Miscarriage and Stillborns - Why do people think their children become angels?


#1

Last year I was shocked when my fifth graders (in a Catholic school) informed me that they thought that all people became angels when they die. I have also noticed that many mothers that have had miscarriages and stillborn babies call their babies “little angels” or “angel babies” and apparently think that their children become angels. Why do people think this?

I thought the Church was crystal clear on the distinction between angels and human beings.


#2

Last year I was shocked when my fifth graders (in a Catholic school) informed me that they thought that all people became angels when they die. I have also noticed that many mothers that have had miscarriages and stillborn babies call their babies “little angels” or “angel babies” and apparently think that their children become angels. Why do people think this?

I thought the Church was crystal clear on the distinction between angels and human beings.


#3

maybe because Jesus said to let all the little children come to him


#4

I think the IMAGE of Angels is easy to understand - so I think the idea gets misinterpreted easily.
Also, as other denominations have ventured further and further away from the Catholic Truth, they have lost the beauty and fullness in the teachings of Purgatory and the Communion of Saints in Heaven, and how we CAN pray to our loved ones who are with God (and FOR the ones who are still in Purgatory). These teachings aren’t universal throughout Christianity.

So this is just my own interpretation of the situation because I’ve noticed the same thing… I think the IMAGE of Angels is easier to understand and doesn’t conflict with the broken teachings in other denominations, kwim?

So even a Catholic society can be affected by the understanding of the “general Christian community”… unless we use the PROPER terminology and Catechize correctly it can be easily misunderstood…


#5

Our modern concept of Angels is creatures which look out for us, protect and pray for us. This is what Saints (anyone verifyably in Heaven) do. In fact, most modern people do not have an understanding of how “angels” differ from “saints”.

A baby who dies without sin is a saint, plain and simple. Many people will argue that without a baptism the baby may be in limbo, but whatever, it is in a powerful place close to God where it’s prayers are heard in a deep and intimate way.

As far as people needing to learn about angels as a separate creature…neither God nor man…thats a completely different topic.


#6

As Catholics we tend to say ‘My baby is a little Saint in Heaven’ (St Therese of Lisieux’s family prayed to their 4 siblings who had died in infancy, and she called them ‘Our little Saints in Heaven’ too). Non-Catholics don’t tend to believe people can become Saints (remember, a canonisation is only CONFIRMING the belief of the Church that someone is a Saint, but anyone can BE a Saint, confirmed by the Church or not, God willing), so they go with the ‘angel’ version…


#7

Exactly - your post was more eloquent than mine! :slight_smile:


#8

Death is a very difficult concept for children to comprehend, even 5th graders, and when someone dies, most people try to make it easier on children by telling them the nice simple things about death like heaven and angels. Babies go to heaven b/c God takes care of them, they are little angels. :slight_smile:


#9

It also doesn’t help that people mistake the depictions of puti (a figure of a human baby or toddler naked and having wings) in the art of the Italian Masters as cherub angels. Renaissance art is powerful and has become part of pop art. I think this has blurred the line between understanding the difference between innocent angels and innocent deceased children.

Ignorance in Christian theology plays a large roll in perpetuating this belief.


#10

As an “angel mommy” I DO refer to my children as saints. However, in the non Catholic world, they are called angels as a coping mechanism. It’s easier for Mommies in Crisis to think about their babies as angels than as a dead child. The word “Saint” is shared among my Catholics friends.

I think there’s also a common misunderstanding of what an angel is versus a saint, kwim?

Also, if St. Augustine was correct, and our children are not in Heaven, but in some limbo “content” to be without Him, I’d rather picture them as angels. Lying to myself would help me cope better with this. :(:(:frowning:

Why we do what we do is beyond me. I picture my boys as saints, but TBH, commercially, I find many more “angel” statues and memory gifts than saints.And these little statues and gifts are my comfort when I am upset.

I will try to correct this. However, of all the issues I had in life, I wish this one wasn’t it. :frowning:


#11

It may have something to do with Jesus’ teaching in Luke 20:35-36 in which ressurected mortals are likened to angels. I think this is where the idea that the dead become angels originated. While it is a comforting thought, especially with regard to children, it is taking one of our Lord’s teaching way out of context. Besides, it’s one thing to be like an angel and quite another to actually be one.


#12

What the Church teaches and what people want to believe may not always agree. How do you explain to a small child what happens after someone dies? Parents are using the imagery of an angel, something they can understand. I recall having a book as a child titled “the Littlest Angel”. We like to think of our children as “angelic” (at times) and the thought of one of our “lost” children as an angel in heaven is very comforting.

So I think this is way to think or talk about death with children, especially in more tragic situations, and is not a case of doctrinal error.


#13

Isnt it because of what Jesus said in

Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married; but shall be as the angels of God in heaven.

This doesnt mean that they will be angels, he was rather showing that in heaven there is no need for marriage and physichal relationship.

But many interpreat it that they will be angels and as such having a spiritual relationship with God.

I cant see anything wrong in this because we dont know what heaven is so maybe its good for the remaining relatives to create for themselves a picture, it makes things a little easier.


#14

It was a coping mechanism for me. Now I refer to him as a saint.


#15

Interesting points :slight_smile: I think popular culture DOES have a leaning towards the angelic…and in my own pre CC view, Saints were martyrs, kwim? So saints have a connotation of being someone that died for Christ and His Church…not a stillborn child, or like my Mom.

From now on, I will really try to be canon about this.

I agree with the above poster that said he’d like to see the Church come out with official teachings…but since that won’t happen, we need to start providing better support.

Our Church was very supportive…but try to find a Catholic support group…it’s not there! Maybe this could be a calling?!

I am so sorry for all of your losses. I know I try to remember His Mercy, but at times, my own grief overtakes me, and remembering He is suffering too is a challenge.


#16

Well, if every good angel in heaven is a saint (but not every saint is an angel… some are like St. Michael, etc.) and angels are pure spirit and intellect (no corporeal bodies) then some people make the mental shortcut to think that when we die if we go to heaven, before we are reuinited with our bodies at the Second Coming, we will be in heaven and be in spirit form. Similar to the angels we are told surround the throne of God.

Is it too much to want to imagine for a parent who has lost a child that their child is joined with them and indistinguishable from the angels singing around the throne of God and maybe even joining in the singing of praises?

Christ said, “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” If a child dies, is it hard to imagine that one of those angels takes it to heaven and stays with it there? Not hard to imagine how the image came about. Jesus started it.

:wink:

It’s not bad theology… just improper naming.


#17

I think the interpretation “ANGEL” to stillborn and miscarried babies is because they have not had to be born into this world with original sin and are therefore already granted eternal life.Not mortal as we are.The references other posters have given are also understandable.When my son baby Stephen died 1982 I was devastated (still am) but my priest spent a lot of time with me.I understand well meaning people who say “O, he’s and angel in heaven now”.We do not know Gods purpose or will, for our children, but we certainly know He called them for a better purpose than here.As i already stated,they did not have to be born with original sin or have to be mortal.Whether they are saints or angels is of no significance to me.By the way I have two children called by God.I miss them both dearly and love them intensely but my love for God is above all things.God decides what they are called to be…angels or saints.God bless


#18

In the bible there is this (maybe in matthew or another gospel? Jesus said it to those people who did not believe in the ressurection);

“In the ressurection, people with not be married nor will they be given into marriage, but they will be like the angels in heaven.”


#19

I think part of the problem is shows like “Touched by an Angel”

Touched showed angels as being very human and while it might have been entertaining, it really missed the mark on the nature of angels. Because of Touched and shows like it, some people have come to perceive angels as being the next stage of a person’s existence.

This is probably only part of the problem though.


#20

Except of course for the pesky original sin which means that even a fertilized egg deserves to burn in hell for all eternity. Bit off topic of course.


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