Imagine if angelic beings went to school to learn to become guardian angels. They would probably have a lot of questions about the strange things that humans do on earth. They would need to study humans closely and learn the best ways to lead them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. In this Angel Academy short story, the angels (and readers) learn about the importance of waking up and paying attention at Mass.
The Angel Academy: Sleeping on Sunday
The class of angels gathered together for another lesson in their training to become guardian angels. Their teacher, the Archangel Barachiel, arrived and brought them to attention.
“Today will will learn about a difficult challenge many of you will face on Sunday mornings during the teenage years of your humans,” he announced. “First, though, let me remind you of the third of the Ten Commandments given to Moses: keep holy the Sabbath day.”
Immediately the hand of an angel with thick glasses shot up into the air. “Sir, isn’t the Sabbath on a Saturday?”
“Yes, thank you for that clarification,” the teacher responded. “The Sabbath day is on a Saturday, but Christians celebrate the holy day of the week on a Sunday, the day the Son of God rose from the dead. Therefore, the Christians live out this commandment by going to church on Sunday.”
The student nodded his head and pushed his glasses back up to his eyes and listened intently to the teacher.
“In our lesson today, we will follow along as the guardian angel of a teenage boy attempts to lead his human closer to God by going to church.”
“What’s so hard about that?” asked a tall angel in the back of the classroom.
“Well, you will be surprised by how unwilling many humans, especially teenagers, are to wake up and go to church,” said the teacher.
“Let’s join the guardian now as he attempts to wake up his human,” the teacher said. “Follow me.”
Barachiel led them out of the classroom and through the halls to the clouds outside of the academy. He soared quickly and the class followed until they descended from heaven to a house on earth. He led the class through a bedroom window on the second floor where the saw a boy sleeping amidst scattered blankets and pillows and a guardian angel tickling his nose.
“Is he alive?” said Sim, a glowing white angel from among the students.
“Yes,” said the guardian angel hard at work to wake him up. “The alarm has gone of six times and he still won’t budge. I’m trying to hurry because his parents are going to get very upset.”
At that moment, a knock came at the door. “Honey, it’s time to wake up for church,” said a woman. “We’re leaving in fifteen minutes.”
“That’s his mom,” said the guardian still trying to wake up the boy but with no success.
“I don’t get it,” said a student. “Why wouldn’t he want to go to church? It’s amazing! I mean, they sing songs that the angels sing together with them. They listen to God’s Word, which can change their hearts. They even get to participate in the miracle of heaven and earth meeting in the Eucharist! What is there to dislike?”
“Good question,” said Barachiel. “Not all humans realize how amazing the Mass can be. Many of them find the repetition boring.”
“It is that repetition that trains them to seek God in the simplicity and silence,” said the guardian now pulling on the boy’s ear.
Another knock came on the door, this time a pounding. A low voice of the boy’s father shouted, “Get up right now, mister. We are getting in the car!”
“Coming,” groaned the boy wiping drool off of his cheek. In a daze he found some nicer clothes to wear and with half-opened eyes got ready as quickly as he could. The guardian looked disappointed in himself.
“Don’t worry about it,” said one of the students to the guardian angel. “He’s up and going to church now.”
“Yes, but the hard part has just begun!” said the guardian who followed the boy out the door and into the hall. The angels in the class followed, too.
A short time later, the boy, his parents, and the class of unseen angels walked into the church together where many other people and their guardian angels were finding seats.
“What did you mean when you said that the hard part has just begun?” asked a student.
“I mean, that if I want to help him keep this day holy, I need to help him pay attention at Mass,” he said in reply.
“Class, the priest in the church is going to say something today in his homily that could have a profound effect on the boy if he listens well. The guardian here will have a lot of work ahead of him to guide the boy to pay attention.”
The family took a seat in a pew and the boy almost immediately started to doze off.
“He’s so tired!” said a student.
“Yes, he was up late last night playing video games,” said the guardian. “One or two games was fine, but he just didn’t stop no matter how hard I tried to get him to take a break,” said the guardian who got to work trying to wake the kid up again.
Mass began and the students could see many choirs of angels participating along with the humans (even though the humans couldn’t see them). It was hard for the students to focus on the boy rather than the joining in with the singing angels.
“Watch as our guardian here tries to keep the boy awake,” said Barachiel.
The guardian seemed to try everything. He went back to poking and tickling, but this just seemed to cause the boy to scratch anywhere the guardian tried to wake him.
The mass continued and the boy stood up and sat down at various parts of the celebration. Each time he sat, though, he started to doze off again. When they all sat down to listen to the priest give his homily, the boy could not keep his heavy eyes opened.
“Oh no, look!” said a student. The guardian tried to pull on the eyelids, but his eyes only twitched slightly.
The guardian angel looked up past the boy to the other people in the congregation, whose guardian angels were all working diligently to get their humans to pay attention, too. He spied a guardian with a toddler playing in a pew a few rows back.
“Psst,” he said to the other guardian. “I need you help!”
The guardian of the little girl looked very busy trying to stop the girl from falling off the kneeler. Without looking up the angel asked, “What do you need?”
“Something loud,” the guardian said with a grin.
The angel peered up at him. “I can certainly allow that.”
A few moments later the girl picked up a hymnal (mostly due to the guardian angel’s prompting) and dropped it. With a loud smack, it landed back first on the ground. The parents nearby shushed her and looked embarrassed. Many of the people nearby looked to see what made the noise. Best of all, the teenage boy woke up with a start.
The guardian snapped his fingers pointing to the priest. “Listen! Listen!”
Finally the boy looked up and listened to the priest, who was speaking about the disciples.
“The disciples were not perfect,” said the priest. “They were very far from perfect. Even on the night before their Lord died, they could not stay awake. They had every chance to prove they were worthy of Jesus’ call, but they didn’t. Not yet,”
The boy in the pew rubbed his eyes and continued to listen. The guardian angel smiled. “This is good,” he said.
“And do you know what?” said the priest. “It was these imperfect people that Christ chose to be his disciples and bring the good news to the world. I find a lot of comfort in that, don’t you?”
The boy seemed deep in thought.
The priest continued, “Jesus is calling you. He is calling you to bring all your imperfections and follow him. He has something great in store for you, so wake up and follow him.”
With that, the guardian angel seemed to rest a little easier. “Finally,” he said in relief.
One of the students raised her hand, “But how can you be sure it worked? How can you be sure what he heard really got to him?”
“Oh, I don’t know that, at least not yet. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, days, or even years for a message like this to sink in,” said the guardian. “But, I have the memory to bring up again and again until it gets through to him.”
“Class,” said their teacher. “Why don’t we join in with the choirs of angels here at Mass before we return. The lesson is complete for now, but there is no reason for us to rush back.”
The class of angels joined in various parts of the Mass in which the angels sang with the people there. It was a wonderful experience for all of them and for many of the people there, too.
The Mass ended and the family made their way towards the door. Before leaving the church, the class heard the boy say something to his parents that seemed to surprise them. “Thanks for waking me up and getting me here,” he said to his parents.
The two parents smiled and looked at one another with joy.
“But can I go back to sleep when we get home?” he asked.
The Archangel Barachiel waved the class of angels towards him. He said a quick thank you to the guardian who was already hard at work guiding and guarding the boy on the way to the car. Then, he led the class back through the air towards the Angel Academy.
For more short stories like this one, sign up for the Formative Fiction Friday newsletter.