In my marriage preparation work with engaged couples, I use FOCCUS
(Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study)
- an instrument to enable the individual partners to talk about
their understanding and expectations regarding their relationship
and anticipated marriage together. The primary purpose of the process
is to have the couple discuss and articulate how they understand
the various topics and statements. As in any communication process,
it isn’t enough to hear what the other says, but to understand
what the person is trying to say. Its whole premise is based on
the couple truly being present to and with one another, open to
giving and receiving what and who each other is.
As I read today’s scriptures, celebrating the feast of Archangels
Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, I reflected on how we understand angels
in our Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Jewish and Christian scriptures,
angels are seen as attending to God (today’s readings from
Daniel and John’s Gospel), protectors and guardians (Book
of Revelation), and messengers/communicators between God and humans
(Genesis – Jacob’s dream; Gospels’ accounts of
the Annunciation and the Resurrection).
Though my imagination as a child was more engaged with the idea
of angels as guardians and protectors, my adult understanding centers
more in angels as messengers/ communicators of God.
Today, we might not be visited by an angel as in Mary’s annunciation
or the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection, but God continues
to communicate with us in special ways. The question is, how open
am I to God’s attempts to speak to me?
The television series, “Touched By An Angel”, attempts
to show God’s presence in the world today through the actions
of others. Gifts of fanciful wooden angel carvings sitting on my
shelves/coffee tables remind me of the people who bless me with
their loving presence in my life.
As in the FOCCUS process, however, it isn’t enough for a message
to be sent. There must be a ‘receiver’, open to the
message and ready to attempt to understand and respond in order
for the communication to really take place.
For me, making time for reflection and prayer is essential to opening
myself to God’s communication/ presence in my life. It is
then that I realize how often I am touched by God in my life through
others…in their care, concern, acts of kindness, words of
challenge, and unconditional love. And – it is a reminder
that I am called to also be God’s presence – to communicate/make
God ‘real’ in my actions and words to others.