Holy Guardian Angels
I like following the Catholic lectionary (daily readings) that is provided by my Benedictine monastery. This series of readings is neat for me, since it allows me to be connected to the monastic community without having to go every day to a monastery. It enables me to know what Psalms and other scriptural readings my friends, the monks, are doing at various times of the day. I know their day is structured around the various worship times throughout the day. I probably could do a better job of structuring my day, but I don’t.
Of course, my day is structured. Since I still am teaching, my day becomes structured around the various classes I am teaching. Sometimes structure comes in the form of committees and other regular commitments I have made. My life also has other kinds of haphazard structure. I might have a special meeting called at the last minute. I might have some lunches scheduled. But there is no built-in commitment to some spiritual work.
This may seem odd for one who teaches Religion classes. But that’s the way it is. Even though I teach some religion and spirituality, there is no expectation that I am religious or spiritual. In fact, I probably could be an atheist and still teach what I teach! I am sure there are others in my university teaching things they may or may not believe. For example, a history colleague could teach about the Nazi era, but not be a Nazi.
There are times I wish I were more structured with respect to my own spiritual times. Of course, I could do a better job. It is up to me. Therefore, it is my problem if I don’t do it. That is why I like the Benedictine lectionary. At least, it helps me know what I can do and it helps knowing what others are doing.
Today I opened the link to the lectionary and discovered it is the Holy Guardian Angels feast day. That caused this Quaker to laugh out loud. I am used to the lectionary telling me it is some special day for a special saint. I like borrowing the Catholic saints. But today is Holy Guardian Angels saint day. What am I going to do with this one?
Even in the Catholic Church, it has never been an official doctrine that everyone must believe that all people have a guardian angel. I know there is some precedent in both the Old and New Testaments for the idea of guardian angels. I realize it is fairly easy to write off this notion as some kind of primitive folk belief that no sane 21st scientific person would give one-minute consideration. But I was intrigued.
Do I think there is some little cherubic, winged figure flying around in the universe somewhere who drew my name and whose job it is to look out for me? Not really. Part of me thinks it might be nice to have some sort of cosmic angelic bellhop looking out for my welfare. I would welcome an angelic lookout for danger, which might come my way. I am ok with some angelic-like maid who goes around making my life better and easier.
So it is easy to poke a little fun at this kind of magical, make-believe angelic entity. Disdain and dismiss is the scientific approach. Angels do not fit in my worldview. They are silly and immature thinking. We are to grow up and realize we are on our own in this trying, sometimes cruel, world. It is easy to assume that we are on our own. No one and no angel really care. Good luck and get on with it.
However, that dismissive attitude sometimes closes me off to a deeper reality. Perhaps angels do exist and do serve me in some ways. The problem is not the existence of angels, but rather with my image and perspective of angels. I agree that I don’t really think there are winged, cupid-like angelic beings flying around our world. At least, I have never seen one. But that does not mean angels don’t exist.
At a deep level, I know angels exist. I know exactly what angels look like and how they sound. In many ways I can tell you precisely what angels do---at least, what they have done for me. An angel is someone who is a messenger (the literal meaning of the Greek word for angel). An angel brings messages to us to affirm us, to encourage us and, sometimes, to warn us.
I have had guardian angels in my life. They have helped me discover myself spiritually. They have spent time and money to make me who I am. Most of them I have known. They have been friends, teachers and mentors. These angels have given me insight, advice and hope. Sometimes they hoped for me when I had little hope. They saw divine possibilities in me when I was not sure of the Divinity or of possibilities.
Because I somehow knew they were doing God’s work on me and for me, they were thereby holy. They were Holy Guardian Angels. In the end I am surprised how much I know about this topic---Holy Guardian Angels. I know I have had many---thanks be to God. Now perhaps I am beginning to figure out that I should also become a guardian angel…maybe even a holy guardian angel. Then this could be my feast day, too. It can be a feast day for me to help someone else make a difference.