Today is the Feast of the Archangels. We tend to see pictures and representations of angels everywhere in our culture, but we don't often think about them as a real, constant presence in our lives.
I certainly didn't, at least until one afternoon late last year. As I went to retrieve my happy one-year-old from his crib after nap, he pointed toward the small Christ the Redeemer statue on his nearby nightstand and started babbling about an angel. '"Well, that’s Jesus," I said, but then hesitantly asked, “Where’s the angel?” He pointed next to the statue again and grinned at me: "Right dere!"
Intrigued, I asked again at dinner. “Right here!” he exclaimed, happily pointing to his belly. He then motioned to his big brother and sister and proceeded to point out their 'guardian angels' behind them. I left it at that, but was amazed and always wondered if he really saw something.
Now that he’s two and much more verbal, I decided to ask him some more detailed questions the other day:
“Where is your guardian angel?”
“Right here by my belly!”
“What does your angel do?”
“This!” he said, rocking side to side and flapping his arms.
“Does your angel say anything?”
“Yes, Jesus loves me!” he began to sing.
He answered each question with a huge smile and without hesitation. Maybe it was coincidence, or maybe in his innocence he really could see what the angels were up to. Either way, I was impressed that my two-year-old seemed to know far more about angels than I’d ever taught him.
Our knowledge of angels is still limited, but snippets of scripture offer some insight on these mysterious beings. Angels are assigned to help us, protect us, and guide us toward God, though we often forget they’re there. In today’s gospel, Jesus even tells his newly-formed group of disciples that the glory they’ll soon witness involves angels.
The Bible says that archangels, in particular, are powerful angel ‘chiefs’ charged with some of God’s most important work. Revelation tells us that St. Michael the Archangel has a personal vendetta against Satan; he fights directly against the devil in the great battle of heaven (and will help defend us as such!). We know that the Archangel Gabriel was God’s personal messenger, announcing to Blessed Mary that she would be the Mother of our Lord. And we learn in Tobit that the Archangel Raphael was sent as a healer. But most importantly, we learn that the angels utterly adore God—they sing to him, they bow down in worship, and they're overjoyed at any chance to do so. Why? Because they've seen God in his full glory. And their mission is to help the whole world see the same. So they whisper heavenly secrets to my delighted son in his innocence, and guide the rest of us in our oblivion, to hopefully convey what our human eyes are too clouded to see—that nothing on earth is as incredible as God face-to-face.
Today, on the Feast of the Archangels, let’s pray this prayer that St. Michael the Archangel offered to the children of Fatima in 1916:
My God; I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee! I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee!
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and former soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.