December 23, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Angels in our lives: a Christmas tribute

Last week, the Indianapolis Children’s Choir performed “Angels Sing” as their holiday contribution to Indiana culture and the beautiful season of Christmas. This reminded me of a book that non-Catholic neighbors gave me upon their return from a summer vacation. They knew I would enjoy it because years ago I shared with them a prayer from my childhood: “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here—ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”

The book title reflects that prayer—Angels of God, Our Guardians Dear: Today’s Catholics Rediscover Angels (Charis Books, an imprint of Servant Books published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, After reading it, I knew I would share this with Criterion readers now as a tribute to these heavenly messengers who play such important roles during the holiday season.

The author, Mary Drahos, not only did phenomenal research on this subject, but also lists her prolific resources, making this the most reliable easy-to-read book of its kind that I have seen. (Drahos has also written To Touch the Hem of His Garment and The Inside-Out Beauty Book.)

Jim Manney, editor of New Covenant magazine, wrote, “Mary Drahos finds angels everywhere—in the lives of ordinary people, in Christian history and at the center of Catholic tradition … and spiced with dozens of contemporary angel stories…”

Individual experiences with the presence or the sense of angels is what interests me most, but all 10 chapters revealed something new to me: Angels: Here and in Eternity, A Closer Look at the Angelic Realm, Do Not be Afraid, Your Child is Safe, Angels as Messengers and Guides, The Role of Angels in the Liturgy, Encounters of a Special Kind: Angels and Saints, Our Defense Against the Darkness: Warrior Angels, How Can We Discern New Age “Angels”?, The Holy Spirit and Angelic Spirits, and Angels When We Die: Eternal Friends.

More important is how the author clarifies what is real and what is not, although in a few cases she also lets the reader decide on the veracity of a story. However, there are some things no one can completely explain.

Most important, according to columnist Kathleen Howley, is, “Finally, a book that takes the subject of angels out of the hands of New Agers, and places it squarely where it belongs—in the rich teachings of the Catholic Church.”

I am grateful the author also included angels’ Biblical appearances, but more grateful to know how they “light and guard, rule and guide” us in our path toward salvation, made possible through Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate.

May angels light and guard the lives of Criterion readers!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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