Guardian Angel – “My Brother, my Friend, my Comforter!”

The liturgical feast commemorating the Guardian Angels (October 2nd) was first established by the Church in the 16th century, probably as a reaction to the newly invented Protestant theology, which denied this important belief

Newsdesk (07/11/2023 11:57, Gaudium Press) The doctrine regarding these celestial guardians, however, goes back to ancient traditions from the first centuries of Christianity, as well as being grounded in Sacred Scripture. One of the most explicit passages in this regard is found in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their Angels always behold the face of my Father” (Mt 18:10).

Great Fathers of the Church have affirmed this belief. According to St. Basil the Great, certain Angels are placed at the head of peoples, while others accompany each of the faithful. St. Jerome, for his part, invokes the dignity of the human soul as one of the reasons why every man must have his own guardian from birth. And the great St. Augustine points out that the Angels “contemplate us pilgrims, have compassion on us and help us, by the Lord’s command, so that we may one day arrive at the common homeland.”

However, it was only in the 13th century that a more detailed and thorough theological explanation was proposed on the subject. St. Thomas Aquinas formulated it in the first part of the Summa Theologiæ, reserving the whole of question 113 to deal with the guardianship of the good Angels. In eight articles, the Aquinate proposes theses of undeniable interest, many of which arouse curiosity.

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At what point does the Angel begin to guard man? Do Angels suffer because of the wickedness of their charges? Can they abandon them?

Summarizing the articles in a few words, we may explain that, with regard to the first question, St. Thomas argues, in agreement with St. Jerome, that the Angels are assigned to guard men after they are born; therefore, it is most likely that, while in the mother’s womb, the unborn child is guarded by the mother’s Angel.

Regarding the question of whether the Angels suffer due to the bad actions of their protégés, the answer is negative, since a being is saddened when an event occurs that is contrary to its own will, and nothing that happens in the world contradicts the will of the Angels, since it adheres perfectly to the order of divine justice and providence.

With regard to the last question, the Saint affirms that the Angels never completely abandon their charges, just as God, whose ministers and instruments they are, never completely distances Himself from anyone.

The venerable theologian goes so far as to ask whether even the Antichrist (cf. 1 Jn 2:18; 4:3), when he comes, will have a Guardian Angel… He answers in the affirmative and explains: in this case, the Angel will at least help his ward not to do all the evil he desires, just as demons are prevented from doing so by good spirits.

“What patience I must have with you!”

St. Gemma Galgani, an Italian mystic born at the end of the 19th century, seems to have found in her heavenly companion just such a devoted guardian. And not only that: having been graced by God with the visible presence of her Guardian Angel, the Saint considered him an incomparable friend and loving protector. She even conversed with him and sought his advice countless times – always on spiritual matters, it should be said.

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One day, she said to her Angel:

“If I am bad sometimes, my dear Angel, do not be angry, I wish to be grateful to you.”

And he replied:

“Yes. I will be your guide and inseparable companion. Do you not know who entrusted you to my care? It was the merciful Jesus.”

On another occasion, after Gemma had suffered many attacks from the devil at night, her heavenly friend helped her get back into bed and remained at her bedside to protect her against any further attacks from the evil one.

The Angel even said to his charge one day: “Poor girl! You are so inexperienced! You need someone to protect you all the time; what patience I must have with you!”

At the same time, the angelic spirit did not hesitate to reprimand and instruct her. On one occasion, he said with a severe look: “Are you not ashamed of committing these faults in my presence?” She was then covered with confusion: “It was impossible for me to recollect myself for even a moment, I did not have the courage to say a word to him, seeing that every time I raised my eyes he was still so stern.”

Striving for perfection, Gemma was able to reap countless rewards from this “heavenly formation”, being continually attentive towards her guardian, even when he imposed costly penances on her: “I felt much repugnance for the penance he imposed on me of communicating certain secrets to the confessor, but, my father, I obeyed. I forced myself and went very early to tell him everything, and so I overcame myself; and the Angel was so pleased that he treated me with great kindness.”

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They are our closest friends

We should, like this great Saint, have great reverence and respect for our Guardian Angels. St. Bernard exhorted his monks with these words: “Do not do before your Angels what you would not do in front of Bernard.”

At the same time, let us consider that they, sent by God with the specific mission of watching over us until the hour of our death, will understand our difficulties, anxieties, desires and aspirations better than any other earthly friend. That is why St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in a beautiful poem dedicated to her Guardian Angel, called him “my brother, my friend, my comforter.”

Guardian Angels are our friends, our confidantes and our loving protectors. Let us be faithful to them, place our complete confidence in them and entrust all our needs into their hands. Finally, let us not hesitate to follow the advice of the great St. Bernard: “My brothers, be friends with the Angels; keep them continually in your thoughts and in devout prayer, for they are always with you to defend and console you.”

By João Paulo Bueno

Text Extracted, with adaptations, from Heralds of the Gospel Magazine n. 262, October 2023.

Compiled By Roberta MacEwan

 

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