A Catholic women’s group once invited me to give a talk on angels. My first reaction was, Why angels when there are far weightier topics the Church should be concerned about today? The women’s request reflected our culture’s fascination with those mysterious creatures, a fascination that some would say borders on angelmania.
We are surrounded by angels in more ways than one. Their representations, ranging from muscular warriors to plump, rosy cherubs, are found just about everywhere. Statues of angels stand in mute adoration in churches, watch over our loved ones’ graves in cemeteries, and entice us in gift shops. Angels appear in paintings and on Christmas cards, posters, lapel pins, t-shirts, and magnets. A baseball team is named after them, and a long-playing television show was about people who were “touched by an angel.” There is even an Angels Collectors Club of America, whose newsletter is Halo Everybody. Its members collect and exchange items related to angels. The advent of the New Age movement, which embraces all strains of spirituality from traditional to fringe, further boosted the popularity of angels.
Soon after I was asked to speak about the angels, a curious thing happened. Two business friends invited me and my assistant, Sister Julie, out to dinner. One of them, Leo, proudly drove us to The Lobster Pot in his brand new white car. There we enjoyed a delicious meal and resisted the waiter’s urgings to indulge in dessert.
On returning to the car in the parking lot, we were dismayed to discover that the lights had been left on and the battery was dead. The manager of the restaurant came to our rescue. He moved his truck next to Leo’s car and attached jumper cables. Over and over Leo tried to start the car, to no avail. “Your car is too new,” the manager explained regretfully. “My cables don’t fit the battery terminals.” Still he kept trying.
Suddenly an inspiration struck. Because I had angels on the brain, I prayed to Leo’s guardian angel: “Leo is such a kind gentleman. This is embarrassing for him. Please help start his car.”
Instantly the engine turned over! We thanked the manager, who replied, “Next time have dessert!” A few days later Sister Julie and I did return for our dessert. Ever since that incident, my appreciation of the angels has been growing. To my surprise, here I am writing a book on angels!
Do you believe in angels? Many people do, but some are skeptical, and still others flatly deny they exist. Faith in angels varies just like faith in God. One theologian stated that there is really no evidence in Scripture to prove the existence of angels. Nevertheless he prays to his guardian angel every day.
The Catholic Companion to Angels offers an overview of what we know about angels from the Bible, what the Catholic Church teaches, and what some people (like the saints) think about them. Even if you have not yet had a personal experience of an angel, you might enjoy dipping into angelology—that is, the study of angels—by reading this book. I’m sure this would please your guardian angel! (See chapter 12 on guardian angels.) After reading this book, you might pass it on, perhaps to someone named Angel, Angela, Angelina, Michael, Michele, Gabrielle or Raphael.
Cardinal John Henry Newman observed, “Many a man can write and talk beautifully about them [angels], who is not at all better or nearer heaven for all his excellent words.” I hope I’m not included in the “many a man.” Instead, may writing my best about the angels bring me and all who read this book a step closer to them, to God and to heaven.
Has an angel ever “appeared” in your life?