ONCE UPON AN AEVUM, PART III.

 

It no longer bothered Angelo to think of the Battle, now that he stood in God’s Presence. Complete love and satisfaction flooded his being; here, he could follow the greatest Commander of all, as was his nature. All the other angels thronged the heavenly court, flashing off the sea of glass and hiding their ecstatic faces from the burning light that streamed from it. Here, Angelo could contemplate God, forever and ever…

But his service was not yet complete. God still required his faithful servants to minister in the ball of matter, the physical universe, as He had ordained. After all, it had precipitated the Battle in the first place, and the demons were still determined to foil its Divine destiny. Angelo could not but obey: he had pledged his will, and it was his joy to follow through with his perfect, irrevocable choice.

 

*          *          *

 

Not that it had been an easy, comfortable choice. Immediately after Michael had grappled with Lucifer, the hordes of demons charged the legions of light, trying to subjugate them with their decisive fury. While the angels remained in their choirs, in orderly fashion, the demons scattered to where they thought their strengths would stand out. Thus, at the demonic charge, Angelo beheld Thor of the Powers wielding his hammer among the Angels and Archangels, wreaking havoc on crowds of the weakest. The god (as Thor had already called himself), was bending many to his will by his overwhelming hubris…and he was approaching Angelo in fury.

Angels fled from all around Thor, barely slowing his approach. “You upstart!” Thor mocked him, “The weakest of all, throwing forth your will to challenge the will of the mighty ones! Annoying little mite!” Cringing beneath the colossus standing over him, Angelo blocked Thor’s hammer-swing with his gladius. His will held since his choice was already eternal, but agony racked his form as Thor smashed his hammer directly on him. He was powerless to resist its meteoric force.

Meanwhile, other quarters of battle fared little better for the angels. Gabriel was slowly driven towards the sphere, where Michael and Lucifer stood alone in immortal combat.

Michael, though gifted with mighty charisma, was no match for Lucifer. Beating Michael back, Lucifer grew more and more powerful as more angels joined his cause. He grew a long tail and six additional heads, pounding Michael with seven jets of Seraphic flame. As he watched, Angelo gasped in pain and wondered why God was silent; for the Deceiver had already swept away a full third of the angels.

But the Merciful Lord looked down on his servants. To their bewilderment, he gave each of seven angels a strange gift: material, lifeless, seemingly useless. Gabriel was given water; Michael, Raphael and Sacerdos, oil; Jegudiel of the Thrones, two gold rings; Zadkiel of the Virtues, ashes; and Angelo, bread and wine.

Each of the seven quickly did as the Word bade him. Gabriel threw the water around him and his faithful troop. The water began to glow and illumine the angels, causing the devils to draw back, uncertain. Zadkiel’s ashes served to aid the wills of the undecided; Raphael’s oil healed those wounded by demonic blows; Jegudiel’s rings drew all the faithful angels together in a tight phalanx, ready to charge the demonic hordes.

And then, faith sparked in the angels who had not yet decided. Now they saw Providence’s work clearly: even matter was conveying the Almighty Power and turning the battle. They began to muster around Gabriel.

At that moment, Sacerdos, surrounded with the oil given him, approached Angelo, who was still prostrate from his wounds.

“My brother,” Sacerdos said, glowing from the power in the water and oil, “I must take your gifts to strengthen our friends.”

Angelo felt weaker than he had ever been. Though the water shone around him, he had no relief from the pain of Thor’s Hammer. But Angelo shared his bread and wine with Sacerdos, trusting in God’s victory.

As Sacerdos approached him, Michael poured out his oil. The water glowed yet brighter, their phalanx drew closer together, more angels joined their ranks…and they knew they were ready for the final gift. Sacerdos consumed some of the bread and wine (intellectually, since angels cannot eat), and offered it to his fellows. Instantly, the whole phalanx, myriads of myriads, two-thirds of the entire heavenly host, was enveloped in super-angelic flames. The Spirit of God rushed over the battalions, filling them with vigor.

Michael, filled with the Spirit and flaming with Power, confronted the Dragon before him. He lifted his sword, roaring, “You knew, Satan, Deceiver, that the Almighty could work with anything to accomplish His Will. He made us from nothing! How are you so arrogant that you do not trust Him to win the victory with even bread, wine, oil, and mankind? For who is like God?”

With that, the hosts of Heaven shouted their battle cries and rushed upon the enemy. Stroke by stroke, Michael subdued the Evil One’s seven heads and cast him into hell, with all his fellow devils. There they dwell in everlasting reproach, hating one another’s very existence, yet seeing that even existence in hell is God’s gift of mercy to them. The demonic orders are these, each corruptions of an angelic choir: Demons, Arch-demons, Vices, Anarchs, Oppressions, Tyrannies, Idols, Obsessions, and Dragons. They work against the heavenly hosts and will do so until the end of time.

 

*        *        *

 

Now, in the peace of the Heavenly Face, each angel was being given his specific assignment. The Dominions marched down the rows of all the lower angels, assigning tasks to each. The Powers had the hardest duties, since so many of their fellows had rebelled. Many were doomed to be in constant competition with the demon who influenced the realm under their control. The Principalities and Virtues too had many wicked counterparts, often vying for control over entire empires or elements. But the Archangels and Angels, guarding individuals and households, had the most frightening prospects of all: their charges could succumb to possession or damnation.

But Angelo knew, like anyone else, that the Plan would work out for good in the end, even if his ward were the worst of all men. Therefore, he waited patiently for his assignment.

To Angelo’s surprise, it was Gabriel who came to Sacerdos and himself. A full entourage of Dominions followed in procession towards the two weakest angels in the heavens. Sacerdos looked quizzically at Angelo before they both bowed low to their commanders.

“There is one most sacred assignment yet to be filled, my sons,” Gabriel said. “For this honorable and holy task, we had to select one of the three hundred who believed the Eternal Word before He sent his supernatural Grace to save us all from the Father of Lies. But also, we wanted to choose one whom the demons would never suspect to be the guard of the Center of God’s Plan. It is the Divine Will that your ward’s identity be kept hidden even from the demons until the Eternal Father wishes to reveal him.”

What did this mean? How could they be entrusted with so much, despite their limited powers?

“Therefore, Angelo, the Most High has chosen you to be in the order of Guardian Angels so that you may guard the Messiah, the Only Begotten Son of God, made Man.” Then he added, “You, Sacerdos, who are likewise faithful and humble, shall also assist and guard the Savior in his mission of Sacrifice. His holy Name shall be Jesus. Guard this Name in your spirits, my sons, for by it, all are saved and brought to Eternal Life.”

Angelo was thunderstruck. He and Sacerdos looked at each other in disbelief. How could it be that the Father of all had chosen them to guide his Own Son? And why would that Son require it, since He also is God? They stood stunned as the Dominions embraced them in reverence and congratulation. How could it be? Was there not a better choice?

As the centuries rolled by in the sphere, Angelo watched the other angels cheerfully fulfilling their assigned tasks. Many guided stars in the heavens, taking care the balance of the sphere remained undisturbed by demons’ stars nearby. Some guided the development of life on earth, taking care to execute the Divine commands, “Let there be…” But when God breathed the immortal soul into the clay Terra had provided for Adam’s body, Angelo’s attention became unshakeable. He watched Sin unfold in humanity, crying out at Eden, grieving at the Flood, protesting at the manifold sins of Israel. However, as more prophesies were given to Israel, Angelo knew that the Fullness of Time was at hand. The millions of years had seemed but a day to him: no amount of time or immortality could prepare him for this privilege he was about to experience…

Comments Off on ONCE UPON AN AEVUM, PART III.