Our Duties toward Our Guardian Angels

GREAT indeed is our debt of gratitude to our Guardian Angel for his tender and untiring solicitude in our behalf. Not until we enter eternity shall we know the number of benefits which have come to us through his agency from the first moment of our existence. With Tobias, we ought therefore to exclaim in deepest gratitude: "What wages shall we give him, or what can be worthy of his benefits?"
[Tob. 12: 2].

St. Bernard tells us that we owe our Guardian Angel profound respect for his presence, confidence in his love and power to protect us, and gratitude for the great benefits which he confers upon us. "Always remember that you are in the presence of your Guardian Angel," he exhorts his disciples. "In whatever place you may be, in whatever secret recess you may hide, think of your Guardian Angel. Never do in the presence of your Angel what you would not do in my presence."

The great dignity and sanctity of the holy Angels makes the duty of reverence an indispensable one for us. Before the great ones of earth, men are very modest and respectful, yet the dignity of earthly kings and princes is incomparably less than that of the lowest of the Angels. Therefore, we should always conduct ourselves piously and modestly before our holy Angel, refraining from every word, gesture or action which could displease or grieve our heavenly friend and guide. This continual remembrance of the presence of our holy Angel is also an excellent means of overcoming temptation.

If we truly love our Guardian Angel, we cannot fail to have a boundless confidence in his powerful intercession with God and a firm faith in his willingness to help us. This will inspire us frequently to invoke his aid and protection, especially in time of temptation. It will prompt us also to ask his counsel in the many problems which confront us, in matters both great and small. Many of the Saints made it a practice never to undertake anything without first seeking advice of their Guardian Angel. The words which God addressed to the people of Israel, our Guardian Angel also addresses to us: "Call upon me in all necessities, in all dangers and temptations; I will protect and assist you, and your prayer will contribute to my glory."

Above all, we owe to our faithful Guardian Angel the most profound gratitude for the numberless benefits he bestows upon us. Like the young Tobias, we too are overwhelmed with continual benefits by our good Angel. Always and everywhere he stands at our side, lovingly protecting us, kindly warning us and earnestly exhorting us. In no way can we better prove our gratitude than by obediently following his admonitions and showing a tender filial devotion toward him.

Devotion to Our Angel Guardian

In recognition of his loving service, we ought to practice tender devotion to our Guardian Angel and live in loving familiarity with him. Every day of our life should be a day of devotion to him and of thanksgiving for his marvelous goodness to us.

The following suggestions may assist in the practice of this devotion: Upon awakening in the morning, greet this devoted prince of Heaven who kept faithful watch at your side while you slept; thank him and ask him to accompany and protect you throughout the day. While dressing, show reverence for his presence by your modesty. At the commencement of prayer, beg him to enlighten, counsel and protect you, so that at the close of the day he may with joy offer your labors to God.

When leaving the house, and particularly when going on a journey, offer him a friendly invitation to accompany you. When the clock strikes, utter an ejaculation such as, "My dear Guardian Angel, assist me at the hour of my death," or "O blessed Angel, I love you and I wish to love you more and more." And at night, thank him for his protection and for the many services he has rendered so willingly. In this way, each day may be spent in loving companionship with your dear Angel, and you may confidently rely upon his assistance in every circumstance, particularly at the hour of death.

Another practice which will be pleasing to our Guardian Angel is to choose one day of the week to honor him in a particular way by offering special prayers, assisting at Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion in his honor, etc. Tuesday, which is dedicated to the holy Angels, may be fittingly chosen for this purpose. Especially on our birthday and on the anniversary of our Baptism ought we to honor our Guardian Angel. Some persons have a beautiful custom of giving as large a sum in alms as they have lived years, or of offering as many acts of virtue or acts of devotion. On these days especially we ought to thank our holy Angel for the many favors he has granted us and to implore him to exercise his holy office of guardianship until death and not permit us to depart out of this life without receiving the Last Sacraments.

Our late Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, in an audience granted to a group of children, urged them to practice fervent devotion to their Guardian Angels, invoking them at the beginning and at the end of each day and often during the day. "In this," the Holy Father said, "you can imitate what the Pope really does. At the beginning of each day of his life, and every evening at the end of the day, he invokes his Guardian Angel; and he often repeats these invocations during the course of the day, especially when things become a little complicated and difficult, which often happens. And We wish to say, also, as a debt of gratitude to Our Guardian Angel, that We have always felt Ourselves assisted by him in some admirable way. Often We feel and perceive that Our Angel is near Us, ready to help Us, to assist Ys. And this each Guardian Angel does equally for each one of you."

The devout spiritual writer Boudon, whose inspiring book, Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Angels, we have frequently consulted in the preparation of this little work, gives the following suggestion for venerating our Guardian Angel: "Choose, therefore, sometimes a quarter of an hour, half an hour, an hour or more and, retiring apart, converse at leisure with your good Angel. Place yourself on your knees before him, prostrate yourself on the ground-----for it is well to adopt this practice occasionally when alone; ask his pardon for your ingratitude; beg his holy benediction; say all that a good heart would prompt one to say to a faithful and loving friend. Speak to him at one time of your needs, of your miserable failings, of your temptations, of your weaknesses; at another of Divine love-----and of the holy ways which lead to God. Converse with him sometimes concerning the offenses which men commit against their Sovereign Lord Jesus and His most blessed Mother; at other times, consider in detail the obligations you are under to him, his goodness to you, his beauty, his perfections, his admirable qualities. Deal with him as with a kind father, as with a loving mother, a true brother, an incomparable friend, a zealous lover, a vigilant pastor, a charitable guide, the witness of your most important secrets, a learned physician to heal all your ailments, an advocate, a powerful protector and a compassionate judge; invoke him in all these characters, and in others which your love will suggest to you. They will serve you as so many considerations which will make you pass your time much more agreeably than with the creatures of earth."

Venerating the Guardians of Others

Besides practicing a tender devotion to our own Guardian Angel, we ought also to adopt the laudable practice of venerating the Guardian Angels of others. When we meet persons of our acquaintance, we should, at the same time that we greet them, also lovingly salute their Guardian Angel. This can be done by an interior act, without attracting notice. Or, we may make the good intention and renew it from time to time, that as often as we salute anyone, we purpose at the same time to salute his holy Angel. Soon it will become very easy for us to remember these holy Angels, and we will receive many blessings from them.

Let us frequently venerate the Guardian Angel of our Patron Saint and thank him for having done so much for the sanctification of his or her soul. We ought also to honor the Guardian Angels of our parents, our sisters and brothers, of our relatives and friends, whose Angels often render us services which we would not receive from our own Angel, perhaps because of some advantage to the souls of our dear ones from the good we do them.

Particular respect ought also to be paid to the Princes of Heaven who guard the Sovereign Pontiff, the Bishops, especially the Bishop of the diocese in which we reside, and other persons who preside over the Church. Let us ask the Angel Guardians of the ecclesiastics to assist them, that they may succeed in establishing the reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the faithful entrusted to their care, that they may destroy the empire of Satan and receive the light and strength necessary to maintain holy discipline in their respective jurisdictions. Let us also frequently honor the Guardian Angels of our confessors and spiritual directors, beseeching these good Angels to inspire them with such counsels as are purely conformable to the Divine will.

The Guardian Angels of the country, the state, the city or town, the diocese and the parish in which we live are likewise deserving of our loving and grateful veneration. We ought often and earnestly to recommend to these holy Angels the places entrusted to their guardianship and, while we thank them for past protection, also implore them to arrest by their prayers the torrent of vice and immorality which so loudly demands vengeance and to avert the wrath of the Most High, provoked by the many offenses committed against Him.

In addition, let us honor the Guardian Angels of heathens, heretics and infidels, and from time to time go in spirit to converse with them and to express the regret of our hearts at the unbelief of those over whom they have charge. For alas, far from thanking the Angels for their loving care, these poor infidels do not even know that they are assisted by them!

When we enter a church or any other place where numbers of persons are assembled, let us not fail to salute all the Guardian Angels present. When we walk through the crowded streets of a city or town, let us contemplate interiorly the Angels who accompany all this multitude. When we are on a journey, let us remember that all the towns or cities we pass through contain as many Guardian Angels as there are inhabitants, and let us send them a loving salutation from our heart. These Heavenly Princes will favorably regard the honor we show them and will be constrained to make us some return, for the Angels are incomparable in their gratitude.

When keeping the festival of a Saint, it is a commendable practice to form the intention of honoring at the same time the holy Angel who was his guardian here below. We need not multiply our devotions on this account, but only make the intention of honoring the holy Angel by all the good works we perform in the Saint's honor. By this means we may keep the feasts of many different Angels during the year. Thus we will gain the favor of all these Heavenly spirits and will draw down upon ourselves the sweetest benedictions of Paradise.

If we thus cultivate the friendship of the Angels, we shall indeed be blessed, for no earthly friends can vie with them in goodness, in power and in love. St. Denis, who wrote most inspiringly of the holy Angels, delighted in assuming the title of "Philangelus," that is, "Friend of the Angels."
Let us take to heart the advice of Pope St. Leo the Great: "Make friendships with the holy Angels," and we shall find in them most loving companions in our earthly exile, our champions
against the malice and rage of the devils, our advocates at the judgment seat of God and our amiable companions in bliss and glory throughout the endless years of eternity.