Matthew 18:1-5, 10
The term ‘Guardian Angels’ refers to the belief that each soul has an angel who is available to shepherd the soul through life, and help bring them to God.
In the book, Lives of Saints, belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God and man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. Cherubim kept Adam and Eve from slipping back into Eden; angels saved Lot and helped destroy the cities of the plains; in Exodus Moses follows an angel, and at one point an angel is appointed leader of Israel. Michael is mentioned at several points, Raphael figures large in the story of Tobit and Gabriel delivered the Annunciation of the coming of Christ.
The concept of each soul having a personal Guardian Angel is also an ancient one and long accepted by the Church even if the Church has never actually defined as an article of faith that God gives to each human being a guardian angel. In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father,”(Matt 18:10).
M. Weber in the book, Rustle of Angels, said that the word angel appears 292 times in 35 Books of the Bible. However, other words are also used to designate angels. The Hebrew word for ‘angel’ is mal’akh in the Old Testament. The Greek word is angelo. in the New Testament and this means, ‘messenger.’
The presence of Guardian Angels is a touching proof of divine love and providence. That God does not abandon to what we call “chance,” any of His creatures. By His essence and providence He is everywhere present; not a sparrow falls to the ground or a hair from our heads, without His consent. He is not content, however, with assisting His creation daily and at every moment, with sustaining His handiwork which without His continuous support would return to dust.
What missions does God assign to them to do? A few sources are related in the Scriptures, like that of the angel who rolled away the stone of Christ’s sepulchre. How many more tasks they have is past imagining. St. Hilary wrote sixteen centuries ago: “You might wish to understand these angels as the eyes or the ears or the hands or the feet of God.”
Another mission could be that the angels defend us from the seductions of the world and from Satan. In the book Beyond Space by P. Parente, excerpted by the Bible Diary 2002, that occasionally our angel allows trials along our way to help us atone for our sins; or temptations, to humble our pride. They pray with and for us, offer up our prayers and sufferings. At death they defend the soul committed to their care against Satan. In purgatory they will often visit and comfort it. They go around inspiring relatives and friends on earth to offer Masses and to pray for its release. The Guardian Angels will not rest until they will be able to bring the soul under their care into paradise to share the joy and vision of God.
What can we do to acknowledge the presence and aid of our own guardian angels? He certainly deserves our prayers and thanks, considering all he has done to protect us whether we realized it or not. The theologian Origen even wrote in the third century: “To every man there are two attending angels, one of justice and the other of wickedness.” The angel of justice is our bodyguard.
The least we could do is to say the Angele Dei in our morning or night prayers. At this time let us pray the Angelo Dei: “Angel of God, my guardian dear. To whom His love commits me here; Ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.”
See Today’s Readings: Memorial of the Guardian Angels
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