Ordinary Time: October 2nd
Memorial of the Guardian Angels
Other Commemorations: The Holy Guardian Angels
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Each person on earth has a guardian angel who watches over him and helps him to attain his salvation. It has been a common theological opinion that this angelical guardianship begins at the moment of birth; prior to this, the child would be protected by the mother's guardian angel. But this is not certain, and since we now know that the soul is infused at the moment of conception, it may be that the angelic guardianship also begins at that moment. In any case, this protection continues throughout our whole life and ceases only when our probation on earth ends, namely, at the moment of death. Our guardian angel accompanies our soul to purgatory or heaven, and becomes our coheir in the heavenly kingdom.
Angels are servants and messengers from God. "Angel" in Greek means messenger. In unseen ways the angels help us on our earthly pilgrimage by assisting us in work and study, helping us in temptation and protecting us from physical danger.
The idea that each soul has assigned to it a personal guardian angel has been long accepted by the Church and is a truth of our faith. From the Gospel of today's liturgy we read: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father" (Matthew 18:10). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith (328)." From our birth until our death, man is surrounded by the protection and intercession of angels, particularly our guardian angel: "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (336)." The Church thanks God for our helpers, the angels, particularly on this feast day and September 29 which is the feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, archangels. Today's feast appeared in Spain during the sixteenth century. It was extended to the universal Church and made obligatory in 1670.
Be alert in your every action as one should be who is accompanied by angels in all your ways, for that mission has been enjoined upon them. In whatever lodging, in whatever nook or corner you may find yourself, cherish a reverence for your guardian angel. In his presence do not dare to do anything you would not do in mine. Or do you doubt his presence because you do not see him? Would it really help if you did hear him, or touch him, or smell him? Remember, there are realities whose existence has not been proven by mere sight.
Brethren, we will love God's angels with a most affectionate love; for they will be our heavenly co-heirs some day, these spirits who now are sent by the Father to be our protectors and our guides. With such bodyguards, what are we to fear? They can neither be subdued nor deceived; nor is there any possibility at all that they should go astray who are to guard us in all our ways. They are trustworthy, they are intelligent, they are strong — why, then, do we tremble? We need only to follow them, remain close to them, and we will dwell in the protection of the Most High God. So as often as you sense the approach of any grave temptation or some crushing sorrow hangs over you, invoke your protector, your leader, your helper in every situation. Call out to him and say: Lord, save us, we are perishing. —St. Bernard
Patron: Spanish police officers.
Symbols and Representation: usually portrayed as beardless, sexless beings, winged, human in form and barefooted, usually carrying objects such as a pilgrim's staff, scroll, book, a sceptre or a sword.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Memorize and pray the Angel of God prayer.
- Listen to the Catholic Culture Audiobook: Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP—The Created Pure Spirit, and Its Limits by James Majewski.
- Read from the Catholic Culture Library:
- Read the section on angels in the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy. The document examines the doctrine and devotions of the angels. Devotion to angels is good, but also can have deviations:
“Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:
- devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;
- an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God — serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels. Among the prayers to the Guardian Angels the Angele Dei is especially popular, and is often recited by families at morning and evening prayers, or at the recitation of the Angelus.
“217. Popular devotion to the Holy Angels [which is legitimate and good] can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
- when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
- when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”
- Also read All About the Angels.
- Read more about the Guardian Angels:
- Read about saints and others who had a great devotion to their guardian angel (St. Josemaria Escriva; St. Padre Pio; Pope Saint John XXIII).
- Think about how you can develop a greater devotion and depend on your guardian angel everyday.
- Bake an angel food cake, serve angel hair pasta, and/or make angel kisses (meringue cookies). See Catholic Cuisine for more ideas.