Angels As 'Mysterious Strangers': They Came To Saints In The Same Way As Today
By Michael H. Brown
Have you ever encountered a mysterious stranger? Let us know if you have. We're always interested in angel stories. They're uplifting, they're consoling, and they're true: the Bible tells us that.
Most interestingly, we learn that angels are not just winged spirits (like we see atop the yuletide tree). No; they come in all shapes and sizes and often as very handsome young people with eyes that are gelid and not of this world.
Such stories are available from a fine author named Joan Wester Anderson (she provides the "angel story of the week"), as well as others who have logged the countless encounters and miracles.
For those who question the goodness of such reports, we know from history that saints have described remarkably similar encounters. "A touching story of a guardian angel's protection of an innocent youth is related by the renowned Jesuit, Father Coret," says a little booklet called The Guardian Angels, Our Heavenly Companions. "One day in 1638, a young nobleman appeared at the monastery at noon and asked to see a certain priest. The priest came and, immediately upon seeing the stranger, received the impression that this was an angel. The heavenly appearance, the majestic bearing, and the angelic demeanor of the young man were most striking. His countenance was fair, his eyes exceedingly kind, his hair blond, his features mild and delicate."
As writers like Anderson will attest, such descriptions are virtually identical to those of our own time.
There are those eyes. There is the striking hair. There is the overwhelming feeling of well-being.
Angels are with us our whole lives. They watch over us even when we sin -- although, at such times, they may be constrained from protecting us. This is important: when we stray from God, we often handcuff our guardian angel. They whisper wisdom into our souls, and they protect us against demons. St. Meinrad related the protection of his angel against evil attacks, as did St. Padre Pio and St. Margaret of Cortona.
Think back at the many times in your life that you were in danger. What are the odds that you would have come through on your own? And did you ever wonder where your intuitions come from -- that sudden "knowing"? Have you experienced anxiety when you're doing something wrong?
These are often signs of an angel's guidance, and we do well to heed them. We also do well to ask our angels to fend off the devil. They're much more able than we are! They warn us. They admonish us. They send messages to us through dreams or friends or a good book. Because they can see a much larger reality, they can design who we meet and where we go. They cause us to have remorse. They even console us in purgatory.
Do we worship them? No. The Church tells us that. But we are foolish not to invoke them. "Make friendships with the angels," said the great Pope Leo XIII. In the acts of St. John of Avila, we learn that in 1585 a priest by the name of Centenares was awakened one stormy night and requested to take Communion to a dying person.
At first he hesitated, wanting to wait until morning (the night was especially dark), but his love of God triumphed over his fear and this brought to his assistance two heavenly youth, who suddenly appeared as he left the church. "They held burning candles, which were not extinguished by the falling rain, and accompanied the priest to the sick person and back again to the church," notes the booklet, which bears an imprimatur. "When he had placed the Sacred Host in the tabernacle, they vanished as suddenly as they had appeared."
What are our duties toward the angels? St. Bernard tells us we owe them our profound respect. We owe them our confidence. We owe them constant gratitude.
Do those three things, and odds are you'll begin to note a profound increase in your ability to know when they're around.
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