Sunday, October 06, 2019

Guardian angels

Friday morning I was reviewing Bible and extra-biblical writing on guardian angels. We certainly are calling on them today. We know Phil has one –I  remember about 7-8 years ago his car explosion and he had jumped out of the car after someone in a white vehicle pulled up behind him and yelled, “ you're on fire,” then left. Then boom. It went up in flames.

There's a beautiful hymn/poem in the book of Daniel when the three men are being saved from the fire. Unfortunately, that lovely passage is not in the Protestant Bible, so you'll have to look on-line if you don't have a Catholic or Orthodox Bible. See Daniel 3:26-90. At verse 46, "Now the king's men who had thrown them in continued to stoke the furnace with brimstone, pitch, tow, and faggots. The flames rose 49 cubits above the furnace, and spread out, burning the Chaldeans nearby. But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it. The first in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm. Then these three in the furnace with one voice sang, glorifying and blessing God: [and the hymn continues]

But I also like my friend Sonja Ness' method. She has named her tumors, "Gertie and the 3 blind mice" and enjoys watching them diminish as they are attacked by chemo (and probably her guardian angel who is guiding her treatment team). So using the angel example in Exodus 23:20-23 I'll name the tentacles of Phil's tumor, "My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out."

Guardian angels aren't just for Hallmark cards. Nor are they cute, sweet and plump with feathery wings. They are strong and powerful like the one who came to Mary (Hail, Mary) to announce the coming of Jesus or the one who greeted the women at the Tomb. They have a long tradition in the church. Saint Basil the Great (d. 378) taught that "each and every member of the faithful has a Guardian angel to protect, guard, and guide them through life." St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) wrote, "these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us, and to guide us." Billy Graham wrote a book about angels and called them God's secret agents. Then there was a 19th century Dutch Calvinist, Abraham Kuyper, who also was a fan of angels (also wrote about demons and miracles) and describes their powers.

A phrase attributed to St. Augustine, "“We cannot pass our guardian angel's bounds, resigned or sullen, he will hear our sighs.”

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