"The OA is an ecclesial movement of the faithful in the midst of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Brief History of the Opus Angelorum

from www.opusangelorum.org and Its Development within the Church - Mother Gabriele

T he human instrument for the establishment of the Work was Mrs. Gabriele Bitterlich, known in the OA affectionately as "Mother Gabriele", or simply "Mother". She was born Gabriele Göhlert on November 1, 1896 in Vienna. In 1919 she married Dr. Hans Bitterlich; God blessed them with three children, and they adopted an additional three after World War II. For many years, Mother Gabriele was under the direction of different religious priests from the diocese of Innsbruck. Some time after the death of her husband, she took up residence at the Motherhouse of the Order, the castle St. Petersberg, in Silz, Tirol, where she died on April 4, 1978.

The OA Family

mother gabrieleOver the years, through the inspirations given to Mrs. Bitterlich, the faithful became increasingly aware already during her lifetime of the presence of the holy angels and, in union with the mystery of Christ's Cross, their salvific mission in the Church. Consequently, people from all states of life joined the growing Opus Angelorum movement, which resulted in the erection of various ecclesial associations with approbation from local Bishops. In 1961, the first association of the faithful in the Work of the Holy Angels, the Confraternity of the Holy Guardian Angels, was erected by Bishop Rusch in Innsbruck. Since then, an old medieval Order, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, was also restored by members of the OA with the final approbation of the Holy See in 1979.

The Society of Sisters of the Holy Cross, whose original rule was first approved in 1967, was erected as a pious union of the faithful in 1970 with private vows, in 2002 as a religious institute of diocesan right and in 2018 of pontifical right with public vows.

Decrees from the Holy See

Since the movement originated in a private charism, some German bishops were concerned and asked the Holy See to examine the writings of Opus Angelorum. For every spirituality of an ecclesial movement of the faithful in the Church must be firmly based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and not merely on private revelations. The writings of Gabriele Bitterlich were therefore studied by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith from 1977 to 1983, which resulted in regulatory decrees of 1983 and 1992, limiting the use of Mother Gabriele's writings and (the latter) discontinuing the practice of consecrations to the holy angels until further clarifications were made.

The First Delegate of the Holy See

At that time, a delegate of the Holy See, Fr. Benoît Duroux, was appointed to oversee the implementation of the decrees, and the integration and development of the Opus Angelorum, also in its relationship to the Order of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of the Holy Cross. This supervision was most beneficial for the growth of the OA and the respective communities. The overall direction of the Opus Angelorum was entrusted to the Holy Cross Order and, in cooperation with the delegate, a theological commission was set up within the Order to present to the Congregation for the Faith the theological justification for the consecrations to the holy angels. In the Holy Year 2000, the same Congregation approved with the consent of Pope John Paul II the consecration to all the holy angels of the Opus Angelorum. At that point, essential elements of the spirituality of the OA were incorporated into the Constitutions (the Rule) of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, which were then definitively approved by the Congregation for Religious in 2003.

From the STATUTES OF OPUS SANCTORUM ANGELORUM

Extract from Statutes of the OA: 2008 - aa .1-3

Approved by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, 2008)

NATURE and PURPOSE, JURIDIC FORM and SEAT of the Work of the Holy Angels

Salvific Mission of the Angels

1. "From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the WORD incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of Angels" (CCC 333), the messengers and servants of the Divine plan of salvation (cf. CCC 331-332; Comp. CCC 60). Until CHRIST's return, the whole life of the Church benefits from their mysterious and powerful help (cf. CCC 334). Their watchful care and intercession surround each human life (cf. CCC 336), which presents itself as a struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness (cf. GS 13b and 37b), B while the fallen angels (cf. CCC 391-395) "try to associate human beings with their revolt against GOD" (Comp. CCC 74; cf. Gen 3:1-15 till Apoc 20:8-9).

Therefore GOD sends His Angels to the aid of men (cf. Hb 1:14), in a particular way, the holy Guardian Angels (cf. Mt 18:10). JESUS Himself sent His Angel in order to show His servant John the way to the perfection of the Church (cf. Apoc 1:1; 21:9 - 22:16). At the end of times He will send out His Angels "with a trumpet blast" (Mt 24:31; cf. Apoc 8:6 - 9:21 and 11:15-19) to separate good and evil (cf. Mt 13:40-43.49-50; Apoc 19:11-21), to gather the elect (cf. Mt 24:31; Mk 13:27) and to pass judgment with all His Angels (cf. Mt 25:31).

Name and Origin of the Work

2. The WORK OF THE HOLY ANGELS (for short: the Work), also called OPUS SANCTORUM ANGELORUM or CORPUS OPERIS SANCTORUM ANGELORUM (for short: OA), began in Innsbruck on Low Sunday, "in albis", of the year 1949 B today, feast of Divine Mercy.

It is a gift of grace of the TRIUNE GOD to the Church through our Lord JESUS CHRIST, through the intercession of the Virgin Mother of GOD, Mary, the Queen of the Angels and the Mother of all men (cf. LG 69).

The patron of the Work is St. Andrew the Apostle. St. Joseph, the silent servant of GOD, who was guided by the holy Angels and Head of the Holy Family, is venerated as "Housefather" in the OA.

Response to the Signs of the Times

3. The Work of the Holy Angels came to be as a response to the signs of the times, in order to incorporate the help of the holy Angels in the spiritual conflicts which become apparent, as for instance in atheism, secularism and materialism,1 in the decline of the faith to the point of "silent apostasy"2, in the loss of the sense of sin,3 in the "transgression of GOD's law" (Mt 24:12) in many spheres of life,4 as they were prophetically recognized and pointed out by the Popes and Pastors of the Church since Pius XII, especially by Pope John Paul II.5

All the more necessary is the help of the holy Angels for the Church and for mankind, in which "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" (2 Thess 2:7). Pope Leo XIII,6 in wise foresight, already invoked this help in the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, the "Prince of the heavenly host" (cf. Dn 10:13.21; 12:1; Apoc 12:7); its necessity was affirmed by Pope John Paul in view of the challenges of the present times.7


1 In the apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi of December 8, 1975, Pope Paul VI refers to "frequent situations of dechristianization in our day" (EN 52; cf. 56), while the faith of the baptized "is nearly always today exposed to secularism, even to militant atheism" (EN 54; cf. 55) and a lack of fervor is an obstacle to evangelization (cf. EN 80; John Paul II comes back to this in Redemptoris missio 36).

2 John Paul II, Post-Synodal apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa 9. The globalization, especially the media, contribute to the worldwide propagation even of these negative phenomena (cf. John Paul II, Ecclesia in America 20; Ecclesia in Asia 39).

3 Already Pope Pius XII declared in his radio address of October 26, 1946 to the United States Catechetical Congress held in Boston that "the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin". Pope John Paul II dedicated to this fact a detailed theological analysis in Reconciliatio et paenitentia 18.

4 Widespread relativism and subjectivism in the moral doctrine as well as the "culture of death" in its most diverse manifestations (Ecclesia in America 63; Ecclesia in Asia 35) could be cited here.

5 After the Second Vatican Council's statement on this matter, notably in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes (e.g. about atheism: GS 19-21), it would be fitting to mention here the diagnosis on the 20th Century in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente of November 10, 1994, especially n. 36; then the enlightened vision of the mystery of sin as the root of all evil in the Church and in humanity, as it is offered in the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et paenitentia of December 2, 1984, esp. nos. 14-19. As for the challenges which the Church faces at the beginning of the third millennium, worth special mentioning is the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa of June 28, 2003, esp. nos. 7-9, 23. Here reference is also made to the image of the New Jerusalem, which "one of the seven Angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues" (Apoc 21:9) showed as coming down out of heaven from GOD (cf. Apoc 21:2 and 10): "It is an image which speaks of an eschatological reality which transcends human possibilities and is a gift of GOD which will appear in the last days. Yet it is not a utopia: it is a reality already in our midst" (Ecclesia in Europa 106).

6 His diagnosis of the grievous evils of the 19th Century in the Encyclical Letter Exeunte jam anno about the right Ordering of Christian Life of December 25, 1888 (rationalism, materialism, atheism) held true also for the 20th Century.

7 In addition to the Catechesis on the Angels from July 8 to August 20, 1986 one could also mention here: the speech at the opening of the IV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on September 29 1982; speech at the Sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel in Monte Sant'Angelo on May 24, 1987. In his speech for the Regina caeli on April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II said at the end: "May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians > Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power (Eph 6- The holy Angels, fellow servants of those "who bear witness to JESUS" (Apoc 19:10), help men to preserve the faith in our Lord JESUS CHRIST (cf. Lk 18:8) and the love of GOD (Mt 14:12), to preserve clear-sightedness and discernment in the midst of spiritual confusion (cf. Mt 7:15-20; 1 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Pt 2:1-3; 1 Jn 4:1-6), to discern the author of all evils (cf. Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 11:14) and withstand his oppressions (cf. Apoc 12:17).



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