Whew, Texas Mommy is right, this is a big week. Not only are there two Angelic feast days this week, but yesterday I finished a novena to mark the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux, and our parish is holding the annual Blessing of the Animals in conjunction with St. Francis Assisi’s feast day on Saturday. I don’t know about any one else, but I could use a good celebration. Church holidays seem like a distant memory this time of year, and Advent still feels a long way off. Like Bethany wrote earlier this week, discouraging news and tragic happenings seem to be everywhere. Thank goodness for the ministry of the Church, for although we are called to daily sacrifice and cross-bearing, we can almost always find a good feast to celebrate.
I am a big fan of both St. Therese and St. Francis, but because I can’t make special celebrations happen everyday this week, we’re planning to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels and Feast of the Guardian Angels on Saturday when we are home together as a family. Need some inspiration? Below are five reasons and five ways to consider celebrating these Angelic Feasts.
Five Reasons to Celebrate the Feasts of the Arch and Guardian Angels:
Number 5: Who doesn’t love a celebration? Like I said, I feel ready for a little celebrating. Around Oct 1st, the newness of school has worn off, dark Halloween decorations seem to be popping up everywhere, major liturgical holidays feel far away and I could use a little boost of positive energy to face daily discouraging news. Plus, my kids don’t need much convincing to join in a celebration, and Feast Days are a wonderful way to teach them truths about our Faith.
Number 4: Begin a season of celebrating the Heavenly Hosts. At the end of the month, we’ll celebrate All Saints and All Souls days. The feasts celebrating the Arch and Guardian Angels help set the stage for acknowledging and thanking God for the Heavenly Hosts, the great Cloud of Witnesses. As we plunge through the last few weeks of Ordinary Time, we have these chances to direct our attention Heavenward and gain strength to carry our daily crosses.
Number 3: There is real evil in the world. As much as our society may mock this idea at times, let’s not forget that the Devil is real and so is evil. Our Holy Father recently called on the Faithful to weep over the tragedies in Iraq and Syria. On Monday’s feast day, the Holy Father spoke of the ongoing battle between the Devil and mankind and called on us to pray to the angels charged to defend us. Even secular author Camille Paglia wrote in Time this week about the failure of American campuses to comprehend the existence of real evil. When Camille Paglia’s message begins to echo Pope Francis, something is afoot. I want to help my young children appreciate that the Devil and evil are real, even though the world around them may seem safe. Celebrating our celestial defenders gives me an opportunity to do just that.
Number 2: We have real heroes to celebrate. All of my kids love a good superhero. Plus, with the Halloween season fast approaching, characters of all kinds are receiving increased scrutiny and attention as my kids search for the perfect costume. The Angelic Feasts are a great way to bring angels to the forefront of my kid’s attention and imagination, for they are, as Texas Mommy’s article pointed out, the real superheroes of our Universe. Already this week, after my husband and I described the Archangels to our children, my sons have been running around with capes and swords, declaring themselves the “Angel Protectors” of our family. These feasts, along with the approaching Feast of All Saints, give us the opportunity to teach our kids the truth about super-powers, heroism, and real heroes that we can look up to and pray to for protection.
Five Ways to Make the Celebration Special:
Number 5: Treats make a party. Angelfood cake, a traditional Scottish St. Micheal Bannock for breakfast, or cookies cut with that Christmas angel cookie cutter would all suffice.
Number 4: Heavenly host decorations. Our dress-up swords and shields on the table along with printed classical artwork of archangels and guardian angels will make great, simple decorations. My hope over the course of the month is to make a “Heavenly Hosts” wall in our dining room, beginning with angel artwork this week, adding artwork depicting the saints leading up to All Saints Day and pictures of our deceased loved ones in time for All Souls day. Over the course of the next month, the decorations will hopefully draw our hearts heavenward and inspire some additional prayers.
Number 3: Prayers for the long haul. Speaking of prayers, I am thankful that these feast days give me the opportunity to introduce a few prayers to my kids, specifically the Prayer to St. Michael and the Prayer to the Guardian Angel. Because I came into the Catholic Church as an adult, I didn’t grow up saying these prayers and I am just as excited to learn them myself as I am to teach them to my children. These are prayers we need in our daily arsenal.
Number 2: Stories of victory. The Bible is filled with stories of angels visiting and aiding God’s people. These feasts are a great time to get out these stories and share them together. An angel was with Daniel in the lions den and with Shadrach, Meshach and Abendnego in the fiery furnace. Angels announced Christ’s birth, were at the empty tomb to tell the women that Jesus was risen, attended to Jesus after his forty days in the desert, and of course, Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation and later to Joseph in a dream.
Number 1: An activity for the day: For younger children, a craft may be most appropriate. I love this angel craft from Catholic Icing, which is something my littlest kids can make and hang on their wall as a reminder for the day. For my older kids, who are moving beyond this type of craft, I may challenge them to find a way to remember their Guardian Angel throughout the day. Saint Jose Maria Escriva was especially known for his recourse to Guardian Angels and I have heard it said that he would often pause in doorways and briefly gesture as a way of acknowledging and inviting his Guardian Angel to go first through the door. Whether we pause to thank God for our Guardian Angel in a doorway, pray the Angelus three times during the day, or choose some other special remembrance, these activities are all intended to draw our hearts closer to our Lord.
May God bless us with a deeper love and trust in Him through the celebration of the Feast Days! Jesus, may your angels draw us ever closer to you!