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.