Envision in your mind's eye, a pitch black sky. As far as the eye can see, there is not the tiniest glimmer of light. All is dark! Then, in an instant, without warning, the entire sky is ablaze with hundreds of thousands of small lights which form a massive sphere of brilliance. The brightness of that light reaches out to every corner of the earth. Gone is the darkness. All is light! That is our own vision of how the Angels may have been created. In what is humanly referred to as the blink of an eye, the Angels were. God anticipated the creation of man. In His great benevolence, He knew we would need help from above, and so in less than an instant, the Angels were created.
God is so good. He knows how little of our brains we use. We cannot possibly understand His Ways. God knows we could not comprehend the concept of Angels as invisible beings. We have to see Angels to understand them. So, for us, when they are manifested in human forms, He gives them powerful, muscular bodies, with gentle, beautiful feminine faces. He incorporates the best of male and female and puts all of it into one form. He gives them wings, for strength, speed and majesty. But the decision as to whether they have wings, or take on the appearance of cherubs, or mighty soldiers, none of that has anything to do with us. We don't determine it, and it really is not for us to conjecture. God makes those decisions. If we decide whether God can give Angels wings, or cannot give them wings, or muscular bodies, or whatever, we limit His power and abilities. And I don't think God is going to put up with too much of that. We cannot lose our perspective of who is the Creator, and who are the created.
There was such an important reason for the creation of Angels. He made them a significant part of our lives. He gave them power to help us through this journey to Heaven. They're there by our side at the drop of a hat. And yet, we don't use them. A common expression today is, "Take the Angels off the unemployment line." We have either forgotten about them, lost faith in the ability of the Angels to help us, or are too embarrassed by our peers to mention Angels, fearing we'll be ridiculed as old-fashioned. Many of us have joined the ever-growing number of people searching for a better mousetrap. We're in the age of progress; there has to be something better, more powerful, more helpful, in the latest bag of tricks offered us by the world. What our Faith has given us down through the centuries is the same old thing. But it works! If it isn't broken, don't fix it!
St. Paul went right to the heart of our belief in Angels, and the battle for our souls, when he warned his followers,
"Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high."
Paul was one of the most brilliant men our Church has ever known. He never wasted words on niceties, when it was important to get to the heart of a subject. But he also didn't go out of his way to antagonize people, unless he had a strong purpose. Why would he make this statement, he, who'd had visions of Heaven, who was so close to Jesus and the Angels, if it were not true? We find it so easy today to dismiss the notion of Angels and devils. We categorize demons as psychological. A Catholic priest, chairman of the Theology department of a major American Catholic University,
"dismissed the idea of a personal archdemon as `premodern and precritical'. Individuals tend to personify evil, `because we see it in people.' But for sophisticates acquainted with sociology and other disciplines, `sin is now seen as something systemic, institutional and structural, as well as personal.'"
Was Paul a seer? Did one of his Angels bring this atrocious attack against our beliefs to Paul, two thousand years ago, so he could warn us (in Ephesians 6: 11-12) about these blasphemies which are so chic and sophisticated today? Did he know that the day would come when his very words would be contradicted and held up to ridicule by those who are supposed to be on our side? Can you picture St. Paul, one of the most brilliant men our Church has ever known, being reduced to a first century witch doctor? What do the illustrious theologians of this final decade of the twentieth century, have to say about St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony of Padua, St. John of the Cross, St. Bonaventure, and all the other Doctors of the Church, who always admitted to having used the teachings of St. Paul as a basis for their own writings?
Last year, we were giving a talk in a small southern town. The hostess had asked her brother to introduce us. He opened his remarks by saying, "I like what I read in Bob and Penny Lord's books. I've been to their talks, and they remind me of things my second grade teacher, Sister Mary Regina taught us as children." We thanked the man for his generous comments, but shared with the group present, we don't mean to talk like Sister Mary Regina did forty years ago, just for the sake of bringing you down the path of Memory Lane. The only reason, our master of ceremonies mentioned that our comments are reminiscent of something his grade school teacher might have said, is because he doesn't hear these things any more. And that's sad! We don't try to bring you back to another time. We're re-focusing on values that should never have been given up. We're not trying to go backward. We're trying to steel up for what's ahead.
The gifts of power the Lord gave us, and continues to give us, should not be categorized as simply childhood memories. They are current, as modern and touchable as the Word, itself. We are the losers when we allow ourselves to be influenced by respected scholars who would put these gifts on the back burner, or infer mockingly that they are throwbacks to a less informed, less scientifically based medieval church who needed magic and symbols to survive. Demons have been replaced by neuroses. That is certainly Satan's joke. And he's laughing very loudly. If there are no demons, well then, naturally, there can be no Angels! Then, is there a God?
But there are so many gifts the Lord has given us, to help us through this journey, this pilgrimage to the Kingdom. And one of the greatest aids we have, is the gift of the Angels. However, very few know anything about them. Don't feel bad. I never knew anything about them! Oh, I always knew there were Angels. They have been a part of my Catholic upbringing for as far back as I can remember. I said the Guardian Angel prayer on and off until I was about eight or nine years old. I'm sure the good Nuns told us stories about the Angels in grammar school. But I never really thought anything about Angels. They were there, but they didn't mean anything to me. It took me until I was almost forty years old to realize how important the Angels are, how much power the Lord has given them, and how they are literally there to help us get through this pilgrimage of life.
It began on a Labor Day weekend party in 1975. Penny and I went to a friend's house for a barbecue. We had returned to the Church in January of that year, after having left for over three years. Our life was now very exciting. Church was the major focus of everything we did. We surrounded ourselves with members of our Parish, who felt the same way we did about Church, Marriage and Family.
We had gone on a Marriage Encounter weekend in May 1975, which had changed our lives. The very next month, Fr. Chuck Gallagher and 2,000 couples left for a pilgrimage to Lourdes and Rome. Penny and I just couldn't come up with the $500 each it cost to go, and so we missed it. But when they came back and shared the glory, and the majesty, and the excitement of our Church, through their experiences in Lourdes and Rome, Penny and I vowed the next year, we would go on our own pilgrimage, even if we had to hock everything to get the money.
So we really looked forward to this Labor Day party. A cousin of the host had been to Europe, and he was going to tell us about some of the shrines he had visited. He began by sharing about Padre Pio and San Giovanni Rotondo, in Italy. Now, we had never heard of either Padre Pio, or San Giovanni Rotondo, but we listened intently as he explained about this Franciscan Capuchin priest who had the Stigmata of Jesus for fifty years of his priesthood. We were completely overwhelmed by the miracles and spiritual gifts attributed to Padre Pio. So we decided, on the spot, that we would visit San Giovanni Rotondo.
Sort of as an aside, the cousin of our host mentioned that just about ten miles from San Giovanni Rotondo was the cave of St. Michael the Archangel. In 490 A.D., Michael had appeared in that cave, and claimed the cave and the mountain for himself and the Heavenly Hosts of Angels. We will go into more detail on the cave of St. Michael in a later chapter. That was the first mention of an Angel I had heard since my childhood, when Sister Dolores used to tell us stories about the Angels. But I hadn't even thought about Angels since I "grew up". After having heard about the cave, Penny and I looked excitedly at each other. We decided we would visit there, too.
Not two weeks later, our pastor, Monsignor Tom O'Connell, asked Penny and me to join him and a group, mostly ladies, to go to the San Fernando Mission church. It was the Holy Year, and we would all get the same blessings if we made a pilgrimage to the Mission church, as if we had been in Rome, at St. Peter's Basilica. So Penny and I jumped at the opportunity. We even brought our eight year old grandson, Rob, with us. It was the first time Rob was an Altar Server. He had always yearned for that gift, and it was given to him that day, unofficially.
After the Mass, we were given a tour of this, one of California's famous missions. The tour ended, naturally enough, in the gift shop. I was excited about all the beautiful religious articles there, but I found myself drawn to a little statue of St. Michael the Archangel. It took my breath away. It wasn't one of those great Italian alabaster or marble statues. It was a little painted plaster statue, probably made in Spain. But to me, it was the most magnificent image I had ever seen. With the exception of Our Lord Jesus, this was the first time I had ever seen what I would call a beautiful man! I couldn't take my eyes off it. He had all the rippling muscles of a powerful man; but his face was soft and gentle, almost feminine. He stood with his sword poised, ready to attack Satan, whose head he was crushing under his feet. His red cape flowed gently around him, and his wings were majestic. He held Satan at bay with such ease.
This was the beginning of my love affair with the Angels. I had to know more about them. I began reading books on the Angels, everything and anything I could get. When Penny and I began our sixteen years of pilgrimages, we visited every shrine known to man, that had anything to do with an Angel. In 1976, we visited the Cave of St. Michael in Italy. In 1977, we visited the Mountain of St. Michael in France. We found out that St. Michael was the Patron Saint of Belgium. It went on and on. I photographed every Angel I could find, from the great Bernini Angels in St. Peter's Basilica, to little cherub Angels in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Los Angeles.
Little by little, the Lord has been revealing to us the role of the Angels in our lives, the power they have been given by God, how much they want to help us. I like to call the Angels our cousins. I'm not sure if that's Biblical, or liturgically correct, but I feel such a closeness to them, I believe they are directly related to us.
I need to feel the power that I know the Lord has given the Angels. I need to feel it in a physical way. I love to drive on the highway on a windy, cloudy day, and see what I like to call sculptures in cloud, images of Angels following my car, protecting me. I can see their great wingspan, the majestic flow of their bodies as they move through the sky. We're in a time when hope, morals, all the values we have held dear, are being smashed against the rocks, destroyed, in order to make way for a new world order, a new age that will send us right down to the bowels of hell. I need to know that there is strength, there is power, there is hope for me and my family and my church. The Angels, from the sweet little cherubs to the mighty warriors, their muscles rippling, their swords drawn and ready, are just one more way Our Lord tells us loud and clear that He is in charge; He is with us always; He has not left us orphans.
We want to share that gift with you. We believe you need it as much as we do, and as much as we want to share it with you. But don't keep it to yourselves. We're in a time when the power and availability of the Angels, to help us get through the rough periods, to counsel and comfort us when we need it, and to finally escort us to meet Our Lord and Our Lady when our time comes, must be shared. You've got to get out there and spread the word. Share some of the stories we're going to tell you in this book.
You know what the most frustrating part of all this is? We have this real urgency to impress on you how powerful the Angels are in our lives. We use all kinds of poetic language to stress this point, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. For those of you who have followed our writings, in the past two years, we have been stressing power, the power the Lord gives us. We have written about powerful men and powerful women; now we're writing about an Army of Angels. Can you see the point the Lord is trying to make through all of this? He wants you and me to understand the power He has given us, because we're going to need it, especially in this last decade of the second millennium, what may possibly be the end times.
We don't really expect to fully understand, in our lifetime, the full nature or role of the Angels. But we know what we know. We can feel, deep down inside of us, how crucial it is that we reach out to the Angels now for help. The Lord has given them to us; we must use them.
We're in a time when everything we have ever held sacred, is being taken away from us in a very sinister, subtle, organized way. That's the enemy's modus operandi, subtle and sinister. And we're falling for it. It's crept into our churches, our seminaries, our schools, our homes. We are all becoming victims of a ravenous hunger for knowledge, cleverly packaged for human consumption, with a promise to prove everything beyond a shadow of a doubt, or it does not exist. Faith has gone out the window. Either prove it or get rid of it. Tradition is dwindling. Show it to me on television, or on a printout sheet, a hard copy, or on a digital display. We're being overpowered by technology.
We're told the concept of Angels is ridiculous. "Give me a break. Get out of the middle ages. Forget that witchcraft. Get into the twentieth century." We defend the Angels with the fact that Angels are mentioned in just about every other page of Scripture. We ask, almost afraid of the answer, "You do believe in Scripture, don't you?" So the next attack is on Scripture. It's taken Satan two thousand years to build up enough false courage to attack the credibility of Sacred Scripture. But he's out to destroy everything that makes us a church, and a people. The latest heresy is, Jesus didn't say the words that are in the Gospels. The Gospel writers put the words into his mouth! Can you understand why we contend it's so important that we have a strong Army to protect us? We're not only getting clobbered from the bad guys, and the world; now we're getting it from the good guys, our own. We pray to the Angels to give us the words to say, that will touch your heart, and compel you to turn in the direction of the Angels, for strength. They function best when they have a strong prayer cover. You must be a prayer warrior to give them the power they need to help you. But before you can do any of that, you must get to know them.
So come with us now. Get to know your cousins, and your very best friends, God's Angels. Find out who they are, what their role in Salvation history has been, how they fit into your life, and form a part of your life, how you can accomplish great things for God and yourself, how you can turn it all around, to the point of being able to change the course of history, by appealing to your Angels for help. Learn how you are not hopeless or helpless. You have strength; you have power; you have family and friends in God's Heavenly Army of Angels.