Last week we celebrated the Feast of the Archangels and the Feast of the Guardian Angels, and during a discussion about angels on St. Joseph’s Workshop, host Father Matthew Spencer, OSJ gave his brother, Father Stephen Spencer, OSJ a pop quiz.
If angels could be envious, what are the two things they would envy us for?
Fr. Matthew got this question from the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska (whose feast day was celebrated on October 5). In her diary, entry 1804, she wrote that “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things.”
Fr. Stephen got the first one right away: the Eucharist.
“Because we, with our bodies, can receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. Jesus wants us to receive Him in that way, and angels can’t,” explained Fr. Matthew. “And that’s a really astounding part of our faith. We are so blessed as human beings that we have the possibility of receiving the Most Holy Eucharist, which even the cherubim and seraphim, even the highest angels in heaven don’t have access to the Most Holy Eucharist. That’s astounding.”
The other answer is a bit more tricky, because it is a paradox. If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy our suffering.
Fr. Matthew explained, “We have been given a share in the Cross of Christ, which angels haven’t been. Angels have been given one opportunity to decide for the Lord yes or no. And when they made that decision they either stayed with Him forever or became damned and part of the realm of Satan.”
“But you and I have the opportunity in time to experience suffering and pain. And we oftentimes don’t like that. We don’t want to suffer. But I think that insight from St. Faustina should make us pause and think. The different sufferings that I have, whether they’re physical, emotional, psychological, relational, these are opportunities for us to somehow imitate Christ even more closely than the angels can.”
Suffering in life is inevitable. But we have the ability to look at that suffering as a way to imitate and grow closer to Jesus, the Suffering Servant.
Fr. Stephen pointed out, “In suffering we’re united to Our Lord Jesus Christ. And so many times we miss that. So many times we don’t see that. But there’s a close correlation that Jesus suffered to give us the Eucharist. To save us from sin and give us His body and His blood in the Holy Eucharist. And when we suffer we’re united in a real way to the sufferings of Christ, if we’re able to see it in that way.”
“I wonder if when we get to heaven we’re going to look back and think, ‘I wish I suffered more for Jesus.’ I expect we will. I expect we’ll look back and think, ‘Wow, look at all the opportunities I missed to unite my sufferings to Jesus or to suffer for Him. And maybe the angels are going to shake their heads and say, ‘Look at all the opportunities you missed that we would have taken if we could have!'”