Faithful Show More Interest in Angels
Kathryn Rogers Post-Dispatch Religion, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
At this season, Christians naturally turn their thoughts toward the angels. Gabriel told Mary she would bear the Christ, nameless multitude of angels announced Christ's coming to the shepherds, and winged images decorate Christmas trees.
But angel veneration increasingly is becoming a year-round practice for people of varying faiths.
Workshops on connecting with "angelic energies" drew dozens of devotees in St. Louis last month. And merchants here say books about communications to and from angels, as well as artwork and jewelry featuring the celestial creatures, are popular items in any season.
"There's been a lot of interest here in angels for quite some time," says Barbara McDonald, an employee at Mystic Valley, 3228 Laclede Station Road in Maplewood, a bookstore dealing in metaphysical subjects.
"It's one of those lovely sorts of interests that seem to have sparked people's imagination."
People trying to connect with angels say the divine messengers bring God closer to them. They suggest that the recent spate of books reporting angel sightings indicates God's more active intervention in world affairs and people's greater receptivity to it.
"I think there is a great opening to God and to spirituality now," says Ruth Hanna, a therapist and co-director of One Heart, a resource center for spirituality at 3124 Gurney Avenue in St. Louis.
One Heart sponsored October's four-part "Angelspeak Workshop," which taught meditations to help participants interact with archangels and guardian angels, as well as increase their own capacity to love others.
"There is more connection and love being exhibited in the world, and at the same time we see so much confusion and chaos," Hanna says. "In response to our requests for help, I believe the angels are one part of the answer."
"Angel" derives from the Greek word for messenger. The heavenly beings are found most prominently in western religions, and many great western theologians espoused doctrines on angels.
Zoroastrianism, founded in the 6th century B.C. by the Persian Zoroaster, taught the existence of angels.
In the Bible, an angel guards the entrance to the Garden of Eden, an angel wrestles with Jacob, and God sends an angel to lead the Israelites into the promised land.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 18 of the angels that watch over children. And according to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel - Jibril in Arabic - brought the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad.
In his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul warns against worshiping angels, and most Christian denominations traditionally don't pray to them. But Roman Catholics honor angels by celebrating the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael in September, and the feast of guardian angels in October.
In modern theology, angels are "personifications of God's power," says Msgr. …