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By Benoît Bemelmans

Of all the angels, he was the last!

Of the billions of pure spirits God created, immensely more numerous than all mortals that will exist until the end of the world, distributed in an immense hierarchy of nine angelic choirs, he was at the lowest level. All angels, without exception, were superior to him. Far below him were only us men.

But above all, do not think he had any bitterness or disappointment being last angel. On the contrary, he was a particularly joyful and happy angel. In fact, he would have nothing to do with Lucifer’s revolt, who tried to recruit him thinking he might get him to feel unjustly discriminated against. “Follow me,” the Tempter whispered to him, “and the last of the last will become like unto God.”

He would have burst into laughter and turned a cold shoulder, if he only had one, but those are actions proper to us men. So he asked a simple question that was heard from one end to the other of the heavenly vault, “Quis ut Deus?” His phrase was taken up by the Archangel Saint Michael, who turned it into his war cry with the success that we all know: under his leadership, after a huge battle, two-thirds of the heavenly hosts cast the rebellious demons into Hell.

From then on, the last angel was spending his eternity doing good on Earth.

Doing Good on Earth

Being a pure spirit, as you know, he had no body. But he possessed an intelligence immensely superior to ours, a will free of hindrances and a power over the whole temporal world limited only by the designs of Divine Providence. Furthermore, he never had to learn anything—God had given him knowledge from the moment of his creation. He employed his strength and discernment to influence the material conditions of our everyday life. Whenever he went, the air would become lighter, birds would sing more joyfully, flowers would blossom and people would be inclined to become better.

He was the angel who reestablished peace in nature after great storms; the one who made the return of spring so wonderfully pleasant; who keep cool the stone room where harvesters would come to rest; who made sure abundant fruits would be picked in autumn and who always created a cozy, comforting ambience around crackling fireplaces when snow covered the countryside.

He patrolled the earth taming the effects of savage nature, making life more bearable for humans and encouraging them to practice virtue.

His intervention upon the elements brought back hope to men’s hearts. It was a humble action that he carried out with ingenuity and discretion, but he figured it did not accomplish everything he was called to realize.

Prone to make conjectures, he thought God would perhaps one day give him a special mission. “I will undoubtedly become someone’s guardian angel; being the last of angels, he will probably be the last of men,” he said to some great archangels of Paradise who knew more than he did but were happy to simply look at him and smile.

And while he had no clue what was going on, he noticed unusual activity in the heavenly dome. But since in their continuous activities to help maintain Creation none of his elders would stop to tell him what the story was, he simply kept going around the world.

A New Mission

He had been fulfilling his task for several thousand years, which is a lot of time for us but just a little bit of eternity for an angel; and one evening, one of the magnificent seraphim seated very close to God’s throne, came to see him. “Our Sovereign Creator has a mission for you,” he said. “Go quickly to apply your talents to help some poor people at the place I will indicate.”

Rushing to cover the immense distance separating him from the spot he was sent to, and not knowing what he was going to find, he enters a poorly lit place in the countryside. He looks around and notices the smallest, weakest and poorest of all the children of men. At that point, a marvelous light illuminates the simple grotto he is in and he sees the whole heavenly court is also present, with billions of angels ascending and descending and singing a new and extremely sweet song.

Nativity Scene“Hurry up, you can see that he is cold,” the seraphim tells him. It was only at that moment that he learned that God was made man and that his mission was to protect the little baby and His mother, the Blessed Virgin, and His adoptive father, Saint Joseph.

Quickly, he approaches the donkey and the ox sleeping deep into the grotto and has them warm the newborn with their breath; he smoothes out the hay to avoid that any wisp should hurt the baby; and he spreads in the air an aroma of Christmas made with fir tree resin, warm wax, orange blossoms and diverse candies.

The Child smiles at seeing him. He is the last, but the happiest of angels.

Ever since that night, the last angel goes around the Earth annually to make souls of good will smell the sweetness, perfume and spirit of Christmas.

So now, please, look around you and be sensitive to his presence. You will perhaps figure that he has just passed by in the flickering candle before the crèche, in the brightness of a Christmas bauble suspended from the fir tree or in the sweetness of the chants during midnight Mass.



A Note from the Author:

Yes, dear Reader, this is only a Christmas tale, but the last angel really does exist. I don’t know his name, but in any case our poor human intelligence would have great difficulty understanding the meaning and beauty of an angel’s name.

Furthermore, he was the one who suggested that I write this tale. When I objected that perhaps not everything would come out just right, he laughed, raised his shoulders and said, “All you’ll have to do is to put a note at the end. Those smart enough to keep their child-like souls will be delighted, and those who can see with the heart will know.”

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for March 3, 2021

Those who educate children well are more to be honored than...

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March 3

 

Those who educate children well
are more to be honored
than they who produce them;
for the latter only gave them life,
the former give them the art of living well.


Aristotle

  
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Katharine Drexel

Catherine made her social debut in 1879 as a wealthy, popula...

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St. Katharine Drexel

Katharine Drexel was born Catherine Marie Drexel on November 26, 1858, the second daughter of Francis Anthony Drexel, a wealthy banker, and his wife, Hannah, who died very shortly after Catherine’s birth. Francis married again two years later, and he and his new wife, Emma, had another daughter when Catherine was five.

The three Drexel children were well educated and enjoyed many social and material privileges. They were privately educated at home by their tutors and would often tour parts of the United States and Europe with their parents. They were brought up to the practice of the virtues and assisted their parents every week when they opened their home to the care and aid of the poor.

Catherine made her social debut in 1879 as a wealthy, popular young heiress. However, her life took a profound turn when, after nursing Emma Drexel for three years during a terminal illness, she realized that her family’s fortune could not buy freedom from pain or death. She became a very active and staunch advocate for the black and native Americans after witnessing their plight during a family trip to the Western United States in 1884.

At the prompting of Pope Leo XIII, the young heiress became a missionary religious in 1891 and established the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the American Indians and Afro-Americans. Her decision to enter religion rocked Philadelphia social circles, one newspaper carrying the banner headline: “Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent—Gives Up Seven Million."

Over the course of the next sixty years, Mother Katharine Drexel, as she became known, devoted herself and her fortune to propagating her missionary work. By the time of her death in 1955, at the age of ninety-six, she had established a system of Catholic schools for blacks in thirteen states, twenty-three rural schools, and fifty missions for Indians in sixteen states. Her most famous establishment was Xavier University for Blacks in New Orleans in 1915 – it was the first of its kind in the United States and faced great opposition from radical racists.

Mother Katharine Drexel was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000, the second native-born American ever to be declared a saint after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1774.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week....

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Payback

At Anna’s mother’s funeral a man came up to her and after offering his deepest sympathy, took the grieving daughter aside, “I must tell you a story about your good mother and something she did for me…”

He proceeded to recount how, many years before he was involved in an extra-marital affair. One day, when dining with the woman in a restaurant, Anna’s parents had come in and pretended they had not seen them.

But next day he picked up the phone to hear Anna’s mother inviting him over for a piece of pie.

“You know how good your mother’s pie was…But there was also a tone of urgent authority in her voice, so I went.”

After enjoying his piece of pie, Anna’s mother revealed that she had, indeed, seen him and his girl-friend the night before.

“Though I vehemently denied it, your mother would not relent...She proceeded to remind me of the time when I was out of work and she had cooked for my family day in and day out.”

“Now, I want payback,” she demanded.

“I reached for my wallet, but she said,”

“Not that way.”

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary and Our Father assigned to each bead while thinking of something good about his wife, his children and their family life.

“If at the end of this week you still think this woman is better for you, just mail me back the Rosary, and I will never say a word about this again.”

At this point, the man telling the story reached into his pocket. Pulling out a worn Rosary, he said,

“This is the Rosary your mother gave me all those years ago. My wife and I have said it together every day since.”

 Based on a story from 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary

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