"I received the Sacrament of Baptism with such joy that only angels could describe..." (St. Josephine Bakhita)
Josephine Bakhita and Elizabeth Ann Seton each had similar thoughts about the angels and their baptism (see "St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Belonging More Deeply"), and it got me to thinking about angels and the roles they play in our lives. Spiritual beings created by God, the word "angel" is derived from the Greek word angelos, meaning "messenger." Hebrews 1:14 tells us: "Are (angels) not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"
Scripture also tells us that we each have an angel to aid us in this regard; when Peter was imprisoned by King Herod (Acts 12), it is said that the angel of the Lord freed him. Then, when a maid ran to tell Peter's friends that he was knocking at their door, they didn't believe her at first and replied, "It is his angel." The early Christians believed that angels encouraged us, guarded us, protected us, and offered our prayers to God. A particularly beautiful image comes from the book of Revelation:
"Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense, along with the prayers of the holy ones, went up before God from the hand of the angel." (Rev. 8:3-5)
Angels are our powerful allies in Christ, but sometimes we forget that, bombarded by images of tiny cherubs or scantily-clad Victoria's Secret models! Instead let us keep the strong image of our angel lifting our prayers to God - our prayers which truly do make a difference in the world around us. May angels carry our dreams, our fears, our hopes and our tears to the threshold of heaven and lay them at the feet of God.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us!