02 Oct The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels
Today is the feast day of the Holy Guardian Angels.
Your Guardian Angel is your companion and your friend. He is given to you at the first moment of existence and stays with you to the end. He inspires you with good and holy thoughts. He protects you from many dangers and accidents, and assists you in a thousand ways throughout your life. The Angels are most desirous to be our friends and they love us with all the intensity of their angelic natures. “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” (Psalm 91). (2)
Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876
The first, and highest is composed of the Seraphim; the second, of the Cherubim; the third of the Thrones; the fourth, of the Dominations; the fifth of the Principalities, the sixth, of the Powers; the seventh, of the Virtues; the eighth, of the Archangels; and the ninth, of the Angels. All surround the throne of the most High, constantly praise His infinite Majesty, and are ever ready to execute His commands; still, each of these Choirs has its separate function, as we are taught by Theologians. From the last, or ninth Choir, God has assigned to each human being, a Guardian to protect him. Hence they are called Guardian Angels. Thus the Holy Church teaches, and it cannot be doubted that this teaching is true, as it is founded on the words of Holy Writ. To each human being is given an angel, a prince of heaven to protect him in soul and body, to cheer him in adversity, to console him in sorrow, to strengthen him in temptations, to assist him in danger, to prevent him from doing evil, to incite him to do good, and thus lead him to heaven, if he is obedient to his Guardian Angel.
Just as in former times. God gave to the Israelites a special Angel to guard them and to lead them into the promised land, according to the words: “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;” (Exodus, xxiii;) so He gives to each man an Angel to protect him on the road of this life, to lead him happily to Heaven, of which the promised land was the type. Pause here, my dear reader, and consider the greatness of this mercy of God towards us. As long as the world has existed, we have never heard of a monarch, who gave one of his noble courtiers the command to be continually at the side of a common peasant, or other man of low estate, to take care of him and lead him safely to a far-off land. But what was never heard of in a temporal king, this and much more our holy faith teaches us is done for us by the great and merciful God, the King of heaven and earth. He has given to every one, even to the most wretched being, one of the Princes of heaven, to take care of him, constantly to accompany him, and to open for him the gates of the eternal world.
How priceless a grace! How infinite a goodness! Judge yourself, my dear reader, if you have not every reason to offer thanks to the great God, Who has shown such infinite kindness towards you, and who is thus solicitous for your salvation. Today especially, ought you to render thanksgivings to Him; and for this purpose the festival which we celebrate was instituted. Reflect, also, how the Angels, to whose care God has confided us, regard us. They are perfectly satisfied with those whom God has given into their charge, be they poor or rich, of high or of low standing.
They perform their mission with the greatest love and solicitude. “They love us,” says St. Bernard, “because Christ has loved us.” They prove their love by deeds; they avert many dangers of body and soul from us, and protect us most miraculously; they prevent us from doing wrong, and animate us to do good; they fortify us to resist the temptations of satan. When we have been guilty of sin, they incite us to do penance, to appease the wrath of God, and to turn from us His well-merited punishment; they rejoice when we do penance, and convert our hearts to God; they offer our prayers, fasts, and other good works to the Almighty, and pray to Him for us. They do not leave us, asleep or awake, well or sick; they assist us in life and in death, and accompany our souls to the Judgment-seat of the Most High.
Holy Writ is full of examples which prove all that I have here said. Many more examples are found in the history of the church, and in the Lives of the Saints. An Angel saved the famished Ishmael from danger of death. An Angel preserved the life of the obedient Isaac, by checking the drawn sword of his father. An angel led the pious Lot out of Sodom, and thus saved him from being burned with the rest of the inhabitants. An Angel protected the Israelites against all their enemies. An Angel fed the prophet Elias in the wilderness, and strengthened him to proceed on his long journey. An Angel delivered the pious king Ezekias and the city of Jerusalem from many thousand enemies, by slaying them all in one night. An Angel preserved the prophet Daniel unharmed in the midst of the lions, and brought the prophet Habacuc to feed him.
An Angel kept the three companions of the same holy prophet uninjured in the furnace of Babylon. An Angel accompanied the young Tobias as guide during his journey, and instructed him in what manner he should marry the chaste Sarah, to prevent the Evil one from harming him, as had been done to seven others, who had been slain by the devil. Besides benefiting him in various other ways, he saved him also from the danger of being devoured by a monstrous fish.
It was the same Angel who had offered the prayers of the elder Tobias to the Almighty, and who afterwards, restored him to sight. An Angel shielded the chaste Judith in great dangers of soul and body. An Angel instructed the Centurion Cornelius how to save his soul. An Angel delivered St. Peter from prison and the danger of death. An Angel preserved the life of St. Paul, and of others, who were with him in the ship. Many other similar events are found in Holy Writ, and in the Lives of the Saints. And what are all these but proofs of the love and solicitude of the Angels for us?
Reflect upon your past life, and see if you yourself have not received sufficient proof of the devotion and care of your holy Guardian Angel? That you have not lost your life in many dangers which encompassed you; that you have been guarded from many sins; that you did not die in your sin, but have time to do penance; that you have received so many spiritual and temporal favors and benefits from the Almighty: all these, and many other favors, are to be ascribed to the powerful protection, the love and care of your holy Guardian Angel and to his intercession with God in your behalf.
In consideration of so many blessings, of such watchful protection, such indescribable devotion and solicitude, you must reasonably conclude that you owe especial gratitude to your holy Guardian Angel. Of course, you have first to render thanks to the Almighty, who placed you under the protection of so noble and kind a Prince of heaven. But St. Bernard exhorts us also to show ourselves grateful towards those, who, obeying the command of God, watch over us so lovingly, and assist us in all our needs. “Let us be full of devotion and gratitude towards such powerful protectors,” says he; “let us return love for love, and endeavor to honor them with our whole heart.”
When God promised to the Israelites to send an Angel to protect them on their journey and lead them to the promised land, He added: “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; ” which means that he represents God. (Exod. xxiii.) These words show you how you must prove your gratitude in deeds.
“Honor him,” this is the first thing which God demands. “Honor him,” because he is an Angel of God, a representative of God, a great Prince of heaven. ” Honor him,” because God has raised him to great glory; he sees the face of the Most High, and often acts in His name. “Honor him.” You honor your Guardian Angel if you call with confidence on him in all your cares, especially when your soul or your body is endangered, in great temptations, in life and death. Tobias had hardly perceived the danger of being devoured by a monstrous fish, when he called to his faithful guide, who was an Angel: “Sir, he cometh upon me!” He asked help and received it instantly.
Why should you not call, with equal confidence, to your Guardian Angel, especially when the hellish monster, the roaring lion, as Holy Writ calls him, the devil, the Evil One, tempts you to sin, and thus endeavors to devour you?” As often as a great temptation or sorrow approaches you,” writes St. Bernard, “call to your guide, your protector, and say: ” Sir, help me, or I go to destruction!”
“Obey his voice,” says the Lord. He speaks to your soul by interior movements or inspirations. For instance, if you are in danger of sin, he calls to you: “Depart from evil, avoid sin.” If you are surrounded by occasions of evil, he calls to you: “Withdraw from here! Flee hastily.” If you have committed sin, he exhorts you: “Do penance! Return without delay to your God!”
In like manner, he admonishes you interiorly, to practice good works, to be more zealous in the service of God, more solicitous for your salvation. Obey this voice, this call of your holy Guardian Angel. If you do not, you despise him, which is contrary to the command of God, who will surely net leave it unpunished, as it is an offense done, in some respect, to His Majesty. Always obey the voice of your Guardian Angel, and offend him not by disobedience, as otherwise you will not be worthy of his protection.
In conclusion, I will give you a memorable admonition of St. Bernard. He urges you, constantly to call to mind the presence of your Angel, and duly to honor him everywhere. This, however, says he, should be done principally by avoiding sin. For it is contrary to all the respect you owe him, to sin in his presence. “In all places,” these are the words of the holy teacher, “In all places, manifest to your Angel that honor which is due to him, and dare not commit in his presence what you would not dare to do if I were near.” Elsewhere, he says: “Let us walk in such a manner before the eyes of the Angels, that we do not offend their sight.”
“We must guard ourselves not to offend them, and hence we must assiduously perform all those exercises which we know are agreeable to them, as temperance, chastity, voluntary poverty, devout prayers, &c.” Impress these words deeply in your heart; for they contain the best advice as to the means you should employ to honor your holy Guardian Angel, and to assure yourself of his loving and powerful protection during your life, and at the hour of your death. Avoid everything that you know is displeasing to him, and practice, with great zeal, all that you are convinced will be agreeable to him. (1)
The Twelve Works of our Guardian Angel
by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, OFM
Doctor of the Church
According to Sacred Scripture there are twelve works of charity which our guardian Angel does for us.
THE FIRST is to rebuke us for our faults. According to the Book of Judges, chapter 2, verse 1: The Angel of the Lord ascends from Galgala to the place of those weeping and says: “I have lead you forth from the land of Egypt . . . And you have not heard my voice.”
THE SECOND is to absolve us from the bonds of our sins. According to Book of Acts, chapter 12, verse 7: The Angel stood by . . . and the chains fell from his hands; yet this must be understood as disposing this to happen.
THE THIRD is to take away from us those things impeding our progress in goodness, which is signified in the Book of Exodus, chapter 12, verse 12: where the Angel struck the first born of Egypt.
THE FOURTH is to constrain those demons afflicting us, according the Book of Tobias, chapter 12, verse 3: “He chased the demon from my wife”, says Tobias of the Archangel St. Raphael.
THE FIFTH is to teach us, according to the Book of Daniel, chapter 9, verse 22: Now I have entered, to teach you, and so that you might understand.
THE SIXTH is to reveal secrets, for according to the Book of Genesis, chapter 18, verse 17, the three Angels expressed the Mystery of the Trinity and Unity, after which God said: Can I conceal from Abraham what I am about to do?
THE SEVENTH is to console, according to the Book of Tobias, chapter 5, verse 13: Be of a strong spirit, it is nigh, that you are to be cured by God etc..
THE EIGHTH is to comfort us on the way to God, according to Third Book of Kings, chapter 19, verse 7: Rise and eat, for a grand way remains for you.
THE NINTH is to lead us forth on this way and to conduct us back to God, according to the Book of Tobias, chapter 5, verse 15: I shall lead, and I shall lead him back etc..
THE TENTH is to cast down our enemies, according the Book of Isaiah, chapter 37, verse 36: Having entered the Angel of the Lord struck upon the camps of the Assyrians etc..
THE ELEVENTH, to mitigate our temptations; and this is signified in the Book of Genesis, chapter 32, verse 24, where Jacob wrestled with the Angel, and was comforted after the match, having accepted his blessing, the nerve of his femur withered up.
THE TWELFTH is to pray for us and to carry our prayers to God, according the Book of Tobias, chapter 12, verse 12: When you were praying with tears . . . I offered your prayer etc.. All of these are the effects of our guardian Angel's care of us, on account of which we ought to be submissive and grateful both to God and the Holy Angels.
A PRAYER TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom His Love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen. (8)
Image: Ángel de la Guarda (17)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff