This month, the Church celebrates the feast of guardian angels. On October 2nd, we praise God for giving us each the gift of an angel to watch over us and guide us in our ways (Psalm 91:11). Unfortunately, we aren't always very attentive to the fact that we have guardian angels. Perhaps we even doubt that they exist, or think that we don't need to believe in them to get to heaven. It also can be easy to forget just what an angel is, especially in this day and age where on one side of the spectrum belief in the spiritual is seen as frivolous or, on the other end, angels are seen as gods and treated as a subject of fascination in New Age books. In order to appreciate this special day in honor of guardian angels and to truly appreciate guardian angels themselves, we should examine these questions and doubts.
First, we have to realize what an angel is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that an angel is a spiritual being created by God. It also explains that they are intelligent, immortal, and that they have free will (CCC 329-30). The Bible mentions angels from the very beginning (for example, an angel visits Hagar in Genesis 16:7) to the very end (an angel makes God's message known to God in Rev 1:1). Throughout the Bible, they often come as God's servants to make his will known to man, as when the angel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary to tell her she will conceive and bear a son (Lk 1:26). Sometimes they simply appear to praise God, as when the host of angels sing "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" at the birth of Jesus (Lk 2:14). Angels clearly exist, and, like us, they exist to serve and love God.
Although the Church tells us we must believe in angels (CCC 328), she never dogmatically defined anything about guardian angels. Nevertheless, the Church gives us a feast for them, and many saints have encouraged devotion to guardian angels. St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps one of the most brilliant saints ever, taught that we do have guardian angels in his Summa Theologica (ThI, 113, 4). St. Jerome, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Basil, St. Ambrose, and St. Bernard name only few more saints who encouraged devotion to guardian angels in their writing and preaching. Sacred Scripture also speaks of angels who guard over us. Psalm 34 speaks of the angel of the Lord protecting those who revere Him (Ps 34:7), and Psalm 91 refers to angels guarding and keeping "the one who abides in the shadow of the Almighty" in all of his or her ways (Ps 91:1,11). Jesus also tells His disciples to "not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father"? (Mt 18:10, emphasis added). And, in Revelation, an angel offers our prayers to God (Rev 8:3-4).
So, this month let's take a little extra time to remember our guardian angels, especially on October 2nd. Let's remember what the Bible teaches us about angels. Let's follow the examples of the many saints who encourage us to believe in and make use of our guardian angels. Let's ask them to offer our prayers to God with us and for us, and to help us know and live God's will in our own lives. Let's also ask them to help us follow their example in constantly adoring God and caring for mankind. Maybe we could even apologize to them for the times that we did not follow their promptings and example.
Guardian Angel Prayer
Angel of God, my Guardian Dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day, be at my side,
To light and to guard, to rule and to Guide.
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