THE ABODE OF ANGELS
If you or I were to witness the conversation of St. Francis, St. Martin, and St. John Bosco, you would view the place in which they found themselves, in a completely different way to what they would see, or what the angels would be seeing, for it is obvious that angels see things completely differently from human beings, and every angel is utterly different from every other angel, where as human beings, despite minor differences, are all the same. So what you would see if you were eavesdropping on the conversation that our three saints were having with the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, would hardly bear any resemblance to the heavenly reality.
The three saints were standing around a beautiful fountain, that sparkled with all the colours of the rainbow. It was also producing the most beautiful music, which was very soft, and very calming. The water was spilling out, not into a basin, or pool, but onto the ground, which shimmered, not only with all the colours of the rainbow, but with other colours that we do not see in our universe, and so are impossible to describe. Opposite the three saints stood the archangels, with their huge wings pulsating in the light.
Around the angels and the saints were great archways, but if you were to look closer they were not archways at all, they were living structures, and they were made up of angels pulsating with life, and singing a song in harmony with the fountain. Looking through the archways, which formed a great circle around the six beings, you would see avenues of trees, great trees, like enormous poplars, and clustered around the branches you would see other angels. And looking up into the heavens, you would see great flocks of, what looked like geese, and then on closer inspection you would see that they were in fact other groups of angels. You could not understand the language that they were singing, except for the constant refrain of Alleluia, which punctuated their beautiful song.
St. John spoke first. “How do you think the cats are doing?” he asked Michael. The archangel replied in a voice of great seriousness,“They put most humans to shame. The animal kingdom is not proud and arrogant, and though it is fallen, because of the sin of Adam and Eve, there is an abiding innocence, even among savage animals, even among reptiles and insects. It is strange that Man either worships animals, or abuses them. He can never see them simply giving God glory by their very being, something that you, Francis, knew when on Earth. The cats have done so well, so far, but the rest is up to Man.”
For awhile there was a long, sweet, comforting silence, and then Gabriel spoke up. “I who was the angel that brought the good news to Mary, Our Queen, have been helping Pope Francis to bring the good news of the Gospel to the World”, “And I have been bringing healing through his words.” said Raphael “ But there is also the truth of the Law of God, which Man does not want to hear” said St.Francis. “Men and women, especially in the West, want the comfort of Christianity, but they do not want the Cross. It is this spirit of rebellion that the Pope will have to do battle with, and it can only be done with the Cross. People of recent times have completely transformed me into either a revolutionary in the Church, or some new age animal lover, and for the most part the Peace Movement do not understand me. I wanted to imitate Christ in his poverty, for he was God and became Man (What greater poverty for Divinity than this?), and wished to live his life, as he lived it on Earth, and I wished to suffer with him on the Cross, and be his great herald, and that was it. I wanted all creation to praise him, and wished above all to get men and women to live in the peace of Christ and to turn from violence, hatred, greed, and depravity. How many have really heeded me, and what has happened to my followers?” Francis looked sorrowful, and thoughtful. John then smiled gently at him, and said, but is that not true of all founders? I look at my order, so new compared to your great order, and I look in dismay at the way my message becomes diluted, and changed, and since Vatican II, there has been so much compromise everywhere.” “It is because” said Martin, “the modern Catholic, especially the educated Catholic, cannot conceive, in his supposedly wonderful material world, that spiritually things can be disastrous. Because he sees that education, health, and social welfare are so excellent in the Western World, he does not know that all these things will evaporate like a morning mist, and all his grand schemes for a brave new world will have disappeared forever. The peoples of the West should know better, but do they ever contemplate the Crucified Christ, do they ever meditate on the Passion, and how much it cost Christ to suffer, die and redeem us?” “And that dear brothers” said Michael, “is what the cats have found out, and will have it revealed to them more and more, that man in his pursuit for power and pleasure forgets that his sins, however small they are, are an immense revolt against God.”
“The cats have a healing quality” said Raphael. “We know this do we not? They can sit on a sick person’s bed, and just by their presence bring them peace. They can bring solace to the sad, and despairing. Marvellous though dogs are, it is different with cats. Now if they are stroked, they do not usually immediately get up, like a dog, and respond with doggy barking, and wide open mouths, either expecting a walk, a meal, or a ball or a stick.” “Aren’t you being rather hard on us dogs?” said a voice in very doggy tones, and there was Grigio, his tongue hanging out, and pawing his master John with evident and enthusiasm. “Well by your behaviour, I would think you have proved my point.” said Raphael smiling a smile of unparalleled warmth. “What do you think of the cats?” John asked Grigio. “Well as a matter of fact, I think they’re great and very plucky” the huge hound replied.
“How are they going to succeed in their task?” asked Michael, “By being themselves” replied Martin.
The three men, and the three angels gazed at the fountain as it shone like some sun in the depths of the ocean. Grigio lay down at his master’s feet, and the music from the fountain began to get louder and richer. The angels song began to get more and more exultant, and then strange and wonderful instruments began to be heard, and over and over again these words were heard; the words which the Holy Spirit had inspired Cardinal Newman to write:
“Praise to the Holiest in the Height,
And in the depths be praise,
In all his works most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways”
Then something very beautiful began to happen. The great arches of angels began to melt away, and the angels flew away from the trees, and clustered around the saints and the archangels, in great rings of light. The beating of their wings sent out another music, which mingled with their song, and was even more lovely, and entirely different. In this world it would produce dreadful discords, but here it added new harmonies. Then the rings of angels began to rotate, first very slowly, but then quicker, and quicker. The more the music quickened so did the dance. The archangels, and the saints were lost deep in prayer. They seemed unaware of the angels dance, which was now going at dizzying speed. The rings of angels were now twined together in one great coil of light which rose higher and higher into heaven, making a great spire of light. If this were happening on Earth, the spire of dancing angels would be thousands of feet high, but in Heaven distances are quite different.
A new song was now heard, it was the song of the three archangels and the three saints. It was the “Veni Creator Spiritus”, and it was taken up by the angels, who now stopped dancing and hovered with, what can only be described as, the most intense concentration. Suddenly there was silence, the fountain disappeared, and great column of fire descended into the circle made by the archangels and the saints, and they, looking down saw the cats near the statue of St. Michael in the Vatican gardens, and floods of cooling fire were falling refreshingly on the cats, who were unaware of the fire, but were filled with a peace, and surety that, despite being merely animals, and cats at that, they were entrusted with a mission that they would be up to, whether anyone would respond or not. As the fire subsided, the cats were aware that Saints Hildegard, Bridget, Catherine and Colette were with them to help them in the next step of their apparently hopeless mission.
“How shall we address the cardinals?” Lizzie asked St. Catherine, “Naturally” replied the saint. With that Lizzie bounded up to one of the cardinals and tugged at his soutane. The others followed suit.