By Alyssa Bormes
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 alyssabormes.com.