29 July 2008

Angel of God

Vacation Bible School this year deals with St. Catherine Laboure, but also deals quite a bit with Guardian Angels, especially at the lower grades.

I think emphasizing Angels with young children is wonderful and the first prayer I teach my children is their Guardian Angel prayer. My son has learned about St. George and the Dragon, but also knows Spiderman, Superman and other super heros. I like to tell him that his Guardian Angel could kick butt on any of the comic book super heros. No matter how cool Spiderman may be, he's no match for a Guardian Angel.

In the time I spent in the Byzantine Catholic Church, it was frequently mentioned to me, since it was obvious I was a Roman Catholic, that the Church of the East was the "Church of Faith" and the Church of the West was the "Church of Rules." And, it was the priest that always pointed this out, kind of like the little brother tired of living in the shadow of his older brother. What he meant was, in his point of view, those not belonging to the Roman Rite took things on faith, where the Roman Catholic Church felt the need to spell things out with papal encyclicals and bulls before people would adopt them and believe in them. So much for all of us being Catholic.

One of the things I always took on faith was the role of the Guardian Angel. When I was younger, a good priest friend of my father's was a strong promoter of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, the work of the Holy Angels. He had affectionately named his Guardian Angel, Tyke. Tyke was blamed for a great number of mischievous things, although I doubt it was Tyke who hid Father's glasses, but rather it was Father himself who misplaced them. But, it was the way that Father gently and lovingly spoke of his Angel that made you feel that Tyke was a physical person that joined Father at meal time and was always playing practical jokes.

The Church has not dogmatically defined when our Guardian Angels are assigned to us. I take it on faith that it is the moment of conception. Saint Anselm has said that, "every soul is committed to an Angel when it is united to the body." However, St. Thomas, St. Jerome and other Fathers maintain it is at the time of birth, probably because "during the time of gestation the Guardian Angel of the mother could very well take care also of the unborn child she was carrying" (Beyond Space, p. 113).

I'm not a theologian, it will be challenging for me just to instruct my own children in the Faith, but I believe that a Guardian Angel begins his role at conception. That's when life begins. I doubt the Church Fathers and scholars could have imagined that a baby would be in serious danger within its mother's womb, but that's today's reality. I cannot fathom that God in His infinite mercy would not provide these children an angel to watch over them.

As a mother, I feel it deeply and personally that a Guardian Angel is present at conception. When I was so sick with my son during the pregnancy and couldn't sleep or eat, I prayed to my son's Guardian Angel, who I named John after the beloved disciple, to protect my son. My Guardian Angel was busy looking after me, but someone needed to protect my son while I was so ill. During this time, I felt my constant companions were my angel and my son's.

My daily offering is given to my Guardian Angel to take to the altar in Heaven. When I ask for intercession, my litany of intercessors always includes the Guardian Angels. I bring my Guardian Angel to Mass with me and envision him kneeling along side me. Like the Byzantines, I take this one on faith.


gemoftheocean said...

Great icon1

angie said...

I love this post Monica! And I absolutely think my children had their guardian angel assigned to them at conception. Have you read "Angel in the Waters"? My boys love that book, I think it helps them realize how real their guardian angel is.

swissmiss said...

The icon is from the Opus site I linked to.

Hi Angie!
Thanks. I haven't read the whole Angel in the Waters, not that it's long at all since it's a children's book, but have recommended it to several people. I think the author got this idea by talking to very young, but very articulate children about their experiences in utero and the children talked about an angel being with them. Is that right?

Have to run to VIRTUS training now...wish my Guardian Angel could go and just fill me in.

Ray from MN said...

Swissie: I'm placing my money on your kids. With a Mom like you, they're going to do just fine!

God bless you all.

Mairin :o) said...

This is a really beautiful post. The Guardian Angel prayer was the first prayer I taught my daughter, and husband, too, for that matter.

I'm with you. I believe that our Angel is assigned at conception. I often thank my Angel for watching over me, even though I know they do it for God's glory. Sometimes it must be a sucky and frustrating job.

swissmiss said...

Thanks Ray and mairin. I do think Guardian Angels have a rough go of it, enduring with us through all of our sins, seeing all we do and still having to remain with us. But, if we make it to Heaven, I think it's like child birth, they forget all the bad stuff and are happy for us.