Feast Day: October 2nd.
Growing up, we had a handful of prayers that we said as a family each day. We prayed grace before meals, a quick morning offering before starting school each day, the family rosary most evenings, the scriptural readings of the major characters of salvation history during Advent, and we also said that simple prayer each night to our guardian angels: 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.
How does one tell the story of the guardian angels? Well, we gotta start at the very beginning (they say it’s a very good place to start …) Genesis tells us “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) It’s a phrase that indicates not just all that territory (if heaven can be construed in terrestrial terms), but everything and everyone in it. The story of Job tells us that “there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.” (Job 1:6) The setting is not on earth, so these are not humans, and as the story unfolds and we find Satan also before God, asking to tempt Job, we realize that we’ve been given a view into the choirs of angels (fallen, and unfallen, at this point).
The glimpse is widened as we contemplate the rest of the great saga of Scripture. Before entering the promised land, “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13-14) Later, before the time of the Kings of Israel, “the angel of the Lord appeared to him [the Judge, Gideon] and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this befallen us?” (Judges 1:12-13) Centuries later, as Daniel suffers the Babylonian captivity, he is promised that: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered.” (Daniel 12:1)
Notice that every time we catch a glimpse of an angel, the visionary falls on his face in awe before a being of such power and splendor, but notice also that the angels are always both messengers and defenders. They announce a word from God, and they also announce the victory of God. They carry swords, trumpets, armor, and herald tremendous strife, but eventual triumph. St. John sees what this means for the story’s ending:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.(Revelation 12:7-11)
“To light and guard, to rule and guide.” These spectacular, powerful beings, flame with the very fire of God’s love, and in humility and love, defend us every moment of our lives. The promise given in the psalms “For he will give his angels charge of you” (Psalm 91:11) is fulfilled as Our Lord reiterates: “in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
Dear parents, if you are worried about your children, renew your trust in these incredible protectors that God has given to them. Pray to your own guardian angel, and those of your children; teach them to keep them in mind, to call upon their aid, to thank them for their protection, and to let them lead them to God! We face principalities and powers, as well as the pressures and pains of daily life, but none stand a chance with angels at our side.
Fr. Dominic Rankin’s guardian angel has watched over him for more than 10,000 days, has increased his worship at Mass more than 7000 times, and has kept him safe (if not comfortable) for more than 5000 miles of running.