Honoring God by increasing our love for angels at Christmas

There is an obvious increase in the presence of angelic ephemera at Christmastime, as we tell famous Bible stories featuring the angels, sing hymns and carols about them, and decorate our homes with their beautiful depictions. Of course, it’s good, even wonderful, to commemorate angels in the traditional ways, but it’s better for Catholics to move beyond sentimentality and nostalgia and see this increase for what it is: a sign of the activity of the real angelic beings existing around us. Just as God sent his angels to Mary and Joseph to mark the beginning of the events of the Nativity, we can mark the beginning of the new liturgical year by getting closer to the angels through prayer. The Advent and Christmas seasons remind us that these good spirits remain present and available to us, now and always.

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At the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin and St. Gabriel the Archangel give us an ideal example of how closely angels and human beings are meant to interact with each other. When Gabriel approached Mary, he enlightened her with the most intimate, sensitive and miraculous piece of information that could ever be given to anyone: that she would give birth to God the Son, who was to be conceived by God the Holy Spirit, inside her immaculate, virgin womb. Surely no created person has ever been so near an angel spiritually than Our Lady was to Gabriel at that moment. For this reason, we can start increasing our devotion to the angels by asking Mary, under her title Queen of Angels, to help us do just that.

Reclaiming a devotion to our guardian angel

We know from popular accounts that angelic encounters in our own lives can be literally lifesaving. For example, tradition says that when St. Aloysius was 3 years old, his guardian angel saved him from being crushed by an oncoming horse carriage in the road; from that day on, the saint devoted himself to praying three times daily to his angel. He wrote, “be certain that you have in your guardian angel a trustworthy leader, whom it behooves you to follow!” The traditional Guardian Angel Prayer is most often learned in early childhood, but Catholics sometimes abandon it in adulthood thinking they’ve outgrown it. While its short, rhyming lines may feel childlike, they can also be seen to reflect the angels’ own perfect innocence. It would be a good time in the seasons of Advent and Christmas to adopt the habit of praying it daily:

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.

Learning to become angelic

It’s a great grace and blessing to know that the closer we get to angels, the more angelic we ourselves become. So, then, what does it mean to be angelic? Essentially, angels are pure beings, having no bodies to accompany their spirits, and so purity is their most marked characteristic; pure is what they were specifically created by God to be. It follows that humans can become more like angels by cultivating the virtue of purity. Thankfully as Catholics, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation in which we can participate to this end. While we should strive to go to confession during the Advent season prior to the great feast of Christmas, it’s never too late to go! And when we do, we can rest assured that at the moment of absolution, the angels are rejoicing along with Christ that we have become pure of heart once more.

Spending time learning more about the angels and contemplating their being can help us deepen our devotion to them, too. The Catechism contains some good information, of course, whereas the “Angelic Treatise” by St. Thomas Aquinas — also known as the Angelic Doctor — is a full, detailed account of all things angelic. The latter can be found in the Summa Theologica (which also happens to make a fantastic Christmas gift!).

Consecrate yourself to St. Michael the Archangel

In addition to praying the Guardian Angel Prayer on a daily basis, it would be a loving act to choose one day during this season on which to consecrate yourself to St. Michael the Archangel. The consecration prayer can be found online, along with the words of the St. Michael Novena, which may also be prayed on the days leading up to your consecration. (The Chaplet of St. Michael or the Litany of St. Michael can also be prayed in place of the novena). An act of consecration is one of complete trust, whereby the devotee surrenders all that she has in life to the saint to whom she is being consecrated, for him or her to pray over continuously. If this feels like too bold an undertaking at the moment, it would be good to adopt the habit of praying the St. Michael Prayer daily:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Ask for angelic inspiration

To receive more guidance from the angels, ask the Holy Spirit to open your will to angelic inspiration. Quite literally, you can just pray, “Come Holy Spirit, open my will to angelic inspiration!” It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that for your request to bear fruit. Angelic inspiration is a kind of angelic “light” that shines upon our intellects, the kind of light that St. Matthew was given by the angel who helped him write his Gospel. Angelic inspiration can be considered the very opposite of demonic temptation, that also surpasses evilness with its power and all the goodness it generates. We could all use more of the angelic inspiration that results in peace of mind and peace of heart, those qualities to which we feel more disposed at Christmas perhaps than any other time.

When we invoke angels, interact with them through prayer and reflect upon their purity, it reflects well upon our own hearts and minds. Increasing devotion to the angels will in turn increase our faithfulness overall: There is no one on earth who truly loves angels who doesn’t love God well. As St. Bernard said, “O Blessed Mary, whoever loves you honors God; whoever serves you pleases God,” and we can apply his reasoning to the angelic beings, too: Whoever loves them honors God all the more!

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