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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Devotion to the Holy Angels

I have long had a devotion to the Angels, having been introduced to my Guardian Angel at a young age thanks to my dear mother.

Feathers for Children

We used to lie in bed on lazy afternoons, reaching upwards towards the ceiling, I on my mother's left, my brother on her right. Our image of angels were of beings that looked like us, but invisible, and with beautiful wings. Mom explained that they were flying over our heads, and if we raised our hands above us, we could feel the feathery tips as they passed over, constantly revolving in their acts of protection.

It's one of my favorite memories of childhood; holding my fingers upward while lying in bed, sometimes feeling a breeze against my fingertips, while my brother cried out that he had touched a feather. Mom smiled, praising my brother as I tried to stretch upwards even further, not wanting to sit up in order to reach them, asking my Angel to fly a little lower so I could touch his wing, desperately wanting to have the same experience as my brother.

Then I would cry, because the closest I could get was a little breeze, which might have been just a random draft, or maybe a flap of his wing. I was too little, I thought, and in my littleness, I couldn't reach the dear angels, whom I loved so dearly! And then Mom, seeing my tears, would comfort me and say they were only pretending, and even my brother, in a moment of sincere big-brotherhood, would admit he was pretending, too, and he couldn't feel their wings, either.

But a part of me still believes, even as I know angels are pure spirit, and don't fly overhead, that they did generate the breezes that caressed my tiny fingers, and that maybe my brother and my mother DID experience the sensation of feathers against their fingertips, held aloft in a moment of imagination, truly reaching upwards to God through His beautiful servants, our Guardians.

Our Fierce Protectors

Have you ever read the description of the Angels in the Bible? The term "Angel" really describes a role, as opposed to who they are. Maybe we adopt the term because, as humans, what we are is what we use to describe us. Angels are more insubstantial; they fulfill many roles, and collectively, we call these beings by one name even though they carry out different facets of the Will of God.

Have you read of the description of the Cherubim or the Seraphim? Have you taken in how fierce they are, how they worship Our Lord continually, how they do His will so perfectly?

And yet, they are so gentle that Abba gives them to the tiniest of children, entrusting such souls to their care. Guardian Angels can come from any one of the heirarchies of Angels...and each of them is fierce in their love for God, and their love for God's adopted children.

Naming One's Angel

I have read many things about naming one's Guardian Angel, and some of those articles seem quite convincing. There are many anecdotes about how people pray for a name, and it comes. (What's amazing to me is how many times those names are "Michael")

I used to pray to know my Angel's name, but then I read further, and found that, in spiritual warfare, names are important. Names are powerful, and the names of Angels...unpronounceable. All we could discern are derivatives. We must also remember the Fallen Angels, those demons that seek to steal us away from God, and those demons also have names. In an exorcism, the Exorcist asks for the name of the demon; that name can give the exorcist power over it...or, in the case of the unprepared...the power of the demon over the soul. Imagine, if you will, that you pray for the name of your Angel, and a Fallen Angel offers his name? Thus, when you pray, you pray to the name of the demon, entrusting yourself to it. And it chuckles, realizing that it now has you in it's power, freely given by you.

Names are important. Names have power.

We are not meant to know the names of our Holy Angels, those sweet Guardians. They remain nameless so that greater Glory can be given to God. Angels are humility nearly personified, remaining anonymous (but for those revealed in Sacred Scripture or Tradition), while those who give their names are seeking glory through their own pride.

If you pray, then, for a name to your Angel and there is a response, question the response...for who is being glorified when you call that name? How many have as their personal protector the Archangel Michael? How many have as a personal protector the Archangel Raphael?

How many people who claim to be reincarnated claim famous people as their own incarnation?

Do not those Angels, the ones named in Scripture, already have assignments? Any Saint or Angel can certainly be a special Patron, but our Guardian Angels are ours alone, assigned specifically to us, individually. Their names can't be known.

We as human beings are weak in the realm of the spirit, and we must trust the Our Lord and the Church to guide us. Certainly it is possible that our Guardian Angels might reveal their names to us, but I find it safer to follow the advice of recognized Exorcists to allow our Guardians to remain nameless so that we may call upon their Mission, not their name, in order to avoid calling upon the Nemesis.

It is important for us to recognize our Angels, but we can do this by using the mind of God, of remembering the virtue of Humility, and leaning on our Angels as we learn this foundational virtue.

I used to ask for my Angel's name...now I just pray to him, calling upon his title, for we are comfortable enough with one another that his name is not important; it is his function and subsequent relationship with me that glorifies God.

Our ways are not God's ways, and even if we do not understand His mysteries, we are bound to follow them. I thank God for my dear Angel, and look forward to finally learning his name, one day, when he finally carries me to the Father's eternal embrace.

9 comments:

Melody said...

I agree that it is impossible to know an angel's name(the one that God gave him or her), and if we knew it we couldn't pronounce it. However, consider how most of us have more than one name, and that these names have different functions. I have a first, middle, maiden, and married name. Also a Confirmation name, and a nickname. I chose the Confirmation name. My parents gave me my first and middle name. My married name identifies me legally. The nickname is what my husband, siblings, and close friends call me. I think the names we give our Guardian Angels are more like a nickname. If it helps me call for help when I need it, and to remember my angel's presence, I think it is okay to use it. I and my angel both know who I am calling on. And I can still look forward in the next life to learning the name God gave my angel.

Adoro te Devote said...

Melody ~ I've heard that argument as well. But in reading what Exorcists have to say...I'm not willing to tread upon the ground of naming an Angel. I may choose a name for myself (ie Confirmation), or take another name in marriage or religious life...but it's a name ultimately chosen by God...not by me.

I can call upon my Guardian Angel, and both he and I know I am calling upon him, and not another. We don't need to reduce the dignity of the Angels by "nicknames" to satisfy our own sensate needs. To do so is dangerous...for who might have actually chosen those "nicknames" we think we thought up on our own?

A confirmation name tends to be affirmed...no one can affirm the name of our Angel.

I'll defer to those who know more than I and all of us in spiritual warfare...let our Angels go unnamed, for we don't need names to call upon them for help.

Melody said...

Adoro, points well taken.
Another thought that has occurred to me is that perhaps we all have a name given us by God; not to be learned until we meet Him in the next life.

Mark said...

The New Age movement is very keen on naming angels. They produce rather creepy packs of Tarot-style "angel cards" containing a whole host of named angels. They seem to get the "names" of these angels through the occult and highly dangerous process of "channelling".

As regards naming one's Guardian Angel, I'd be concerned by anything that, however innocently, verged anywhere near the dangerous New Age practice of "channelling" angels, and I think Adoro's definitely right when she says that the best approach is simpy to address one's Guardian Angel as "my Guardian Angel".

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I happen to agree, i don't want to know my GA's name (Guardian Angel)...A little mystery in life didn't hurt anyone.

What is interesting is that you talked about the Angels whose names we do know. You're absolutely right, they had an assignment specifically to be carried out by them. Names are important.

Now...to learn the guardian angel prayer in Latin :)

Anonymous said...

I have known people influenced by New Age who pretend to be able to find out their Guardian Angel's name. It is "of course" a Hebrew name...
Since I am French speaking, I sometimes do give my GA a name: "Dieudonné" which means Given by God, surely not a "bad" angel! :-) That way, I also give thanks to God for having given me this protector and guide.
Elise B.

Melody said...

Elise, it makes sense to me!

Anonymous said...

Dear Adoro,

Interesting stuff. I have never given a name to my Guardian Angel. I do ask my Guardian Angel to greet other Guardian Angels when I see or read of another person who is in trouble. I say the Guardian Angel prayer when I hear of someone being in trouble.

Pax,

Katie

Mike T said...

Very interesting childhood story.
I have heard sermons about the need to "outgrow the faith of an 8-year old," but I believe that for many of us, that is a misrepresentation of the healthy maturation of faith. As the bud on a rose bush shapes the destiny of the future flower, our early childhood experiences of reverence frequently provide us as adults with perhaps our most reliable guidance on the path to genuine piety.