Back when I was seventeen, I was still a neophyte Philangelus and was still devouring books on angels whenever I could find them. At one point, I came across one that messed up my spirituality for a while.
At the time, I didn’t realize I had the option of just saying, “Oh, that’s garbage” when I came across something a theologian wrote that didn’t fit with reality. (Something which I hope every one of you realizes whenever you read my theological musings, by the way — it will make life a lot easier for you. It’ll certainly make it easier to point out the flaws in my thought process.)
This particular author advocated that angels don’t mind when bad things happen to us, that they’re still filled with joy because even in horrible circumstances, God’s life is being enhanced in us. Or something like that. In retrospect, he probably meant something like, “If you find out your baby daughter is going to die of anencephaly, it’s a bad circumstance, but your guardian angel sees how God is going to use this in your life to bring you closer to Him.”
But at the time, thinking of immediate evils, my takeaway from his stupid statement was that according to this particular author (although I didn’t say “according to this particular author,” which would have made it easier to laugh rather than flinch) that if I were being stabbed and murdered, my guardian angel would be sitting around saying, “Oh, wow, God’s glory is REALLY going to shine through this circumstance!”
To reiterate: it was garbage. Yes, angels definitely comprehend and trust that God’s glory is going to shine through every circumstance because God brings good from evil, but that’s different from being delighted in the face of evil. Angels who are delighted while watching evil are, in general, called demons.
But at the time, I couldn’t articulate that. I started taking pot-shots at my guardian, almost trying to make him mad so he’d prove he cared. “Not that this matters to YOU, since you’ll only see God’s glory.”
Yesterday,the Happy Catholic quote of the day began with a statement that angels can’t give emotional support.
They can’t commiserate in an in-the-trenches way. They can’t say, “Yeah, I find it hard to pray when I’m sick too.” They don’t have that animal dimension to them that we have.
But at the very lowest common denominator, emotional support consists of emotions (which angels have, since they can experience joy) and loyalty (which again, they have because they’re loyal to God and at the very least loyal to their assignments) and the ability to communicate (which they can do.) Thus, “I’m here with you through this” is emotional support. And that they can do.
Last night, when I found myself thinking to them, “Sorry about all those times in the last two decades when I felt emotionally supported. Now I know you couldn’t really do that, my mistake,” I realized I needed to purge the garbage.
The rest of the quote was nice, but that garbage at the header became the bee in my bonnet, and I couldn’t think past it. So I’m posting this here in an effort to take the trash to the curb. That was just a damaging theoretical exercise by a theologian who had no experience in what he was writing about. Emotional support may not be in the written job description of a guardian angel, but they can and do engage in it, and in my opinion, they do it very well.