By Steve Wickham
Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs.
– Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
WARY not to alarm people who are ordinarily open to the spiritual realm – and there is such a phenomenon – it is still worthy for us to consider the influence and impact of dimensions and agents we cannot see.
Francis de Sales, a Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva, a Saint no less, was clearly in touch with a world beyond the world we see. He was an exemplar of spiritual direction who received unquestioned respect from both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
As a spiritual director, de Sales would necessarily plumb the depths of spiritual experience of those he was helping; using techniques of spiritual enquiry that made people focus on their experience of the divine.
A lot of such material is unearthed in how the Word of God mediates within the experience of the real life of a disciple ardent on spiritual intimacy with their Lord.
A beautiful byproduct of such ardency to the spiritual life of direction is experience of the spiritual world, though it is never visible. It is a reality that occurs palpably by faith. And by faith, what is eternal and never more real – the unseen spiritual world – is real and, as such, is an affirmation of the growth in the spiritual life.
Into such a breach comes the ideal breeding ground for a life preparing itself for eternity. Such a life is open to the myriads of dimensional possibilities. And it’s through this lens that the above de Sales quote finds itself prefaced.
If we feel disposed to believing in the angels and the angelic realm – and why not, for our Christian faith biblically espouses such a spiritual dimension – we have something of a defence and a counterattack against the darker spiritual forces also espoused by the Bible.
The deeper we go into the spiritual life the more we will entreat the spiritual forces on both sides of the ledger. There is nothing to fear. Indeed, if we push past fear we render the darker forces powerless and pathetic. When we have realised that the dark forces are rendered mute, and we assume God provides angelic help, we really gain confidence in the eternal possibilities inherent to the Christian life.
Then we find that quotes like de Sales’ above stand alone in their effect.