The Angels

The Protection of the Good Angels at Death

1. They Assist Us at the Hour of Death

Especially at the hour of death, when the wicked enemies redouble their assaults in order to win the decisive battle for eternity, our Guardian Angel will assist us if we have been faithful to him during life. We read in the lives of many Saints that their Guardian Angels were visibly present at their last hour, comforting them in their final struggle, strengthening them against the redoubled attacks of Hell, announcing to them the hour of their death and giving them the assurance that they would be heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. Not a few of the Saints at their death were seen being carried by exultant Angels into the heavenly Paradise. Frequently, too, the holy Guardian Angels have procured for their protégés the grace of a happy death by calling a priest to administer the Last Sacraments.

In the acts of St. John of Avila of Spain, we find the following incident, the Saint himself vouching for its truth:

In the year 1585, the Rev. Father Centenares, a member of St. John's community, was awakened one stormy night and requested to take Holy Viaticum to a dying person. At first the priest hesitated and thought to wait until morning, as he did not know the way and the night was very dark. But the love of God triumphed over fear, and he started out, taking with him two consecrated Hosts. But scarcely had he left the church when two youths of heavenly appearance placed themselves at his right and left side. They held burning candles, which were not extinguished by the falling rain, and accompanied the priest to the sick person and back again to the church.

When he had placed the Sacred Host in the tabernacle, they vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. While the good priest was wondering in astonishment at this occurrence, he received a message from St. John which contained the words: "Do not be astonished at what has happened to you this night. It is quite certain that the two youths whom you saw were Angels sent by God to reward your zeal . . ."

2. They Console the Poor Souls

One of the most beautiful and consoling features of the Church's teaching concerning the Guardian Angels is the fact that the mission of the holy Angels does not terminate with the earthly life of their charges, but only upon the entrance into Paradise of those souls committed to their care. Should it happen that at the moment of death a soul in the state of grace is not yet worthy to behold the face of the Most High, the Angel Guardian conducts it to Purgatory-----the place of its purification and expiation-----and thereafter is most zealous in procuring for it all the assistance and consolation in his power.

A touching incident is related in the chronicles of the Jesuit Order concerning the zeal of the holy Angels in gathering suffrages for the souls in Purgatory. A holy priest of that order was

in the habit of reciting the Rosary every day for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. One day, through inadvertence, he retired without having recited it, but scarcely had he fallen asleep when he was awakened by his Guardian Angel, who said, "My son, the souls in Purgatory are awaiting the usual performance of your charity."

In the writings of the holy Fathers it is revealed that the celestial messengers of mercy go even further. They descend to the altars of earth, and drawing the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ from the golden chalices during the thousands of Holy Masses daily celebrated, they shower it like a cool dew upon Purgatory.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was one day transported in spirit into Purgatory. There she beheld, among other things, an immense space filled with flames and glowing coals and, amid these, a great number of Poor Souls in human form, raising their hands to Heaven and imploring mercy. But all the while their Guardian Angels were at their side, inspiring them with courage and comforting them in the most tender manner.

The Guardian Angels assist with a special zeal those souls in Purgatory who have been most devoted to them during life.

It is the teaching of some spiritual writers that the Angels inform the suffering Souls of the happenings in this world about which those souls would be concerned. St. Augustine tells us that "the departed may be informed by the Angels of things happening in the world, insofar as this is permitted by Him to whose judgment everything is subject." It is likewise believed that the Angels reveal to the Poor Souls the benefactors who are assisting them by their prayers, and at the same time urge the suffering souls to pray for these good friends.

As soon as the hour of release has struck for one of the suffering souls, the Guardian Angel of that happy soul is commissioned by God to descend into Purgatory, to open the doors of its prison and to lead the delivered soul without delay into the eternal habitations of Paradise. The good Angel descends with the rapidity of lightning into the dismal prison of pain to carry out the work of release because his love for his cherished ward urges him to liberate the Poor Soul and to lead it to the sight and possession of God. The Guardian Angel is often accompanied by other Angels or by a whole multitude of Angels, and then the entrance of the released soul is truly a triumphant one.

Though the assistance which the holy Angels render to the souls in Purgatory is very consoling, yet it is to be feared that some persons consigned to the purging flames may be deprived of the aid of the Angels because during life they were not devoted to their Guardian Angel or because they neglected to aid the Poor Souls.