I was talking recently with a friend about the importance of teaching our children about guardian angels, and she showed herself extremely sceptical about the very existence of angels. Is this something old-fashioned or is it still important?
We can be absolutely certain about the existence of guardian angels and they are not old-fashioned.
We see them mentioned in the Scriptures. In the book of Exodus God says to the Israelites: “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared” (Ex 23:20).
This passage applies perfectly to each one of us. God has given us an angel to guard us on the way and to lead us to the place God has prepared for us: a room in the Father’s house in heaven.
Then too, Jesus himself refers to personal angels of children: “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 who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10-11).
The mention of “their angels” implies in some way that the angels are assigned to look after individual children. St Jerome comments on this passage: “How great is the value of the soul that every single person has from birth received an angel for his protection.”
A similar passage comes in the Acts of the Apostles when an angel comes to St Peter and frees him from prison, after which Peter goes to the house of Mark where a woman named Rhoda hears his voice at the door and tells the people that Peter is there. Not believing that Peter could possibly be there when they knew he was locked up in prison, they say: “It is his angel” (Acts 12:15). Again we see here the belief of the early Christians in a personal angel of St Peter.
In view of these passages and the constant tradition of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life’ (St Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, 1). Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC 336).
So certain is the Church of the existence of guardian angels that she gives us the annual celebration of the feast of the guardian angels on October 2.
The guardian angels assist us in many ways.
They may help us avoid a serious accident or get us out of danger, as happened to St Peter.
Other times the angel may simply wake us up when the alarm failed to go off, remind us to take something we had forgotten, help us to find something we had lost, find us a parking spot, get us to our destination on time, give us the appropriate words in a conversation, or remind us of what God is asking of us at the time.
Pope Francis, in his homily on the feast of the guardian angels in 2014 said: “According to the tradition of the Church, we all have an angel with us, who protects us, helps us hear things. How often have we heard: ‘I should do this, I should not do this, that’s not right, be careful’; so often! It is the voice of our traveling companion. Be sure that he will guide us to the end of our lives with advice, and so listen to his voice, don’t rebel against it…
“This is not an imaginative doctrine on the angels: no, it is reality. It is what Jesus said, God said: ‘I send an angel before you to guard you, to accompany you on your journey, so you will not go wrong.’ Ask yourself this question today: How is my relationship with my guardian angel? Do I listen to him? Do I say good morning to him in the morning? Do I ask him: Watch over me when I sleep? Do I speak with him? Do I ask his advice? He is by my side. We can answer this question today, each of us: how is our relationship with this angel that the Lord has sent to watch over me and accompany me on my journey, and who always sees the face of the Father who is in heaven?”
As we can see, guardian angels are a reality and they are not old-fashioned. A simple way to live out what Pope Francis is asking of us is to say each day the well-known prayer to the guardian angel: “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love entrusts me here, ever this day [or this night] be at my side, to light and guard to rule and guide. Amen.”