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Angel of God, My Guardian Dear

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Oct. 02, 2014
Photo Credit: Eddy Vann https://www.flickr.com/photos/e3000/6897810017/in/photolist-bvx5AV-eqN7r8-AMLbH-aCD1Qz-ftd8wE-b7w7MM-4BXmtK-SWuB-9cBEmx-ixybRC-dY8upA-arYTP-Xe9sh-76SvJW-5H3nSm-ac5BDj-obSqUs-4YwTNa-dwFqTH-ky6Sp-ky6PL-ky6Rr-ky75x-ky74M-5TTLTF-4QMLxM-k5hUP-a7GE2H-2T2Ccm-k5hzb-zHer7-4V6FEV-66AY3t-4Utd5N-4vAAe3-4hseD3-5VjE2j-5DUZGs-gn3Z4K-ofFTq1-dKqK6n-dq436C-dKqKae-55YBVZ-fkzMf3-4xSKzt-7kHzix-5tm29W-8s2r9d-BmW1n

If someone were to ask you who your best friend is, you might give him the name of your best bud, your party buddy, the guy you hang with the most. Or, if you’re a young woman, you might name the friend you talk to the most, the one to whom you tell your secrets, the girlfriend you think of first when you want to do something fun. But if that person were then to say, “No, I don’t mean your best friend with whom you hang out or do fun things. I mean, who do want with you when you’re in trouble, when you’re really down, when everything’s against you? Who do you turn to when all your other friends are long gone, and you need two strong arms, a shoulder to cry on, someone who’s got your back?”

Maybe, if you’re a serious enough Christian, you might then answer, “God.” That person might then counter, “God, for sure, is there for you. He loves you no matter what, and will never turn you away.  But what I want to know is, do you have a best friend who’s like you, a creature, and a person —not your dog, not your cat, not somebody out of a book or movie, not one of your dozen ‘best-best-friends?’ Do you have one friend who has never left you hanging? Do you have one friend you know —know, not hope —will always be there for you? Do you have a best friend like that?”

              If you were asked questions like these, would you even think of your Guardian Angel?

Most of us wouldn’t. But, whether you know it or not, whether you treat him like it or not, your Guardian Angel is your best friend. Here is a ten-point primer of what a guardian angel is, and some (of the little we know) of what he does :

1. Your Guard is provided for you by God’s love, personally. He is your Guardian, Guide, Defender, and Protector. His job is to get you through the dangers of this life —physical dangers, sometimes, but mainly, moral and spiritual dangers —and to fly you safely Home to Heaven in the end.

2. We call a guardian angel he, though he is not a man (or a woman, or a girl, or a boy —and he’s definitely not a naked chubby baby with rosy cheeks and tiny white wings). Though he has in fact no body and therefore no sex, we call him he, because he is a person. (And to call him it would certainly not be appropriate.) There’s this, too : when an angel appears in Scripture, he almost invariably does so in the form of a man. So, he will have to do until God gives us something better.

3. As the title guardian angel suggests, this Heavensent person’s chief work is to protect us, mainly against demons, the world, and the worst that is in ourselves. But a perusal of the Bible and the writings of the Fathers, Doctors, and Saints will show that our angels also do many other things.

4. Our angels pray for us. They pray with us. They carry God’s messages to us. (The Greek aggelos means messenger.) They light for us, and guide us along, the Way to Heaven. And when it’s called for, they nudge us —though they never force us. They remind us. They discipline us. They console us. They teach us virtue, if we permit them. They build us up, if we cooperate. They show us, if we pay attention to their instruction, how to please God.

5. Your Guardian Angel is always here with you, watching you, trying to help you; he is also always in Heaven gazing at God, adoring Him and interceding for you (viz., Lk 18:10). That he loves you so much and is your best friend, in fact, is so because he loves God so much. God created him to love and guide and protect you. And loving, guiding, and protecting you is how he pleases God.

6. Your Guardian Angel has your interests at heart more than you do. He hears you pray for what you think you need, but he knows what you really need, so that’s what he prays for.  And, though it may not be what you like, what you really need is what he is working overtime, all the time, to provide for you. 

7. There are no generic angels. (Saint Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to say that each angel, and this includes your Guardian and my Guardian, is its own species. Saint Teresa of Avila says that there is a vastly greater difference between one angel and another than between any two human beings.) This is why “your Guardian Angel,” “my Guardian Angel” is capitalized. Persons don’t come any more unique than your Guard. Angel names, this side of Heaven, don’t get any more proper than Guardian Angel. But doesn’t that sound a little weird?

8. If he is your best friend, closer to you than you are to yourself, shouldn’t you be calling him by a proper name, by his own name? No. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states bluntly, “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged  .   .   .  (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy 217).” (See also Gn 32:22-30 and Jdg 13:17-22 and Rev 2:17.) True angel names are mysterious, powerful, and hidden. Restrain your curiosity.

9. You’ll find out your Guardian Angel’s true and secret and ineffable and Heavenly name when you find out your own secret, God-chosen name —when you meet God and your Guard face to face in Heaven. In the meantime, call him by one of the titles from our tradition by which the saints called their guardian angels: Guard, Guardian, Guardian Angel, Guide, Protector, Helper, Shepherd, Defender, Consoler. Call him Master —he’s holier than you, and smarter, and stronger, and God has given him charge over you. Or even Servant, using this title carefully, for, though God has sent this Heavenly person to serve you (all authority in the Reign of God meaning service) still, in essence, in holiness, he is far above you. Revere him. Befriend him.

10. If you don’t have this relationship with him yet, begin to call him Friend. Call him Best Friend, for that is, in truth, who he is. If that feels awkward —so what? After a while, it will become natural. Talk to him. Learn to listen to him in silence. Obey him. Love him back. If you don’t mess it up with apathy, negligence, or sin, your relationship - which may so far be pretty one-sided - will grow from awkward acquaintance to natural friendship to strong supernatural friendship.                  

 

Image via David Vann on Flickr.

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