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In the mailbag over Christmas-New Year's the dominant topics -- again -- concerned angels (whether we can name them) and seeming visits from deceased loved ones.

"I have a good son-in-law who is a university provost," wrote Judy Dobson of Danville, Pennsylvania. "Several years ago he had this experience. He was working on his laptop and had the Weather Channel on and it was about 11 p.m. He had a 'sense' that there was someone in the room. He thought perhaps his son had come down from his bed to play a trick on him, and he looked around the room but saw no one.

"A few moments later he saw a flash of light in the room, lasting just a short time. He could not figure out what it was as there was no storm, and certainly no flash cameras or any other explanation. He decided he was working too hard and too long. It is important to note that this man is a math professor among other things. He has not practiced a religion, and as a scientist, generally needs to see facts about things before he makes a judgment about mysterious things.

"He went to bed. At two a.m., he got a call that his sister was killed in a motorcycle accident. The time of her death was 11 p.m. The exact time he sensed a person and saw a light in the room he was in. When he told me the story, he ended it by saying, 'I know it was my sister coming to say good-bye.' I think it is important, when these stories are retold, that often the person who experienced the phenomenon seems to always receive interior knowledge of who or why the visit occurred."

Wrote Trudy from North Carolina:

"My husband died two years ago, his body ravished from cancer and its suffering. Shortly after he died, after his body was taken away, I was sitting on the edge of the bed -- numb with grief. 

"All of a sudden I felt his spirit right beside, so strongly.

"There was no doubt in my mind he was there. He was young, vibrant, and so very happy. I heard his voice in my head and he said, 'Darling, I've got to go, I've got to go.' He was so excited and so happy. I was stunned but filled with peace because of his happiness. Shortly after that my daughter, who lived in another state, called me and told me this story. Just after she got the phone call that her dad had died (it was 2:30 a.m.), her little two-year-old girl was calling for her. When she and her husband went in to her bedroom to check she was standing up in her crib saying, 'But I  didn't want to say goodbye to Papa.' And then she went back to sleep. So I believe God allowed my husband to come and say goodbye to me and to his little granddaughter. Quite amazing! And I believe a lovely comforting gift from God."

"I would like to share with you my experience," adds Anthony Smith of Castlerahan in County Cavan, Ireland. "My only son Anthony was killed in a car crash on September 11, 2005. He was a passenger in a car that went off the road at about three a.m. in the morning. He had just celebrated his twenty-first birthday. It was a terrible time for us. I was continually asking God for help to get through this ordeal. I think it was about six months later when one night I had a very special dream. I remember waking in the night. And when I went back to sleep I could see a man in black whom I felt was very holy. I reached out to touch him. And my son Anthony seemed to jump up between. His words to me: 'Hi dad, I'm back, I just want you to know I am in a wonderful place; you're are going to love it  when you get here.' There seemed to be a glow around him. About a week later he came back in a dream again. I was sitting on the stairs and he was a step above me. He said to me, 'You know, dad, its like being back in college. I am studying all the time.' I got the feeling God allowed my son to come back to me to ease my pain. Anthony had been to Medjugorje with us about a month before he was killed. Keep up the good work. Reading your messages is a big help to me."

We hear so many of these accounts that it begins to defy skepticism. Let us discern. Wrote Cathy Donahue of Valley Park, Missouri, "My mother in law died when she was just 54. Her five children were in their twenties and thirties. Only one of the ten grandchildren had been born at the time. Several years after her death, two of her daughters took their families to Disney World together. After the vacation, one of the daughters was looking at vacation photos with her daughter. The daughter remarked, 'Look, it's Grandma Vicki behind us!' In a photo of family members seated in the tea cup ride Grandma Vicki is quite clearly in the teacup directly behind them, looking directly at the camera."

There is always the room for doubt, is there not?

And there is also the room for faith.

Such is our journey on this earth -- which is so fleeting: a moment, in eternal time.


On the very day of a typhoon disaster in the Philippines (killing hundreds), and the day after we ran an article on the prophetic pulse, a viewer from Crystal Lake, Illinois, claims she heard, in an Adoration Chapel (December 13): "Water will consume many lives. Pray for the salvation of souls not prepared to die." The prayer she was told to recite: "Father, save souls who are not prepared to come to you. Love these souls into Heaven."

Now about angels: is it good or wrong to name a "guardian"? And is it a subject worthy of dispute?

No dispute is necessary. Some saints seemed to lean against it. Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, named his childhood angel mi relojerico ["my dear watchmaker"] because the angel even woke Escriva up.

But let's air it out.

Opined Stewart Davies: "While I can accept the possibility that one's Guardian Angel may suggest a name so as to further personalize the relationship, the name of an angel by which it is known to God is, for us, unknown and unknowable. Every single human being that has ever lived or who will ever live has a unique name that is known only to the Creator of angels and men. That name defines each soul's unique identity, which can never be duplicated. When God said to the the prophet Jeremiah, 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,' he showed us that all of us existed, that is each persons unique identity existed in the mind of God long before the world began. We are told that God created far more angels than human beings, yet we are also told that, if it were possible to see them as they really are, we would see that no two angels resemble each other in appearance. This is a reflection of the infinite attributes of God. As with us, the names by which God called each angel into being is a name that expresses the unique identity of each one of them."

Wrote Cheryl Kellett of Vermont: "In 1989 I had heard of people naming their angel and thought it would be interesting to learn what my angel's name might be, but didn't directly ask for it. A few days later, out of the blue, his name came clearly to me. It was Timothy. Compared to others who get really unusual names, his was a common earthly name, however, it had much significance for his name meant 'to adore God.' Interestingly before this  I had an immense delight whenever I'd see Jesus exposed on the altar at Church or when on a trip finding Him thus expositioned I'd spend time with Him. I also had started up Adoration at my Church once a week from 9:00-6:00 and if vacant spots were on the sign-up sheet, I'd spend as much as four to five hours to cover them when necessary. I had also made a couple pamphlets -- one on the Reality of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the other on Reasons for Adoration and placed them in all the pews." 

"I have a lot of experience, much first hand, in this area, as well as a degree in theology and philosophy from Franciscan University, and much study in this area," said Keith Berube, who has written us before. "Just a few comments: Demons will do anything they can to develop a relationship with someone. Sometimes, with those dabbling in the occult, they claim to be 'spirit guides,' and with children they have been known to say they are angels and give the child a name with which to call them. There is every reason to suspect that a demon would say, 'I am so and so, your angel.' I don't want to place too much emphasis on the demons, but they do watch us carefully, and they could very well, knowing we want to know our guardian angel's name, pretend to be an 'angel of light' and give a name. We would then, in calling on this name, be in contact with a demon rather than a holy angel. Demons are simply far beyond us in intellect, and we simply do not know the ins and outs of the spiritual world as well as we think. The Church provides clear boundaries, tells us what is safe and what is not. There is simply no precedent whatsoever for calling on our guardian angels by a specific name (other than 'My Guardian Angel,' 'My Angel,' 'My little Angel,' etc). No Saint has ever done this--not St. Padre Pio, not St. Gemma, both of whom saw and conversed audibly."

As for the intervention of angels: "My name is Charlie Catarelli I live in Lake Katrine, New York," said another. "I just want to share with you one of many accounts of my guardian angel helping to save my life. I was driving to work one dark  morning on a road that was hilly and had curves in it. The radio was on and I was driving too fast for that road. Right before I came to a curve I heard a voice that I had heard a few times before (in my head, of course). It said 'slow down!' I said to it 'ok' and shut off the radio and slowed down a lot. When I got to the curve there was a garbage truck across the road backing into a driveway, blocking the whole road. If I had been going as fast as I had been I would have crashed into the truck, probably killing myself or getting badly hurt. So I thank our Lord and my  guardian  angel for all there help."

Let us discern (or try to)....

[resources: The God of Miracles]

[see also: In even smallest matters, St. Escriva relied on angels]

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