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Under Angel Wings

Our Guardian Angels are always with us, acting as protectors and guides, observing our every action. Though we cannot see them or hear them, we should remain confident in their presence. We have as a testament of the existence of Guardian Angels, the accounts of a few privileged souls who were blessed with a more intimate relationship with their Angels, sensing their actual presence and in some miraculous way, seeing and hearing them. One such favored person was a Brazilian girl named Cecy Cony, who later became Sister Maria Antonia. Since her early childhood, this simple and pious girl saw and heard her Guardian Angel, whom she called her “New Friend”. Cecy’s Angel kept her from lying, stealing, revenge, immodesty and other sins, and guarded her from many dangers. The constant guidance of her Angel helped Cecy to grow in virtue and holiness. In the following account, taken from her autobiography, Sister Maria Antonia describes an instance in which her beloved Angel led her to do God’s will and overcome her pride:

“In the year 1913 we were preparing for our annual school picnic on October 25 in honor of the feast day of Mother Raphael. This annual excursion into the country was enjoyed by all the students. Each student was fortified with the indispensable basket of sandwiches. Acacia (the servant) prepared my basket with a variety of good things to eat, especially with those that she knew I liked. At the appointed hour of midday I set out joyfully for the school.

“I was walking alone. In one hand I carried the basket; in the other I held a canvas bag filled with apples and bananas. I was passing by a corner a short distance from the school when I saw seated on the pavement an old woman, begging. Stretching out her hand, she said to me: ‘Little girl, give an alms to a poor old woman who has not had a cup of coffee yet today.’ I happened to have in my apron pocket the change left over from buying fruit. My mother had allowed me to keep this change, which was not very much. I gave it to the old woman, who received it gratefully, saying: ‘May our Lord bless you!’

“I continued on my way happily, but I had not gone ten steps when I stopped in surprise. My New Friend had gently placed his holy hand on my shoulder. I understood that he wished something. I sought his holy face, and it was sad but not severe. At the same instant I thought of the old woman sitting at the corner. I looked back and she was still there. Then I thought: ‘How can that poor woman obtain enough food for today and tomorrow with the little money I gave her? I should give her everything that I have brought with me for the picnic. Only in this way can I take away the sadness from the holy face of my New Friend.’

“I returned to the beggar, and with unaccustomed haste I emptied into her lap everything that I had in the basket and in the bag, while I said to her: ‘I had brought all this food for our picnic, but I want to give it all to you, since you did not have breakfast yet.’ I do not know what the poor old woman answered; I noticed only her gesture of great surprise. Then I began to run toward the school, as if I feared I should not have the necessary will power to do faithfully what my New Friend desired. Arriving at the corner of the school, I stopped, and once again I sought the holy face of my New Friend. It was not sad anymore; it possessed that ‘sweetness’ which told me that Our Lord and my New Friend were happy with their little friend. I opened the basket and put the empty canvas bag into it. Then I thought: ‘How can I go to the school and on the picnic with an empty basket?’

I made up my mind to return home and ask Acacia to fill my basket a second time. I knew that she would do this for me. I was about to run home when again I felt the most sweet hand of my New Friend hindering me. He did not wish me to return but to continue on to the school. I obeyed him, although my mind was confused and undecided, thinking of what I should say to the other students when they saw my empty basket. I knew that they would make fun of me. This was the great fear which vexed my soul, but the sweet expression on the holy face of my New Friend drove my fears away. I entered the school as happy as if my basket were still full of the good things I liked so well.

“The schoolyard was already filled with children, and each one was carrying a small basket. I spent some fearful moments wondering what I should do at the picnic spot when the children divided up into groups to eat their lunch.

“Shortly, we set out on our picnic. I was with my group of seven or eight children. During the walk each one told the others what she had brought for her lunch, while I remained silent and embarrassed. We finally arrived at the spot for the picnic. Then it was soon time for lunch. All the children spread out in groups over the grass. I stood still, undecided whether or not I should join my group. I sought the holy face of my New Friend, seeking help and guidance from him. The.... holy ‘sweetness’ which filled my soul with such great joy put my indecision to flight. (I realize now what I did not recognize then, namely, that my fear came from my dislike of being humiliated by my companions.) I went toward the members of my group, who were calling me. My New Friend wished this. All of them had their baskets opened and were already eating. One of them took hold of my basket to see what it contained. What was her surprise and my annoyance! Everyone saw that the basket was empty, containing only the empty canvas bag. All began to laugh loudly, while I could hardly keep back the tears and sobs. I wanted to ask them not to laugh at me. A thousand questions came at me from all sides, accompanied by stinging remarks:

“Did you hide your lunch in a hole in the ground in case we should ask you for something?’

“She ate her own lunch and now she wants to share ours.’

“I thought there was something peculiar about the way she swung the basket back in the schoolyard.’

“Did you have no food at home to bring on the picnic?’

“I could not stand any more. I would tell everything to Mother Raphael. The girls were very unkind to me. But the holy hand of my New Friend prevented me from leaving and speaking to Mother Raphael. How I wished that I could at least leave this group and join another! My New Friend did not want me to do that; so I remained with my own group.

“Overcoming my will with a tremendous effort, I seated myself once again. One of the girls offered me a big piece of jellied fruit on a slice of cheese. Immediately the thought arose in my mind: ‘I will not accept it; I do not need her food.’ But before I had time to say one word, I felt resting on my shoulder that holy hand so well known to me. I understood that my New Friend wished me to accept the offered food. Within me there was a battle between my will and my self-love. My will conquered. I accepted what was offered to me. I accepted also what the other girls offered me. Whenever I took a mouthful of food, I did not taste the sweetness of those good things because of the violent repugnance I felt within me. However, the ‘sweetness’ of the holy face of my New Friend overcame everything. The picnic came to an end, and no one knew what had happened; neither my father, nor my mother, nor Mother Raphael, nor Acacia, nor anyone at all.” (138-143)