CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: 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…. That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is not an article of faith; but it is the “Mind of the Church”, as St. Jerome expressed it: “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” This belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch, and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and Assyrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an Assyrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: “He sent a tutelary deity of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed.” In the Bible this doctrine is clearly discernible and its development is well marked. In Genesis 28-29, angels not only act as the executors of God’s wrath against the cities of the plain, but they deliver Lot from danger; in Exodus 12-13, an angel is the appointed leader of the host of Israel, and in 32:34, God says to Moses: “My angel shall go before thee.” At a much later period we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 90:11: “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.” Lastly, in Daniel 10 angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called “Prince of the kingdom of the Persians”, and Michael is termed “One of the chief princes”; cf. This sums up the Old Testament doctrine on the point; it is clear that the Old Testament conceived of God’s angels as His ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs. There is no special teaching; the doctrine is rather taken for granted than expressly laid down; cf. In the New Testament the doctrine is stated with greater precision. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “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.” A twofold aspect of the doctrine is here put before us: even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels lose not the vision of God by the fact that they have a mission to fulfil on earth. Without dwelling on the various passages in the New Testament where the doctrine of guardian angels is suggested, it may suffice to mention the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. Hebrews 1:14 puts the doctrine in its clearest light: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” This is the function of the guardian angels; they are to lead us, if we wish it, to the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Thomas teaches us that only the lowest orders of angels are sent to men, and consequently that they alone are our guardians, though Scotus and Durandus would rather say that any of the members of the angelic host may be sent to execute the Divine commands. Not only the baptized, but every soul that cometh into the world receives a guardian spirit; St. Basil and possibly St. Chrysostom would hold that only Christians were so privileged. Our guardian angels can act upon our senses and upon our imaginations – not upon our wills, except “Per modum suadentis”, viz.
Where Were the Guardian Angels in Las Vegas?
Hearing the news about the Las Vegas massacre on the morning of the Feast of the Guardian Angels was both horrifying and ironic. He preached about the guardian angels nonchalantly and joyfully, and while I said my thankful prayers for the guidance and protection of my own heavenly companion, I wondered if I would have felt differently about the whole idea of these appointed celestial friends if I had known or lost someone dear to me in the previous night’s tragedy. Where were their guardian angels? Why didn’t they cause some kind of traffic jam to keep their “Assignments” from making it to the concert? Why couldn’t they have conjured up a plane delay or even a stomach bug to delay or prevent their attendance? At the limit, why couldn’t they have redirected those hate-filled bullets, acting as bodyguards for the humans they were sent to protect? What is the point in being a guardian, really? While I know that this is an overly simplistic view of the guardian angels, and I am aware that this question is an extrapolation of the problem of evil writ large, I added to my growing list of regrets that this terrible tragedy would be a stumbling block to faith in all regards, and in a particular way, the faith we place in our own guardian angels. Father Steve said that when we pray to St. Michael or to our own guardian angels, we must remember that their chief goal is not to preserve our earthly life, to step in the way of our choices or the choices of those around us, but to lead us safely into the arms of Christ when, upon our death, Satan struggles to obtain our souls for himself. His greatest mission is to allow us to truly live, to win us for Christ, to fight on our behalf at the moment of death and to stand athwart the dark power of the Accuser. I think that the same could be said of the guardian angels. As a new mother, I can hardly imagine anything worse than losing a child, especially in the senseless, tragic, hate-fueled, preventable way that the lives of victims of the Las Vegas massacre were taken. Daily, I do my best to “Secure” and “Protect” my children, to keep them alive, to act as a guardian and fend off any and all threats to their physical person and earthly existence. The greatest joy is only attainable with the freedom to choose it, and thus, evil exists and affects all of our lives. We live with the consequences of our own choices and with those of every other member of the Body of Christ, every other inhabitant of this world. My measure of success as a mother is not in keeping my children alive, but in directing them to Christ in the small amount of time with which I am entrusted with their precious souls so that they can truly live. If that’s the best I can do as a “Guardian”, how much more perfectly can my guardian angel carry out this task, should I request his assistance? Today, we pray fervently and with deep sorrow for those who lost their lives in the recent horrors and for those who will feel this loss most acutely, who will suffer through the intense grief of having to live without their loved one. In the wake of the Feast of the Guardian Angels, we pray in thanksgiving for those 58 guardian angels, walking hand-in-hand with their coupled soul toward Christ, handing them over to his embrace and fighting all that is dark so that in the last moment of their earthly existence they might come to know the glory of Christ’s eternal light.