Part 3: Section 2
THE ANGELS: AN OVERVIEW
5. The Holy Angels are also called Guardian Angels, because they watch over us [Heb. 1:14].
Jacob saw a ladder reaching up to Heaven, and the Angels ascending and descending [Gen. 28:12]. This was to signify that they came down on earth to protect us, and ascend back to Heaven to sing praise to God. The Guardian Angels watch over us, as a shepherd over his flock. They count ut as their happiness that they are appointed to watch over the servants of God, and promote the welfare of souls, and no wonder, when we remember that the King and Lord of all things came "not to minister, but to be ministered unto." [Matt. 20:28] The service they render us causes them no trouble or anxiety, but rather joy and happiness, for their one desire is that the will of God should be done, and they rejoice in contributing to this. The general opinion of theologians is that every one has a special Guardian Angel who watches over him all through his life. The dignity of the Angels given us depends on the dignity of the persons to whom they are assigned. Ordinary Christians have one of the lower orders of Angels; priests, bishops, kings, etc., have nobler spirits to guide them. Cities, countries, parishes, religious houses, have each their Guardian Angel.
Our Guardian Angels help us in the following ways:
1. They put good thoughts into our minds, and move our will to what is good.
The Angels who appeared to the shepherds at bethlehem, and who were seen at the tomb of Christ, and after His Ascension, made themselves visible and spoke to men; but generally the influence us without being seen or heard by us. They move us to some step that is conducive to the welfare of our souls or bodies, and often save us from some impending danger by a secret impulse. without which we should have incurred death or misfortune.
2. They offer our prayers and good works to God.
Thus, St. Raphael offered the prayers of Tobias [Tob. 12:12]. The Angel in the Apocalypse offers the prayers of the Saints in a golden censor [Apoc. 8:3]. This is not because God Himself does not hear our prayers, but the Angels mingle their prayers with ours, and so make them more acceptable to God. "In all the benefits we receive from God," says St. Thomas, "our Guardian Angel takes part, because he helps in obtaining them for us."
3. They protect us in danger.
Thus St. Peter was delivered from prison by an Angel [Acts 12:7 seq.], Daniel was kept safe in the den of lions, and the three young men in the fiery furnace [Dan. 6:29; 3:49]. We read stories sometimes of children being run over, or falling from a height, and escaping unhurt. We can scarcely doubt that this was owing to the intervention of their Guardian Angels. God has commissioned the Angels thus to help 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 thy dash thy foot against a stone." [Ps. 90:11] But the chief office of our Guardian Angel is to preserve us from the snares of the devil; the Holy Angels have powers over the evil spirits, who fly away at their approach [Cf. Tob. 8:3] We must therefore commit ourselves to the care of our Guardian Angels in all times of danger, and before undertaking a journey, or any new enterprise, and we should wish our friends when they start on a journey, the good wish of Tobias when his son was leaving his home, "May the Angel of God accompany you!"
4. They often reveal to men the will of God.
Instances in point are the sacrifice of Abraham, the message of the Angel to Zacharias and to Our Lady. The appearance of an Angel sometimes causes fear at first, but it soon changes to consolation and joy. It is just the opposite with the appearances of evil Angels; they give consolation to begin with, but this soon changes to confusion and fear.
If we desire the protection of the Holy Angels, we must try and imitate them by a holy life; we must also honor them, and often invoke their aid.
Experience teaches us that innocent children enjoy a wonderful protection from the Angels. Innocence attracts them, and sin drives them away, as smoke drives away bees. We cannot expect our Guardian Angels to take care of us when we are doing what we know is displeasing to God. We must also beg for the aid of our Guardian Angel; we must congratulate him on his faithfulness to God; we must salute him when we go out and when we come in; we must thank him for all his benefits. We must say with Tobias, "What can be worthy of his benefits, and what can we give him sufficient for these things?" [Tob. 12:3] The Church honors our Guardian Angels on the second of October; in some places on the first Sunday in September.