Her Very Close Friends — Funeral Homily for Doris Prince, 92

Doris has been a faithful and longtime parishioner of St. John the Baptist’s in Cooks Valley. At the end of this hour, we will be taking her earthly remains there, to St. John’s Cemetery, to await day of the resurrection. The reason we gathered here at St. Paul’s Church for Doris’ funeral Mass was to guarantee that there would be enough space in church for all of you to attend. There are now more than seven and a half billion people living on this earth. Consider that you who are gathered here (plus those who attended Doris’ visitation yesterday) are the people on earth who know her best and love her best. There are many ways one could preach a funeral homily for a devout woman like Doris, but I believe Doris is pleased to know that I am going to speak to you about friends of hers who have known her and loved her better than any of us here. You’ve probably never met them and you don’t know most of their names. They formally introduced themselves to Doris herself for the first time only just last week, but they have been faithfully there for her and she has been fond of them for many years. I speak of the angels.

Doris had a huge collection of angels she collected over the past fifty years or more. There were more than two hundred of them within her house, some in almost every room. She had angels of all kinds; porcelain angels, plastic angels, cloth angels, some glittery angels, some outdoor angels, some that glowed in the dark, and that some played music, all for Doris to delight in. In her later years, an angel was the go-to gift one gave to her. After moving into the nursing home seven years ago, Doris began giving away her angels as gifts herself. She even gave them out to surprised trick-or-treaters. God has similarly collected angels for his own delight, and the Lord has shared his angels with us, to lead us to the Father’s house on the mountain of God to share in their heavenly joy.

What is an angel? Angels are purely spiritual beings, created by God but not made of matter. Angels are personal and immortal creatures possessing intellect and will, knowing and choosing. They surpass in perfection every earthly creatures we can see. Never having fallen, they are sinless and glorious; loving God, one another, and human beings with a intense and extraordinary devotion. Precious Moments statues rightly depict angels as pure and innocent, but these small and fragile figurines do not reflect angels’ awesome power and often intimidating presence. The Bible records that angels who reveal their otherworldly glory to human beings throughout salvation history have typically needed to first calm and reassure, “Be not afraid.”

God sends angels to us as his servants and messengers. As the Book of Hebrews rhetorically confirms, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” Though “some have entertained angels unawares,” we seem to rarely see angels; yet, angels are never far from us, even the smallest children. Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in Heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” So, even the littlest ones have angels. Each of us, from the beginning to the end of our lives, have been assigned a guardian angel whose mission from God is to help to enlighten, and guard, and rule, and guide us through this world. In the words of St. Basil, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.

Each angel has a name, but we know only three individual angels’ names from Scripture, all of them archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. An archangel announced the first coming of Jesus to the Virgin Mary; and today’s second reading from St. Paul says an archangel’s voice will announce to us the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus descending from Heaven. We have no authority to name our angels; they are named by God and belong to him.

Your relationship with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is most essential, but do you have a personal relationship with your guardian angel as well? We can and should have a relationship with our angels. Thank them for their assistance and ask them for their help. We can ask them to pray for us. The New Testament Letter of St. James says, “The prayers of a righteous person are very powerful,” so imagine how powerful these sinless creatures’ prayers are before God.

We can ask them to remind us of important things because angels never forget. They are brilliant creatures, more intelligent than any of us, and we can ask them to enlighten us. (For instance, I asked angels’ help in writing this homily.) We can also ask them to go on small missions for us, to lend aid to others we care about wherever they may be. Our angel guardians’ ultimate mission is to lead us to salvation. The angels are more glorious than any creature on earth, but their humble and earnest desire is that we would become even more glorious than themselves in Heaven.

Doris has been a friend to the angels. May you be their Christian friends as well. For our beloved, devout, and faithful Doris, who surrounded herself with angels, and someday for all of us here:

“May choirs of angels lead you into paradise,
and may the martyrs come to welcome you,
to bring you home into the holy city,
so you may dwell in new Jerusalem.

May holy angels be there at your welcoming,
with all the saints who go before you there,
that you may know the peace and joy of paradise;
that you may enter into everlasting rest.”

One Response to “Her Very Close Friends — Funeral Homily for Doris Prince, 92”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Cool :)! I know *I* keep forgetting about my angel guardian. This is a good reminder…

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