Tag Archive | "angels"

Do Angels Exist?

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Born into the Roman Catholic faith, I was taught by the nuns that angels exist.  In the thick of The Cold War, when my classmates and I were drilled to drive beneath our desks in case of an air raid (as if that would help), the Catholic Church may have believed it was assuaging the fears of its youngest practitioners by encouraging our belief in angels.


A guardian angel was said to be assigned, by God, to every single child from the moment of his or her birth until the moment of his or her death.  The angels, of a specific race more powerful than humans, were said to cast ever-watchful eyes upon their charges in order to keep them from harm.  As a child, I accepted this concept and talked regularly to my guardian angel, who never spoke back (some kids have imaginary friends; I had a tall, robed, beneficent winged being).  I was even sure that my angel had pulled my little butt out of harm’s way a few times.


But as an adult, I questioned the reality of angels.  In truth, I had learned to question everything that the masses followed like lemmings to the sea, from organized religion to musical artists.  In the early to mid 1990’s, angels suddenly became not only mainstream, but also downright fashionable.  Like a pair of shoes from the trendiest of designers, everyone simply had to have one!  Talk shows, magazines, books, seminars, and retail shops were flooded with all manner of angel stories and angel merchandise.  Suddenly, everyone seemed to be having meaningful encounters with angels; everyone but me, that is.  I rolled my eyes and thought, “Yeah, right.”   I hadn’t spoken with my own angel in decades, and for all I knew, he’d caught, in the words of Don McLean, “the last train for the Coast.”


I suppose my angel had a sense of humor, albeit one bordering on ultraviolet, appropriately matching my own, for he humored my doubt.  He’d not only intervened in a few instances in which I came to think of him as my “glass angel,” he also shook a few memories out of me that made me realize he had to have been around me all along, even when I’d dismissed him as nothing more than a trendy figure.

 

When I was 12 years old, I fell through the glass door at the front of my house.  I’d tripped on a long, antique, runner-type carpet that my grandfather loved and that my father was always threatening to rip up “before someone trips and gets seriously hurt.”  Well, I tripped, all right.  I went through the door, whose glass completely shattered — and emerged with my eyesight and limbs fully intact.  Only the tiniest of scratches on my hands, too tiny to require treating, bore the evidence of how my angel had snatched me out of the line of fire.


A few years later, as I was getting ready for my best friend’s Sweet Sixteen party, a light bulb exploded in my face.  It was an accident, a loud and scary one.  I thought I’d swept up all the pieces of glass, but I was wrong.  I’d missed one, very critical shard.


Never will I forget the cream eye shadow I’d applied, after sweeping up, for my friend’s party.  It was made by Avon® and came in two little tubes.  My finger slid the soft amethyst color over my eyelid and then began to swipe the pale shimmering pink color just beneath my brow bone.  Here’s why I remember those cosmetics in such detail, right down to the exact hues.  Had the eye shadow been powder and not cream, it would not have adhered to and lifted the tiny shard of broken glass from under my brow; it may have fallen directly into my eye, blinding me or at least, injuring me badly.


Many years later, after I was married, I was shopping in my neighborhood on a lovely Spring day and had just — and by “just,” I mean, by seconds — passed a little store with a crystal clear glass display window.  No one had been near that window other than me, and all I’d done was walk by it.  For no apparent reason, the glass exploded — outward.  The proprietor, his assistant, and their two customers ran toward the front of the store, shocked and dismayed, questioning aloud how such a thing could have happened.  With the heart pounding in my chest and totally unscathed, I slid my eyes to the right and left, hoping for a glimpse of my angel, a flutter of wings or a small breeze as he flew over my shoulder.  There was no flurry and there was no breeze, but I knew that he’d somehow held that glass together until the very moment that I’d safely passed.


In another incident, I’d been about to jaywalk at a busy intersection: an everyday pastime for us native New Yorkers who play chicken, on foot, with the cabbies and other vehicular traffic.   With no cars close to the traffic light, I was about to cross against the light when a voice in my head insisted, “Get back on the sidewalk, NOW!”


I’d assumed it was my guilty conscience speaking, as my mother had always warned me not to stand in the street to wait for the light to change.  I stepped back onto the curb and took two steps backward.  The very minute that I did, two cars barreled down upon each other from out of nowhere and collided violently right under my nose.  Metal twisted, screams ensued, and glass flew everywhere.  Stunned into silence, I saw that I was standing safe, somehow, inside a circle of shattered glass.


The most dramatic demonstration my glass angel has performed to date occurred on the morning when my youngest kitty, Kallie, shoved a glass-framed print right off my wall.  She liked to do this to all of the pictures in the house; she was amused by the swinging objects, and no amount of chiding broke her of this habit.  On the morning in question, I heard a terrible crash followed by a frightened meow.  Adrenalin sent me flying through the house where I saw, with horror, the aftermath of Kallie’s prank.


On the wall where the picture had hung was the nail that had held it and three pieces of the black metal frame, hanging like a gaping mouth.   Where had the glass landed and would I get to it in time before my curious kitty, and her equally curious sister, could carve up their tender little paws on it?!?


The blood slowed in my veins as I beheld the glass, perfectly intact and carefully placed, as if by human hands, against the wall in my foyer.  The glass had fallen down a full level of my house and had come to land with its base against the hard tiled floor, angled just so against the wall.  The picture was placed right in line next to it, just as carefully — again, as if by human hands.  A million to one, I breathed to myself, calculating the odds of this being nothing more than a coincidence.  Convinced that there had to have been glass chips on the floor, from the panel’s edges, and that I would not see them as they were transparent, I ran my hand slowly and cautiously along all four edges of the glass.  All four edges were completely intact.  The only other human in the house had been my husband, who’d been sleeping while this had happened.


Relaying the story to him afterward, he nodded to the spot where Kallie had shoved the picture off the wall.  Her sister, Gremlin, was standing atop the piece of furniture beneath where the picture had hung.  “She’s looking at where it used to hang,” my husband pointed out.  “Uh-uh,” I argued.  “Take a good look at her line of vision.  The nail is still there and she’s not looking at it.  She’s looking at a spot well above the nail.  Places hold energy,” I added pregnantly.  “Something came into this house not of this world, something that protected our kitties.”


“Cut it out,” he said, “you’re making me nervous!”


Does the thought of something benign and otherworldly, sitting on your shoulder, make you nervous.  Or do you embrace and give thanks for your angel?


Related Post:  The Messengers 

The Messengers

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Angels

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus . . . ” (Luke 1:30)

 

With those words from the angel Gabriel, the lives of a peasant girl from Galilee and of all succeeding generations of mankind were changed forever.  While most of us are familiar with the message, what of the messenger?  The angel Gabriel, to my knowledge, is mentioned only twice in the Bible, in the books of Daniel in the Old Testament and Luke in the New Testament.

 

In Scripture, the Hebrew word for angel means “one going” or “one sent.”  In short, they are God’s messengers.  Angels usually appear at a momentous occasion bearing important information or providing critical assistance.

 

What are we to make, however, of the trials of everyday life?  Are there no angels to support or guide us?  In the Biblical sense, the answer would have to be “no.”  But are there, nonetheless, angelic spirits to guide us?

 

On a frigid winter’s day in 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office as the 35th President of the United States.  The concluding words of his stirring Inaugural Address resonate with me to this day: “. . .here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

 

If angels perform the important missions for God, who is the messenger of the mundane, the emissary of the everyday?  In the eyes of those around you, you may glimpse the soul of an angel. 

Angels on Our Shoulders

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Angels on Our Shoulders

It seems that the age of miracles never ends.  Every day we hear the word “miracle” used to explain otherwise unexplainable circumstances.  Recently, we had a “Miracle on the Hudson River.”  Was it a miracle or was it skilled flying techniques that saved the lives of the passengers and flight crew aboard U S Airways Flight 1549?  While many of the passengers were convinced that the hand of God had touched them, some others believed that things worked out in the passengers’ favor as they were “just lucky.”  Was it luck or was it something else?  Even the Catholic Church investigates every facet of an event before declaring it a miracle.

 

Along with miracles come guardian angels who help perform these wonders.  According to tradition, every human being has a guardian angel protecting him from harm.  Many people have had life-threatening experiences and came away unscathed.  Was it luck, or do angels really exist?

 

I, for one, believe in miracles.  In 1945, while I was training to be an infantry replacement, the Battle of the Bulge was raging in Europe.  My mother prayed fervently for my safety, and before I shipped off to Europe, the war in Germany ended.  In August of 1945, I was in the Pacific Ocean on a troop ship heading for the Invasion of Japan when the Captain of the ship announced the surrender of the Japanese to the Allied Forces.  Did my mother’s prayers to Divine beings save me twice, or was it luck?

 

As a result of things uttered by officers and troops during World War II battles, many sayings were incorporated into the American vernacular, including “Loose lips sink ships,” “Was this trip necessary?” and, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  However, many other things were said during this bloody, four-year conflict, including countless Hail Mary’s and other prayers to Jesus, God, and saints.

 

So, do I believe in “Angels on our shoulders?”  You bet I do.  They kept me from becoming a casualty of war, permitting me – at the age of 82 – to write this article today. 

Leap of Faith

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leap-of-faith

Have you ever thought that you had a guardian angel?  If so, maybe you came to think about that angel, or perhaps a stroke of great good luck sent your way, when you have narrowly missed having an accident.  Or perhaps it was something not as dramatic as a near-accident; maybe it was something simpler, such as running late for a very important appointment and suddenly finding that “magic” parking spot opening up right in front of you.  In your mind, you may have said a word of thanks to the being watching over you.

 

Suppose it wasn’t an actual being at all?  And suppose it was not a stroke of luck, but your own sixth sense, your own intuition guiding you away from harm or opening a door for you onto a wonderful new journey?  If you have ever followed your instincts, even under circumstances that may have appeared inopportune, you have taken a leap of faith.

 

My own first such leap occurred when I left my parents’ home to strike out on my own.  Behind me, I left my comfortable life; in fact, the only life I had ever known growing up in a home with my parents and sisters in a small town that was itself my second home.  I had not planned to do this, but the opportunity presented itself and so, I took that leap of faith.  It happened like this.

 

One year, when my sister came home on military leave, she invited our youngest sister to come to her place for a short summer visit before that little sister set off for college.  As that same little sister had a summer job, she could not take our other sister up on the invitation.  When I’d asked my sister who was in the armed forces if I could come instead, she said yes at once, and that is how I wound up leaving our small community for a bigger city.  Although I was quite nervous at first about venturing out into this unknown section of the world, the thought of my sister in the military gave me courage.  There she was, beginning to travel and see the world, and there I was, never having taken a step beyond my comfort zone.

 

Within a few days of determining to go to the big city, I gave notice at my job and packed up my most important possessions.  The items that were not essential went into storage, so that my brother would be free to use my old room. My dad was a bit surprised by this; he had assumed that I would contract a bout of homesickness and return fairly quickly.  But I was determined.  Packing up my non-essentials to put into storage was, in and of itself, a leap of faith: I was confident that I would not be returning home anytime soon.  And so, I said my goodbyes and off I went with my sister, the soldier.

 

As we were leaving Illinois to head toward Virginia, she made that leg of the trip into an adventure for us.  Instead of heading straight to our destination, we took a detour through Kentucky, where my dad had spent his childhood and where we had once lived as small children.  But once that great little adventure was over and we “landed,” reality set in.  I would have to find a job and adjust to a new way of life in unfamiliar surroundings.  I must have driven my poor sister crazy at times, especially when I started dating.   She did, however, enjoy one perk with me as her roommate, since I enjoyed cooking and she was not fond of spending time in the kitchen.  I often wonder if she’d had any regrets, but we weathered our period of adjustment.  I stayed with her for nearly three years until I took my second leap of faith, the one that would impact me for the rest of my life.

 

One of my co-workers had introduced me to a nice young man, interestingly enough (as you will soon see), on Valentine’s Day!  The calendar date was February 14th.  We then went out again the following week.  After dating a few more times, he proposed to me the following month.  In April of that same year, we were married.  Talk about a whirlwind romance!  Truth to tell, when he had proposed, I did not give it much thought. I just spoke from the heart when I said, “Yes!”  Trust me, I wasn’t blinded by the diamond in the ring he’d bought, because it was not that big.  Nineteen years after I took that huge leap of faith, my husband and I are still happily married!

 

So, if your gut or her heart tells you, “This is what you want” and your mind is not quite made up, or maybe you are afraid of making the wrong choice, you have to forget all of your doubts.  You just have to leap and hope that your landing is a soft one.

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