Today is the feast of the archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Michael – the angel of judgment - is known as the champion in the fight against Satan and the other devils as well as the guardian of the faithful especially at the time of death. Gabriel, known as the angel of mercy, is the messenger from God in St Luke’s gospel who foretold the birth of John the Baptist, “Be not afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” Six moths later it was Gabriel who appeared to Mary at the Annunciation saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Raphael – whose name means “God has healed – was sent by God to heal Tobias of his blindness and to deliver Sara from the devil in the book of Tobit
As I started to reflect on the archangels for this writing, I realized that I have not given much thought to the reality of angels for a long time. At Christmas, there are the angels on cards and ornaments and hanging on nativity scenes. We sing about the angels in several of the Christmas hymns. But I have not really given much credence to their actual existence. This is certainly a departure from my childhood when I prayed to my guardian angel at least daily. As a child I believed that there was truly one angel whose job was to look after me, who would always hover around me ready to protect me from all evil and to communicate my desires and needs to God.
When I became an adult, I put those silly notions about guardian angels aside and with the “maturity of adulthood” dismissed the notion of angels in general except as a kind of symbol of the Christmas season. But now I wonder if there wasn’t a wiser viewpoint in my childhood. Perhaps I was foolish to “outgrow” the notion of angels, especially that one angel who has been patiently guarding over me all of these years.
Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
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