I’d like to say a word for the angels. Especially the ones whom I lovingly call the “blue-collar workers” of the heavenly host.
Why now? The few weeks between our annual remembrance of the 9/11 terror attacks and the Catholic Church’s feast day of the Holy Guardian Angels on Oct. 2 place me in a headspace that seeks holiness.
Once again this year, after observing my Sept. 11 tradition of watching two or three documentaries to tearfully recall that morning in 2001, I have become especially mindful of the event’s impact.
Take that literally, since I was three blocks away from the World Trade Center when I heard the roar of a jet accelerating above me. Walking to the closest intersection to look upward for the explosive impact I had heard, I saw hell bursting from the tower. Flames scarred a tranquil blue sky.
My many memories of that day and months of emotional recovery include finding glimpses of comfort and intrigue: first, in photos of a remnant of intersecting girders which became known as “the cross at ground zero” and, second, in a painting which visualized guardian angels flocking toward the buildings’ billowing smoke. Some winged stewards were bringing their human mentees to safety while others ushered souls to heaven.
Plenty of people emerged from the 9/11 events with stories that contained, explicitly or implicitly, gratitude to guardian angels whose work rose above coincidence or luck.
I have harbored curiosity about, and devotion to, guardian angels ever since, and this has grown with age. My wife Eileen and I still often say the simple prayer which I hope we still teach to children: “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.”
As we now approach the feast day honoring these celestial creatures, allow me to share my sense of commitment with you by offering several thoughts about practical wisdom, visible and invisible.