In From the Vine

By Alyssa Bormes


Image by 9883074 from Pixabay


I suppose it was Mother Angelica who asked me the question first, and Father Paul Murray was the latest to ask me; in between there have been a number of others as well.

“You met Mother Angelica?”

Well – not exactly. I met her the way everyone else did – through the TV. It must have been high school – but I really came to know her in college – but not the way you would imagine. You see, I was in the midst of my own personal darkness. It was the ‘80s and there were only a few channels on the television. One of them was EWTN.

Mother and I: She seemed to like me just fine, and was always giving me a catechism lesson. I did not like her at all then. Now, this part might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it’s true, my two roommates were Jewish and Baptist. They would find me clutching the remote, watching “the old nun,” and yelling at her. They would tell me to turn the channel, or turn off the TV. But I would respond, “You don’t get it; she’s not telling the truth; she’s wrong!” And, I would continue my battle with her.

Not to worry, it turned out that Mother Angelica was telling the truth, but I was upset because she wouldn’t endorse my brand of sin. Luckily, I hit bottom, and then could finally hear Mother Angelica and a variety of other catechists.

“You said Mother Angelica asked you a question. What was it?” 

Right. I think she asked it to me a number of times. My answer in the dark years went something like this. “That’s stupid!” Ah – pride.

But Mother kept right on asking, “What is the name of your Guardian Angel?”

When she would ask a guest, they had such wonderful names for their Guardian Angels. But only one name came to mind for me, and it wasn’t nearly so imaginative – but I have a wild imagination! So, quietly sometimes, I would ponder my angel’s name, but the same name was there, and nothing else. It was a little like a door closed behind the question – sort of like my angel said, “I’ve introduced myself; I’m your angel; there is no need to go looking further; let’s get going.”

When the subject of Guardian Angels would come up, and people would share the names of their angels, I often felt a little uncomfortable. I did share the name a few times, but always got curious looks. I would quickly change the subject.

It was this last March, in Rome, at a Brazilian restaurant, eating lunch with my dear friend Father Paul Murray, the Dominican, when the question was broached again. He told me his angel’s name. It was something marvelous – but I have no recollection of it; I was too nervous for what was about to happen next to remember it. Then he asked me the same question as Mother Angelica, “What is the name of your Guardian Angel?”

Zoiks – now I’m going to have to say it out loud. He is going to give me that “no-way— you’re-crazy” look. I made my usual excuse before saying the name, followed by the usual there-may-be-more-than-one-of-them explanation. But he surprised me with his response.

“Wait – what was the name? You haven’t said your angel’s name!”

Well, this is what I said to Father, “The only name that has ever come to mind is Michael. I know it’s crazy. Maybe there is more than one angel named Michael.”

I was ready for him to tell me to pray more about it, or for him to tell me my angel’s name, one of those marvelous names like his angel’s name, or to say that it probably really was another Michael, or that my connection to heaven was faulty. Really – all these years I have been looking for some answer, because to think that Michael the Archangel is my guardian angel is a little too much. So come on Father Murray – give me the explanation for which I’ve been waiting.

In his voice that is something like a balm, Father did give me the explanation. It went something like this, “No, I think it is the Michael. You need him.”

It is still a little too much to understand, but I can say this, Michael the Archangel is my friend. Today is the Feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Also, October 2nd is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. So to finish, let me turn back to the wisdom of the old nun and the Dominican, Mother Angelica and Father Murray, “What is the name of your Guardian Angel?”

About the author:

Alyssa Bormes is an educator, author, speaker, and retreat leader. She currently teaches at the Chesterton Academy in Edina, Minnesota, writes for the Catholic Spirit, and the W.I.N.E blog, is the host of a weekly show,“Christian Witnesses in the Church,” on Radio Maria US, and is the author of The Catechism of Hockey. You can find her at

Showing 11 comments
  • Sharon Wilson

    Alyssa, dear sister, I love this article and the way you write. I have never been asked what my guardian agnel’s name was! But I have now. I don’t know, but will get right on praying about it!

    • Alyssa Bormes

      Thanks Sharon!

  • Carol Younger

    Hello Alyssa!
    I don’t know my Guardian Angel’s name. I usually address him as Guardian Angel, in much the same way one might say “Dear Friend” to someone standing in the room with you. I just always figured if he wanted me to know his name, he’d tell me. Like you, though, I talk to Michael a great deal! Maybe I need him too! He seems powerful enough to have more than one soul to be guarding! And I’m sure he has a cadre of angels and archangels to call, on each with his own specialty in the protection and guidance business. Many thank yous to Michael snd Raphael and Gabriel for their protection and healing and guidance in this journey to God. Without them all three I’d be lost, endangered and spiritually wounded.

    LOVE your writing. Thank you!

    • Alyssa Bormes

      Thank you Carol – you are always so complimentary about my writing!

  • Sherry Mordosky

    My Guardian Angel is named André. This was told to me by my angel. I thought the name should be Grace, or something like that. But that is OK. Some say we are not to name our Guardian Angeles and others assume we do so. Thank you for your story. As I was reading I thought Zoiks was as the name. That would be interesting.

    • Alyssa Bormes

      Fantastic! Thank you for your comment.

  • RUTH

    I don’t know the name of my guardian angel, so now I have some work to do!
    Thank you for posing the question and sharing your beautiful talent of writing!

  • Susan Klemond

    Thank you for telling this great story and for offering encouragement to learn about our guardian angels. Does your angel ever remind you of “Who is like God?”

    • Alyssa Bormes

      Thank you Susan! I don’t think I know “Who is like God?” so I can’t say.

  • Cindy Coleman

    Dear Alyssa, you are a wonderful writer and I have appreciated much you have done. I think we all recognize Mother Angelica was a special and holy woman. But I was disquieted originally when I read this blog post last week. My understanding has always been that we are not to try and name our Guardian Angels. Naming is something one does with something/someone they have authority over, like a child or even a pet. In a theology group this question just came up and someone provided this link to a Church document that clearly states we should not try and name angels. I see that in response to this blog others want to ‘name’ their angel which it seems the Church clearly discourages.

    #217 when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.

  • Alyssa Bormes

    Cindy – thank you! Here is what I really love about your comment – is that you were comfortable and trusting enough to write something that points out another point. Thank you!
    Also – I teach students all about how naming has authority – so I understand what you are saying.
    To my eye – I have never named my guardian angel – I have only listened for the name – and pondered it with my heart and imagination fully open – waiting for the response. I’m so sorry if I’ve given the impression that I named the angel – in fact, I am more stunned that the angel may have given me a name. And – as I mentioned – Michael is my friend – no matter if he is my guardian angel.
    Perhaps I can put it this way – I listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirt, of Jesus, of the Father, of the Mother of God, of my angel, of the Saints when I ask their intercession. I am so humbled before them all. I have only ever listened for the name of my angel – and I very much look forward to the day when I know for certain – God willing – the day when I enter those pearly gates!
    Thank you again for your comment!

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