Wednesday, October 2, is the Memorial of Guardian Angels, the day that we celebrate the angels, servants of God, who are sent to us to protect us from dangers, particularly spiritual dangers. We picture angels either as little cherubs wearing togas and playing harps, but when we read the Bible we get a very different idea of angels. In the Bible, when an angel appears to someone they usually fall down on their knees or on their face, like when the Archangel Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel and he falls down prostrate on his face. Some angels are described as having 6 wings, or 4 faces, one on each side of their head, or wheels instead of feet. No wonder that Zechariah was struck with fear when the Archangel Gabriel came to announce to him that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist, so that the first words he said were, “Do not be afraid” (Lk 1).
The angels of God serve as His messengers and His assistants. Some angels constantly pray for people, especially children, before God, as the Lord told His disciples, “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” (Mt 18:10). They are also sent to minister to people, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” The goal of our guardian angels is to help us get to heaven by protecting us from the lies and temptations of the devil, praying for us to God, and guiding us along the right path. We can ignore our guardian angels or we can accept their help and work with them.
We really don’t know very much about angels in general or guardian angels in particular, and the great theologians have disagreed about them. We do know, however, that they exist, that the always follow God’s will, and that God loves us enough to send each of us an angel to help us achieve salvation. As St. Jerome said, “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth and angel commissioned to guard it.” Don’t take your guardian angels for granted or underestimate them. Ask them to pray for specific things, like something that you’re struggling with or even for someone else. Ask them to help you not only to resist temptation but to avoid what will temp you in the first place. May we all get some day get to meet our guardian angels in heaven and, though we never saw them on earth, recognize in them our constant companion and true friend.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.