Today the Episcopal Church celebrates the feast of St. Michael and All Angels. Last week we provided reflections and ideas for this feast day. Many more are provided on the website for the book Season of Angels, written by today’s author. – Ed.
Back in the 1830’s, Bronson Alcott kept a journal in which he recorded “Conversations with Children on the Gospels,” classroom conversations that he had with children ranging in age from seven to twelve. Here is part of one about angels:
Mr. Alcott: I should like to know what you each think angels are.
George K: I think angels were good people who lived here.
Emma: Angels are God’s messengers, like our thoughts; they bring us our thoughts.
Mr. Alcott: So you think that they are not ourselves, but bring us thoughts. Is there anything human in them? Can you become angels? Have you been angels?
George: My spirit was an angel when I was a baby.
Mr. Alcott: What change happens to an angel when it takes a body?
Charles: It becomes human.
George K: Angels are good spirits; once they were in bodies and did good with their bodies.
Lucia: Spirits in heaven, before they have had a body, are angels.
Martha: Angels are good spirits with or without bodies.
Edward B: I think our ideas of God and divine things are faint remembrances of our angelic life.
It absolutely threw me for a loop to realize that these children were every bit as profound as William Wordsworth’s “…trailing clouds of glory do we come / From God, who is our home.” It shouldn’t have surprised me, though, what with Jesus telling the grown-ups that we need to become like little children.
When we talked about angels at our family service a couple Septembers ago, it was as though our children were continuing the conversation begun back in the 1830’s. One of them said that angels are messengers of God who used to be good people when they were alive and became angels when they died. Another said that angels are beings who are sent by God to help people. A reticent child said, “I think birds are angels.” The grown-ups didn’t say much.
As we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, don’t be shy about talking with your own children about angels. They may know more than you do.
A Prayer for Today
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
[Image credit: Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
The “Christian angelogy” page on Wikipedia is fascinating…
What do you – or your children – think angels are?