By A.M. Stickel,
A meeting with
At the end of
Mass, the whole school, 1st through 8th grade, knelt to pray: “Holy Michael the
Archangel, defend us in battle. Protect us against the wicked snares of the
devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. Oh, Prince of the heavenly host,
please, by the power of God, cast into hell all
evil spirits wandering the world seeking to ruin souls. Amen.”
Having been told
by their teachers that the devil was watching from the clock in the rear of the
church, the children never dared to check. All eyes focused on the winged
soldier holding a sword aloft, who stood guard to the left of the virgin and
child. Not objects of worship, the statues were reminders to address unseen
holy entities with appropriate reverence. Beeswax votive candles in red or white
glass holders flickered in front of the statues, lit by parishioners to honor
the dead or for prayer intentions.
If little Agnes
squinted her eyes just right, she was
sure the archangel’s wings moved the tiniest bit. In the slanting rays shining
through one stained glass window, briefly, his halo glowed golden and his sword
flashed silver. Then, Ah-Choo! A
whiff of incense broke her concentration.
Next to Agnes, chubby
Helen Grace whispered, “Ble-shoe!”
Over on the boys’
side of the church, in front of the statue of St. Joseph holding a lily, Agnes
heard the snorts of a few of them trying not to giggle. The girls didn’t let
their eyes drift right to the shuffling boys.
WHAP! Mother Cecilia’s ruler hit the back pew, and the boys quieted.
The nun’s clicker
signaled the group to rise, leave their pews, and process down the center aisle,
starting in the front with the youngest, each genuflecting as he or she exited.
The students crossed the street to their school, Queen of Angels, and proceeded
with their day.
That night, after
dinner with her mom, dad, and two younger brothers, Petie and Paulie, Agnes
hurried through her bath and tooth-brushing. Dressed in her best pink
nightgown, she could hardly wait for the bedtime prayer to her guardian angel.
This time she added a request for a visit with St. Michael. She had questions…
said a voice with a smile in it.
The little girl
found herself face to face with the mighty warrior of God. He wasn’t holding a
sword or wearing armor, just a long white robe. They were standing among yellow
flowers and lush green grass under a clear blue sky. A hilltop park like many Agnes
had played in, it even had swings. The next thing she knew she was sitting on one,
her bare feet tickled by grass.
As Agnes breathed
in clean, fresh air, “Would you like me to push you?” asked the angel, his
and then I’ll—”
A flutter of angel
wings, and Agnes flew up in the air, her stomach going elevator-light. She
whooped as she came down and pumped her legs to keep herself going. Finally,
tired, she jumped off and rolled in the soft grass.
the way down the hill,” suggested Michael, tucking his wings around him.
“How did you know
that’s my second-best favorite thing
to do?” said Agnes.
“Knowing that is
part of my job,” answered Michael, grinning. “When we get to the bottom of the
hill, you can ask me anything.”
Soon they were
lying laughing on the grass at the bottom of the hill next to a rippling
stream. Agnes felt thirsty.
“Go ahead and
drink!” Michael dipped his hand in and slurped water.
Agnes crawled over
and scooped up and slurped water too. Then they splashed water on each other,
and laughed at how fast they were dry again.
“angels can see God all the time and are much smarter than people, so why would
some of them choose to leave Him?”
“Agnes, God gave
us free will just like He gave you. Everyone with an intellect can choose for
themselves. As you grow, you will have to decide for or against God. You will
make mistakes. When you do, you may begin to understand how even an angel might
turn away from the Light.”
“What was the
devil’s job as an angel in heaven before he became a fallen angel?” asked Agnes.
once called him Lucifer, meaning ‘Light Bearer’ or ‘Light Bringer’.”
“Is that because,
the Fallen One tempted us to turn away, Jesus became the Light to lead us home?”
“Yes, it is an
example of how God turns mistakes like pride and jealousy around,” Michael
“What about the
official who wants to convince the judge that someone on trial is guilty, and
must suffer for it. Another word for that adversary is prosecutor.”
“It sounds a lot
like persecutor. But…what official
stands up for us in heaven’s court?”
“The one who advocates
for the party on trial is the paraclete—in heaven’s court, the Holy Spirit.”
Agnes lay back on
the grass and looked up at the now cloudy sky and sighed, “I do naughty things
almost every day, even though I know deep in my heart it hurts God’s feelings.
Afterwards I’m always sorry, though.”
“The weight of
guilt is unbearable. Only God in the Person of Jesus is strong enough to bear
it. It is by His strength that I stand against evil and guard the gates to
Paradise, my lamb.”
“Didn’t it make
you sad to drive us out?”
“Not when I could
see Jesus waiting for you—His sheep and lambs—with open arms.”
“I wish I could see Him!”
Then Agnes felt
herself suddenly lifted up, and knew Whose lap she was sitting in under a shady
tree back at the top of the hill. The lamb’s visit with Michael was over, her
waking in her Shepherd’s care pleasant.