Today is the Feast of our Guardian Angels. You know, those invisible hands that keep us out of trouble when we stroll gleefully into it. The prayer we learned when we were young is a catechesis unto itself. Remember,
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this (day/night) be at my side: to light, to guard, to rule and to guide.
Angel of God
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us that angels are real and have been part of our tradition since the beginning:
The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. (CCC 328)
Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus Himself. (CCC 332)
God gives them a mission or office to fulfill:
St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.’” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word”. (CCC 329)
Specifically, God has chosen a number of angels to guard us and to be our companion in this life and the next:
The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their “mysterious and powerful assistance”(281), venerates these heavenly spirits and has recourse to their prompt intercession.
During the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the role played by the Holy Angels, in the events of salvation(282) and commemorates them on specific days: 29 September (feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael), 2 October (the Guardian Angels). The Church has a votive Mass dedicated to the Holy Angels whose preface proclaims that “the glory of God is reflected in his Angels”(283). In the celebration of the sacred mysteries, the Church associates herself with the angelic hymn and proclaims the thrice holy God (cf. Isaiah 6, 3)(284) invoking their assistance so that the Eucharistic sacrifice “may be taken [to your] altar in heaven, in the presence of […] divine majesty”(285). The office of lauds is celebrated in their presence (cf. Ps 137, 1)(286). The Church entrusts to the ministry of the Holy Angels (cf. Aps 5, 8; 8, 3) the prayers of the faithful, the contrition of penitents(287), and the protection of the innocent from the assaults of the Malign One(288). The Church implores God to send his Angels at the end of the day to protect the faithful as they sleep(289), prays that the celestial spirits come to the assistance of the faithful in their last agony(290), and in the rite of obsequies, invokes God to send his Angels to accompany the souls of just into paradise(291) and to watch over their graves. (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 215)
The prayer also teaches us that they have been assigned four functions in service to us. They:
- Light – this means the angels pass on knowledge of the Most Blessed Trinity to us in accordance with the grace the Father has clothed us with.
- Guard – they protect us when we are in danger. Not just physically and emotionally but spiritually, which is the most important. The angels give our conscience that nudge to say yes to grace and no to sin.
- Rule – they have governance over us. What does that mean? If we allow them and submit to them, they will tell us how to grow in holiness. Additionally, they minister God’s mercy and judgment upon us – they enact His will in our lives.
- Guide – They move us and leads to the truth in this life and accompany us to our particular judgment and then heaven (if we are permitted in). Should we be graced to experience eternal glory, they will be next to us for eternity joining us in our song of praise to the Lord.
I would encourage us all to develop a close relationship with our Guardian Angel. God has given them to us to be our helpmates in this life and our companions in the next. Remember to offer Mass up for them when you get a chance. I think you will be profoundly surprised at how quickly they respond when we call upon them and ask them to teach us about Jesus.