Guardians and Protectors of the Faith: Archangels and Guardian Angels
On 29th of September, the Catholic world commemorates the feast day of the 3 principal Archangels, namely: Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Thereafter, the feast of guardian angels will be celebrated a couple days from now (2nd of October). God’s chief messengers and, due to their critical roles in our faith and salvation, they are accorded special honor and recognition, earning them the title of ‘Saints.’ According to St. Thomas, archangels bear the weightiest messages from God to humanity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “The existence of spiritual, non-corporeal beings, which Sacred Scripture commonly refers to as ‘angels,’ is a matter of faith. The testimony of Scripture is as clear as the consensus of Tradition.” Angels are ethereal beings dedicated to ceaselessly glorifying God and fulfilling His divine plan for creation. As St. Thomas Aquinas succinctly puts it, ‘The angels collaborate for the common good of us all.’ According to Church teachings, angels are God’s celestial creatures, possessing great sanctity and dignity. In essence, they serve as God’s heavenly messengers, servants, and protectors. Among their many responsibilities is the care and guidance of humanity, most notably, the Guardian Angels. Much like the saints in heaven, angels serve as conduits connecting us to God; they intercede on our behalf and assist us in expressing gratitude for the grace and blessings bestowed upon us. In short, angels are real, far from mere figments of imagination or, in contemporary internet terms, not trolls spreading hatred and falsehoods. They are our guides on the path to Heaven.
For Catholics, it is customary to seek the guidance and assistance of angels, particularly the archangels and our Guardian Angels, to steer us toward the righteous path and teach us how to walk in God’s presence. Perhaps you still recall the prayer many of us learned in childhood: ‘Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.’
While we have limited knowledge about the roles of archangels and Guardian Angels in salvation history, we rely on what Holy Scriptures and Church teachings have revealed. According to these sources, St. Gabriel delivered the message of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, proclaiming her as the Mother of God. St. Raphael, on the other hand, is known as the healing angel, providing solace and healing to the afflicted. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some turned to St. Raphael, who also serves as the patron Saint of the sick, for intercession. Lastly, St. Michael stands as our protector and defender of the faith, having battled Lucifer, the leader of the rebellious angels cast into Hell, who continually seeks the ruin of souls. Among the three archangels, St. Michael holds a special place in the hearts of many, as he is fervently invoked for defense against wickedness and the snares of the devil, as the prayer to St. Michael attests. When we earnestly seek the aid of the archangels and our Guardian Angels, they stand ready, by the grace of God, to protect, assist, and deliver us from all dangers, healing us from afflictions.
The celebration of the Guardian Angels’ feast primarily serves as a reminder of their significant role in our spiritual journey, a chance to express our gratitude for their constant guidance and protection, and an opportunity to deepen our connection with them. Angels represent God’s remarkable blessings to us, particularly the Guardian Angels, who serve as God’s earthly messengers and remain by our side regardless of location or circumstance. Some theologians suggest that Guardian Angels are assigned to us from birth until our last breath. They not only nurture our spiritual growth but also work behind the scenes, safeguarding us from harm and drawing us closer to God. While angels may not be physically visible, those who hold a special devotion to them often sense their presence, especially in times of need. Have you ever encountered your Guardian Angel in your life?
Though Catholics believe in the existence of angels, not everyone forms a close relationship with their Guardian Angel. Some individuals even go as far as giving their Guardian Angel a name, fostering intimacy. Unfortunately, some remain unaware of God’s wondrous gift of Guardian Angels, missing out on the opportunity to seek their assistance, much like how we can pray to Our Blessed Mother and the Saints in Heaven.
It is essential to note that angels, in general, are genderless. Personally, I use feminine pronouns to address my Guardian Angel. I regard her as a trusted friend, experiencing the highs and lows of any friendship, including conflicts and misunderstandings. She has consistently stood by my side, rejoicing in my virtuous deeds and perhaps feeling sorrow when I make poor choices. Nevertheless, she never abandons me and encourages me to do God’s will and lead a life pleasing to Him. St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who had numerous encounters with angels throughout his life, once expressed, ‘How comforting it is to know that we have a spirit who never leaves us from the womb to the tomb, even when we dare to sin. This heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother.’ Similarly, St. Jose Maria Escriva advised us to have confidence in our Guardian Angel, considering them as lifelong friends who can render invaluable assistance in our daily affairs.
We may have some memorable encounters with our guardian angel but what is amazing is God’s enormous love for us – He gave us guardian angels regardless who we are, even if/when we have sinned, they are still on our side fighting for us with the devil (who is also pushing hard for us to do evil), trying hard to convince us to act the the kind of person that God has created and what is expected from us. St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the Doctors of the Church, once clarified that “God never leaves any of us, including sinners. Based on accounts published on the web, one of the Catholic theologians, Ludwig Ott, opined that “ not only every baptized person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth.” Once again, God has provided us so many ways for us to choose the right path. There is no way to reason out that we can’t go through the way to God because there are always best alternative options available for us if we only listen, obey and desire so, and one of which is through the wondrous assistance from the Archangels and our guardian angels!
Pope Francis has likened Guardian Angels to travel companions and protectors. They serve as ‘a divine compass, guiding us to the right path and shielding us from harm.’ The Holy Father encourages us to pray to our Guardian Angels, as they have the privilege of beholding God in Heaven and have been tasked with guarding and protecting us on Earth. How could we not avail ourselves of such a divine gift and cultivate a friendly relationship with our Guardian Angels? Such love and generosity from our Heavenly Father! The Holy Father emphasizes that Guardian Angels are not mere figments of the imagination but a reality grounded in the words of Jesus and God’s promise to ‘send an angel before you, to guard you, to accompany you on the way, so you will not make a mistake.’
With these indescribable blessings in mind, let us praise and thank our loving Lord and God, especially for the ever-present companions He has given us—Archangels and Guardian Angels—ready to protect us, guide our thoughts, and aid us in our daily lives. We pray for the grace of humility, that through our Guardian Angels, we may be able to listen and obey His will. Amen.
ctto: Thanks for the featured photo.