The Archangel of Westminster

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Category: Contemporary
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Date Published: April 23, 2003
Number of Pages: 260
Print Price: $13.05
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Who hasn’t wondered what angels are really like? The Archangel of Westminster is an intriguing tale of one man’s interview with an angel, and not just any angel, but the Archangel Michael, one of only three angels mentioned by name in the Bible. The initial meeting between Archangel Michael and our narrator, a tour promoter also named Michael, takes place, appropriately, on the Wednesday of Holy Week, at London’s Westminster Cathedral.

While touring the Cathedral (the Catholic counterpart to Westminster Abbey), our narrator is contemplating a statue of St. Michael when he is approached by a man claiming to be the Archangel himself. At first skeptical, Michael changes his mind when the angel points out that he himself requested this meeting. At a Lenten Mass one year earlier, during the singing of “Oh Sacred Head Surrounded,” Michael envisioned an angel trembling before the cross as Jesus is crucified. “I wonder what it would be like to see an angel…” he mused aloud, “better yet, I would like to speak to one that was there that day.”

“The vision you had of the angel before the cross was more accurate than you might have thought,” the Archangel tells an astonished Michael. “My perspective on that day is a story meant to be written, and you must write it. I will answer your questions so that you can do it.”

Bereft of a tape recorder, or even pen and paper, but determined to rise to the challenge, Michael immediately begins questioning the heavenly messenger. After ascertaining some basic facts about angels – are all angels visible to humans, what are the different categories of angels and what do they do? - he turns to the main purpose of the interview.

What follows is a first-hand retelling of key events in the spiritual battle between good and evil. Much of the writing is truly inspired, as the author, speaking through the Archangel, portrays the clash between good angels and their demonic counterparts, beginning with Lucifer’s rebellion against his Creator, God. Attempting to incite other angels to join him, Lucifer reveals God’s plan to create a race in his own image, who despite being inferior to angels, he will love “more than he does us.”

“He will love them more?”

“Yes. He will pay them more attention than he pays to us who worship him. Is this just? Is it right?...Yes, and even more, he intends to wed his nature to theirs and theirs to his. Should heaven be corrupted and defiled with their revolting presence? This must not be! No! This will not be!”

Unfortunately, many angels are swayed by Lucifer’s seductive logic. Succumbing to pride and envy, they join with him in a battle that ends, inevitably, in defeat and their expulsion from heaven. Cut off forever from God’s goodness, love, and mercy, they wreak havoc on earth, trying to condemn as many human souls to hell as possible.

Throughout the next few days, Archangel Michael relates how Satan and his demonic army worked against Jesus throughout the entire three years of his ministry, starting with the Lord’s self-imposed exile in the wilderness. While several demons tempt Jesus throughout his forty days in the desert, Satan, knowing that “the spirit grows tired just before the end of the battle,” waits until the end to present the Lord with his greatest temptations. “Let him first obey you in doing what isn’t evil and then lead him to do that which is,” one demon suggests, and Satan tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread, an act not sinful in and of itself, but also not what God intended. When Jesus refuses, saying “man shall not live by bread alone,” the devil does not give up, tempting him twice more. When those too fail he refuses to admit defeat, telling his minions:

“Harass him. Do not let a moment pass where you do not tempt him. Make his life miserable. Give him no rest, spare him no temptation.”

As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that God has not sent his chief warrior angel merely to satisfy one man’s curiosity. Archangel Michael is on a heavenly mission to battle the powers of spiritual darkness that are gaining a greater hold over mankind. Again and again, he emphasizes that Jesus came to earth to battle evil. “Jesus was not just a teacher of ethics, a miracle worker, or a model extraordinaire, but a warrior from the beginning to the end.”

While it is never explicitly stated, it is apparent that Archangel Michael hopes an angelic account of events, such as the possession of a Gadarene by numerous demons (Legion), will move people to choose good over evil.

“If only your race understood the future…” he tells the tour promoter. “If they do not explicitly decide to be like Jesus, they will eventually become like Satan. Those are the only two options.”

Within the larger plot, is the story of Kate, a troubled young Irish woman who is contemplating suicide. Kate’s life reflects the despair and sense of pointlessness afflicting so many young adults today. She’s had it all: a successful modelling career, money, trendy friends. None of it gave her life any meaning. Drugs and the study of misguided philosophies couldn’t ease her growing despair. Now, dressed in black from head to toe, with so many piercings that she’s described as a “walking pincushion,” Kate looks every bit as worn out and world-weary as she feels.

When Kate’s sister Fiona asks, “Don’t you care about your life anymore?” Kate replies: “I don’t even think about it anymore.”

Knowing it is futile, Fiona suggests turning to God for help, but Kate rejects the idea outright:

“Fiona I told you before, I don’t believe this Christianity stuff at all. No way. None!”

The themes of repentance and redemption play a major role in this secondary story. At one point, the Archangel tells Michael: “I fear she (Kate) has given up, but we will still fight to the very end.” Without giving away too much, there is a chilling climatic scene where the forces of good and evil gather to battle for the young woman’s soul. The two plots then come together at the Easter Vigil, when the Archangel provides a first-hand account of Christ’s death and resurrection, and foretells of the Second Coming, declaring, “The very gates of hell will shake as the Lord descends to judge sin, death, and all that is evil.”

From the beginning I was caught up in this compelling account of the role of angels in biblical times and in our lives today. The interaction between Satan and angels and other demons seems believable, making vivid and real the dark forces that roam the world. The modern day setting is well portrayed - having visited Westminster Cathedral for the first time last year, it was a pleasure to see it again through the author’s eyes.

I found this to be a highly original and thought provoking book, one that deepened my faith. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Publisher:
ISBN-13: 978-1410734297
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 0.6 x 5 x 7.8 inches


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Rhonda Parkinson is an aspiring fiction writer who lives with her husband and son in Calgary, Alberta. Before turning to fiction she wrote articles on food and politics for various print and online publications; she has also published several cookbooks. Currently, she is combining her love of food and fiction to write a culinary murder mystery set in a small Rocky Mountain town. A convert to Catholicism, she joined the church through RCIA in 1987.

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