October 2, 2017
Dear fellow pilgrims,
Today is the feast day of the Guardian Angels, and three days ago was the feast day of the Archangels (namely, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael). In case y’all don’t know (I didn’t…), Archangels are kind of like the “inner circle” of all the angels, or the angels who are in charge of the other angels… they’re kind of a big deal. They show up in the Bible, and are the few who are named. Angels are kind of like Heaven’s permanent residents; they are pure spirit and always in the beatific vision. They can seamlessly enter into our lives and also remain in Heaven, before God. Erin provided a beautiful, and funny, reflection last Friday about what angels are like.
I have such a hard time imagining an angel because there are so many stupid depictions of angels in various forms of media that have infiltrated my subconscious. (And yes, maybe some of them originated in fine art…) But we hear in the Bible many times that when people see angels… when people talk to angels or when angels talk to people… the people are SCARED. Angels are not fat babies with wings (known as “putti,” pronounced poo-tee, in Italian, by the way). Each guardian angel is an individual, majestic being who is tasked by God to protect YOU from evil and bring YOU to Heaven.
As a thought experiment, think of how majestic - and insanely ripped - St. John Paul the Great’s guardian angel had to be…! Think of all the guardian angels of the saints, meeting them at the gates of Heaven! All individual companions, chosen by God, to accompany their own individual journeys…
I didn’t grow up Catholic, but I can imagine that if you had, the concept of a guardian angel would be one that would appeal to many youngsters. Characters akin to “guardians,” or imaginary, helpful friends abound in children’s stories (e.g. Jiminey Cricket in Pinocchio). It’s a quaint idea, and adds a nice element of fantasy and interesting possible character dynamics to a story. But guardian angels deserve so much more credit than that… because when you really think about it, we don’t take advantage of their role enough! At least I don’t. Whenever this feast day rolls around, I’m like “oh yeah! it’d be really great to pray to my guardian angel more.” But this time… I really mean it. Let me tell you why.
Long story short… or as short as I can muster… short-ish... a family member of mine has been going through an extended mental health and spiritual crisis for about three months. I have been scared for his life many days and nights, and the well-being (and lives) of my other family members taking care of him and responding to him when the cops are called again, and they have to take him to the mental hospital again, and house him even when he is acting very scary because they don’t want him sleeping on the streets. I have felt helpless and afraid many times, and have asked many people for prayers, but… I came to a point where I had to come to grips with my own lack of faith in my prayers. I didn’t feel like my prayers were ever enough, or would actually be effective to help this situation. My husband reminded me that praying isn’t just to make me feel like I “did my part,” or just to soothe my aching mind, they do affect spiritual matters and they are effective. We aren’t just speaking into the abyss.
Four nights ago (I think), I was awake around midnight and felt a disturbance in my spirit about this family member… I started praying the St. Michael the Archangel prayer repeatedly in my bed. But I started to truly believe in the verve of this prayer, of the power of this angel, of his strength over the evil one. I kind of was saying… “St. Michael, I know you can help. I know you can. Why don’t you? Please help this family member. Please knock down whatever the devil is trying to do.” The next day, the feast day of the Archangels, I heard that this family member finally, after refusing to go to the mental hospital repeatedly, decided he should go. He decided he couldn’t do it on his own anymore. It was a miracle, in my mind! Of course, I am not claiming only my prayers contributed to this miracle, for there are many prayers going up for this family member, but they were part of a greater petition through God that was (I believe) granted through the intercession of both my family member’s guardian angel (who has been working OVERTIME) and the angels fighting the demons trying to bring him down. I felt a faith in the intercession of angels I have never felt before.
In short, like actually short… angels are real, and they’re not just a cute idea. They are powerful intercessors of God’s will, and we should learn to trust them, entrust them with our prayers, and be grateful for them for their work to aid us in God’s design for our salvation.