March 25, 2011

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Seek the help of the angels during Lent

Sean GallagherMy wife, Cindy, and I named our two oldest sons, Michael and Raphael, after two of the archangels.

When I introduce them or talk about them to other people, I will sometimes be asked if we are going to round out the set and name a child after the archangel Gabriel.

The quick answer is no since it is the preference of Cindy and I not to repeat names in our broader family. We have a nephew named Gabriel who was born just a few months before Michael.

Since God blessed us with Michael and Raphael, I have had more of an awareness of angels in my life. God sends them to us to protect us and help us on our way to heaven.

And that awareness is renewed when one of my co-workers at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis will ask about my sons by saying, “How are the angels doing?”

Now, I have to say that my sons don’t always act like angels—at least the good ones. But, then again, neither do I.

These daily struggles that we have on our pilgrimage to our Father’s home in heaven should motivate us all the more to turn to the angels in general and our guardian angel, in particular, for help.

In past columns, I have encouraged parents to pray for other parents since we all need the help that is there in the communion of the saints.

But if we can benefit from each other’s prayers, how much more powerful would the angels’ help be for us?

Lent is a good time for us to turn our thoughts and prayers to the angels because they have a presence from the start of this season to its conclusion.

On the first Sunday of Lent, we heard the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil—a fallen angel—in the desert. When our Lord finally told Satan to be gone, we read that “angels came and ministered to him” (Mt 4:11).

Then, close to the climax of Lent, we arrive with our Lord at Gethsemane, where he prays in agony as he considers the suffering and death that lay before him. And here we learn from St. Luke that “to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him” (Lk 22:43).

Finally, angels play a key role in Christ’s glorious resurrection, telling the good news to the women who appear at the tomb early on the first day of the week.

In fact, St. Matthew says that an earthquake marked the angel’s arrival to roll back the stone in front of the tomb and that “his appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow” (Mt 28:3).

Well, my boys certainly like to run through the house like lightning. However, I think that they would rather have their clothes covered in mud than looking white as snow.

As they grow up, I hope that they will learn to be friends with the angels. As important as Cindy’s and my guidance to them can be, the angels will be close to them their entire lives.

And they are close to all of us and can lead us, especially during Lent, to a closer communion with our Lord.

A primary purpose of this season of grace is for us not simply to come closer to Christ in general, but closer to him in his paschal mystery in particular—his suffering, death and resurrection.

Since we see that the angels were close to him at the culmination of his mission to redeem us, we can be sure that they will strengthen us to be one with Christ in his paschal mystery in our ordinary daily life with our family.

So call on the help of the angels during Lent, and be gratefully aware that they are right there beside you in your Lenten journey. †

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