Lorraine V. Murray: Angels work in mysterious ways

There was once a little girl who was horrified to learn she had a guardian angel. You see, she thought he was a spy who would tattle on her to God. So she would wheel around in circles and jab the air with her fists, trying to punch him.

That little girl grew up to become my favorite writer, Flannery O’Connor, who lived in Milledgeville, Ga., and died in 1964. Each year, when Catholics celebrate the feast of the guardian angels Oct. 2, I think fondly of her.

As an adult, Flannery realized God sends angels as guides, not spies, and she began saying a daily prayer to the archangel Raphael, asking for his help in getting to heaven.

When I was a little girl, the nuns encouraged me to name and befriend my guardian angel. I decided to call mine “Tony,” and imagined him as brown-eyed and handsome, walking beside me each day and cheering me on. In high school, I began writing a diary, in which I confided my secrets to Tony each night.

Some skeptics may protest that angels are fine for children, just like fairy tales are, but once we grow up, we should know better.

And that was my opinion in college.

I thought I was far too mature to acknowledge Tony, and solidly turned my back on him. Not only did I stop believing in angels, but also in God – and anything that lay beyond the realm of the senses.

Years later, mysterious events began unfolding in my life that I simply couldn’t wrap up with the neat cord of reason. My husband unwittingly started the whole process on his return from a business trip when he casually mentioned visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

This was a man who hadn’t set foot in a church in years and knew little about Catholic rituals. Still, as he explained it, something had inspired him to light vigil candles in memory of my parents and his father, who had died long before.

A chill up my spine told me that something important – and mysterious -- had been unleashed in our lives. Before long, both of us starting tiptoeing our way back to the Christian faith.

I heard no trumpets sounding the day I walked into a church for the first time in over 20 years and knelt down in the pew. I heard no host of heavenly choirs singing as I bowed my head and uttered a tentative prayer.

But looking back now, I have to believe that Tony was right there beside me, nudging me back to God.


Lorraine’s latest book is “Death of a Liturgist,” a comical mystery set at a fictional church in Decatur. She also is the author of “Death in the Choir.” Her email address is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com