Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, the Work of the Holy Angels, is an international movement within the Catholic Church faithful to the Magisterium. It is ordered to promoting devotion to the holy angels and a covenant bond with them through a consecration approved by the Church, so that the holy angels may lead us more effectively to God. The Work is under the overall direction of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, under which has also been erected the Confraternity of the Holy Guardian Angels. The Sisters of the Holy Cross is aggregated to the Order and, though autonomous, forms with it one spiritual family.
The holy angels are powerful spirits present among us, "sent to serve those who are to inherit salvation" (Heb 1:14). "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life" (CCC 336). Most Catholics know little about the holy angels except for the prayer, Angel of God, My Guardian Dear. Yet how much more progress we could make in our spiritual life if we looked more often to him who was given to us specifically as a "shepherd leading [us] to life"!
In an address to American pilgrims on October 3, 1958, Pope Pius XII reminded them that our lives are surrounded by the holy angels: "Each one of us, even the poorest of the poor, has angels watching over him. The angels are glorious, pure and splendid, but they have been given to us as companions along the way of life. They have the task of watching over you all, so that you do not stray away from Christ, your Lord."
At the end of the audience he admonished the faithful: "Have a familiar relationship with the angels, whose constant care is directed towards your salvation and holiness. God willing, you will spend an eternity of joy with the angels; learn to get to know them now!"
Pope John Paul II gave six Catechesis on the angels at St. Peter's Square in Rome. In his second talk he stated: "The Church believes that she renders a great service to man when she proposes sincerely the totality of the truth about God, the Creator, and also about the angels" (General Audience, August 6, 1986).
Through retreats and parish missions, the priests of the Opus Angelorum lead the faithful to a more conscious collaboration with the holy angels in daily life for their own personal sanctification, the salvation of souls and the sanctification of priests.
This summer has brought us many blessings, which we would like to share with you! First of all, we are celebrating this year 40 years of the death of the foundress of Opus Angelorum, Mother Gabriele Bitterlich. Mother Gabriele, born in 1896, was a spouse and mother of 3 children, and later adopted 3 war orphans. From the Feast of St. Mark in 1949, it became ever clearer to her that Our Lord Jesus Christ wanted the faithful to venerate and invoke the holy angels more, to join ranks with them and open themselves more to their powerful help. A group of priests formed around the Mother to study and learn to collaborate with the Angels, as well as a group of young women. Over time, these priests, men and women developed into religious communities, the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Mother Gabriele spent her last years, after her husband had passed away, at the castle St. Petersberg (the Motherhouse) in Tirol, Austria. She passed away there, being renowned for her holiness and wisdom, on April 4, 1978, a Friday during the hours of Our Lord's Passion.
To commemorate the 40th year since her death, the Order held a "symposium" on the writings and theology of Mother Gabriele at the Motherhouse St. Petersberg in Austria with various papers being presented by respected theologians of the Order. Here in Carrollton, we held our own "little symposium" on June 2nd with a PowerPoint presentation on the life and spirituality of the Mother presented by Fr. William Wagner and Sr. Maria Basilea. 70 members and friends in the area, as well as some new faces! joined us on this joyful and grace-filled day of prayer and fellowship.
One very important and joyful piece of news reached us the night before the Mother Gabriele Symposium, which we were able to announce on that day: The community of our Sisters, the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Opus Angelorum, was elevated from an Institute of Consecrated Life of diocesan right to an Institute of Pontifical right. With the authorization of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Congregation for Religious promulgated the decree of pontifical recognition on the Feast of St. Mark, April 25, 2018, which was communicated to the Mother General on June 1, 2018. With this step, the governance of the Sisters no longer stands under the Bishop of Innsbruck, but reports directly to Rome and the Congregation for Religious. It is a confirmation of their way of life and mission in the Church, and more firmly anchors them to the rock of Peter, to whom they pledge their fidelity.
On this joyful occasion, we want to share a little of the history of the Sisters with you. As mentioned above, the first Sisters were lay women who joined priests and other lay persons in a group gathered around Mother Gabriel already in the 1950's in order to live a closer bond with the Holy Angels in their role in the economy of salvation, and to spiritually assist priests in their vocation. The first canonical institution of OA to be erected in the Church was the Confraternity of the Holy Guardian Angels in 1961 in the diocese of Innsbruck, Austria—many of you are already members of the US branch of this Confraternity! When the priests came to live together in a "House for Priests" at the castle St. Petersberg with the intention of beginning a new religious Order, the Sisters received a house in the neighboring diocese of Salzburg, which they named the "House of Adoration". There they held their first novitiate for a newly formed "pious union", which was erected on the feast of the Assumption, 1964. The community of the Sisters quickly spread to other countries, including Germany, Portugal, Brazil and Switzerland. They were erected in the Diocese of Innsbruck as a diocesan Institute in 2002. Today, they are present and active in 10 countries with 180 Sisters.
Beginning from their own total surrender to God, seeking the glorification of the Triune God through a life in imitation of Christ and of sharing in His salvific mission, the Sisters devote themselves by prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, sacrifice and service, to the sanctification of the priesthood and religious state. They are particularly devoted to the Passion of Christ, which they commemorate weekly. They live their life in communion with the Holy Angels, consecrating themselves to them and collaborating with them in the spiritual battle for souls. The Sisters are aggregated to the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, share the same spirituality, and assist the priests in the apostolate, Opus Angelorum.
The Sisters first came to the US in 1998 and lived for over 15 years at an inner-city parish in Detroit, Assumption Grotto, through the generosity of the pastor, Fr. Edward Perrone. In 2015, they moved to a residential home in Ohio, as they await the completion of their convent—hopefully by early Fall!
After making it over a hurdle of approvals for the fire alarm system, the progress on the convent is rolling along again! The stuccoing of the exterior walls is well underway, with a beautiful design by the architect—not just plain white walls! A little more work, but it adds to the overall beauty of the convent. Our construction manager, Dan, installed the framing for the vaulted barrel chapel ceiling himself, saving us quite a bit in cost. Our dry walling team—the family of one of our members in Pennsylvania—is keeping the rest of the workers on their toes as they speed through to get their job done. We are very grateful for the zeal of Tom and Jeremy and team! Please keep all our workers in your prayers, that they remain safe.
We have had a number of generous major donations this year to carry the project through, including donations of stocks! This is a convenient way for many of you to donate (as in many cases it can save extra capital gains taxes), and we can now easily receive stocks. Through the gracious donation of all the hard wood by one very generous family, we will soon begin the interior work, chapel floor, cabinetry, etc. We are hoping to be able to invite you to an Open House already by October—God-willing. As we mentioned in the last circular, we then hope to begin with the excavation for the Brother's monastery already next Spring—but we need your help! Please consider a major gift, or whatever you are able, to help make this really happen! St. Joseph, pray for us!
More exciting news: The Statutes for our Family Community of the Holy Cross in Opus Angelorum were approved this year by the General Council of the Order! We have already had for many years family groups in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where we have our family week vacation times at our house in Bavaria. But though it has always been the plan, we have never formally defined the statutes for this OA group which began more than 30 years ago. This new development will allow for membership in the Opus Angelorum as a family. This membership is ordered towards the good of the family, whose members seek through the special help of the Holy Family and the Holy Angels the renewal and sanctification of Christian family life.
We held our 2nd annual family camping retreat in Cedar, Michigan where the Pastor is a good friend and member of the Opus Angelorum. With 18 young families participating (over 100 persons with all the children included), we hope that this apostolate will grow year by year, and also spread to other areas in the country. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us.
With the help of a young man from Canada, we have begun to produce a few vocation videos on YouTube, which can also be found on the OA website, www.opusangelorum.org! Our YouTube channel is Canons of the Holy Cross, USA. You can also use the QR code here to check them out! Be sure to "Subscribe" to our YouTube channel, so that you will receive automatic notifications when anything new is posted!
Please visit link to view the items needed for the Sisters' Convent of St. Gabriel Building Project. We are a 501(c)3. All donations are tax deductible. Please include your name and address and we will send a donation acknowledgement. May God reward you!
We want to thank all our members and friends for your support and invite you to keep in touch, participating in retreats or missions if possible, or ordering the CD's (by mail, telephone or online) to grow in the spirituality and learn more about living in union with your Guardian Angel!
Our communities, the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross and the Sisters of the Holy Cross, ask for your prayers and donations for the future home of the Work of the Holy Angels in Carrollton, Ohio