Our Guardian Angels,
Our Best Friends
From the very beginning of your existence, your Guardian Angel has been concerned about you. He rejoiced when you were born into the world, just as a good mother rejoices over the birth of her child. From the day of your Baptism, you became ever dearer to your Guardian Angel, ever more loved by him. Day and night he watched at your cradle. He led you as you took your first steps. He cared for you with most tender love when danger threatened. He grieved when you committed sin, as if he himself had received the greatest injury, and he left you no peace until you became reconciled with God by a good Confession. He has watched and prayed with you in hours of distress. He has rejoiced with you in days of prosperity. On the day of your First Holy Communion he was the bridal attendant of your soul. As often as you have received the Bread of Angels in the state of grace, he has rejoiced to accompany you to the Holy Table. He it was who prayed for you specially when the hand of the bishop anointed you as a soldier of Christ in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Your Guardian Angel is your best counselor. Particularly will he assist young boys and girls in their choice of a vocation. He will shield you amid the dangers of the world. If you call upon him, he will help you to find the life companion whom God has destined for you. He will ever remain at your side, so that you may faithfully and conscientiously fulfill the duties of your state in life.
If God has called you to the religious life or to the holy priesthood, your Guardian Angel will protect you from the temptations of the world and help you to preserve your virginal purity, to offer it to God at the altar by your holy vows or to offer the sacred Body of Christ with unstained hands and holy lips as a priest of the Most High.
In short, your Guardian Angel is your companion in all the circumstances of life-----your friend in good as well as evil days. He will one day assist you in a very special manner-----when you enter into life's last conflict. Then he will fight with you and for you, until you have won the battle and your heart is at rest. But not even then will he leave you-----there where every other, even the best of friends, must leave-----on the threshold of eternity. When the light of earth fades away and the brightness of eternity bursts upon you, your Guardian Angel will present your soul before the tribunal of God and faithfully plead your cause. What is more, if you require purification in the flames of Purgatory, your holy Angel will visit and console you. He will bring before God's throne the good works that are performed for you on earth, and he himself will intercede for you. Finally, when your time of purgation is ended, he will joyfully bring you word of your release from the flames of Purgatory and will lead you to the blissful kingdom of Heaven. But to benefit by the presence of this Heavenly companion, you must be docile to his inspirations and never turn away from this holy Angel who is your guide and your protector.
Motives for Confidence and Gratitude
What a high value must our souls possess in the sight of our Heavenly Father, that He commissions the princes of His eternal kingdom, His confidants, to protect us, to accompany us everywhere, yes, to bear us up in their hands! What a new motive for confidence in His love and paternal solicitude! What a powerful incentive for gratitude to our good Lord and God! If a king of this world were to send one of his chief courtiers to a poor subject who was wandering far from his native country amid many dangers, with the command to guide the poor wanderer to his palace and protect and shelter him, would such a subject find words to express to his prince the gratitude of his heart? And yet this is but a feeble representation of the goodness of the King of Heaven toward us poor children of men who languish in this valley of tears. Let us therefore render praise, honor and eternal thanksgiving to the Most High for having given us an Angel as protector and guide to the kingdom of Heaven.
Innumerable passages of Holy Scripture clearly speak of the existence and the protection of the holy Angels. In the Book of Exodus [23: 20- 22] God promises to Moses the protection of an Angel in the wilderness, saying: "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. Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee." This beautiful text we may all apply to ourselves, journeying through the wilderness of the world on the way to our Heavenly home. But we must also heed the admonition which it contains.
The patriarch Jacob commended his grandsons to the protection of his holy Angel: "The Angel that delivereth me from all evils, bless these boys." [Cf. Gen. 48: 15-16]. The book of Tobias gives a touching account of the services rendered by the Archangel Raphael to the young Tobias and his solicitude for the young man and his parents. King David frequently mentions the faithful protection of the holy Angels in his Psalms. In beautiful words full of comfort and hope he says of each one of us: "He hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." [Ps. 90: 11-12].
Similarly, the Scriptures of the New Testament contain many references to the holy Angels. On one occasion, Our Lord Himself said to His disciples: "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." [Matt. 18: 10]. St. Paul frequently refers to them in his Epistles. When threatened with shipwreck, he encouraged his fellow travelers with the promise that there would be no loss of life among them, saying: "For an Angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, stood by me this night, saying: Fear not, Paul . . . God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." [Acts 27: 23-24].
Teaching of the Fathers
Scriptural references affirming the existence of protecting Angels could be multiplied indefinitely. To those quoted, we add the testimonies of various Fathers of the Church in support of the same teaching:
"Sublime is the dignity of the soul," writes St. Jerome, "for to each a Guardian spirit is appointed from the beginning of its existence."
"The Angels have care of us poor pilgrims," writes St. Augustine; "they have compassion on us, and at God's command they hasten to our aid, so that we too may once arrive at our common fatherland." Most touchingly he speaks of the constant protection which they extend to us: "The Angels go in and out with us, having their eyes always fixed upon us and upon all that we are doing. If we stop anywhere, they stop also; if we go forth to walk, they bear us company; if we journey into another country, they follow us; go where we will, by land or by sea, they are ever with us . . ."
"My brothers," exhorts St. Bernard, "make the holy Angels your friends. Give them joy by having confidential recourse to them, and honor them by your prayers, for they are ever near, to comfort and protect you." Again he writes, "Howsoever weak we may be, howsoever sad our condition, and howsoever great the dangers which surround us, beneath the protection of such Guardians we have nothing to fear! Whenever afflictions or temptations frighten you, implore the aid of him who watches over you, who leads you, who succors you in all your necessities."
Marvelous Goodness of the Angels
Wonderful is the goodness of the Angels in not refusing to bestow their care upon those who commit even venial offenses against their Creator, considering the knowledge they possess of the infinite greatness of the Divine Majesty which is insulted thereby. How amazing, then, to see that they do not abandon even those wretched persons who live in mortal sin, who trample underfoot the Blood of the God-man and are guilty of His death! With incredible kindness they continue to watch over these unfortunate souls and spare no effort in bringing them to penance and reconciliation with Almighty God.
But the love of the holy Angels goes further than this: They extend their guardianship also to pagans, to heretics, unbelievers and idolaters, and their protection is not without many good results. It is the opinion of St. Thomas Aquinas that even the Antichrist will have a Guardian Angel, who will restrain him from evil which he would otherwise do. Thus all men, howsoever vile and wretched they may be, without a single exception, are assisted by the holy Angels. And yet, alas, how little gratitude do these Heavenly spirits receive for their tender solicitude! How little love do they receive in return for their boundless love!
Every age and condition of life has its special Guardian Angels. Infants have their Guardian Angels, who preserve them from danger and guard their innocence. It has often been said that no child would attain to maturity were it not for the protection of his Guardian Angel. This statement finds support in innumerable instances of mysterious protection of little children.
with the care of youth, especially of those exposed to the danger
In the opinion of St. Clement, St. Gregory the Great, Origen and other holy writers, every country, every city, every town and village, and even every family, has a special Guardian Angel. Believing firmly that every country has its own Guardian Angel, St. Francis Xavier invoked the Guardian Angel of every country and city wherein he preached the holy Gospel, and when he left one place to preach elsewhere, he never failed to commend to the protection of the holy Angels the new congregations he had won to the Faith.
Likewise, altars, churches, parishes, dioceses and religious institutions have their own Guardian Angels. Every Catholic church has its special Angels to guard it from desecration, and every altar has thousands of Angels to adore the God of Heaven and earth there concealed in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The holy Archangel Michael is honored as the Guardian spirit of the entire Catholic Church, just as he was the Guardian of the chosen people of the Old Testament. It is also believed that he was the special Guardian of Our Lord during His earthly life and that now he is the Guardian of Christ's Vicar on earth, the Holy Father. This holy Archangel revealed to St. Eutropius that he is also the Guardian of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
According to the testimony of the learned historian Baronius, Angels protected the churches of Constantinople and the palace of the Emperor against the attacks of the Arians. The same historian relates that when the Saxons entered a church dedicated to St. Boniface, they were repelled by two Angel warriors, who appeared in wondrous beauty and strength. An Angel protected St. Ambrose and his church when the Empress Justina demanded that he give over to the Arians a basilica in the suburb of Milan.Blessed Peter Faber, a renowned missionary of the Society of Jesus and the companion of St. Ignatius, its founder, brought many souls to God by his work of evangelization in Germany. While traveling through the diocese of his birth, he received innumerable consolations from the Guardian Angels of several parishes. On repeated occasions he received the most palpable and convincing proofs of their protection. Sometimes these holy Angels preserved him from the fury of the heretics; at other times they rendered souls more mild and tractable to receive from him the doctrine of salvation.