In The Shadow of Your Wings, art by Daniel F. Gerhartz
Like your bright brothers seraphim
who veil their faces with their wings,
you hide your face, and yet I know
that when the pinions stir and blow
you peer at God and me and things.
I love those glances of your soul,
so shyly sent. I stand aside and watch,
with deeper pleasurings,
the hidden face behind the wings,
a Sanctus waiting to be cried.
Ah, guard this native secrecy!
Know, child: those angels chief in grace
who stir when Splendor breathes His name
and wake and slumber in His flame
alone use wings to hide their face.
~ A Poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
Show Me The way, art by J. Kirk Richards
Never go anywhere without the angels
who watch God’s face and listen to be sought.
Greater than you, yet they have joy to serve you.
Never go blundering through the jungle, thought,
without a clear-eyed one to part the branches,
shout snake or swamp-hole, cry a rock beware.
The angels of the Lord encamp around you
in any place you pitch your tents for prayer.
Know that your soul takes radiance from the angels.
She glories in these creatures of her kind
and sees herself thus lightsome, free as wind.
She stands abashed when the flesh rudely brings
its homage to these pure intelligences
and tries to crowd their beauty into bodies
and weight their grace with gravity of wings.
~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D.
“If we detect an angel by the effect he is producing, let us hasten to pray since our heavenly guardian has come to join us.”
~ St. John Climacus
Angel to shepherds in the field ~ Art by Carl Bloch
The oxen and the mules who silently witness the birth of the child in Bethlehem may be wiser than we, who like to talk the divine to pieces. Before the miracle of Christmas, only silence is appropriate. Even if some words are said, they do explain that which cannot be explained; they can only attempt to convey that the mystery of Christmas is totally unfathomable.
The shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem experience something wonderful when the angels appear in shining glory, proclaiming what has happened. For a moment, all of heaven comes near to earth. But angels soon leave, and the night becomes cold and dark once again.
Yet something definitive has changed in the hearts of the shepherds. They leave heaven behind them in order to seek out the sign promised by the angels. There is nothing exceptional about the child they find, and the glory of the Lord which they saw in the field is hidden here in the shoddy stable and manger in which the child lies. It is all so ordinary.
There have been many wonders and miracles in the history of Christianity. But when the incredible happens—when God becomes human—it takes place in the utmost simplicity, without a stir. No special wonders are needed. The incarnation of God is itself the great wonder. A miracle so great and astounding that not even eternity is enough to understand it. But to God it is so self-evident and natural that he has no need to make anything of it.
~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Angel, art by Nadia Strelkina
I walk in a cloud of angels.
God has a throne in the secret of my soul.
I move, encircled by light,
blinded by glowing faces,
lost and bewildered in the motion of wings,
stricken by music too sublime to bear.
Splendor is everywhere.
God is always enthroned on the cherubim,
circled by seraphim.
Holy, holy, holy,
wave upon wave of endless adoration.
I walk in a cloud of angels that worship Him.
I walk in a cloud of angels…
~ By Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers) O.C.D. (1905-1988)