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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 May 5, 2021

Thou hast formed us for Thyself O Lord and our hearts are re...

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May 5

 

Thou hast formed us for Thyself O Lord
and
our hearts are restless
till they find rest in Thee!

St. Augustine of Hippo

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Hilary of Arles

On one side, I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the wor...

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St. Hilary of Arles

Hilary was of a noble, patrician family of means and influence, a close relative of St. Honoratus and the founder of the Monastery of Lérins on the Mediterranean island of the same name, a monastery which is active to this day.

Wealthy, highly educated, and endowed with exceptional abilities, Hilary looked forward to a brilliant career in the world. But his saintly relative felt that he was called to serve his God in religious life and did his utmost to convince him to leave the things of the world.

After a fierce inner struggle, Hilary decided to sell his patrimony and follow his holy mentor to Lérins. He writes of this interior battle: “On one side, I saw the Lord calling me; on the other the world offering me its seducing charms and pleasures. How often did I embrace and reject, willed and not willed the same thing!  But in the end Jesus Christ triumphed in me. And three days after Honoratus had left me, the mercy of God, solicited by his prayers, subdued my rebellious soul.”

When Honoratus was elected Bishop of Arles in 426, being already an old man, he wished to have Hilary’s assistance and companionship, and himself traveled to Lérins to fetch his relation.
At Honoratus’ death in 429, Hilary, though grieving, rejoiced to return to his island abbey. He had started on his journey, when he was overtaken by messengers from the citizens of Arles begging him to accept the miter. Though only twenty-nine, he submitted, being well prepared for the task by his years of religious life and assistance to Honoratus. Though observing the austerities of the cloister, he took up his diocesan work with immense energy.

Known for his kindness and charity, he is also remembered for publicly rebuking a government official for bringing shame to the Church. He helped establish monasteries, and strengthened the discipline and orthodoxy of the Church through several councils. He sold Church property to ransom those kidnapped, and is said to have worked miracles in his lifetime.

Though his life was marked by some canonical disputes with Pope St. Leo I, the same Pontiff praised him in a letter to his successor, calling him, “Hilary of holy memory.”

He died on May 5, 449, just short of fifty years of age.

Second Image by: Esby

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta'...

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“Why Don’t They Tell us These Things”

JacintaIt often happens that while traveling with the Fatima statue we get into conversations with host families about the Fatima message. Such was the case one evening in Atlanta, Georgia while chatting with one father and his 12 year old daughter, Lillie.

The last time I had seen this girl was close to five years ago. In the interim, she has developed into a lovely respectful young lady with an artistic talent matched by her keen desire for knowledge.

The subject that evening was children who had attained sanctity. This naturally led to a conversation about the heroic sacrifices of the youngest seer at Fatima, Blessed Jacinta Marto.  I never tire of telling the story of her heroism that was so well recounted by William Thomas Walsh in his masterful book, Our Lady of Fatima

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta’s final illness with the dreaded flu of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. It was actually there in the hospital that she had a private apparition in which Our Lady asked her if she would undergo such suffering for poor sinners. Jacinta unhesitatingly accepted but in her weak moments, she would break down in tears as she contemplated her situation. She was, after all, only 8 years old, dying in a strange hospital, far away from her mother and Lucia, whom she loved so much.   

However, she had an iron will and she would regain her composure the minute she remembered the good she was capable of doing for poor sinners by her suffering. Immediately she would wipe away her tears and offer up her suffering.

Telling this story, I noticed that Lillie was paying close attention absorbing it in all its details. Realizing this, I made it a point not to leave out any detail in the narration of the life of this heroic little girl. When I finished, Lillie asked a simple yet pungent question: “Why don’t they tell us these things?”

“That is a very good question,” I responded.

And although I don’t know if I know the answer, one thing I do know: young people are starving for marvelous examples like that of Blessed Jacinta Marto.

Written by Norman Fulkerson


Invitation to learn more about Blessed Jacinta Marto:

Jacinta’s Story is the Fatima story imaginatively told through the eyes of Blessed Jacinta Marto, the youngest of the three seers to whom Our Lady appeared in 1917 to deliver the most important message of our times. The book is hardbound and richly illustrated by author Andrea F. Phillips.

Jacinta’s Story contains many vital lessons for children—why it is so important that they pray the Rosary, obey their parents and follow the difficult but rewarding road of virtue in this life.

Visit our On-Line store to place your book order: https://store.tfp.org

One of the stories that particularly touched me was Jacinta's final illness with the dreaded flu of the time and her death — alone in a hospital far from home. 

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