By: Deacon Marques Silva
Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angel whom I choose to honor just because it has to put up with me. I am quite sure that during more than one occasion my Guardian Angel has saved me from an accident, strengthened me to do the right thing and even comforted me when I was utterly afraid. I have too many memories that call to my attention the fact that our Lord has intervened in my life to doubt these heavenly messengers and guardians.
It is only by revelation that we understand the work of the angels among us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) proclaims:
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.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (CCC 336)
The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels. (CCC 334)
Each person from the moment of their conception is assigned a heavenly companion to walk with them through life and into eternity. Saint Jerome explained this matter in a commentary when he said, “The dignity of a soul is so great, that each has a guardian angel from its birth.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux (See Sermon on the Holy Guardian Angels) is also considered a “notable promoter of devotion to the Guardian Angel.” He stated that,
For him, they were a proof “that heaven denies us nothing that assists us”, and hence, “these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us” (St. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, Sermo XII in Psalmum “Qui habitat”, 3: Sancti Bernardi Opera, IV, Editiones Cistercienses, Romae 1966, p. 459.)
A common question that I am asked is if it is appropriate to either ask our Guardian Angel what its name is or to just give it one. The short answer is that the Church discourages both practices. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL) provides this guidance in paragraph 217,
The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.
Practically speaking, most would say that to assign a name to an angel is inappropriate because we do not have dominion over them. While it is true that our Lord gave man dominion over all material creation (CCC 307), angels are in fact of a higher created order than human beings (CCC 330). Therefore, we should be content knowing that they work towards our salvation (CCC350). In this way they are also a model of humility for us which is demonstrated by always being “out of sight” and anonymous. In this way, they glorify the Lord by simply communicating His graces without need for recognition.
Honor your Guardian Angel today by thanking them, offering your participation in Holy Mass for them and recommitting yourself to the service of the Lord. But if you wanted to really out do yourself and honor them. Make it safely home to Jesus, which will be one of their greatest joys and delights.
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, Rule and guide.