The Holy Guardian Angels =D
By Fr. J. Heyrmann S.J.
Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels
1. There is nothing childish in the belief that God has appointed His angels to guard and protect man: it expresses the wonderful mutual relationship, which Providence in its ineffable goodness has established between ourselves and the heavenly spirits. It is a pity that this ancient belief, for which there is proof in Scripture, is proposed generally to children only. It is comforting and salutary to every man to reflect how God Almighty, in His loving kindness has appointed higher beings to render service to others of an inferior rank.
2. Petition: The grace to gain a better understanding of the wondrous manner in which almighty God rules the world of spirits: may we be duly grateful for His paternal kindness; and may we pay due homage to, and have perfect confidence in our Guardian Angel, our faithful and lifelong companion.
I. The Doctrine of the Church
In the Old Covenant God said to Moses: “Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared” (Ex. 23:20). The Church, in her liturgy, applies to every Christian what God promised to the leader of Israel, and in him to the whole chosen people. At the time of Baptism the child of God is entrusted to one of the “thousands of thousands”, whom John beheld “round about the throne” (Apoc. 5:11). These are the courtiers of the Lord of hosts, who uses them as His messengers to men, and as helpers in the great work of salvation. In Psalm 90 God comforts Israel saying: “He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (11). God sent the Archangel Raphael to guide and protect young Tobias on his long journey, and to bring him home in safety.
In the Gospels the angels are mentioned often: they are always represented as God’s ministers and man’s guardians. Jesus especially showed them to us as protectors of little children when he warned against scandal. “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” (Mt. 18:10).
Jacob’s vision gives us a striking picture of that invisible, yet very real and very active communication between heaven and earth, in which God uses the ministry of His angels: “And he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven: the angels also of God ascending and descending by it” (Gen. 28:12).
We offer thanks to God, “who does wonderfully order and dispose the service of angels and of men” (Collect, St. Michael).
II. In The Service of Men
If not every man, certainly every Christian at Baptism, has been entrusted by God to an angel, whose duty it is to guide and protect him throughout life, till the hour of death. We do not quite understand how he, a pure spirit, finds means to protect us in the spiritual and in the material order; how he influences our thoughts and our actions; how he can safeguard our thoughts and our actions; how he can safeguard us against danger. But if God has entrusted such an office to our Guardian Angel, He has surely given him the means of fulfilling it. And we may rest assured that he acquits himself of his duty with loving devotion. St. Peter tells us, and we repeat it every day at Compline, that our adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). We ought to remember that another spirit faithfully watches over us until death, a spirit that never lapsed from heaven, and that is stronger than the fallen angel.
Cardinal Newman, who had a great devotion to the angels, places the following words in the mouth of the Guardian Angel of Gerontius, whilst he leads the latter’s soul to God immediately after death:
My work is done
My task is o’er,
And so I come,
Taking it home
For the crown is won
For ever more.
My Father gave
In charge to me
This child of earth
E’en from its birth,
To serve and save,
And saved is he!
(The Dream of Gerontius)
III. Our Duty
Remembering those truths, we should thank God, our heavenly Father, who has appointed His angels to help us: we will remember the presence and the devoted care of the companion whom God has given us during our pilgrimage, and we should keep our soul every open to his influence. (According to St. Thomas spirits know one another simply by so willing.) We will confidently appeal to his protection in all difficulties and dangers: so did many saints, for instance St. Frances of Rome, whom “in addition to other gifts, God ennobled by familiar intercourse with an angel” (Collect of the Mass). Tell me the company thou keepest, and I will tell thee what kind of man thou art. Familiar intercourse with the pure spirit, who is our faithful companion throughout life, must inevitably have an elevating and spiritualizing influence on our soul.
Prayer: O God, who showest Thy ineffable Providence in graciously appointing Thy holy Angels as our guardians: grant that we, who humbly pray to Thee, may be always defended and protected by them, and may enjoy their company for all eternity. Through our Lord (Collect of the Mass of today).
Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori.