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 guide. Amen.
Guardian Angels are perhaps the most popular kind, probably because we all know how fragile life can be – how little control we seem to have over the events that shape our lives. We desperately need protection from unexpected circumstances and unseen dangers. Just the thought of good angels hovering around us gives people a feeling of safety!
The idea of Guardian Angels was fairly well developed in Judaism around the time in which the New Testament was written. According to Colin Brown, Judaism taught that each individual had his or her own personal angle, a view generally attested to by the records of the early Church.
The Great preacher Chrysostom, in Homilies on Colossians, affirmed that “each believer hath an Angel”.
Origen, one of the best known writers of early Christian history wrote, “All the faithful in Christ, no matter how small, are helped by an Angel, and Christ says that these Angels always see the face of the Father who is in heaven… we must say that every human soul is under the direction of an Angel who is like a father”.
St. Basil believed that “an Angel is put in charge of every believer, provided we do not drive him out by sin. He guards the soul like an army. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux grew most eloquent whenever writing or speaking about our Guardian Angels. (‘Devotion to St. Michael and the holy Angels’, pg.175-176).
a) Creation of Angels
The question that many want to know is, “how, when and why, were the Angels created?” Nowhere is it mentioned that God created the Angels. But later in the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Adam and Eve. From where did this all come about? In the early Church, this question was raised. St. Augustine gives us the answer. Even St. Thomas depends on St. Augustine to write on the Fall of Angels.
If we take the First chapter of the book of Genesis, we come across the creation episode. Here we see that on the first day God created Light and Darkness. On the second day, God created Heaven and Earth. On the third day, God did a division between Water and Earth. On the fourth day, God created the Sun, Moon and Stars. What? On the fourth day God created Sun, Moon and Stars? Then on the first day, second day and third day, where did the light come from? How it was day and night then?
So, St. Augustine says in his book, ‘City of God’ that, “on the first day God created the Angels!” He says further, “When all things which are recorded to have been completed in six days were created and arranged, how should the Angels be omitted, as if they were not among the works of God from which on the seventh day He rested?”
For when God said, “Let there be light, there was light.” If we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the Angels, then certainly. They were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the Only – Begotten Son Of God. So that they, being illumined by the light that created them, might themselves become light and be called “Day”, in participation of that unchangeable light and day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made”. (Book 11, City of God– Chapter 9).
b) What does Scripture says about Angels?
We get a proof that Jesus created the Angels in Colossians 1:16 which says, “For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him”.
In the book of Job 38:4, God challenges Job and asks him a question, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if thou hast understanding”. Hebrews 12:22 says, “But you are come to Mount Sion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of Angels”. Revelation, 5:11, “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many Angels round about the throne, and the living creatures, and the ancients; and the number of them was thousands of thousands”.
c) Choirs of Angels
It is an article of faith, firmly established in scripture and tradition, and clearly expressed in Christian Doctrine from the beginning, that in this spiritual world, our Angels began with time and were created by God. (Devotion to St. Michael and the Holy Angels’ Pg., 141.)
The angelic world is divided into three Celestial Hierarchies and nine Choirs:
- The Supreme Hierarchy
Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones
- Middle Hierarchy
Dominations, Virtues, Powers
- Lower Hierarchy
Principalities, Archangels, Angels
- Guardian Angels
Taken in the specific sense of a particular choir, the Angels “fill up and complete the lowest choir of all the hierarchies of the celestial intelligences, since they are the last of the heavenly beings possessing angelic nature. And they, indeed, are more properly named Angels (i.e. Messengers) by us than are those of a higher rank, because their choir is more directly in contact with visible and earthly things”. By their nature and duties, the Angels are closer to man than any other celestial spirit. It is from the ranks of this choir that Guardian Angels are ordinarily, yet not exclusively, taken for the guidance and protection of individual souls during their earthly pilgrimage.
e) The Ministry of these Guardian Angels consists:
1) In warding off dangers to body and soul.
2) In preventing Satan’s suggesting evil thoughts and in removing occasions of sin and helping us to overcome temptation.
3) In enlightening and instructing us and fostering in us holy thoughts and pious desires.
Yes, in our Guardian Angel, we have an unseen friend and benefactor, an intimate and never failing companion in our journey through life. Let us ask the Precious Blood to be our thanks-offering for so great a favour as his companionship. In the words of St. Ambrose, “we should pray to the Angel who is given to us as a Guardian” and St. Bernard justly reminds us of the duties we owe our Guardian Angel. “Reverence for his presence, devotion for his benevolence, confidence in his care. Always remember that you are in the presence of your Guardian Angel” he exhorts his disciples. In whatever place you may be, in whatever secret recourse you may hide, think of your Guardian Angel. Never do in the presence of your Angel what you would not do in my presence. (‘Devotion to St. Michael and the Holy Angels’, pg.182-184).
Rev. Fr. Jose D’souza, Ofm Cap.