I ran into an angel the other day. I don’t mean a human being who is a good person. I mean a real, card-carrying angel. You know ethereal beings of light that are here to help us. It was in the mall. I was taking a shopping break when a voice within told me to pray for a young woman behind the fast-food counter. She looked to be barely 16 and very pregnant. So I sat and prayed for her and her baby. I believe I heard the voice of that girl’s guardian angel who knew I would pray. The image of that tired, worried little girl is still in my heart, and I am still praying.
This time of year, angels are all around us. We see them on cards, in light-up lawn ornaments, on top of trees. Most of us consider them to be sweet, imaginary characters with wings. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that we are surrounded by these guardian, helper and messenger beings. The name “angel” means messenger. God uses their help to care for us. He allows them to rub elbows with us as we deal with life’s troubles. The Church teaches that these celestial beings are real and are here to guide us on life’s journey.
My first angel encounter was about 30 years ago: My two-year-old son had gotten away from me and was running toward the street. I realized that I would not get to him before he would run into traffic. Horrified, I ran as fast as I could. Just when he would have stepped into traffic, an old man in a sweater caught him up in his arms. The old man said, “Little boy, go back to your mama.” He laughed and turned my son back toward me. Crying, I gathered him up in my arms and looked up to thank this old man. But there was no one there! I looked all around, but there simply was no one on the street anywhere.
When I shared the story with a wise friend, she casually said, “Oh, that was your son’s guardian angel.” From that day on, I have been a believer.
My story is similar to many you will hear these days. Angels are having a resurgence in popularity. What is more important than telling miracle stories, however, is realizing that your angel is very near. In his book, Angels of God, Mike Aquilina asks us to invite our personal guardian angels into the activities of our days. Angels like to remind us that we forgot something when we’re headed out the door. Your angel is great at leading you to that parking space right near your destination. An angel will wake you up in time for Sunday Mass if you ask before you go to sleep.
I sense a note of skepticism. After all, we live in a “just the facts” world where angels sound like the apparition of a few too many brandy eggnogs. I invite you to start talking to your angel and watch what happens. Whether you are eight or 80 years old, the conversation is worth the effort. Right now, in the midst of the holiday rush, your angel will slow you down and guide you to a more peaceful plan than you had in mind. If you want to have some real fun, pick up a pen and paper and write a daily message from your angel. I call them “A-Notes.” Soon you will not want to begin your day without one.
The Holy Night is right around the corner. This is a feast outside of time. It is an occasion to enter sacred space and reflect on the mystery of God’s Incarnation. We are hard-pressed to separate ourselves from our worldliness to enter the mystery. Not so with angels, they are into adoration 24/7. Whether they are singing on high or down low, they are officially inviting us to join them. Wait…I think I hear them…very faintly…at the Christmas tree lots, in the cheese section of the gourmet shop, inside the UPS truck, in the sanctuary at midnight on Christmas.
Photo credit: Daniel St.Pierre