04 October 2012

Angels in the corner

My mother always said, when a baby was staring off above everyone's heads as though captivated by something none of us could see, that the baby was watching the angels in the room. I suppose a medical professional would say that the baby's vision hasn't fully developed yet and the motion of their eyes learning to focus is merely creating the illusion that they are staring fixedly at something. It's such a lovely idea, though, isn't it? I can't think of any theological grounds for definitively stating that babies can't see angels, and there's a certain poetic rationality to the idea: babies are so pure and innocent, and we know that the pure in heart "shall see God" (Mat 5:8). When a baby laughs and smiles, seeming to stare at an empty wall, it is easy to wonder if he really might be looking at his guardian angel.

I was put in mind of this on Tuesday, the feast of the Guardian Angels. While not a definitive article of faith, many Catholics believe that every person has a guardian angel, who guides and protects them throughout their life and can intercede on their behalf. St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, defended this belief and explained why it makes sense that each and every person is granted the assistance of a guardian angel. A number of saints were known for communication with their guardian angels, including St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Pio.

The idea that Little Bear can see, or is in some other manner aware of the presence of, guardian angels is something of a comfort. I remember being three months pregnant, driving in to work on icy roads one cold dark morning, and realizing that there was now an extra angel watching over the car. It gave me such a sense of relief! We try to remember to say a quick prayer to our guardian angels every morning when we get in the car:

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.

So frequently, when I'm sitting on our couch feeding Little Bear, he will get distracted and stare intently up over my shoulder at the corner of the living room. I'm happy to believe that he is watching our guardian angels, and to be reminded that they are always here with us!

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