Does everyone have a guardian angel? Mike Leach, author of “Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question” thinks so. This is one of my favorite sections of his book.
“Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!” —Zuzu Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”
“I believe in angels.” —ABBA
In a 2007 Gallup poll, three out of four Americans said, “I believe in angels.” Americans trust angels ten times more than they do their congressmen. That makes sense.
Angels are a traditional Catholic idea, but how well do we understand what we believe in? How many of us think of angels as heavenly Tinkerbells? It never hurts to be like Zuzu Bailey and, when we take our favorite ornament out of the box, polish it and hold it in front of our eyes before placing it on the tree. We may see something new. Does an angel really get its wings every time a Christmas bell rings?
Of course it does!
Now on to the next question. What is an angel? An angel is a messenger from God.
Like the UPS man?
No, an angel is more like the postman. But unlike a postman in Alabama, say, who delivers a letter from Alaska to a third person in Mobile, the angelic messenger and its message are one. An angel is a good idea from God.
The message comes from God to a child of God, just like that. That’s why we can’t see angels. They’re instant.
“An angel gives us a closer idea of God,” writes Meister Eckhart. “That is all an angel is: an idea of God.”
Catholicism says we are surrounded by angels—God’s blessed ideas for us—just as surely as if we were in the center of a fresco painted by Raphael. Angels guided Mary and Joseph on their flight from Bethlehem to Egypt. Angels guarded Jesus in the desert and comforted him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus counseled all of us: “See that you never look down upon one of these children, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10, adapted). Was he not telling us that children see the face of God more clearly than adults because they are open to visits from angels? “Angels,” writes Richard McBrien in Catholicism, “are reminders that there is more to the created order than what we actually see, feel, hear, and taste.”
To be open to angels is to be open to miracles. A miracle is an angel heard.