DAILY CATHOLIC   FRI-SAT-SUN   October 2-4, 1998   vol. 9, no. 193


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We need His "Garden Angels!"

          As a toddler this editor was always taught about one's Guardian Angel which was so important and part and parcel of life as a cradle Catholic. Only in this decade have angels taken on the prominence they have always enjoyed in the Catholic Church. When one is young we often mispronounce words and our concept is often different than what our parents or teachers are trying to advocate. A good example is the National Anthem. Many interpret the words differently as naieve youngsters question "Who's Jose and why can't he see?" Another example is the Our Father where many youths might wonder where the Father is if He's not in Heaven ("Our Father who aren't in Heaven.") or in the Hail Mary why did Our Lady drink so much wine? That's because they say "Hail Mary, full of grapes." Or they'll slip and say "...Blessed is the fruit of thy wound Jesus" We know Our Lady is the Sorrowful Mother, but the wounds she received were not inflicted by her Divine Son but because of those inflicted against Him. But neither Jesus or Mary are upset when they hear these words uttered by the little ones for though they may mispronounce the words and meaning of the prayer, at least they're praying. Another example that even adults slur over is the beginning of the Act of Contrition when we say "Oh, my God I'm hardly sorry." We all know it's "heartily" and so does God for again, it's what's in the heart that counts, not the lips. This brings us to the fact that for years this editor always referred to the "Guardian Angels" as "Garden Angels." No wonder we had so many beautiful flowers and such ripe vegetables in our back yard. With the Garden Angels watching over the flora how could it not produce the most gorgeous blossoms and prize-winning tomatoes and strawberries? Since we were taught that we needed to till our souls, weed out sin and produce the fruits of good deeds it only prolonged the concept of Garden Angels. It wasn't until the early years of schooling at Assumption School in Richfield, Minnesota when good Sister Honorata spelled out the difference between "Guardian" and "Garden" through the good Baltimore Catechism that the error of this editor's ways was corrected. Yet we always clung to that concept of "Garden Angels" because of the images they conjure up for they truly are God's "farmers" tilling souls and around-the-clock observance of the finite crop they have been entrusted with by the Infinite. This idea takes on even more vividness when one visits the inspiring Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri, the same town where this editor spent six of his formative years with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Our Lady of the Ozarks Seminary there. The originator of those thousands of precious Precious Moments characters depicted on calendars, coffee mugs, figurines, what have you is Sam Butcher, a religious family man who dedicated his talents to furthering how we are all God's children by depicting each person as a winsome child full of innocence. This is evident on the Sistine Chapel-like wall at the tourist chapel in southwest Carthage where countless child-like Guardian Angels are illustrated working overtime trying desperately to protect their subjects on this vast tableau. Whether clinging to a branch, holding a flashlight, carting a first-aid kit, or whatever the one constant is that those Guardian Cherubs are there to help us.

          How much help do we give them? How often do we just take them for granted? The answers are not as much as we should and too often. One way to improve this is to get to know our Guardian Angel. We can't fathom the size of these Heavenly spirits. Some say they are huge; in fact, most NBA centers and NFL linemen would be considered wimps compared to one's Guardian Angel. One of the best ways to get to know your Guardian Angel is to give him or her a name. First of all, there is no gender with angels so referring to them as he or she is merely a better way of identifying them from our finite mind-set. Often times the best way to know them is to go in silent prayer before the Tabernacle. Even if there is no other person in the church or chapel, you won't be alone for there are hundreds of angelic beings present perpetually adoring Jesus present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist - the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. None of those angels are slouching or fidgeting, none are looking at their watches, none are distracted if someone else enters or begins talking, none are prone to daydream or nod off for they are devoting all their time to giving undivided worship to the Triune Divinity. So if they're so intent on this wonderful exercise, how can they be guarding us at the same time? They're not because they are different than the Guardian Angels. There are nine levels of Angels, the highest Choir being the Virtues then Powers then Principalities. Then there is the next set of Choirs of Angels four through six - Dominations and then Thrones and then Cherubims. The latter, along with the seventh level of Seraphims are the adoring angels we speak of above. That leaves the eighth level which are the Archangels whose feast we celebrated just a few days ago. The lowest level on the rung, if you will, are the Guardian Angels. Though they are ninth on the ladder they are anything but last or least for God has placed them on this level so they could be closer to His creation of mankind. That in itself has to be one of the highest honors bestowed on these angels!

          Remember we mentioned the best way to get to know your Guardian Angel better was to go in silent prayer before the Tabernacle. There pray to your guardian and see if, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, his or her name is not imprinted on your heart. That is how we discovered each Guardian Angel's name for our family; Joseph is Cyndi's gentle Guardian Angel, Pax is the name for our oldest son's Guardian Angel - meaning "peace" and our youngest son's is Lumen for "light." This editor's Guardian Angel is Zacharriah. I affectionately call him "Zach" and he's with me at every turn, especially when driving or hammering away at the ol' computer keyboard. Our family has also been blessed over the years with another angel assigned to us. He is affectionately known as Alfred and this mischievous winged-one is a Cherubim who divides his time between adoring Jesus in the Tabernacle and staying in our home. He loves to play tricks on us, hiding things from us and then, voila they turn up where we just looked. We kid you not, we'll swear on the bible that this has happened so often we have come to expect it. While he is somewhat of a practical joker, there is a method to his madness. You see, whenever we lose something or he turns an appliance such as a radio or TV or phone machine on without any human help, we know he's trying to tell us something, trying to remind us to keep our eyes and hearts focused on God. Just the other day we were sittting in the office and out of the blue the tape machine, where we tape the Monthly Message from Medjugorje so callers can receive it 24-hours a day, came on loud and clear. We both had turned it on mute because it would be going on continuously throughout the day and night. But to our surprise there was the message blaring out loud and clear. Once we both realized no one had unmuted the button we knew it was Alfred or "Alfie" as this editor likes to refer to him (though we understand he's not too fond of the nickname) and the reasoning was so we would once again truly listen and discern what Our Lady was saying in her September Message. There are so many documented accounts of Alfred's shenanigans that shine toward bringing us closer to God that it has become commonplace for our family. But not becoming routine is the purpose why we've been gifted with this spunky angel. And if you truly think about it, it's very possible you too could have an "Alfred" in your home and not even know it! Don't underestimate God's ingenuity and how he utilizes his Heavenly subjects to help His children on earth. This globe is one fertile plot for nurturing the seeds of mankind, as they grow into buds to hopefully blossom into grace-filled bouquets and life-giving nourishment. For that to happen we can't do it by ourselves. We need His "Garden Angels!"

Michael Cain, editor