Young children, especially from Christian families, are very curious about the invisible world, i.e., Angels and demons. We collected several such questions and asked Archpriest Alexander Elatomtsev, the rector of the Nativity of Christ Church in v. Rozhdestveno (Istra Raion, Moscow Oblast) and the spiritual father of Christmas Orthodox School, to answer them.
I want to see an Angel or the Mother of God. I keep praying about it all the time. Why doesn’t God let me see them?
It is because God wants you to trust Him, and not test Him. Right now, your prayer sounds like, “Lord, I believe that You exist and angels exist, too, but please let me see an Angel with my own eyes, and I’ll believe even stronger… you know, there might not be one?” The Lord keeps silent in response to this test. He is waiting for you to grow up and start to notice your Guardian Angel by his actions when he guards and protects you. The Lord teaches you to see with your heart and not your eyes.
As far as the Mother of God is concerned, the answer is even simpler. Take an Orthodox calendar and try counting saints, at least Russian saints. You’ll lose count pretty soon. See, the Mother of God appeared to just a couple of those saints: Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Saint Sergius of Radonezh. Work as hard as they did, and you can then ask for the Mother of God to visit you, too. Today, it’s too early. You can’t jump to the top of the ladder. You’ve got to climb it bit by bit. First of all, pray to God to be able to make your parents happy and never make them sad. The Mother of God always made her parents, St. Joachim and St. Ann, happy.
Can I see God while alive? Or is it possible only after I die?
Yes, you can, and you must! The word “see” is really strange. We use this word in various cases. There are farsighted people. They can see things that are too far for a regular person to see. You can say that they have “strong eyes.” There are people who are able to “see” the solution of a mathematical problem. They have “strong minds.” In order to see God, you need to have a “strong heart.” A strong heart is a pure and kind heart. It is a heart that keeps on working. It doesn’t just pump blood; it loves, cares, protects you from offenses and evil thoughts, cleanses itself with repentance (which is, by the way, especially challenging). If you train your heart, you’ll definitely see God in your heart. Furthermore, if someone didn’t see God in such a way, he isn’t actually a Christian. He didn’t even meet God. You have to meet God while alive because when you die, it’s too late.
What happens with the Guardian Angel of a certain person when that person dies?
Let’s be honest: I don’t know! I know that a Guardian Angel escorts the person to God’s Throne, to the tentative judgment, and asks God to have mercy on that person; but I don’t know what he does next. I don’t think the Angel will be laid off. He may become a guardian of a new person, or become the Guardian Angel of a new church or a new village. The word “Angel” means “a messenger”. He will do whatever the Lord sends him to do. Or perhaps, he’ll have a vacation and praise God in heaven.
I saw a UFO. Are they aliens or demons?
It must have been either a jet or a drone, that is, a remotely operated flying vehicle. There are plenty of them flying in the air day and night. Or it might be an atmospheric phenomenon. By the way, scientists in our country explored this UFO phenomenon very seriously, including experts in aviation and astronautics. Every time they dug to the core of a given case, they found a natural cause: an atmospheric phenomenon or a missile launch (not all launches are officially published).
So you shouldn’t think that a UFO, i.e., an unidentified flying object, is invariably made on another planet. In general, you should try and explain every strange phenomenon using natural explanations, and only if there isn’t any natural explanation, you can go out looking for an unconventional way to explain that stuff.
As far as aliens’ existence goes, it’s extremely dubious. Everything we know about them is based on science fiction but it’s just authors’ imagination. You shouldn’t think that everything printed in books exists in reality. Especially given the fact that there is no serious scientific proof of the aliens’ existence. Science fictions authors who write about aliens don’t believe in them. They use aliens as an allegory, as a way to speak about purely human problems from a different angle.
Perhaps, you suppose that the UFO that you saw was a demonic prank? Demons pretending to be aliens? Indeed, demons can use this tactic to fool people. They are familiar with mass culture concepts. They used to appear as goblins or witches in old times but nowadays, due to science fiction popularity, they pretend to be aliens in order to deceive spiritually ill people.
I’m sure it isn’t your case. The Lord protects us from demons and doesn’t let us see them, neither in their own, incredibly revolting image nor in disguise. You have to
do something abhorrent before God for Him to take away His protection and for you to see the evil spirits.
Hence, the UFO that you’re talking about has nothing to do with aliens or demons. It’s either an aircraft or a rare atmospheric phenomenon.
Do saints always wear halos around their heads?
Of course, people are born without halos. The halo is the divine light, the light in which God dwells. Gradually, if one’s heart becomes clean, this light starts to shine through that person. If the Church canonizes a saint, She has his icons painted. Sometimes, those icons contain scenes from the saint’s life, where we can see the saint in his or her childhood but already with the halo. It doesn’t mean that he or she was holy since childhood. It means that he or she advanced toward holiness since his early days.
Interestingly enough, the icon of the Last Supper portrays the holy apostles without halos and Jesus Christ with the halo. That is the lesson that the icons teaches: we, like the apostles, are made holy because of Communion.
Where will Angels go after the Second Coming of Christ? Will they stay with people or in a different paradise?
Of course, they will stay in the same paradise where God dwells with the saints. Saints and Angels will talk with each other as friends, face to face. There cannot be a “different paradise.” The paradise is the place where God lives. It’s His garden. God is one: hence, there is only one paradise for everybody.
Should I believe in dreams when I see an Angel in my dream?
People want to believe in good dreams. The Lord sent prophetic dreams to his saints sometimes. Or rather, He sent an angel who appeared to people. You might remember how the Lord ordered Saint Joseph the Betrothed to escape to Egypt to save Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
However, we’ve got to be more cautious. We mustn’t accept our dreams at face value. Instead, we have to interpret them properly. Our souls are like deep and big coffers, and we don’t know what hides within. Dreams are like keys for those coffers. They can help us to make sense of our own emotions and feelings.
If you want to understand yourself better, you should ask advice from your dad, your mom, or a priest whom you trust.
Afterword for Parents
Our selection of children’s questions deals with the invisible world. A grown-up believer must be able to tell kids about this world. What do we know about it?
This world cannot be seen with human eyes. It has to be invisible. God made it to be invisible, and therefore, we must not look for a visual proof of its existence. This world is revealed to us in sensations, feelings, and aspirations. Our invisible souls dwell in this world, too. Fyodor Tyutchev, a Russian poet, wrote:
O my prophetic soul!
O my excited heart!
You beat as if you’re torn
Between two worlds that stay apart.
The entrance to that world is located in the center of our human self—in the heart. There isn’t any impersonal entrance into that world. In other words, only a person who purposefully tries to get inside will enter that world. That is how the words of Christ The Kingdom of Heaven is within you are made true.
It might sound funny that a rural priest ventures to talk about the invisible and the unspeakable… Smile! Dear adults, please, enter that real but invisible world, where God dwells and where our souls ought to be, as often as you can. Our children will certainly ask us what that world looks like? They need firsthand experience of your communication with the invisible world. They are in need of your honest and sober experience of dealing with the invisible—free from false mysticism and superstitions, clear and convincing like the Divine Liturgy.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds