From Jacob’s encounter with them in Genesis (32:2) to the heavenly vision of the altar of God in Revelation (5:11–12), angels are an integral part of the salvation story, working night and day as “ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
One of my favorite angel stories occurs in Acts 12, when an angel appears to Peter to release him from prison. A stupefied Peter makes his way to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, and knocks on the door. The serving girl, Rhoda, recognizes Peter and runs to tell those inside—who refuse to believe the miracle. “It is his angel!” they insist (12:15). This tells us two important things: (1) the early Christians believed in the existence of guardian angels, and (2) they were as mystified about the workings of these divine messengers as we are today!
Cultivating a lifelong mindfulness of the invisible world, and especially of the angels from whose guidance and protection we continually benefit, is one of the most important tasks we have as parents.
Inspired by the beautiful image in the book of Revelation of the thousands upon thousands of angels surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 5:11), I used to remind my children who squirmed at Mass about their angels. I would mention how sad the angels would be if they had to stay in the pews to watch over them, instead of joining their angel friends at the altar, bringing their prayers and songs as an offering to God.
It almost always worked. The kids would sit a little straighter, sing a little louder, and I would lift my own thankful heart to the Lord as we worshipped together, remembering the words of Jesus himself:
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father.” (Matthew 18:10)
This excerpt from the Living the Word Catholic Women’s Bible is reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ave Maria Press.