The Kingdom of God is at hand. Right here. Beside me – in the place where my Guardian Angel stands…
Each morning when I send my children off to school, inside my heart there is a prayer for them to arrive safely at their desks and come home safely to me when their work is done. I offer the same prayer for my husband, and for my loved ones and in fact, for anyone who I see leaving me. My mother always taught me to make a small sign of the cross using my hand as people drove off in their cars when I was a little girl, and this process stuck with me – even to the present day.
Saint Padre Pio used to say, “If you need me, send me your guardian angel.” He could see guardian angels and he appreciated them as intercessors. He knew their power as guardians and protectors and intercessors.
The other day my children and I watched a really lovely short film called “The Veil Removed”, which is available on YouTube at this link: https://youtu.be/OOLZDaTgIaM. It is a beautiful depiction of the presence of the supernatural during the Mass and much of what it shows is the angels who celebrate the Mass with us.
These days, we have mostly forgotten – for a large part – the importance of the angels.
In ancient times – during the early Church – angels, which are purely spiritual beings with free will, were taken to be a natural consideration of life.
The angels are real, and they really worked to free the early priests and leaders of our Church. This is true when we are told in Luke’s Gospel of the Angel Gabriel appearing to our Blessed Mother during the annunciation (Luke, 1:26-38) and in Saint Matthew’s Gospel that the angel came to Saint Joseph in his sleep and warned and directed him (Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:13-15, Matthew 2:23). The angels appeared to others too. They appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:15-20). The interesting thing about these early revelations of the angels is that people acted on what they were told. They did not try to over-think things or pass these beings off as a figment of their own imagination. Rather, the angels gave instruction – to Our Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph and even the lowly shepherd – and they listened and went where they were directed to go.
Saint Luke tells us that the apostles were freed from prison by an angel, who guided them from the prison. He does not speak figuratively in that story, “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the gaol and brought them out.” (Acts, 5:19). He was not figurative – but literal – when he told the story of Saint Peter being miraculously freed by an angel, “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” (Acts, 12:7).
This freeing of Saint Peter is quite amazing, because when he arrived at the home of his friends, they assumed that it was his guardian angel and not Peter himself at their door, because they thought that Peter was still imprisoned. That is how significant and real angels were to them! They truly believed they could hear an angel at their front door. That is how attuned to angels the early Christians were. “…he (Saint Peter) went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’” (Acts, 12:12-16).
I was reading Scott Hahn’s book, “Signs of Life”, in which he deals extensively with the topic of angels. In this book, Hahn explains that angels are a significant established part of Biblical tradition, and were referred to throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. In the Book of Genesis there were angels in the Garden of Eden and guarding the entrance. In the lives of the early patriarchs there were angels, even those to whom Sarah, wife of Abraham disbelieved, and those who wrestling with Jacob. Angels were scattered through Exodus, leading the Israelites during the exodus. The prophets speak of the guardian angels of nations.
And yet, these days, we barely reflect on angels at all.
Saint Pope John Paul II, in his general audience on 6 August 1986 noted that modern people do not appreciate the importance of angels, and yet, it is only by embracing the spirituality of the angels – which are pure spirits – that humanity can understand its own nature as both body and spirit.
The Book of Revelation is particularly informative. There is a connection here between the worship of God on Earth and His worship by the angels in Heaven. “The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to Heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created Heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer…” (Revelations 10:5-6).
I have been thinking of those angels very much these last few days – these guardians and protectors.
And one thing I have realised for sure, is “that there should be delay no longer…” (Revelations 10:6). For the Kingdom of God is at hand. Right here. Beside me – in the place where my Guardian Angel stands…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.