The Angel Cometh

by Marty Kleva, BS, MA

One Sunday morning in November after the accident, I woke up as if a voice of some kind had spoken. From within, something instructed me to get up, get dressed, and go to the Saint Francis Cathedral in the center of Santa Fe.  The impulse was so compelling that I immediately responded from a source deep within my instinctual nature. There was no thinking involved.  I did not know that I would be led to a portal which would take me forward into an otherwise unknown place, built out of a rich, chthonic past, within a venue I was very familiar with—the Catholic Church.  Did I think I was going crazy?  Well, no, not today.  But I was aware that something significant was going on and I had already learned to pay attention.  Sooner or later, I would find out what it was all about.

Raised in the Roman Catholic religion, my family was devout in our practices. We went faithfully to Sunday Mass, Blessed Mother Novenas, Forty Hours, Advent and Lenten services, and together said the rosary at home.  Somewhere in my development, beneath all the ritual and hypocrisy in the Catholic Church, I had an innate sense that there was a deeper wisdom that resonated below the surface: that wisdom being Sophia, the Feminine aspect of God.  It mattered not that She was denied by the Church in the form of Mary Magdelene. That only made Her denial more powerful.  The Dark Madonna has always been a profound yet underlying  presence within the people of faith despite what the Church said or did not say.  My undeveloped consciousness as a child had a deep abiding faith in Her chthonic essence.  I cannot say that I could speak of it, but somewhere deep within me, I knew of it.  Consequently, I had always been able to separate the truth of the message from the frail human-ness of the priest who delivered it.  I never confused the two.  I knew to distinguish between the origin of sacred teachings from the words that emanated from the mouth of individual priests and bishops.  Likely that is the reason that today I am not one of the many who consider themselves a recovering Catholic.  Within the context of Catholic practices and teachings, I never relinquished my own moral or spiritual principles.  Did that make me a good or bad Catholic?  I don’t know if I could answer to either.  I only knew that I did my best to be informed about what the question meant, and made decisions based on my conscience. 

On that Sunday in November, I arrived at the front doors of the cathedral for the nine o’clock Mass.  The priest was standing just inside with the deacon and three altar boys anticipating the time to move up the center aisle of the nave toward the altar for the start of Mass.   I slipped in the door and stood against the back wall.  I was not familiar with any of them.  The deacon, a layperson, was a tall austere man who nestled a large red text of Scripture in his arms.  He stood behind the altar boys dressed in their long red cassocks with billowing fresh white over-blouses on top.  Dressed similarly, most altars boys look alike to me.  My view was of the back of their heads and their clean-cut hair.  The first altar boy held a large crucifix atop a long round golden staff called the Processional Cross.  He would lead the small procession up the aisle.  The other two boys stood side by side behind the first and each held a large golden candlestick beneath the round lip to protect their fingers from any dripping wax of the burning ivory candle inserted in the top.  The air from the open doors caused the candles to flicker and the boys held up their left hands up to shield the flames. When they reach the altar, they will place them in special stands along the sides.

I watched them proceed up the nave, the priest in ceremonial vestments at the rear of the procession.  They stopped at the transept about half way, and in the open space gathered around a suspended wreath of live greens and colorful ribbons that held four candles: three pink, one purple.  It was then that I realized this was the first Sunday of Advent.  The priest in rose-colored vestments lit the first pink candle on the Advent Wreath.   A significant day.  A beginning.  A time of preparation in the Church calendar for the soul to receive the Christ child in four more weeks.  I understood this day was a symbolic opening for me that heralded something unknown.  I took it to indicate an auspicious opportunity.  Realizing this, I already knew I would return to Mass for the complete Advent season.  I was now wide-awake to what this harbinger might unfold.

As the group completed the lighting of the first Advent candle, the wider view of the Cathedral opened to me.  The Cathedral was packed and the faces of the congregation were turned toward the center witnessing the ceremonial lighting.  All kinds of faces: Hispanic, Anglo, old, young, middle-aged, male, female, round, square, yet each one bearing a devout expression.  The priest displayed his flare for ceremony as he invited us all to light the candle of love in our hearts.  Raising my eyes upward I saw the soaring arches of the high ceiling that linked the columns along the sides and admired their colors of deep plum, grey and adobe reds: shades that spilled into the Stations of the Cross on the walls. 

The lighting was complete and the wreath was raised by pulley to a higher position above the floor of the Cathedral. The processional continued up the nave toward the open sanctuary, where the high altar is located. Behind the altar, a huge fresco caught my eye; in classical style were large painted images of renown saints. Voices of the choir and parishioners filled the Cathedral with song.

As soon as the priest mounted the steps to the high altar I walked up the center aisle to find a seat.  The aroma of fresh greens caught my senses as I walked beneath the advent wreath.  Although the cathedral was crowded, people slid over to make room for me. I felt comfortable.  I was glad to be on the aisle.  It provided me an open view of the waist-high stone slab altar.  The priest, now facing the congregation said the opening prayers of the Mass.  He commanded my attention with his stature and resonant voice.  He was medium build and had black hair flecked with streaks of white.  Here was a priest who seemed absolutely aware of his vocation.   He turned as he spoke to include the people on all sides of the Cathedral and when he faced the greater number of us in the main part, it was as if he became larger than life.  He gained our full attention.  The air seemed clearer; the light around the altar was brighter, despite the minimal amount of daylight coming through the stained-glass windows from the cloud-covered sky outside. 

My heightened senses were aware of a mounting tension; much like that in a concert where the orchestra is in fine form, promoting anticipation for the rest of the program.  Although I was shoulder to shoulder in the
pew, the closeness did not feel invasive to me. The cathedral was built centuries ago, and I could feel the history of those years. Regardless, the atmosphere felt fresh and new to me.  The light around the altar seemed to become soft and airy, like a barely distinguishable fine mist even though there were only two candles lit in the entire Cathedral.

When the priest delivered the Homily, he remarked about the Scripture passages read earlier by the deacon.  He spoke of the special type of Light entering on this day—Divine Light—as if he had first hand knowledge of it.  On queue, the mist seemed to form a center spire over the altar and the priest.  It extended upward toward the central ceiling.  At first as if mesmerized, I hardly dared to blink.  Then I did in an effort to clear the view.  To my chagrin, the misty spire became clearer and more pronounced and it began to extend off the altar area toward the congregation.  I looked around at others to make sure I knew where I was.  My excitement was palpable.  I could feel the nerve endings prickle against my skin.

As the priest continued to speak, he moved back and forth across the wide-open expanse of the altar.  I watched, as streams of purple and fuscia light flowed off his back, extending several feet behind him.  My chest grew warm.  My heart expanded.  I was being held in the embrace of a very loving Mother.  My body began to vibrate, hum, and the energy streamed within me. I felt I was filled with love—all my cells melting into each other.  These heightened impressions opened me to the presence of the Imminent Divine.

During the Offertory, when the priest raised the bread and wine to be consecrated, I felt heat rise in the central core of my body.  I checked those kneeling around me and they did not seem disturbed by my presence, so I relaxed.  Soon, I was aware of an immense glowing energy expanding out from me like a steadily banked fire, emanating heat from glowing coals.  With my eyes closed, I savored the senses in my body.

Later, when I went to receive communion, I walked on an ethereal carpet of clouds though I could still feel my feet touching the marble floor of the cathedral.  The priest did not look at me strangely when I took the communion wafer from his hands, and so I felt safe to remain for the rest of Mass.  Returning to the pew, I sat enveloped in the beautiful glow I felt inside me. 

When Mass was over, I stayed in my seat, absorbed all that I had experienced and allowed the energy to condense to a point that I felt able to leave the cathedral and re-enter the outside world.

After this beginning, I went regularly to Mass at the cathedral and did so for the remaining year I continued to live in Santa Fe, City of Holy Faith.  I began to stay through the nine o’clock mass to the next one.  Eventually, I stayed for all morning Masses, leaving only after the noon Mass was over.  Here, the Mass became a deep spiritual vehicle for me.  I brought my studies of somatics, mysticism, theories of Carl Jung, shamanic and archetypal energies. I utilized all my training in non-partial objective observation that over the years my Buddhist meditation practice provided, to detail these experiences.

During the Mass, I began to have other highly mystical experiences that were deeply rooted in the physical senses of my body.  I would see and feel energy floating from the ceiling above, down toward the altar at the Offertory.  I saw what looked like forms of elemental spirits descend with it.  I felt the energy move like warm vaporous lava off the altar, down the aisles toward those assembled.  And me.  My body was engulphed in it.  Warmed by it.  I was expanded.  I felt buoyed and grounded all at the same time and filled with luminescent light.  A whole new world was open to me to observe and explore.

Significantly, these experiences happened to me when three of the parish priests said Mass, never with the Archbishop or others. However it was only when the pastor said Mass and delivered the homily that I continued to see streams of light flowing from his back.  He is a very inspirational speaker and a spiritually powerful man.  His eyes emanate light.  To see the purple light streaming from his back was astonishing. So many times I wanted to turn to the person beside me and ask, “Do you see that?”  But I did not dare for fear of being thought of as deranged.  I learned a discipline I had not planned on.

During this time, I consciously allowed it to go on.  I understood that I was being interacted with by an otherworldly energetic, the transpersonal realm, one that extended beyond what I knew, and which was unbound by definition, as well as time and space.  My time here seemed to support me.  Certainly it brought me to a place I had not previously experienced in Mass.  I realized there were hazards involved that could brand me unbalanced and even heretic if I were so naïve as to share these experiences with any lay person or even the priests.  I was not interested in postulating any theories.  This was just something I was experiencing without the use of any type of drug.  Intransigent about my belief that I was sane, I instinctively knew this was a challenge to navigate between the sacred and profane, and most of all, learning how to operate in both.

Certainly, I wondered about what other mysteries may also be contained in the Mass, which were yet to be glimpsed.  However, there was never the sense that now I knew it all, or even that I understood what it was all about.  Unexpectedly, I had entered a fathomless dimension of subtle energy.  All my shamanic training and meditation practice of observing everything with choiceless awareness, had prepared me for this unique return to the Mass.  I moved from being a passive participant in Mass to a position as co-celebrant with the priest on the altar, a place where there was no separation between us.

These experiences with the Mass touched on a mystery I had never found the answer to regarding a young priest in my hometown back east.  He never said Mass on Sunday.  The reason jokingly given amongst the parishioners was that the congregation that was already in Mass would never get out of the church in time to allow the people who were coming to the following Mass to find a parking space.  Rumor had it that this young priest saw visions, especially during the celebration of the Offertory, which seemed to hold him so spellbound that he could not easily continue through to finish Mass in the usual amount of time.  The

Monsignor in charge of the parish was sensitive to the young priest and did not assign him a weekend Mass. Instead, he celebrated Mass on the weekdays.  I almost wished that he were available for me to talk with.  I like to think he would not be one to critically judge my experience.  Those who would do so easily are not comfortable in a world where there are constant challenges to release rigid mind-sets as these challenges could appear to threaten their sense of power and control.

As with many things that are awesome, I overdid it; it was addicting.  The forces that became an integral part of my daily life were so energizing; I felt as though I oozed light, warmth, and Divine love for days after.  It may have been too much, too soon for my delicately healing energy field to handle.  I had no transformer to step it down.  It just continued to amp up.  I began to experience light when I closed my eyes.  It seemed there was a system of soft backlighting constantly inside my head.  I found myself living within the subtlest of seductions.

 Throughout the time after the accident, in my healing sessions, and pointedly emanating from my wild experiences during Mass, I became aware that my belief systems were drastically shifting.  My religious views had previously been challenged by material evidence offered in the “Dead Sea Scrolls”.  Also, archaeological discoveries and ancient Sumerian texts offered me physical proof that they predate the Bible, specifically translations by Zecharia Sitchin in his documentary volumes of the “Earth Chronicles.”  The burning question became, “How do I deal with an already tentative and fragile belief system inside a fragile emotional body?”

A month later I remembered what occurred during my lost time in the accident: that I came into the presence of a twenty-foot tall angel with a sword.  The memory unfolded one morning as I was in meditation.  Seconds before impact, when I could not face the possibility of what looked to me like impending death, I left my body.  Now, in meditation, my memory spontaneously unveils before me.

My spirit is picked up out of the car by an angel on each side of me.  They hold me by my upper arms.  Looking down, I see four more angels: two on both sides of my car.  They are restraining my car.  The two holding me up raise me further and it is then that I see the bottom of a light-colored garment.  Beneath it are two large feet encased in fine gold satin slippers.  Understanding dawns that I face something larger than myself.  It is too big to view all in one look.  My eyes adjust to a position that can take it all in at the same time.  In front of me stands a tall angel dressed in a long shimmering garment.  The angel is a massive figure that radiates a golden silvery sheen.  I receive no sign of threat.  In fact, the energy I detect is neutral.

In front of its body, the angel holds a long silver sword, bearing its tip down.  Two hands grasp around the hilt.  Looking at me without expression, the giant angel lifts the sword above my head and then, very neatly, passes it downward from my head to my to toes. 

The energy field of my auric egg is laid open to the core by the angel’s sword like an expertly performed dissection. It fillets me to the nucleus of my very being, like a fisherman who skillfully wields a finely stone-sharpened knife: A master fisherman who deliberately slices through the outer skin of a freshly caught flounder to the delicate flesh beneath it, exposing the gently curved transparent bones of the spine.  All is methodically displayed in one swipe of the expertly maneuvered knife. Similarly, the angel fillets me too.  In so doing, I am instantly laid open to all.  Like bait for vultures.  Prime target for all predators.

My religious background taught that angels are messengers of God.  I viewed them as helpers and like a child, called upon them to keep me safe.  My immediate reaction to this unfolding memory was to view the angel as a benefactor despite the drastic measure it performed on me. Through the ensuing months however,

as my condition worsened, I began to question its benevolence.  Eventually, the angel figure became an archetypal catalyst for me to question my entire belief system.  I came to question the very origins of the being called God; that God, who under many names, is widely held within major religions of this world to be our ruler and maker.   Also, now I had a different context to hold the remark I first made soon after the accident and continued to utter throughout the months after,  “I feel like I have been filleted.”

One Sunday evening, at the age of five I remember kneeling in the church pew with my family at a Forty Hour service.  We always used the seventh pew from the front on the left side of the church.  On this night, the sanctuary was filled with many priests who came from all over the north-central region of Pennsylvania to celebrate this special service.  They were all dressed in black cassocks over which they wore white chasubles that flowed to their feet.  Some were ornately trimmed with lace and embroidery.

I loved the smell of incense as it swirled out of the swinging golden censer past my nose and permeated the church.  The ritual of cleansing the altar mesmerized me, the priests chanting over and over the Latin “Ora pro nobis” in answer to all the many names of Christ and the Blessed Mother as they beseeched each to pray for us.  I was enthralled with the richness of the ciborium, that golden object that looked like a sunburst on a pedestal.  The main celebrating priest wrapped a special garment around his shoulders and used the ends to hold the ciborium aloft and cover it up as he moved around the altar.  He would place the ciborium in the middle of the altar and open the small round glass door in the center.  Inside was the Most Holy Sacrament, the wafer that Roman Catholics believe is the Body and Blood of Christ transformed during the Eucharist of the Mass.  Transubstantiation.  This is the Exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament to the Faithful.  A Mystery of Faith.

That evening, my heart was raised in my spiritual search for God to ask him a very important question.  At this age of five I saw God as a very old man with long white hair.  I wanted to know why he did not visit me.  Why did he only visit the saints that I heard talked about by the priest?  I asked,  “Why don’t you come to visit me?”  I longed for that more than my little five-year-old heart could express.  My fervent heart felt like it was on fire.  Was the appearance of the angel of my accident an answer to my earlier entreaty?



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