By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
Last Tuesday in my radio program Pinagpalang Bayan ng Diyos (109.8 AM, 9-10am) I discussed angels since on that day, the 29th, we celebrated the Feast of the Archangels and on Thursday, Oct 1, I talked about our Guardian Angels.
One of the consoling truths of our faith is that the Lord has assigned powerful spirit beings to protect us throughout our life, not only when we are young children, for in the eyes of God we are always His children. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC 336 as quoted in Anawim). Thus the primary work of the angels is not to protect us physically – though they often do exactly that – but to lead us in our journey toward eternal life, our life journey of holiness. Our angels want us to share in their joy, the joy of being entirely filled with divine life and love.
I reflected on the existence of angels as spirit-persons and how they can appear in our lives even though we may not recognize them as our angels. An angel in disguise may be anyone who lends a helping hand, who listens to our crying and comforts us, who helps us make important decisions, who enables us to reach out to those in need, who helps us smile no matter what happens, who opens our hearts to love.
We can encounter angels in many ways. Let me share a few experiences with angels.
At the 2010 NAC in Davao, three months after a major spinal operation, angels cushioned my fall off a high step so I didn’t wrench my back. I only had two stitches over one eye, no concussion although I fell flat onto a concrete surface, face first. Despite the fall I was able to give my talk the next morning to the BCBP women.
Beth Ginete, BCBP Makati, shares her recent experience with an angel while they were in Bangkok. She said “Late one night last Sunday, we couldn’t get a taxi or any way to go back to our hotel. We prayed to our angels to help us. From the dark street, a nice Thai lady approached us and asked us if we needed anything. We just wanted directions but she offered to even bring us to our hotel directly!! Whether she was Catholic or not, we told her she was God-sent and our angel!”
I am sure that many of us have felt and/or seen angels during our BCBP assemblies, and most especially, by the participants and leaders during the BCLP Baptism in the Spirit pray-overs.
One time on a silencing retreat at Lake Balanan, NegOr, Ruth, our daughter, and I, during my prayer time on the balcony overlooking the lake, a little bird came and perched on a branch in front of us, looked right at us and sang joyfully for probably 5-10 minutes. The joyfulness of that little bird’s song reassured us that all was well. Surely the little bird was an angel in disguise!
In the mid ‘90s when our Maligaya home was threatened by a large fire in the compound next to us, we prayed and praised God. The next morning as I checked for fire damage I discovered that our home had not been touched even though we had seen the flames above our rooftop. In fact the tree that had branches on both sides of our fence line – the leaves on our neighbors’ side were burnt to a crisp, while the leaves on the branches on our side were alive and green. The angels had spread their wings over our home and the fire could not touch it!
We are an angel in disguise to others when we listen to their sharing with our heart (not with a critical or judgmental mind), when we comfort the sick or reach out to those in difficulty, when unexpectedly we are asked to tutor one of our grandchildren and do it willingly even though we had scheduled to see a movie, when we greet others with a sincere smile, when we give up our place in the checkout line to a person with disabilities. I am sure that each one of us has not only been touched by an angel but has been an angel to someone else.
Blessed Mother Theresa tells us that whatever we do, whether big or small, the act itself is not as important as the love with which we do it.
Several years ago I saw and was touched by this poem on angels. As I read it, I said to myself, “This is what and who an angel is – love in action!” The poem was entitled “Be An Angel”. Let me share it with you.
Reach for the stars.
Share your favorite things with others.
Keep your halo polished.
Show respect for older people.
Always mind your manners.
Make friends with someone who is shy.
Plant a garden for butterflies.
Say at least one nice thing to someone every day.
Never make fun of anyone.
Make your bed every morning.
Talk to plants to help them grow.
Think happy thoughts. Smile from your heart.
Don’t make too much noise when you flap your wings.
Clean up after yourself. Clean up after others.
Donate part of your allowance to a worthy cause.
Always tell the truth.
Be patient with those who don’t fly as fast as you do.
Sprinkle a little stardust wherever you go.
Yes, we are encouraged to know our angels and pray to them: to every day be at our side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. But we should not only pray to them, or depend on them solely to help us. I believe we should also help them by being angels to others.
If we were to choose each morning to do even just one of these actions-of-love during the day, what a difference we would make in our life and the lives of those we touch. Then the next day, choose another action-of-love to accomplish for that day. And then decide to continue this habit every day. Little by little, we would be living as angels-in-training.
If each one of us puts these maxims into practice, not only will we become an angel to others and to ourselves, but we will be encouraging others to join us in helping make our communities better and happier places in which to live.