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This is what it’s like to see an angel

George Perret | CC
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The little shepherds of Fatima described how they felt and the differences between this experience and the apparitions of the Virgin.

Physical effects

3. The manifestation of the Angel has physical effects. In various places, Lucia narrates this fact, saying that after the apparition, they continued in the same posture in which the Angel had left them, and it was not easy for them to talk about it freely. (How different from so many authors and speakers who write and talk about angels without any foundation in the teachings of the Church!)

The following dialogue, reported by Lucia, is revealing:

“When we talked about the Angel, I don’t know what it was that we felt.

“Jacinta said: ‘I don’t know what I feel. I cannot talk, nor sing, nor play, nor do I have strength to do anything.’

“‘I don’t either,’ Francisco replied. ‘But, what does it matter?’ The Angel is much more beautiful than all of that. Think about him.'”

During the third apparition, the presence of the supernatural was much stronger still. For many days, Francisco didn’t even venture to speak. Later, he said,

“Seeing the Angel made me very happy; but the bad thing is that afterwards we aren’t able to do anything. I couldn’t even walk. I don’t know what was wrong with me.”

This effect shows us that an angel never demands something for himself; he doesn’t want us to fall into superficiality or secondary details. Angels always lead us to God, and do so with all of their strength, in order to orient us towards the essential: God.

The true, authentic presence of angels brings us simplicity with no room for extravagances or resounding words without meaning or content. They convey no complicated concepts of God, but rather inspire us to humble and strict obedience.

The angels recognize the importance of being silent, because through silence we can recognize the value of time and our responsibility for every word we say.

Communicating truth

4. The Angel communicates truths to them without needing to transmit them verbally or expressly. During the second apparition, in which the Angel showed Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco the value of sacrifice, they not only understood this value, but also comprehended “who God was, how he loved them and wanted to be loved, the value of sacrifice, and how the latter was pleasing to Him; how, in response to sacrifices, He converted sinners.”

According to what was said in the first of these points, angels can enlighten and strengthen human understanding, but looking at the current point we see that angels also raise up human knowledge towards the things of God.

Unequaled beauty

5. The presence of the Angel reveals an unequaled beauty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 330, affirms that angels reveal the splendor of God’s glory. In the book of Exodus 23:21 we read that these spiritual creatures carry the name of God within them.

Private tutors

6. The Angel inspires them to follow his example. During the different apparitions of the Angel, the little shepherds repeat the gestures and words of the Angel: they assume the same posture (kneeling on the ground), and they recite the prayers the Angel teaches them. Angels can be considered private tutors that each person has on the path to holiness. Thus, we must repeat what they teach us, and not merely mechanically; it has already been mentioned that when angels enlighten, strengthen, and elevate our understanding, they also influence our will by showing us what is good.

Joy and peace

7. They experience interior joy and peace. In fact, these are aspects of a proper discernment of spirits: the devil leaves us full of sadness and worry, whereas holy angels leave us with a feeling of happiness and peace, because they lead the soul to what is good, to love of God and union with Him.

Thus, the apparitions of the Angel in Portugal are a valuable catechesis regarding the powerful role of our guardian angel in our lives and in our growth in holiness.

[Translated and adapted from Aleteia’s Spanish edition.]

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