The Bible mentions angels frequently. Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the doctrine of angels is precisely stated. Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man. I was taught that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.
According to the Bible, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings; and they can take on human form or appearance.
I met one.
It was the month my father took ill; he had been admitted into the hospital for a respiratory issue. After some days, the family felt we could take him home, but suddenly he was placed on a ventilator. After he was on it for a week, our consultations with his doctors proved negative and worrisome. The doctors wanted to continue the ventilator, but our dad looked uncomfortable on and tried to take it off - he became weaker. We wanted him taken off, too, and it was a tremendous conflict.
Driving home from the hospital one especially frustrating day, I passed by my church, which is always a great source of comfort to me. Impulsively and driven by worry, I stopped to see if the pastor was there. I was told he was not. The secretary told me there was a seminarian in the church. I went into the church and while I quietly sat there, the young seminarian came by and asked me if he could help me. He was such a young priest-in-training, but his kind eyes and compassion affected me; I teared up and couldn’t talk to him. He sat down by me and remained silent. It was comforting just to have his presence.
When I got up to leave, he walked me to the door, introduced himself and gave me his card. I had never seen him before or even knew that we had a seminarian. I was a frequent visitor at the church as a parishioner. volunteer and Bible class teacher. I told him my dad was very ill and it did not look hopeful.
I also told him there were other issues in the family going on. Dad’s ailment evoked some see-saw emotions and not everyone was themselves. That in itself was disturbing and distracting. We needed to be a family unit at this time. He told me he had a similar situation in his own family and shared it. When it was time for me to go, He asked me where I lived which was a few blocks from the church. He also asked me how he could reach me and if he could visit with me at the church again or at my home. We exchanged numbers and cards.
The next week I got in the habit of stopping at the church each day after work or the hospital visit, and the seminarian was always in the church. He would smile and ask me how my dad and the family were doing. We would chat by the door and he shared his own family deaths and loss experiences, which helped me understand my own. He had a comforting style and always lifted my spirits after these visits.
Two weeks went by. My father was still on the ventilator and the stress continued. After one really wrung-out day, I didn’t even want to stop by the church. I went straight home and just sat in my living room for a long time trying to deal with all the feelings that were almost overwhelming. My doorbell rang and I stepped out onto the porch and there was the seminarian. He asked me if I could come out and sit with him on my lawn bench.
I had just prayed and it was so comforting to see him. We talked awhile and shared feelings about families and deaths. Looking back, I don’t remember discussing any other subjects. We only spoke about death, prayers, the sick, loss feelings and our after-death beliefs. He had such insights especially about Scriptures, and stated them so beautifully – always with a relevant, strong spiritual aspect. After such talks, I would think, “He has so much knowledge and he’s so young.”
From the time our dad went into the hospital and the time he left this life..... it ended after 30 long days. I visited with the seminarian almost every day until Dad died.
Our family planned the services immediately in our hometown which was 30 miles away from my own. Planning them, as most of us have experienced, took several days plus additional days of the services and funeral. I was gone from home for almost a week.
Returning home, I thought of the young priest-to-be and felt so thankful for the guidance and friendship he showed during the past month. Many insights he shared with me came to mind during the funeral service and highly emotional moments. Again, impulsively, I pulled into the parking lot and went to the church office. I asked if the young man was available, and the secretary said that he was done with his parish work here and was reassigned to another parish. She wasn’t sure which one it was, but could try to find out.
I told her it was not necessary. To me he was an Angel and Heaven-sent. I don’t believe in coincidences. He was there throughout my dad’s entire leaving-this-world process. He never asked me for anything nor did he ever tell me any of his own issues or personal problems. He solely helped me get through my impending loss. And he did just that. I was filled with gratitude for the daily comfort he brought. He fulfilled his ‘assignment’ and moved on.
I never saw or heard about him again. And I am grateful to God for sending him to help me through such a sad time …….”For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11
Fran Coppola Signorino