Today many of us are celebrating angels announcing that Jesus was raised from dead and at Christmas we sing “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Angels are thought to blow trumpets and play harps, but do they really? Who are angels and what do we really know about them?
Photo credit: Deannart
We know they are not hard to find…and I don’t mean those “angels” of friends, coworkers, and family members or real angels from heaven. I’m talking the plethora of angel depictions ready to be scooped up by shoppers and collectors the world over. Step into any Hobby Lobby (and thank you for closing on Sundays BTW), Target, or fine art gallery and you’re sure to find angels emblazoned on everything from canvases to coffee mugs, including beautiful ones painted by Franklin, Tennessee artist Deann Hebert. Society is definitely fascinated by these heavenly beings, but why?
I can’t answer that question, other than perhaps we are all in search of good and protection, something angels are and provide. The word “angel” comes from the Greek “angelos,” meaning messenger, which so accurately describes who they are: God’s messengers.
Still, even though they are often drawn and depicted with wings and halos, they are believed to have no physical form so we don’t really know what angels look like regardless of all those paintings and drawings we come across. What we do know is that angels are spiritual beings created by God to do His will. They are God’s messengers and ministers of His mercy and compassion. Immortal beings, angels have appeared to humans as apparitions with a human form. They are not, however, souls of the faithful departed and when we die and get to heaven, we don’t become angels. I guess we don’t truly “earn our wings” after all.
Angels can be found throughout the bible, with today’s Easter story being one of more famous accounts of angelic intervention. Others include an angel announcing the Christ child’s birth to the shepherds on Christmas and the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and telling her she will bear the Messiah. If you have a nativity you display at Christmas, it most definitely has an angel up top.
Gabriel isn’t the only angel known by name, as both Michael and Raphael are mentioned by name in scripture. They are called archangels because of their important roles in God’s plan. St. Michael, whose name means, “one who is like God” and who has a loyal and ardent following, led an army of angels against the devil and is portrayed holding an armored shield and sword ready to defend us in battle.
Without going into too much biblical detail, I will also add two other often somewhat well-known angels part of the nine choirs or types of angels identified in the Bible: the seraphim and the cherubim. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the cherubim guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden, while angels protected Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorrah, and an angel promised Moses the protection of the people on their way to the Promised Land. Psalm 91:11 is a favorite of mine in that it says, “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I paraphrase and refer to this scripture regularly, especially when someone I love is travelling as I ask God to “put your angels around her/him/them” and get whoever it is safely to their destination. I just did this today when my daughter left to return home after visiting for Easter.
There are also angels in Revelation and in Matthew 24:31-35, it is written that “He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
In the meantime, each and every one of us has a Guardian Angel assigned to just us. The photo above is one seen in millions of homes and its accompanying prayer was one of the very first ones I ever learned. Our Guardian Angels are God’s ambassadors to help us avoid sin and evil, keep us in a state of grace, and get us to heaven. From the very beginning of your existence, your Guardian Angel has been concerned about you and working for you and upon death, the angel will present your soul and plead your case. If your ask your Guardian Angel for help, he or she will help you. (That’s another thing, angels are often thought to be female, but that’s not the case.) Think of them as a friend who you can’t really see but if you listen with your heart, you just might hear wise words of wisdom and direction.
Too deep and too much to handle? Pray about it and ask your Guardian Angel for help!
Trust me, I’d always heard about Guardian Angels but never really looked into the subject until I did a bible study on them. I was amazed to learn that everyone has their own personal Guardian Angel and that there are Guardian Angels for all kinds of occupations, places, and ages. What an awesome thing, right? I just love the idea that an angel is there to defend me, inspire me, protect me, warn me, hear me, and console me. I also love that my angel prays with me and for me and is pretty much my personal rep to God. And I don’t need an app for that or have to press 1 for help.
In turn though, I have responsibilities and duties toward my angel. I must always remember I am in the presence of my Guardian Angel and act accordingly, both in thoughts and actions. I fail at this daily, but again, my angel is there to hear me and continue working overtime to guide me. I love the suggestion of every morning upon waking up, greeting my angel, and asking for continued prayer and protection. At bedtime, it’s time to thank my Guardian Angel for another day of shelter and safeguarding.
There are other ways to honor your Guardian Angel, including on Tuesdays, which are dedicated to Holy Angels; as well as October 2, the Feast Day of Guardian Angels; and September 29, the Feast of the Archangels. How ‘bout every Tuesday you take the time to honor your Guardian Angel and ask for specific guidance?
All four gospels write that the angels announcing Jesus’ resurrection were clothed in white or dazzling garments, sometimes “white as snow” dress and brilliant robes. This is probably how many of you picture angels, more so than any chubby cherub or harp-playing flying being. Still, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that Jesus rose from the dead. How do we know? A little angel told us.
Happy Easter everyone!