Reflections On the Feast of Our Holy Guardian Angels

Each of us is given a Guardian Angel to guide us home safely to Heaven.

Do we make use of him, putting him to work at all times?

Today, Monday, October 2, 2017, is the Feast of  the Holy Guardian Angels. 

Although our Guardian Angels have a purer intelligence than we possess, they cannot read our minds. We need to give our Guardian Angels permission to read our minds and to know our thoughts so that they can better assist us during the course of a day. "Dear Guardian Angel, I give you permission this day and every day to read my mind and to know my thoughts. Help me to say my prayers well." A simple prayer such as this at the beginning of each day is, in addition to the Guardian Angel Prayer ("Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my sight, to light and to guard, to rule and to guide") a way to begin a running conversation with our Guardian Angel during the course of a day. "Dear Guardian Angel, help me at this moment." "Dear Guardian Angel, be the instrument by which God the Holy Ghost can better enlighten my mind and to strengthen my will as I strive to love God more and to despise all things that displease Him, starting with my own sins." Little prayers such as these will keep us close to the angelic being who beholds the very face of the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as he assists us here as members of the Church Militant on the face of the earth.

Our Guardian Angels want us to use them at every moment of our lives. Do we ever think of asking our Guardian Angel to greet the Guardian Angels of everyone we encounter, including those we see ever so fleetingly, such as our fellow drivers on the highways, so that we might see the image of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in all others and thus stand ready to be Christ-like for all others? Do we ever think of asking our Guardian Angel to help us to remember the fact of our Total Consecration to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, thus inclining us to promptly offer up to God through that same Immaculate Heart all of the events of our day, including whatever merits we might earn as a result of the completion of indulgenced prayers and acts? Do we every think of asking our Guardian Angel to help us to remember the Poor Souls in Purgatory, especially those for whom we are bound to pray for as a result of filial piety, by name and to remember those who have no one to pray for them? Our Guardian Angels can help us in these important aspects of our interior lives. Do we realize how useful that they want to make ourselves in order to help us grow closer to God as He has revealed Himself exclusively through the Catholic Church?

Our Guardian Angels can help to remind us to get up in the morning. They, along with the Poor Souls, are better than alarm clocks. They can help us to cooperate with the Actual Graces sent to us by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, God theHoly Ghost, through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of all Graces, so that we can get ourselves to the daily offering of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition and to say our Rosaries without delay as soon as time permits at the beginning and the close of each day. They can visit the Blessed Sacrament for us if we are unable to make a visit ourselves, outside of the Holy Mass, that is, during the course of a particular day. Capable of bilocation, our Guardian Angels can be sent to assist others in need. They can even be sent to deliver messages to others, being more efficient in doing so than the use of a telephone or e-mail. And, most importantly, they are an instruments of God the Holy Ghost to prompt us to get ourselves to the Confessional on a regular basis, if not weekly, even more urgently if, God forbid, we should fall into the ravages of Mortal Sin.

It is not uncommon for people to meet their Guardian Angels during the course of their lifetimes. Some saints have been given the privilege of seeing their Guardian Angels in all of their Heavenly splendor. Other people have encountered their Guardian Angels in human forms, that is, when their angels had manifested themselves in an apparent human form to assist them in a concrete way. Most of us, however, will not see our Guardian Angels in our own lifetimes. We must, though, be conscious of their presence in our own lives, eager to employ their assistance to help us to scale the heights of sanctity as we attempt to cooperate with the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross to walk the rocky road that leads to the narrow Gate of Life Himself.

Dom Prosper Gueranger's reflection on the nature and the mission of the orders of the heavenly spirits, written for the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, has relevance to this feast day today:

The glorious Archangel appears to-day at the head of the heavenly army: There was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels and fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels. In the sixth century, the dedication of the churches of St. Michael on Mount Gargano and in the Roman circus increased the celebrity of this day, which had however have been long before consecrated by Rome to the memory of the heavenly Virtues.

The east commemorates on the sixth of September an apparition of the victorious Prince at Chone in Phrygia; while the eighth of November is their solemnity of the angels, corresponding to our feast of to-day, and bearing the title: ‘Synaxis of Saint Michael prince of the heavenly host, and of the other spiritual Powers. Although the term synaxis is usually applied only to religious assemblies here on earth, we are informed that in this instance it also signifies the gathering of the faithful angels at the cry of their chief, and their union eternally sealed by their victory.

Who, then, are these heavenly Powers, whose mysterious combat heads the first page of history? Their existence is attested by the traditions of all nations as well as by the authority of holy Scripture. If the consult the Church, she teaches that in the beginning God created and simultaneously two natures, the spiritual and the corporal, and afterwards man who is composed of both. The scale of nature descends by gradation from beings made to the likeness of God, to the very confines of nothingness; and by the same degrees the create mounts upwards to his Creator. God is infinite being, infinite intelligence, infinite love. The creature is for ever finite: but man, endowed with a reasoning intellect, and the angel, with an intuitive grasp of truth, are ever, by a continual process of purification, widening the bounds of their imperfect nature, in order to reach, by increase of light, the perfection of greater love.

God alone is simple with that unchangeable productive simplicity, which is absolute perfection excluding the possibility of progress; He is pure Act, in who substance, power, and operation are one thing. The angel, though, entirely independent of matter, is yet subject the natural weaknesses necessary to a created being; he is not absolutely simple, for him action is distinct from power, and power from essence. How much greater is the weakness of man’s composite nature, unable to carry on the operations of the intellect without the aid of the senses!

‘Compared with ours,’ says one of the most enlightened brethren of the angelic doctor, ‘how calm and how luminous is the knowledge of pure spirits! They are not doomed to the intricate discoursings of our reason, which runs after the truth, composes and analyzes, and laboriously draws conclusions from premises. They instantaneously apprehend the whole compass of primary truths. Their intuition is so prompt, so lively, so penetrating, that it is impossible for them to be surprised, as we are, into error. If they deceive themselves, it must be of their own will. The perfection of their will is equal to the perfection of their intellect. They know not what it is to be distributed by the violence and appetites. Their love is without emotion; and their hatred of evil is as calm and as wisely tempered as their love. A love so free can know no perplexity as to its aims, no inconstancy in its resolutions. Whereas with us long and anxious meditation is necessary before we make a decision, it is the property of the angels to determine by a single act the object of their choice. God proposed to them, as He does to us, infinite beatitude in the vision of His own Essence; and to fit them for so great an end, He endowed them with grace at the same time as He gave them being. In one instant they said Yes or No; in one instant they freely and deliberately decided their own fate.

Let us not be envious. By nature the angel is superior to us; but, to which of the angels hath He said at any time, ‘Thou art My Son?’ The only-begotten Son of God did not take to Himself the angelic nature. While on earth, He acknowledged the temporary subordination of humanity to those pure spirits, and deigned to receive from them, even as do His brethren in the flesh, the announcements of the divine will, and help and strength. But ‘God hath not subjected unto angels the world to come,’ says the apostle. How can we understand this attraction of God towards what is feeblest. We can only worship it in humble faith. It was Lucifer’s stumbling-block on the day of the great battle in heaven. But the faithful angels prostrated themselves in joyous adoration at the feet of the Infant-Go foreshown to them enthroned on Mary’s knee, and then rose up to sing: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.’

O Christ, my Christ as St. Denis calls Thee, the Church to-day delightedly proclaims Thee the beauty of the holy angels. Thou, the God-Man, art the lofty height whence purity, light, and love flow down upon the triple hierarchy of the nine choirs. Thou art the supreme Hierarch, the centre of worlds, controller of the deifying mysteries at the eternal feast.

Flaming Seraphim, glittering Cherubim, steadfast Thrones, court of honour to the Most High, and possessed of the nobles inheritance: according to the Areopagite, ye receive your justice, your splendor, and your burning love by direct communication from our Lord: and through you, all grace overflows from Him upon the holy city.

Dominations, Virtues, and Powers; sovereign dispensers, prime movers, and rules of the universe: in whose name do ye govern the world? Doubtless in His whose inheritance it is; in the name of the King of glory, the Man-God, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord of hosts.

Angels, Archangels, and Principalities; heaven’s messengers, ambassadors, and overseers here below: are yet not also, as the apostle says, ministers of the salvation wrought on earth by Jesus, the heavenly High-Priest?

We also, through this same Jesus, O most holy Trinity, glorify Thee, together, with the three princely hierarchies, which surround Thy Majesty with their nine immaterial rings as with a many-circled rampart. To tend to Thee, and to draw all things to Thee, is their common law. Purification, illumination, union: by these three ways in succession, or simultaneously, are these noble beings attracted to God, and by the same they attracted those who strive to emulate them. Sublime spirits, it is with your gaze ever fixed on high that ye influence those below and around you. Draw plentifully, both for yourselves and for us, from the central fires of the Divinity; purify us from more than the involuntary infirmities of nature; enlighten us; kindle us with your heavenly flames. Fr the same reason that satan hates us, ye love us: protect the race of the Word made Flesh against the common enemy. So guard us, that we may hereafter be worthy to occupy among you the places left vacant by the victims of pride. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

Guardian Angels are most prompt when we ask them for favors. I think I recounted in a travelogue about pilgrimage to Rome in 2005 as to  how I was trying to think of the name of the medical cream that a physician had recommended a year earlier, in 2004, that we used to cure a terrible rash that our daughter was experiencing. I racked my brain and just could not think of the name. As soon as I remembered to pray to my Guardian Angel, however, the name occurred to me: Lotrimin. Oh, there are so many examples like this that they are just too numerous to mention. This was one, though, that I love to recount because I did want to alleviate our daughter's intense suffering in the middle of a hot, humid, Roman night.

Dom Prosper Gueranger provided the following reflection on the Guardian Angels in The Liturgical Year:

But God, magnificent as he is towards the whole human race, honours in a special manner the princes of His people, those who are most favoured by His grace, or who rule the earth in His name; the saints testify, that a supereminent perfection, or a higher mission in Church or State, ensures to the individual the assistance of a superior spirit, without the angel that was first deputed being necessarily removed from his charge. Moreover, with regard to the work of salvation, the Guardian Angel has no fear of being left alone at his post; at his request, and at God's command, the troops of his blessed companions, who fill heaven and earth, are ever ready to lend him their aid. These noble spirits, acting under the eye of God, whose love they desire to second by all possible means, have secret alliances between them, which sometimes induce between their clients, even on earth, unions the mystery whereof will be revealed in the light of eternity.

'How profound a mystery,' says Origen, 'is the apportioning of souls to the angels destined for their guardians! It is a divine secret, part of the universal economy centred in the Man-God. Nor is it without ineffable order that the ministries of earth, the many departments of nature, are allotted to the heavenly Virtues; fountains and rivers, winds and forests, plants, living creatures of land and sea, whose various functions harmonize together by the angels directing them all to a common end.'

Again, on these words of Jeremias: How long shall the land mourn? Origen, supported by the authority of his translator St. Jerome, continues: 'It is through each one of us that the earth rejoices or mourns; and not only the earth but water, fire, air, all the elements; by which name we must here understand not insensible matter, but the angels who are set over all things on earth. There is an angel of the land, who, with his companions, mourns over our crimes. There is an angel of the waters to whom are applied the words of the psalm: The waters saw Thee, and they were afraid, and the depths were troubled; great was the noise of the waters; the clouds sent out a sound, for Thy arrows pass.'

How grand is nature viewed in this light! It is thus the ancients, more truthful as well as more poetical than our generation, always considered the universe. Their error lay in adoring these mysterious power, to the detriment of the only God, under whom they stoop that bear up the world.

'Air and earth and ocean, everything is full of angels,' says St. Ambrose. 'Eliseus besieged by a whole army, felt no fear; for he beheld invisible cohorts assisting him. May the prophet open thine eyes also; may the enemy, be he legion, not terrify thee; thou thinkest thyself hemmed in, and thou art free: there are more with us than with them.'

But let us return to our own specially-deputed angel, and meditate on this other testimony: 'The noble guardians of each one of us sleeps not, nor can he be deceived. Close thy door, and make the darkness of night; but remember, thou art never alone; he has no need of daylight in order to use thy actions. And who is it that speaks thus? Not a father of the Church, but a pagan, the slave philosopher Epictetus.

In conclusion, let us listen to the Abbot of Clairvaux, who here gives free rein to his eloquence: 'In every place show respect to thy angel. Let gratitude for his benefits incite thee to honour his greatness. Love this thy future coheir, the guardian appointed for thee by the Father during thy childhood. For though we are sons of God, we are as yet but children, and long and dangerous is our journey. But God that given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash they foot against a stone. Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk; and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon. Yes; where the road is smooth enough for a child, they will content themselves with guiding thee, and sustaining thy footsteps, as one does for a children. But if trials threaten to surpass thy strength, they will bear thee up in their hands. Oh those hands of angels! Thanks to them, what fearful straits we have passed through, as it were without thinking, and with no other impression left upon us, than that of a nightmare suddenly dispelled.'

And in his commentary on the Canticle of canticles, St. Bernard thus describes the triumph of the angel: "One of the companions of the Spouse, sent from heaven to the chosen soul as mediator, on witnessing the mystery accomplished, how he exults, and says: "I give thee thanks, O God of majesty, for having granted the desire of her heart!" Not it was he that, as a persevering friend, had not ceased, on the way, to murmur into the soul's ear: "Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the requests of thy heart;" and again: "Expect the Lord, and keep His way"; and then: "If He make any delay, wait for Him, for He will surely come and will not tarry." Meanwhile he represented to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the soul's desire, saying: "As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so this soul panteth after Thee, O God; have pity on her, hear her cries, and visit her in her desolation. And now the faithful paranymph, the confidant of ineffable secrets, is not jealous. He goes from the Spouse to the bride, offering desires, bringing back gifts; he incites the one, he appeases the other. Sometimes, even in this world, he brings them into each other's presence, either by raising up the bride in ecstasy, or by bringing down the Bridegroom; for he is one of the household, and well known in the palace; and he fears no rebuff, for every day he beholds the face of the Father.' (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.) 

The readings for Matins in today's Divine Office provide the full version of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux's reflection on our Guardian Angels that was referenced and cited in part by Dom Prosper Gueranger above:

He hath given His Angels charge over thee. A wonderful graciousness, and a wonderful outpouring of love. For who hath given charge? And what charge? Unto whom? And over whom? Let us carefully consider, my brethren, let us carefully hold in mind this great charge. For who hath given this charge? To Whom belong the Angels? Whose commandments do they obey, and Whose will do they do? He hath given His Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, and that not carelessly, for they shall bear thee up in their hands. The Highest Majesty, therefore, hath given charge unto Angels, even His Angels. Unto these beings so excellently exalted, so blessed, so near to Himself, even as His own household, unto these hath He given charge over thee. Who art thou? What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Ps. viii. 5. Even as though man were not rottenness, and the son of man, a worm. Job. xxv. 6. But what charge hath He given them over thee? To keep thee in all thy ways.

That respect, what thankfulness, what trust, ought this word to work in thee! Respect for their presence, thankfulness for their kindness, trust in their safe keeping. Walk carefully, as one with whom are Angels, as hath been laid in charge upon them, in all thy ways. In every lodging, in every nook, have reverence for thine Angel. Dare not to do in his presence what thou wouldst not dare to do in mine. Or dost thou doubt whether he be indeed present, because thou seest him not? What if thou heardest him? What if thou touchedst him? What if thou smelledst him? Behold, not by sight alone is the presence of things made manifest.

Let us also, brethren, dearly love His Angels, as them with whom we are one day to be co-heirs, and who in the meanwhile are leaders and guardians set over us by the Father. With such guardians, whereof shall we be afraid? They that keep us in all our ways, can neither be conquered nor corrupted, far less can they corrupt. They are trusty, they are wary, they are mighty. Whereof shall we be afraid? Only let us follow them, only let us cleave unto them, and we shall abide under the shadow of the God of heaven. As often then as the gloom of temptation threateneth thee, or the sharpness of tribulation hangeth over thee, call upon Him That keepeth thee, thy Shepherd, thy Refuge in times of trouble, call upon Him, and say, But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Our Holy Guardian Angels.)

Yes, as noted above, our Guardian Angels behold the face of the Most Blessed Trinity as they accompany us from physical birth to the spiritual rebirth of the baptismal font to the loss of baptismal innocence as we fall into Venial Sins in childhood. Imagine how much our sins displease, indeed, sicken our Guardian Angels! Imagine this, will you?

Our Guardian Angels see God. They possess a pure intelligence and a pure will. Many spiritual writers contend that our angels shield themselves when we commit sins, seeing as they do the horror that each one of our sins imposed upon Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in His Sacred Humanity--and upon His Most Blessed Mother--during His Passion and Death. All the more reason for us to ask our Guardian Angels to help to keep us from even the smallest sins so that we can grow in holiness rather than sink into the mire of lukewarmness and the neglect of our interior lives engendered thereby.

Although the lowest of the rank of the nine choirs of angels (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues Powers, Thrones, Principalities, Archangels, Angels), our Guardian Angels are close to the Queen of the Angels, our dear Blessed Mother, Mary. They love her and honor her, seeing reflected in her beauteous perfection what each human soul would have approximated in appearance had it not been for Adam's Fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden. They want us to have the highest possible place in Heaven next to that of Our Lady herself. They know that, as Saint Louis de Montfort noted in his works, it is impossible to be saved absent a devotion to Our Lady:

The pious and learned Jesuit, Suarez, Justus Lipsius, a devout and erudite theologian of Louvain, and many others have proved incontestably that devotion to our Blessed Lady is necessary to attain salvation. This they show from the teaching of the Fathers, notably St. Augustine, St. Ephrem, deacon of Edessa, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Germanus of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, St. Anselm, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure. Even according to Oecolampadius and other heretics, lack of esteem and love for the Virgin Mary is an infallible sign of God's disapproval. On the other hand, to be entirely and genuinely devoted to her is a sure sign of God's approval

Our Guardian Angels want us to shower Our Lady with acts of love and devotion. They want us to say our Rosaries promptly and with fervor. They want us to make pilgrimages in honor of Our Lady. they want to see us clothed in the Brown Scapular and adorned with the Miraculous Medal, making sure to pray to Our Lady for all the graces we forget to pray for during the course of each day! They want us to salute Our Lady with pious invocations (Ave Maria, Salve Regina, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you, save souls, All to you, Blessed Mother, all to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation, O Blessed Mother, help me, a sinner, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us now and the hour of our death, Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death) throughout the day. They do. They want us to join them in these pious invocations of filial love and trusting supplication.

Oh, yes, our Guardian Angels stand ready to help to prompt us to say our prayers. They stand ready to help us to avoid sin and to cooperate with the graces won for u by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces to grow in sanctity. They stand ready to help us to view our own lives and the events of the Church and the world through the eyes of the true Faith. They stand ready to move us to go to Mass every day and to spend time with Our Beloved in His Real Presence, as noted earlier. They stand ready to help us to do our Purgatory on earth by living penitentially and seeking to pray constantly in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world. They stand ready to help us to be saints. Will we let them? Will we let our Guardian Angels know that we want to rely upon their assistance and that we want to eternal praise to the God Who created both them and us out of a free will act of love? Will we let our Guardian Angels help us to die to self as we carry the crosses that God ordains for us to carry so that we might know an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise?

We are never alone. We have a Heavenly friend who is always with us and who wants us to rely upon his help. What in this world--or the next world--are we waiting for? Let us renew with fervor and attentiveness our devotion to and reliance upon our Guardian Angels, giving thanks to God for His goodness in sending us these angelic beings to help us to return to Him through His Catholic Church.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and to guard, to rule and to guide. Amen.

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels and the Saints, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, pray for us.

Our Holy Guardian Angels, pray for us.