Thursday 27th October 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Angels And Christmas

December 23, 2013 Frontpage No Comments


In preparation for this Christmas 2013, many of us will have engaged in traditional decorating — strings of lights, green trees, candles and pine cones, elaborate Nativity scenes. Certainly not forgotten are the angels, those celestial creatures we delight in visualizing as bridging the great divide between Heaven and Earth on a pair of wings.
We know better, of course. “Angel,” from the Greek angelos, means simply “messenger.” There is no mention in the New Testament of celestial messengers equipped with celestial wings to navigate Earth’s atmosphere. (I’m excluding here the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse, as best left to trained exegetes.)
It is also worthy of notice that when, in her mature years, Sr. Lucia of Fatima was asked to set down in writing her account of the well-known events of 1917, she acknowledged three preparatory visits to her and her cousins — Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta — by a luminous youth who said, “I am the Angel of Peace.” They saw and heard him, imitated him by prostrating themselves on the ground, and repeated and retained the prayer he taught them. But they saw no wings.

“I’ll Pay!”

To set aside all thought of wings is necessary. If, common mortals that we are, we also set aside the need to be dazzled by luminosity, we are then free to ponder whether we may have in fact encountered our share of angels, clothed in human flesh and blood. I am certain that I have, and it is of one such angel that I wish to write this Christmas.
I was about 13 when I knew Ana Maria; if she had a last name, I did not learn it. Neither a playmate nor a schoolmate, she was already “old” when I first met her — which means that she was perhaps 20. Ana Maria was an orphan, maybe a foundling, and had been raised and educated by the Servants of Our Lady of Fatima, a 20th-century religious order.
The Servants, as they were popularly known, had a number of houses throughout Portugal, including a Center of Social Assistance in the town in which I was born. Not knowing where Ana Maria came from was entirely irrelevant. She lived with the nuns and was an essential part of their presence in town. Exercising the function of cook, she shouldered a colossal responsibility since the nuns operated both a day-care center and a soup kitchen. Like other employees at the center, Ana Maria worked for wages. Very humble wages in her case, certainly, since room and board were taken care of.
Ana Maria looked like no other 20 year old. She was, to put it bluntly, rotund, and her blond hair was closely cropped. Instead of shoes and stockings, she wore durable, wooden clogs on bare feet — no doubt to spare expense — and her bulky skirts descended almost to her ankles. Her gentleness and ready smile kept us teenagers from even thinking of giggling, let alone whispering any comments.
I have two very special memories of Ana Maria. There was one summer day, a particularly hot day, when I answered a knock on the door of our home and there she was. She was passing by on some sort of errand, and asked for a glass of water. I invited her in and handed her the water.
She stood in the kitchen doorway, illuminated from behind by the midday sun — the door faced south — and she sipped her water slowly, watching me as I returned to my occupation: feeding my younger brother. He and I were the only persons in the house, at that moment.
Hardly an event worth remembering? Perhaps. But that non-event left in me an indelible impression of having been visited.
The other memory is of a truly dramatic incident, and I cannot account for the privilege of having witnessed it. I was in the nuns’ reception room, where two of the sisters were dealing with an emergency that had arisen: A little girl had been dropped off for day care who shouldn’t be there; she should be in the hospital. (There was a hospital some 12 miles away, for those who could get to it.) Obviously the little girl’s mother knew how ill she was, but was too poor to do anything about it.
Having examined the child, the Sister Infirmarian greatly feared that the onset of tetanus was eminent. A specific shot was called for, and promptly. Yes, she had all that was required in stock, but her stock must be self-replenishing. Bandages she could give away without charge, but not expensive injections. Mother Superior could lift that restriction, but Mother Superior was absent.
As the two nuns stood there watching the little girl and wringing their hands in true affliction, a clattering of wooden clogs against wooden floors was heard and Ana Maria burst into the room:
“Give her the injection, Sister; please give her the injection,” she implored. “Eu pago. . . . I’ll pay!”
Angelical Words

I’ve had many years to reflect on those words — “I’ll pay, I’ll pay!” — and they grow more significant with the passing of time. The orphan, or foundling, could not remain at her stove, safe in her kitchen, and allow death to claim that little girl, whom perhaps she did not even know. And how did she hear, in the kitchen, of what was taking place in the reception room? How many months’ worth of wages did she forfeit? It’s a safe bet that Ana Maria would not be buying any stockings for a long while.
Whether translated into English as “I’ll pay!” or retained in the only language Ana Maria spoke, “Eu pago! Eu pago!,” her words of intervention at that moment tore asunder the dark cloud of death that was closing in on an innocent life and, by extension, paralyzing two well-meaning adults. The two sisters sprang into action, fetching and administering the injection.
Do angels dwell among us, disguised as common mortals? I’m certain of it. Those were angelical words that Ana Maria spoke, evocative of the timeless “I’ll pay!” that purchased eternal life for sinful mankind.
For what is the lived journey from Bethlehem to Calvary but the fulfillment in time of an eternally spoken “I’ll pay”?
Mere mortals raise all manner of opposition to such words, favoring instead the addictive “I’ll take,” or the contentious, doubly addictive “You’ll pay!” The dark core of human history bears unrelenting witness to such a propensity for exacting payment. If the “fittest” are to prosper, the “unfit” must bear the cost of that prosperity. This age-old confrontation has acquired new respectability by appeal to Charles Darwin, a name that Ana Maria would not have been able to spell. She knew nothing of the prerogatives claimed by “science,” but was entirely clear-headed on the subjects of love and life.
This Christmas, I will set up again in the front yard a weather-beaten, metallic “angel,” holding a trumpet to invisible lips and equipped with wings powered by electricity; it’s cheerful. But I shall also thank God for having been born in a rural Portuguese town, where it was perfectly acceptable for a thirsty passerby to knock on a door and ask for a glass of water.

At Mass

One of the few details I once knew about Ana Maria, and have retained, both complements and illumines what I’ve related above. Those who, for some special reason, attended Mass on a weekday, at 7 a.m., could not miss the presence in the virtually empty church of a rather robust female figure, clothed in long skirts and wearing wooden clogs instead of shoes.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican: Cremated bodies may not be scattered

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 09:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released an instruction Tuesday regarding burial and cremation, reiterating the Church’s teaching that cremation, while strongly discouraged, can be permissible under certain…Continue Reading

Pope’s climate message failed to sway Catholic conservatives: study

Pope Francis’s landmark statement on climate change and his call for more work on the issue failed to sway conservative American Catholics, according to a new study. The report, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, concluded that…Continue Reading

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Father Gerald Murray, Blasts Clinton for Not Apologizing for Staff Emails, Suggesting Pope Francis Supports Her

A Catholic priest said Friday on Fox News that he is very disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t apologize for her campaign staff’s anti-Catholic remarks during her appearance at the Al Smith dinner. The annual Al Smith roast-style fundraiser for Catholic charities was held Thursday night in Manhattan, and featured both candidates for president. Father Gerald Murray, the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City, was also incensed that Clinton suggested that Pope Francis was endorsing her…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper: Can the ‘remarried’ now receive communion? ‘Yes. Period.’

October 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a recent publication of the German journal Stimmen der Zeit (Journal for Christian Culture), Cardinal Walter Kasper published an article calling Amoris Laetitia a “paradigm shift” in the Church’s teaching. “Amoris Laetitia: Break or Beginning” is the title of a recent scientific article by Kasper in which he analyzes the post-synodal exhortation and provides his opinion on the right hermeneutic in reading it. In the first part called “Discussion…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood rips proposal to require father’s consent for abortion

SOUTH CAROLINA, October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is walking back suggestions it made last month that fathers of pre-born children consent for their mothers to abort them. The proposed regulations would possibly update abortion accident reporting requirements, requirements for abortion licensure, “complaint reporting, patient rights, infection control,” “record maintenance,” and “fire and life safety requirements,” according to the SCDHEC, which is accepting public comment on…Continue Reading

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Kansas archbishop blasts Kaine: He’s an ‘orthodox’ Democrat but a ‘cafeteria Catholic’


KANSAS CITY, Kansas, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has lambasted Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting abortion on demand while simultaneously touting his Catholic faith. Kaine is an “orthodox” Democrat but only a “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses “the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in a devastating critique of the Virginia senator. “It was painful to listen…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives” (Conclusion)

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + We have seen that there are many problems associated with the standard Living Will, although…Continue Reading

Restoring The Rightful Place Of The Supreme Court In American Government

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of…Continue Reading

Time To Pray Unceasingly . . . The Catholic Church Is Under Attack

By FR. MICHAEL P. ORSI The Gospel reading for Sunday, October 16 was Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow demanding of a corrupt judge that he render a fair verdict on her claim. The judge gives in “lest she finally come and strike me.” It’s a humorous anecdote which Jesus turns into an illustration of…Continue Reading

A Movie Review . . . Coming To God In An Unconventional Way

By REY FLORES “I see you dressed in white. Every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom. At the sight of you (oh so priceless). Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable. I see it all in you (oh so priceless).” The above are the closing lyrics for the song Priceless by country duo For King &…Continue Reading

A Disillusioned Marxist Professor

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I spent much of my adult life observing left-wing academics who professed a fondness for socialism in one form or another. Some were my professors, others colleagues. More than a few were New Left Marxists who spoke openly in admiration of Mao, Fidel Castro, and the Sandinistas. One woman I taught…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Let Your Hearts Be Strengthened

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Macc. 7:1-2, 9-14 2 Thess. 2:16-3:5 Luke 20:27-38 In the first reading today we hear about the heroic family who all suffered death at the hands of a tyrant who was trying to force the Jewish people to give up their faith because it made them different…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2004 Letter… Forbids Catholics To Vote For Hillary Clinton Under Pain Of Mortal Sin

(Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary The Wanderer is reprinting with permission from Catholics 4 Trump [catholics4trump], originally posted on October 11. All rights reserved. Catholics 4 Trump makes the case that a vote for the pro-abortion Hillary Clinton is objectively grave matter. Note the contrast between Trump’s and Clinton’s abortion stands in the third and final presidential debate on…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Pray Always And Never Grow Weary

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A moment of dawning experience when I was young gave birth to a nearly perfect prayer. This farewell to innocence of which I speak was a blessing. In the light of it I came to know the presence of God through His goodness which is the heart of prayer in the life of faith. I…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Other Attributes Of God

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 8 “I love thee, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). The enthusiasm with which the psalmist praises God our Lord comes from his knowledge of God’s…Continue Reading

Confirmation In The Economy Of Salvation

By DON FIER Part 2 In the introductory paragraph of its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Roman Catechism [RC], promulgated in 1566 by Pope St. Pius V soon after the Council of Trent, are the following words: “If there was ever a time when the Sacrament of Confirmation needed to be explained carefully, that time is now. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Colman Of Kilmacduagh

By CAROLE BRESLIN Ireland, the Emerald Isle, a green country of lush fauna, friendly people, and beautiful views — if you can find a clear day — has a rich and troubled heritage. It is a land full of the lore of elves, fairies, and, most important, Catholic saints. Numerous books have been written about the many Irish saints and…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading