Seeing Angels

by Christine Kimel

I was once given the grace to see angels. It was at a weekday Eucharist in the late 90s at the Church of the Holy Communion in Charleston, South Carolina. I do not recall what feast day it was, but it was the anniversary of Father James Cantler’s ordination to the priesthood. Perhaps it was his forty-fifth, though I cannot be sure. Father Cantler was the celebrant. There was a modest congregation and the full choir.

A short way into the Eucharist, it suddenly sounded as if the church were full, over-full, with wonderful choirs. The voices were stunningly beautiful.

Then I began to see glimpses of movement and shape and color out of the corners of my eyes up near the high ceiling over the altar. Soon, it seemed the church was filled with rushing movement. This gradually coalesced into individual creatures. They were immense and somehow fierce. They had faces and huge wings behind and above them, but their bodies constantly shifted in and out of sight. Sometimes they seemed solid and sometimes I could see through them. I had the impression of long, flowing garments. If I hadn’t heard their voices I would have been terrified. They were every color and no color. Colors I’ve never seen and can’t describe except to say they were the most beautiful colors I have ever seen, and that some of them didn’t belong on earth. These colors melded together and swirled around and were constantly shifting one shade to another to another. And then I saw a face clearly. It was neither male nor female but more beautiful than I have words to describe. It was somehow more alive than a human face. It had a majesty about it and a sense of itself and its own purpose.

I closed my eyes at the beginning of the Confession of Sin. The voices stopped. I feared they had left us and opened my eyes to look. They were still there, but silent. One looked at me and said “We have nothing to confess”. His mouth did not move but I heard him clearly nonetheless. I was ashamed and humbled in their presence, although I sensed no judgment from them.

At the dismissal, as Father Cantler blessed the congregation, I finally saw one angel in stillness. He stood behind this faithful priest, with his right hand on Father Cantler’s shoulder, and he spoke the words, “I am pleased.” I am convinced that it was his Guardian Angel.

The service ended and we all filed out. I looked back into the church but saw nothing. The angels were gone or perhaps I was no longer given the grace to see them.

I went to the choir room to disrobe and put music away with all the other choir members. Our organist and choir master, Kip Coerper, burst in and exclaimed: “That was amazing!! You’ve never sounded better! You were fantastic! It’s as if the church was filled with choirs.” One other person heard the singing of the angels.

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12 Responses to Seeing Angels

  1. Geoffrey McKinney says:

    This illustrates why I am simply unable to take atheism seriously. This sort of thing has happened countless times, all over the world and throughout history. Only by preposterously sweeping away all such accounts can atheism even be considered. Atheism’s modus operandi on this score is similar to that of young earth creationism. (“The mountains of proof establishing beyond a doubt that life, the earth, and the universe are billions of years old [rather than thousands]? Ignore all of that! The facts are contrary to the evidence.”)

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  2. My favorite novel of all time is Mark Helprin’s “A Soldier of the Great War.” There’s a great scene at the opening of the book when Alessandro is trying to get to the bus on time. Sometimes you have to ignore seeing angels for more quotidian tasks. Especially if angels are part of your daily repertoire. I know my own guardian angel has physically shoved me out of harm’s way at least a couple of times. I wouldn’t mind seeing him sometime though.

    “As he hurried along the Villa Borghese he felt his blood rushing and his eyes sharpening with sweat. In advance of his approach through long tunnels of dark greenery the birds caught fire in song but were perfectly quiet as he passed directly underneath, so that he propelled and drew their hypnotic chatter before and after him like an ocean wave pushing through an estuary. With his white hair and thick white mustache, Alessandro Giuliani might have seemed English were it not for his cream-colored suit of distinctly Roman cut and a thin bamboo cane entirely inappropriate for an Englishman. Still trotting, breathless, and tapping, he emerged from the Villa Borghese onto a long wide road that went up a hill and was flanked on either side by a row of tranquil buildings with tile roofs from which the light reflected as if it were a waterfall cascading onto broken rock.

    Had he looked up he might have seen angels of light dancing above the throbbing bright squares—in whirlwinds, will-o’-the-wisps, and golden eddies—but he didn’t look up, for he was intent on getting to the end of the long road, to a place where he had to catch a streetcar that, by evening, would take him far into the countryside. He would have said, anyway, that it was better to get to the end of the road than to see angels, for he had seen angels many times before. Their faces shone from paintings; their voices rode the long and lovely notes of arias; they descended to capture the bodies and souls of young children; they sang and perched in the trees; they were in the surf and the streams; they inspired dancing; and they were the right and holy combination of words in poetry. As he climbed the hill he thought not of angels and their conveyances, but of a motorized trolley. It was the last to leave Rome on Sunday, and he did not want to miss it.”

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  3. Dee of St Hermans says:

    Dear Christine,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with seeing angels. While not having had such experience of such magnificence myself, I believe and recognize the reality nevertheless. Your description is beautiful and feeds the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. DBH says:

    They’re always there, you know. But we see what we’re disposed to see, by habit, by cultural formation, and by any number of other forces.

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  5. Marc says:

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional “opium for the people”—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.”- Albert Einstein

    materialism/atheism is a late western development. Many ways unnatural to our history and experience as humans

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    • Jack says:

      To be honest, Einstein was more of a romantic naturalist. Admittedly he borrows heavily from theism when he talks about the reason manifest in the laws of nature, but his refusal to attribute personal qualities to his God and to deny the supernatural kind of makes him an atheist. Now how such a “God” can exist without something analogous to consciousness does not seem to be something Einstein ever addressed. He seemed to beat around the bush there. He definitely would never have accepted belief in angels or an unseen world. I could very well be wrong about that, but that is how I interpret him.

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      • Marc says:

        so he was more like Spinoza in a way

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        • Jack says:

          I don’t know enough about Spinoza to say, but Einstein said as much. But Spinoza said God’s attributes were infinite, and that we know of only two; thought and extension. Perhaps I am misinterpreting him, but it always seemed to me that Spinoza’s God is at least analogous to mind.

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          • Geoffrey McKinney says:

            Einstein wrote in 1929 to an American rabbi, “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

            Liked by 1 person

  6. basileius says:

    A beautiful article. Is this Mrs Kimel?

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