Tuesday, April 12, 2011

She's No Angel

“Heaven needed another angel.” I don’t know how many times I heard that in the weeks following Lauren’s death. My first thought was, “Well, why did they have to pick my kid?” That was my raw response - the one coming from pain. But I smiled on the outside, thanking them for their kind words and moved on.

The truth is, Lauren is not an angel. She never will be. She is Lauren, the child I carried in my womb for nine months.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that angels are “A spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan. (329-331).

In a recent edition of the magazine “Our Sunday Visitor” Fr. Reginald Martin explains, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church devotes several paragraphs to a discussion of angels. The text notes an important essay by St. Augustine, in which he remarks that the word “angel” describes a ministry or office, not a nature. “If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel’” (No. 329).

Genesis does not mention angels among the works of creation, so theologians have long pondered the question of their creation. St. Thomas Aquinas argued that only God is uncreated, and cites Psalm 148 to prove God as the angels’ creator, “Praise him, all his angels…he commanded and they were created” (vv. 2-5). He adds, only God is eternal, so angels did not always exist.

St. Jerome and others believed God created angels before the physical universe. Aquinas admits this possibility, but argues that because angels are part of creation — not a universe in themselves — God probably created them when he made the heavens and earth, “because the mutual relationship of creatures makes up the good of the universe [and] no part is perfect if it is separate from the whole.”

What is our fascination with angels? How did we get the idea that when we die, we become angels? There are countless television shows and movies that illustrate this idea, probably the most famous of which is the beautiful story of Clarence, the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life” who works hard to earn his wings by helping George Bailey recognize that his is a life of worth.

According to I Believe in Angels.com, “Perhaps the confusion exists because angels appeared throughout the Bible in human form and were often mistaken for men. In fact in the letter to the Hebrew Christians the writer states that many entertain angels unaware that they are doing so. Another reason the confusion might exist is Jesus' own teachings. He said in Matthew 22:30, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." And in Mark 12:25, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." People who believe we become angels after death refer to these scriptures but they are taking the passages out of context. Jesus is not talking about the nature of angels; rather he is dealing with the subject of marriage.”

I know that people were only trying to make me feel better and I really did appreciate all of their kind words of support and consolation, but I would like to remember Lauren as the beautiful daughter I raised, not a winged creature. I believe that she will know me and the moment I see her, she and I will be reunited forever. Together we will spend eternity in the light of His love.

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