Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s our culture. I haven’t heard much mention lately of angels. You don’t hear homilies about them, nor are their delineations part of the local religious education classes. Why are these messengers of the Lord rarely mentioned, or their care invoked anymore? Personally I have always been partial to archangels, especially Gabriel. I grew up in a parish named in honor of Saint Gabriel, have worked in the telecommunications industry for years (Gabriel is the patron saint of (tele)communications workers!) and have always held him in high esteem. When I invoke the intercession of Gabriel the Archangel it is usually when I am expecting something important in the mail (He is patron of postal workers as well), and it usually involves my reception of money. Of course there are times when I plead that Saint Gabriel will slow down the mail, especially when I write checks, but that is an entirely different story!

 When I was a child, I recited the familiar, Angel of God, my guardian dear…prayer, watched Clarence guide Jimmy Stewart through Midwestern America’s, It’s a Wonderful Life, and even remember the prayer after Mass which invoked another angelic heavy hitter, Saint Michael the Archangel. Anymore though, other than my own personal devotions and the liturgical observance of the Feast of the Archangels, they are…out of vogue. What an unfortunate injustice and omission regarding these angelic beings that always herald God’s message and presence. In the Old Testament our first sight of an angel is as the bouncer in Paradise, intent with keeping Adam and Eve out after their initial sin. The image is fearsome…and a fiery sword is the weapon of choice. Later on in scripture we see and hear angels speaking to the prophets in some form or another. All of the notable Old Testament prophets were visited in some manner, usually in a dream by a messenger of the Lord. Later on in the New Testament, angels proclaim Jesus’ birth to shepherds in the fields and we recall an angel providing Jesus with support and consolation in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In our Eucharistic liturgy…in the Canon of the Mass we call upon angels of the Lord to take our gift to God’s heavenly altar so that we might be filled with every grace and blessing. Even when I was in college and studying the mysteries of Saint Thomas Aquinas it was always an auspicious event when someone could debate regarding the quantity of angels that could fit onto the head of a pin. I guess today, children don’t even know what the “head” of a pin is. For my part, I fondly recall the denominations of the choirs of angels and their celestial ranks. Just ask me, and the subtle distinction between Thrones and Dominions can proudly be revealed. The Baltimore Catechism never really went out of style and in my opinion is an exceptional supplemental text to our modern examples of theological relativism that serve as Catholic educational textbooks today. God knows, and of course He does know…He knows everything, He is God…we need angels for their wonderful protection and sanctification of our daily lives.
In the expedient culture of the twenty-first century, I am thankful there are beings that transcend time and space that watch out for me on a regular basis. Every time I drive my car in rush hour traffic, angels provide providence, guidance and patience. Every time my mother drives with me…she invokes her own guardian angel! Perhaps it is just an additional assurance and not a reflection upon my unique driving abilities.Additionally their presence assures me of God and the love he provides for me daily. It really is a very manly thing to pray to the angels for their assistance and mediation. The perception we have, thanks to Hollywood and Madison Avenue is such that angels are “girly” images, full of feathers and wings and such. I imagine just the opposite to be true…my guardian angel especially, must be covered with bumps, bruises and lacerations of all sorts…trying to keep me out of harm and mischief. When that same guardian angel gets to retire from my spiritual Secret Service detail…he will have earned his eternal reward.
We need to get back to some basics in Catholicism. Appreciating angels and acknowledging their special existence is something we should not take likely. People routinely invoke all sorts of things and people as spiritual lucky charms…I for one can say…forget the rabbit’s foot and count on an angel any day.
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