It is believed we each have a specific angel watching out for us, protecting us from car crashes and facepalming when we sin. But have you ever thought what having a guardian angel specifically means? What does the Church even say about this?
The Catechism explains that “from its beginning until death human life is surround by [the angels’] watchful care and intercession” (336). However, though the Church celebrates the Feast of the Guardian Angels in October and most of us probably learned the rhyming prayer to them as children, the specifics of our heavenly protectors are not well defined. Not to worry though as many saints have shared their own thoughts, reflections, and hot takes on Guardian Angels.
St. Jerome: having an angel shows our dignity
In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, St. Jerome states what he believes about guardian angels with certainty: “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” Angels are higher beings in Creation than humans, being asigned one to guard us clearly shows the dignity and value God has given us.
St. Thomas Aquinas: we will also have angels in Heaven…sort of
In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas spends a few questions on the topic of guardian angels. In one he states that when someone “arrives at the end of life he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the kingdom he will have an angel to reign with him” (Pt 1, 113, 4). It is an interesting thought to consider how in Heaven we will live alongside our onetime protectors.
St Basil: our angels lead us to God
The Catechism passage mentioned above also includes a quote from St. Basil. He says “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (Adv. Eunomium III). This is the role of the Guardian Angel as probably most of us learned it: to help us get to Heaven. St. Basil specifically calls out, though, that our angels lead us to eternal life with God.
St. Gemma: angels can teach us
St. Gemma Galgani was given the special grace of being able to see her guardian angel. Her spiriual director recalled that she would tell her guardian angel she loved him “because you teach me how to be good, and to keep humble, and to please Jesus.” While most of us cannot percieve our guardian angels physically we can pray for their aid.
St. Josemaria: our angels should be lifelong friends
Angels are not unconcerned with our temporal wellbeing as St. Josemaria knew. For many years he had an unreliable alarm clock. He would ask his guardian angel to wake him and the angel never failed. This may be one reason the saint said “Have confidence in your guardian angel. Treat him as a lifelong friend — that is what he is — and he will render you a thousand services in the ordinary affairs of each day.” (The Way 562).
St. John Vianney: we can ask our angels to pray for us
We can, of course, ask our guardian angels to intercede for us with God just as we ask the saints who also see God’s face. St. John Vianney, however, advised taking this even further, saying “If you are finding it impossible to pray, take refuge behind your good Angel, and ask him to pray in your place.”
Our guardian angels are powerful and beautiful beings. Though we may not know the details, we know that we can have confidence in how God guides and protects us through his heavenly host.\
Featured image: Wikimedia. Public domain.