamb by St John and then by the whole Church in her Eucharistic worship, and finally the unending glory of the joyful feast of the Lamb in the mystery of the Holy Trinity as we are restored to Paradise, in a way that far exceeds the original Garden of Eden.

Let us, then, in communion with the whole mystical Body of Christ, those here in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of eternity, behold and worship the Lamb of God  who takes away the sins of the world.  Let us give ourselves wholly to Him, eat and drink his divine, sacramental Flesh and Blood—and live forever.

America is Selling Her Soul to the Devil

Much gloating revelry could be heard around the country after election day, as the wheels of the machinery of the culture of death were greased in a major way.  You know the news: our country’s most anti-life, anti-family, anti-Christian president in history was re-elected by millions of media-brainwashed people, who are heading like mindless lemmings to the precipice of catastrophe, that of their own souls and American society as such.

I don’t think Romney was a particularly good candidate (he had no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade), but at least he would have put the brakes on some other evils into which Obama is hell-bent on thrusting us headlong. The Lord gave us the choice between life and death, blessing and curse (see Deut. 30:15-20).  America has chosen death and the curse. You will see how this will play out in the next four years.

After “gay-marriage” bills had been defeated in individual states the first 32 times they were introduced, the voters of three states (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) finally ushered it in. This sets a dangerous precedent, and we’ll be sure to see this on the ballots of other states soon. If Americans don’t wake up in a hurry, the other states will fall like dominoes. Other pro-gay and pro-abortion measures passed elsewhere. The only pinpoint of light in the whole murky mess was the defeat (by an extremely narrow margin) of an assisted-suicide bill in Massachusetts.

Pot-smokers in two states lit up joints to celebrate the legalization of giggle-weed, though they don’t seem to care that it remains illegal under federal law, so they can still end up in the slammer for smoking their “legal” dope.  In California, chemical giant Monsanto spent over $41 million to defeat a measure that would have required food companies to indicate on labels if they used genetically-modified produce.  So now this soulless global mega-corporation can continue to pursue its move toward monopoly of the world food supply, keeping consumers in the dark about harmful products and ruthlessly persecuting farmers who refuse to grow their tainted crops.

“You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice,” said the Lord concerning his faithful ones (Jn. 16:20), though He also predicted an ultimate reversal in fortunes. Evildoers who reject God’s law will win temporary victories and will make the good suffer, but they cannot overturn the will of God in the long run. Blessed John Paul II concurs: “Human progress planned as alternatives (to God’s plan) introduce injustice, evil and violence rising against the divine plan of justice and salvation. And despite transitory and apparent successes, they are reduced to simple machinations destined to dissolution and failure.” At present, the true servants of the Lord have been defeated and humiliated by the servants of the arrogant demons, who are now rolling in the aisles laughing over how easy it was, over how unthinking, unperceiving, and easily-manipulated the majority of Americans have proven themselves to be.  Yet many Christians were fervently praying that the Lord would give our country one more chance, before the evils that have been introduced in recent years would become so entrenched in law and civil life as to be unassailable by any Christian voices crying in the wilderness.  How are we to understand what happened?

It may very well be that a “sufficient number” was lacking, or simply that the accumulated sins of an self-absorbed and unrepentant nation have merited a divine decree of chastisement.  Perhaps it is largely the fault of the Catholic Church, or of members of this Church who are really pagans in Christian clothing.  If all Catholics would have voted according to the principles and explicit injunctions of Catholic moral teaching (which is the teaching of Christ’s Gospel), Obama would be retreating in shame by now.  So even if there are many great sinners who couldn’t care less about God and eternal life, it is the Church and her faithful that will suffer the most, because Catholics should have known better and could have made the decisive difference. America is selling her soul to the devil, and many Catholics evidently approve the deal. But there will be Hell to pay, literally.  God help us all.

America is just following the trends set over the past few decades in decaying Western Europe. One would think that Catholics would only look across the Atlantic to see that the Church is rapidly crumbling to pieces there, because her sacred traditions have been abandoned for the sake of gross immorality, political correctness, and the entire agenda of those who are shaping public opinion to embrace a Godless new world.  While the gays are trying to redefine marriage, politicians (and other influential people) are trying to redefine Catholicism, diluting it to the tastes of those who do not wish to “turn back the clock” to the time when the Gospel and the doctrines of the Church were upheld in an uncompromising fashion. Now we have “Catholics” like Biden, Pelosi, and Sabelius lecturing the bishops (with impunity!) on what Catholicism really means, identifying it with a vague notion of tolerance and compassion, studiously ignoring the Church’s explicit teachings.

I’ve often wondered how things would have turned out in the world if the Church had been faithful to God in all things.  It may very well be that the rise of Islam in the East, and the proliferation of anti-Catholic sects in the West, were God’s punishment for the sins of his Church.  So now what will be the punishment for Catholics’ refusal to stand with Christ on critical moral issues that will affect this nation for decades or even centuries to come (if the Lord can tolerate us that long before coming to judge us)?  It will likely be the hegemony of secularism and the increasing persecution of the Church (or at least relegating her to the margins of society where she will have no influence on American culture, and I use that term loosely). Read Michael D. O’Brien’s Eclipse of the Sun, for example, to get an idea of what this might look like. A number of US bishops have spoken up admirably in the past few years, but it has been too little too late.  If they all had acted as true shepherds and courageous evangelizers back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the country would not be in the moral quagmire it is in now, and we would have a different president and a different future.

It seems to me that things like my Save a Soul Today and Mop-up Ministry are more necessary than ever, and perhaps the only hope for many.  It helps keep me from despair!  It is still possible to save souls at the last minute, and since our society is becoming more corrupt by the day, it is likely that more and more people are approaching death in a state of mortal sin. I hope to help grab as many as possible before they slide down the ultimate slippery slope to Hell.

Well, I needn’t go on and on.  It has been a big election for big government, big business, the culture of death, and the agenda of perversion and anti-Catholicism.  They are all throwing their parties now, and Hell is toasting its victories as well.  But there is Someone who is going to have the last word, and his righteousness will ultimately be vindicated.  We don’t know how long the faithful will have to suffer before that happens.  All we can do now is pray, fast, trust in the Lord, invoke the intercession of the Mother of God and the Saints and the protection of the mighty Angels, and “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught” (2Thess. 2:15) by Christ and the Apostles, by the Popes and those bishops, priests and teachers who are in faithful union with them.

Everyone has a choice.  Americans have chosen as their leader someone with an evil agenda, someone whom power has made arrogant enough to confront and try to dismantle the Gospel, the Church, the natural law, the longest-held moral traditions and common decency itself.  What is your choice?  Do you want to fall in lockstep with this hell-bound march? Or will you do whatever it takes to stand with the truth, with our Lord Jesus Christ? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Messengers and Warriors

[In the Byzantine tradition, November 8 is the feast of St Michael and all the Holy Angels.  Here is a homily I gave on the feast in 2003.]

Jesus rejoiced that what God has hidden from the learned and the clever He has revealed to the children, the child-like.  One of these mysteries that is revealed to the child-like is that of the holy angels.  For the most part, the learned and the clever of this world don’t believe in the angels.  They look at them as some sort of relic of a superstitious or magical unscientific worldview.  But the Scriptures—both Old and New Testament—are full of angels.  And, of course, our liturgy is as well.  We know that the faithful not only believe in angels but many have had quite unmistakable experiences of the presence of the holy angels.

Now, these days, there is a kind of a renaissance of interest in angels.  Unfortunately, this is generally spearheaded by the “new age” movement.  The reason I say “renaissance” is that the Renaissance was a kind of “new age” movement in its own time, in some ways at least, a kind of degeneration of the tradition.  That is no more clearly seen than in the art of the Renaissance, where you have angels depicted as fat little baby-heads with wings coming out of from behind their ears, floating all around God or Our Lady.  Today, what you have in “new age” angel art is something more like sequined super-models or perhaps ethereal nymph-like beings.  In both of those cases, they are drained of their power and their truth, because the way angels are looked upon today is as a collection of sweet, friendly, sparkling beings that are there to bless us or help us somehow, or make us feel good about ourselves, or give us spiritual “warm fuzzies.”  But that’s not the image of angels that we find in divine revelation.

Angels are described in the Scriptures, and also are depicted in Byzantine art, as messengers or as warriors.  That is more true to what God has shown us about angels.  In many ways in the Scriptures we see how the angels are sent to give messages—especially the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger par excellence.  He shows up in several places announcing very important events concerning the salvation of the world.  And Michael is shown more as a warrior: that’s how he appeared to Joshua, in the reading we heard at Vespers.  As I said before, the angels are really no-nonsense kind of beings—they’re not here to chit-chat with us, or to just be sweet and playful; they’re always on a mission.  So when Joshua looked at St. Michael who appeared to him, he said, “Are you one of us, or are you one of our enemies?”  The warrior-angel had a sword drawn already, and he said, “No!  I am the Commander of the Armies of Heaven!”  And Joshua immediately was on his face, on the ground.

We see that today’s Gospel (Lk. 10:16-21) was chosen, probably, because of what Jesus said about Satan falling from the sky like lightning.  Perhaps the Church chose this to refer to the original fall of Satan from heaven.  We hear of that fall in the Book of Revelation.

There’s also a poetical, metaphorical description from Isaiah, interpreted as a taunt or satire against the King of Babylon, and the way he’s spoken of sounds very much like what the theology and Christian understanding of the fall of Satan is about. The King of Babylon is saying that he is the greatest, and no one can defeat him, and he will put his throne in heaven, and he will rival the Most High, and the denizens of the netherworld then say, “Ah!  Now look how you have fallen!”  Well, this is applied to the fall of Satan.

We get a clearer picture of that from the Book of Revelation, where St. Michael and the holy angels fight the “dragon” and his fellow demons and throw them out of heaven.  Now, we don’t find out in that passage how he became the “dragon”—how Lucifer, the “Light Bearer,” became the “Prince of Darkness.” That’s something that is not revealed in the Bible, but we do know in fact that it did happen, and therefore it says in Scripture, “There was no place for them any more in heaven.”  Thus St. Michael fought them, and threw them out.

Unfortunately for us, he threw them out onto the earth. It says in the Scripture, “So rejoice, heaven, and all you that dwell therein, for Satan has been cast from you!”  Then it says, “Woe to you, who live on earth, because Satan has come to you!  And his fury knows no limits, because he knows his time is short.”  So we have to deal with the “rejects from heaven” down here!

But Jesus, when rejoicing with his disciples upon their return, wasn’t at that moment referring to the original fall of Satan.  The disciples came back, and they were all excited about everything that they were doing, and it’s highly unlikely that Jesus would just, out of nowhere, start reminiscing about something that had happened before the creation of man.  What He was saying is: “While you guys were out there, doing what I told you to do, I saw Satan fall from heaven.”  The Greek verb is in the imperfect, so it should be translated, “I was watching Satan fall…”  This means that while the apostles were casting out the devil, Jesus was watching him fall.

Also, here it’s better to interpret ouranos, the word for heaven, as sky; it can mean both.  He really said, “I was watching Satan fall from the sky.”  The devil already fell from heaven, but we know that St. Paul calls Satan “the ruler of the power of the air,” and in another place he writes of “the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places,” that is, in the sky.  So when the disciples were casting out demons, Jesus said, “I know you have reason to rejoice, because while you were out there, I was watching Satan fall from the sky. You guys were victorious!”  He goes on to elaborate that point, saying, “See what I did for you.  See what I did to enable you to topple the throne of Satan!  I gave you power to trample on all the power of the enemy—and so nothing will harm you.”

This is something that goes beyond the original casting out of Satan from heaven by St. Michael and the Angels, and this is something that applies to us, because we are among those who have to fight Satan on earth.  It says in that passage in the Book of Revelation, after he was thrown out of heaven, and after he pursued the Woman through the desert: “he went to make war on the offspring of the Woman.” We are offspring of Mary, the Woman clothed with the sun; we are the children of the Church.  So, we’re in this battle with Satan now.

We should be aware that Christ has given us, like the disciples, the power to tread upon all the wiles of the enemy.  Satan has been cast out of heaven—that’s one thing; already, in that sense, he has been defeated.  But there’s another defeat, because Christ, by his Cross and resurrection, has dealt the definitive defeat to Satan, the disarmament of the powers of evil.

But the problem is, Jesus has disarmed Satan and robbed him of his power, and then we give it back to him!  It’s like we were kidnapped by the devil and chained up and held at gun-point, enslaved and tortured by the devil, and then Christ comes to us and says, “I’m here to set you free!”  He takes off our chains, and binds up the devil with them, and takes away the weapons of the devil, and puts them in our hands, and says, “OK, now you watch him while I’m gone,” and He goes back to heaven.  Then we get a little curious about things, and we start fiddling with the chains on the devil, and pretty soon we just pull them right off him, and give him his guns back, and say, “OK: enslave us again, and rule over us again, and torment us again.”

Well, that’s what we have done, because the only thing that gives the devil power, the only thing that restores him, at least to some extent, to his former power or dominion, is us: he feeds on us.  He’s a parasite; he feeds on the attention that we give.  He feeds on our fear; he feeds on our weakness; he feeds on our inclination to sin.   And the more that we give in to that, the more that we fear the devil or the more that we let our weaknesses and sinful inclinations get the best of us, the more we say “OK; here’s your power back, take over my life.” But Christ says, “You don’t have to do that.  I took his power away; I defeated him.  I put the weapons back in your hands.”  We can do it, but we have to choose.

The angels are meant to help us in this whole drama of living our life in accordance with the victory of Christ, and living our life in such a way that we can recognize the devil’s tactics, keep him chained up, and not allow him to take over again in our lives or in the world.

We can see what has happened in the world: many people have surrendered to the devil, have not accepted what Christ has done, have thus let everything fall to pieces, and so the devil is making himself “king” (or president) again, in many places.   We know that it’s not going to last forever, but in the meantime a lot of damage is being done.

We need to be strong, so that we can stand against the evil and for the good.  This is why we have these powerful, heavenly messengers and warriors at our side: to protect us, to speak the will of God to us, enlighten our consciences and our minds to help us perceive the reality of the spiritual world, of the spiritual warfare, of the fact that the things that we say and do really have an effect, not only on our own souls but on people around us and on the world in general, because we’re all connected.  We’re all connected in the Body of Christ.

It’s important for us, then, to side with Christ, to listen to and cooperate with the counsel of the angels who lead us according to God’s will, who enlighten us and protect us.  It’s one thing to say, “Oh, please protect me,” and then go about doing precisely that which makes ourselves vulnerable to attack from the evil one.  Well, that’s not going to work!  We have to choose to cooperate, choose to stand on the side of righteousness, choose to be with the angels, those warriors and messengers of God.

In whatever way God wants to use us, we have to be ready and standing at attention, standing ready to serve God, like the various choirs of angels.  They surround the throne of God, they stand ready, praising Him, worshipping Him, ready for the least command that comes from the mouth of God.  They don’t waste a second, because they know that serving God is truth, righteousness, goodness, and holiness: that brings about the will of God the Lover of Mankind, who has designed this whole universe for our delight and eternal happiness.

So, let us be aware that we have help in this struggle—that we don’t have to give in to our weaknesses, we don’t have to follow the evil counsel of the devil, who’s always trying to convince us to come over and unlock his chains.  We have to stand with Christ, with the Victor, with the Stronger One who bound the devil in the first place and who can keep him at bay, as long as our free will is moving in the same direction.  Then we will not only be messengers of God and warriors against evil, but starting now and continuing for all eternity, we will sing the thrice-holy hymn, worshipping the thrice-holy God forever with all of the Holy, Heavenly and Incorporeal Powers—commonly known as Angels!

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