2 October, Monday – On Work

Oct 2 – Memorial for The Guardian Angels

The term “guardian angels” refers to the belief that each soul has an angel who is available to shepherd the soul through life, and help bring them to God.

Belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God, and Man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. Cherubim kept Adam and Eve from slipping back into Eden; angels saved Lot and helped destroy the cities of the plains; in Exodus Moses follows an angel, and at one point an angel is appointed leader of Israel. Michael is mentioned at several points, Raphael figures large in the story of Tobit, and Gabriel delivered the Annunciation of the coming of Christ.

The concept of each soul having a personal guardian angel, is also an ancient one, and long accepted by the Church:

“See that you despise not one of these little ones [children]: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 18:10

“How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” – St. Jerome in his commentary on Matthew

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14

The feast, celebrating the angels who helped bring us to God, began in many local calendars centuries ago, and was widely known by the 16th century. Pope Paul V placed a feast venerating the angels on the general calendar on 27 September 1608. Ferdinand of Austria requested that it be extended to all areas in the Holy Roman Empire.

Initially placed after the feast of Michael the Archangel, it was seen as a kind of supplement to that date. Pope Clement X elevated the feast, celebrated on 2 October, to an obligatory double for the whole Church. On 5 April 1883, Pope Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major.

– Patron Saint Index

“O angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom whose love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to rule and guard, to light and guide. Amen.” – Prayer to our guardian angel

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Zechariah 8:1-8

The word of the Lord of Hosts was addressed to me as follows:

‘The Lord of Hosts says this. I am burning with jealousy for Zion, with great anger for her sake.

‘The Lord of Hosts says this. I am coming back to Zion and shall dwell in the middle of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem will be called Faithful City and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the Holy Mountain.

‘The Lord of Hosts says this. Old men and old women will again sit down in the squares of Jerusalem; every one of them staff in hand because of their great age.

And the squares of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in the squares.

‘The Lord of Hosts says this. If this seems a miracle to the remnant of this people (in those days), will it seem one to me?

It is the Lord of Hosts who speaks.

‘The Lord of Hosts says this.

Now I am going to save my people from the countries of the East and from the countries of the West. I will bring them back to live inside Jerusalem.

They shall be my people and I will be their God in faithfulness and integrity.’

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Matthew 18:1-5, 10

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

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“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

 At the end of a particularly dull day at the office last week, I walked past a group of foreign workers who were pruning the shrubs in my neighbourhood park. They were chuckling and smiling, and moved with the lightness of a viola prodigy’s hands. As I made my way out of the park, I thanked God for blessing us with such committed gardeners who keep our little part of Singapore beautiful, and I found myself reflecting on the value we ascribe to the work we do, and on the expectations that we have of a job or career.

It has been said that a high-profile CEO once noted that if work was to be enjoyable, the workers should be paying their employer. Is work really only a means to a pay cheque at the end of each month? Does the onus for deriving a sense of purpose and fulfilment fall on working individuals, or employers? A lot of our dissatisfaction at work stems from a disconnect of our expectations from reality. I’ve been seeking for work that edifies society and my personal aspirations, while still allowing me to save for my family and future. Success at this endeavour has, thus far, proved elusive.

Yet scripture informs us of how we should apply ourselves and our talents. Humble, honest work will provide us with far more riches than we can imagine. St Ignatius of Loyola once said, “You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” God values anything that we do for His greater glory, including work that seems humdrum at best. There will always be the temptation to compare our circumstances with others, but this folly overlooks our imperfect understanding of their journey. Rather than seeing others as competition, we should be working in concert with them in God’s fields.

As a new work day beckons, I find myself facing the challenges that will undoubtedly come with the trust that God will never give me more than I can handle, and that all things come from Him for His purpose. May the Lord fill you with that peace and confidence as well.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer – Dear Lord, grant us the temerity to pray and work in faithful service of you.

Thanksgiving – We thank you Father, for the hands that you have made and for the joy that they bring as they build your kingdom.

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