St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the holy angels

Angels seem mysterious and familiar all at the same time. Angels are by definition different than you and I are—they’re spiritual beings, without bodies, but can be present in our world. St. Augustine says “angel” is the name of their office, or what they do: they are servants and messengers of God.

They show up throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and New Testament at key moments…

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For example the siege at Jericho:

He replied, “Neither. I am the commander of the army of the LORD: now I have come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in worship, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”

Joshua 5: 14

Or in the Book of Tobit

“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” Greatly shaken, the two of them fell prostrate in fear.”

Tobit 12:15

And all throughout the Gospels:

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.”

Luke 1:13

“And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Luke 1:35

“…saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.”

Luke 22:43

Jesus mentions angels a lot, as they are His angels…they did after all help explain the Resurrection of Christ to confused disciples.

“…two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”

Luke 22:4

In the Gospel of Matthew at one point Jesus tells us that angels that watch over us, the Guardian Angels, also “always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains what Catholics believe, says, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.”

What more do we know about angels and how we should think of them?

In this episode we learn about St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s Meditations on the Holy Angels, translated by Fr. Robert Nixon, OSB.


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Your quality known among your enemies

War, Catholicism, and quality.

On today’s episode we’ll hear from a Catholic Bishop and a former member of the British armed forces talking about how our duties as Christians, striving to walk the path to Heaven, and how does that square with the hell of war?

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“That’s what they say war is hell, you know, so it’s a terrible scenario for anybody to be placed into. It should always be the last resort.”

Bishop Neal Buckon, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

This is a big topic with many twists in turn so we’ll attempt to somewhat narrow our conversation today, and it will be driven by a single line of dialogue from the movie Kingdom of Heaven: “your quality will be known among your enemies before ever you meet them.”


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Wisconsin Wonder: Wayside chapels and everyday pilgrims

Standing on the shore of a mountain lake at sunrise, you may not think you’re necessarily on a pilgrimage, but then you’re drawn toward a prayerful moment. You gaze into the raspberry and amber skies, as the lapping waves try to sing you back to sleep.

But you’re called to be present and aware of the awe.

Or maybe you hike toward an Alpine peak when you’re serenaded by birdsong; nature’s hallelujah. Again you’re very present in the moment; thankful and introspective, like a pilgrim. And then on the trail you literally see Christ on the cross.

A traveler, a pilgrim, before you thought to install a wayside chapel—a small, wooden structure to draw you even further toward God. These things are common in Europe, and in Wisconsin chapels created by European immigrants still pepper the countryside.

Today we round out our series on the Marian Apparition site in Champion, Wisconsin with a few more thoughts on making pilgrimages wherever you are. You don’t have to go far to travel deeply in prayer. Sometimes you just need to look closely around you and decide to spiritually get away.

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Wisconsin Wonder: Blessed Virgin Mary appears in Champion

A painting of a woman with flowing hair dressed in white, a ring of stars around her head. This is the description of the apparition of Mary from Adele Brise.

There’s a crisp hint of Autumn in the air when a young Adele Brise first catches sight of the mysterious figure she would soon know to be the Blessed Mother Mary. It’s October 1859.

Adele carries her bag of wheat toward the grist mill, in a wooded patch of Northern Wisconsin, when she freezes, frightened.

There, between a hemlock and maple tree stands a beautiful woman clothed in dazzling white, wearing a yellow sash and crown of stars atop her flowing golden hair, until…she’s gone.

The vision of the woman fades, and Adele all alone, continues on her way. A second encounter with the mystery woman a few days later is just as startling, compounded by the fact this figure doesn’t say a word.

On counsel from a priest, Adele is prepared for her next encounter and says to the figure: ‘In God’s name who are you and what do you want from me?’

‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ the woman says, ‘and I wish you to do the same.’

The Queen of Heaven—the Blessed Virgin Mary—proceeds to explain to Adele what she’s being called to do: teach the children of this wild country what they should know for their salvation, while also encouraging Adele, that she’s not going to have to do it alone:

We continue our series on the only Catholic Church-approved Marian Apparition site in the United States, and we hear how the words given to Adele can help us all. That’s to come, on Faith Full.

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Wisconsin Wonder: A pilgrim seeks a guide

When you strip away distractions, you might come closer to the part of yourself calling out for more. Not more stuff. Not more flashing lights. But more substance of the purest kind; the kind only God can provide.

It’s goodness. It’s hope. It’s love.

Catholics believe were are continually journeying through our lives, as Pope Francis said, until the final and marvelous goal…reaching Heaven.

But sometimes that spiritual journey, also becomes a literal journey…a pilgrimage.

Today we begin a series of episodes about a visit to the only place in the U.S. where the church has approved a Marian apparition…in Wisconsin.

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11: Spiritual Poverty and Helping Hands

Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and poverty doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as in other places. The numbers of people needing food and shelter are exponentially less, even when considering Switzerland’s size.

But there can be another kind of poverty, a spiritual poverty.

In this short episode of the Faith Full Podcast we talk a little about the poor in spirit, and the need for a bit more compassion in our approach to each other.


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10: Praying At A Lego House For God

How do you pray? Is there a wrong way to pray? U.S. Catholic Bishops put it this way: “Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us.” It’s like a phone is always ringing and God is just waiting for us to pick it up and spend time with Him. But how do you do it? It can be through recitation, through meditation, or maybe through the work we do.

In this episode we meet John Kraemer, a man who over two decades has offered as prayer his efforts to build a church each year out of tens of thousands of Lego pieces.

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9: Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Blind Priest Guiding the Faithful

Father Jamie Dennis stands at the altar during the St. Lucy Mass

On the way out of Jericho a blind man named Bartimaeus sat begging on the roadside. The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus is passing by, and Bartimaeus cries out for Him to have pity. Jesus stops and asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him. 

“Master, I want to see,” he says. 

Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” And he received his sight, and then followed Jesus. You can see with your eyes, yes, but you can also see with your mind, heart, and spirit. In this episode of Faith Full we meet Fr. Jamie Dennis, a Catholic priest who is blind, whose journey to helping others see the way to God has not always been easy. 

“Here is sort of the blunt truth and I’m not trying to put the Church in a negative light, I’m just stating a fact: the Church hasn’t always been good at dealing with people who are, quote unquote different. It’s difficult.”

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You can skip to a section from this episode:

Growing up while losing vision
On his path to the priesthood
On why the Latin Mass and Byzantine Liturgy are more accessible

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8: Blind Catholics Keeping the Faith in a Pandemic

Fr. Jamie distributes Communion

For some Catholics who are blind, the experience of the Mass can be very different than for sighted people. In normal times, it can be a tactile experience.

But not during the pandemic.

In Scripture, Jesus is recorded as saying where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them. And that goes for times when the two or three need to be two or three meters apart for social distancing. As with many Catholics, those who are blind have found technology as a way to continue to express their faith even when so much of life is disrupted. Many are also helped by an organization in New York, the Xavier Society for the Blind, which for 120 years has kept coming Catholic and inspirational materials in Braille and audio formats.

We’ll learn more on this episode of Faith Full.

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(In this episode we hear from four people: Skip to Donna Slivoski, Roger Erpelding, Fr. Jamie Dennis, or Malachy Fallon)

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7: Blessings on a German Breeze

The world remains gripped by a pandemic; an unseen, but very present coronavirus has caused us to rethink a lot of things: how we work, how we spend time, how we show respect and communicate. I’ve been sitting on a fun anecdote (from a German news site) for a while, and thought these dark days are as good a time as any to share. So coming up: the story of a giant Jesus Christ balloon and the two German monks, in this short episode of Faith Full.

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