Though Scripture never uses the term “Guardian angel,” millions of Bible believers through the centuries have professed their conviction in such a classification of angels. In the third century A.D., Origen wrote that “Each one of us, even to the ‘least’ who are in the church of God” has “a good angel, an angel of the LORD, who guides, warns and governs”. Merriam-Webster defines “Guardian angel” as “An angel believed to have special care of a particular individual”. Popularly speaking, if a person googles the phrase “My guardian angel saved/helped,” he will discover thousands of articles or posts where people avow that their personal guardian angels have saved them from certain death, or helped them escape some serious calamity. Although religionists have defined guardian angels in a variety of ways in the past, since Catholics claim these angels “Are a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture”, it is appropriate to consider how they define these angels. According to AmericanCatholic.org, a guardian angel is “An angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being”. Are we to think that Pharaoh and Herod had guardian angels when they butchered myriads of innocent children? And what about the wicked Jezebel, who “Massacred the prophets of the LORD”, or the multi-million-man-murderer Hitler? Are we to think that God provided each of them with a special angel to “Benefit” and “Aid” him/her? The very thought is absurd, not to mention foreign to Scripture. Not only are angels merely interested in the salvation of men and involved in the spiritual realm transporting the souls of the dead into paradise, they also work in God’s overall providential care of His people as “Ministering spirits.” In the context of exalting Christ above God’s angelic heavenly hosts, the writer of Hebrews rhetorically asked: “But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”. Second, even if “The angel of the LORD” in this passage does not refer to the preincarnate Christ, “Guardian angel” advocates still cannot find proof of their doctrine here. Even the scholarly J.W. McGarvey, who endorsed to some extent the idea of “Guardian angels”, admitted in his commentary on Acts that those meeting at Mary’s house “Undoubtedly had allusion to the popular superstition of their day, that a man’s guardian angel sometimes assumed his form”. Though Peter Davids questioned the doctrine and popular definition of guardian angels, he noted: “Matthew [18:10-EL] makes the only clear reference to ‘guardian’ angels”. Since Jesus spoke of “their angels,” allegedly He was implying that children have “guardian angels. Even if one were to ignore the overall context of Matthew 18 in an attempt to force the popular “guardian-angel” slant on verse 10, still the plural possessive pronoun “their” angels scarcely supports the idea that God assigns one angel for each and every child or believer on Earth. As R.C.H. Lenski noted, God “often assigns individual angels for special duties”, but that does not mean that each person has his or her own angel. CONCLUSION. Rather than be infatuated with whether or not each person on Earth has his or her own guardian angel; rather than conjure up all sorts of reasons why we might like the idea of a guardian angel; rather than celebrate a “Feast of the Guardian Angels” or call ourselves “Guardian Angels Churches,” etc.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Feast of Guardian Angels
Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more – all for only $19.99…. This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar. It was not one of the feasts retained in the Pian breviary, published in 1568; but among the earliest petitions from particular churches to be allowed, as a supplement to this breviary, the canonical celebration of local feasts, was a request from Cordova in 1579 for permission to have a feast in honour of the guardian angels. Bäumer, who makes this statement on the authority of original documents published by Dr. Schmid, adds on the same authority that “Toledo sent to Rome a rich proprium and received the desired authorization for all the Offices contained in it, Valencia also obtained the approbation in February, 1582, for special Offices of the Blood of Christ and the Guardian Angels.” “So far the feast of Guardian Angels remained local. Paul V placed it among the feasts of the general calendar as a double”ad libitum”. “Paul V”, he writes, “gave an impetus to the veneration of Guardian Angels by the authorization of a feast and proper office in their honour. At the request of Ferdinand of Austria, afterwards emperor, he made them obligatory in all regions subject to the Imperial power; to all other places he conceded them ad libitum, to be celebrated on the first available day after the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel. It is believed that the new feast was intended to be a kind of supplement to the Feast of St. Michael, since the Church honoured on that day the memory of all the angels as well as the memory of St. Michael. Among the numerous changes made in the calendar by Clement X was the elevation of the Feast of Guardian Angels to the rank of an obligatory double for the whole Church to be kept on 2 October, this being the first unoccupied day after the feast of St. Michael. In the collect of the third Mass the intercessory power of saints and angels is alike appealed to. These extracts make it plain that the substantial idea which underlies the modern feast of Guardian Angels was officially expressed in the early liturgies. In the “Horologium magnum” of the Greeks there is a proper Office of Guardian Angels entitled “A supplicatory canon to man’s Guardian Angel composed by John the Monk”, which contains a clear expression of belief in the doctrine that a guardian angel is assigned to each individual. For 2 October there is a proper Office in the Roman Breviary and a proper Mass in the Roman Missal, which contains all the choice extracts from Sacred Scripture bearing on the three-fold office of the angels, to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over mortal men. “Let us praise the Lord whom the Angels praise, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim Holy, Holy, Holy”. The Gospel of the Mass includes that pointed text from St. Matthew 18:10: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. ” Although 2 October has been fixed for this feast in the Roman calendar, it is kept, by papal privilege, in Germany and many other places on the first Sunday of September, and is celebrated with special solemnity and generally with an octave.