Spending Advent with the Angels

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{{PD-US}} Jacob Wresting with an Angel by Gustave Doré

Angels are featured prominently throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Often referred to as “messengers,” these heavenly helpers have a huge task: glorifying God, carrying out his will, and helping us attain Heaven so we can glorify Him for all eternity too. Throughout salvation history we see the angels coming to deliver messages, communicate on God’s behalf, offer protection, give words of warning, carry out God’s justice, and sometimes secretly be on stand-by; guiding, traveling, and even wrestling with the chosen people.

Angels are no less active today, though our awareness of them is sometimes less than that of our ancestors in faith. Why not use Advent as a time to come to know the angels in a deeper and more profound way? After all, the story of the birth of Jesus began with an angel and the angelic host feature prominently throughout the nativity narrative. Read on for some suggestions on how to spend Advent with the angels this year.

Focus on angels in Scripture

Advent is the beginning of a new Liturgical Year. What better way to begin than by using this season of preparation to increase the time you spend reading Sacred Scripture? Beginning with the Annunciation in Luke 1:26-38, read the scripture passages that feature angels preparing for Jesus’s birth. Spend some time meditating and thinking on the role these heavenly messengers played in Jesus’s birth story. Ask your guardian angel to read the scriptures with you and to help you understand in a deeper way the role the angels play in our lives today.

Follow the angels to Bethlehem

Author’s personal photo for use.

As an alternative to the “Elf on a shelf” craze, why not instead follow the angel to Bethlehem throughout Advent? Set up your family’s nativity manger scene, but instead of putting everyone in their places to wait for Christmas, set off Mary, Joseph, and the angel on a journey through your house towards “Bethlehem.” If you have small children, you can “hide” the Holy Family and the angel who is leading them so that every morning instead of finding a tattle-tale elf, your children can search for the Holy Family and their angel as they make their way to the manger. For older children, incorporate a scripture reading or Advent devotional reading into the search or during bedtime prayers.

Let an angel help with your Jesse Tree

If one of your family traditions includes a Jesse tree, or if you want to start that tradition this year, add a special twist that includes an angel. Find a small angel statue or figurine that you can refer to as your “Advent angel.” Let the Advent angel reveal the day’s Jesse Tree ornament. Perhaps, if you have children, you’d like to hide the Advent Angel with the day’s ornament so that children have to search for the Advent angel every day before the Jesse tree devotions. (Yet another “Elf on the Shelf” alternative!) Whoever finds the angel and ornament gets to place it on the Jesse Tree that day. If older children are too big to go on Advent angel searches or if your family schedule doesn’t allow for it, tastefully displaying the day’s Jesse Tree ornament each morning with the Advent angel, before reading the associated scriptures and placing the ornament on the tree, is a good reminder to keep the angels present in our minds and can help us remember to call on their aid and intercession as we prepare for Christmas.

Begin a devotion to the angels

The start of the new liturgical year is a fantastic time to begin new devotions or prayer routines. Including a daily reading about the angels, such as those in A Year With the Angels by Mike Aquilina, or reading about saints who had special devotions to the angels, like St. Padre Pio or St. Zita, can aid you in your own growing devotion to God’s messengers. Consider including the Guardian Angel prayer in your daily prayers, or reciting the Litany of the Angels upon rising or before bed.

Make the angels your friends

{{PD-US}} Nativity with Angels by Parmigianino

The veil that separates the seen and unseen, heaven and earth, eternity and temporal time, is so very thin. This time of year it is so easy to get wrapped up in the noise, busyness, and hustle and bustle of the secular season. Strive this Advent to make the angels your friends. Turn to them for assistance. Ask for their prayers and help. Send them to visit loved ones from whom you are far away. Ask them to visit the tabernacle or the Blessed Sacrament on your behalf. When you can’t attend the daily Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, request that your angel attend in your stead and then make a spiritual communion. Ask for the grace of a deeper friendship with the angels and watch how your awareness of their presence and their help in your every day life increases. God is so good to us, to give us the angels as protectors, guides, messengers, and friends. This Advent, may you come to know them more profoundly as you await the birth of the One Whom they serve and adore: Jesus Christ our King.

Featured image: Wikimedia commons. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

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