When I was small and heard at school of guardian angels I thought it was beautiful, each of us having an angel of our own to be with and guide us. A little older and I wondered if my angel was my own or had been someone else’s who was now dead and would be someone else’s when I died. The notion of recycled guardian angels was not so appealing.
When we were told about a bad angel on our left shoulder and a good angel on our right I became suspicious. Why the bias against left-handedness? I already knew of children being caned for writing with their left hand. Why? Why so cruel? What was wrong with being left-handed?
I learned Latin at the age of eleven and discovered that the word for “right” was “dexter”, and for “left” was “sinister”. I already knew the words “dexterous” – meaning able to do things well, and “sinister”, someone or something to be wary of, not to be trusted.
A bad angel on my left shoulder was a repulsive idea. Would God create a bad guardian angel for each of us as well as a good guardian angel? Suddenly the whole idea was nonsense. If, in today’s world, we have over 7,000,000,000 good guardian angels do we also have over 7,000,000,000 bad angels? And I was angry. Teachers had misled us in our Catholic classrooms. Billions of angels, recycled or not, made nonsense of the beautiful idea of God’s being with us.
Already I had been put off by “God is watching everything you do”, like a mean-minded spy, when we should simply have been taught that God was looking out for us, loving us, watching over us, divine love wherever we were.
Then I discover that in the Bible angels appear as human beings! Of course! The puzzle began to unravel and reshape itself. “The angel of the Lord” in the Bible is God, communicating with human beings.
The angel guiding the people of Israel through the desert is Michael (“who is like God”) – Israel’s guardian angel. Only two other angels in the Bible have names – Gabriel (“strength of God”), Raphael (“healing of God”). Angels are reflections of God’s love and blessings.
You! Be an angel . . .
God bless you,
(6th October 2019)