"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Do You Know About Your Guardian Angels?

August 27th, 2012

When you were a kid you were told that you have amysterious spirit that supposedly floats around wherever you go. You learned that this mysterious spirit was good and that he would keep you safe. You probably even learned that famous prayer. In short, you and I learned that we have a lifelong companion whom we still know very little about. What do you know about your guardian angel?

Our own guardian angels are chosen by God from the last of the nine choirs of the spirits of light. They form part of the third hierarchy of angels of which the principalities and the archangels are also a part. Each guardian angel reflects God’s goodness in a particular way and they are ever ready to go wherever the will of God sends them. They are the guardians of our safety and salvation, and they obtain for us the grace of final perseverance.

Catholic belief not only acknowledges the existence of guardian angels but, throughout most of Church history, asserts that every human during his lifetime has its own guardian angel not assigned to anyone else. This is true for Christians and non-Christians alike, whether they are in grace or in sin.

The ministry of the guardian angels consists in extensive duties: warding off dangers to body and soul, removing occasions of sin and helping us to overcome temptation, preventing Satan from suggesting evil thoughts, inspiring and fostering in us holy thoughts and pious desires, offering to God our prayers and praying for us, correcting us if we sin, helping us in the agony of death, strengthening and comforting us, and conducting our souls to heaven or to purgatory to console us there. Our guardian angels do all that they can to help us, but since they are not omniscient it is up to us to expose our intimate thoughts to them by an act of free will. It is to our benefit to have no secrets to hide from him, because he is surely our best friend after God and Mother Mary.

We cannot sensibly perceive our guardian angels, yet they are with us from the moment of our conception. Their task is not completed until we gaze with them on the Vision of God. Our guardian angels’ tenderness is nearly above all words: “He fights for us and asks no thanks, but hides his silent victories and continues to gaze upon God” (Father Faber). Until the morning of our resurrection we will not know from how many dangers he has delivered us, nor how much of our salvation is actually due to him. His work is beyond the power of meriting, because his work is a work of love. How many times have we felt his presence and power rescuing us from danger? In him we have an unseen friend.

St. Bernard comically teaches his disciples, “Always remember thatyou are in the presence of your guardian angel…Never do in the presence of your guardian angel what you would not do in my presence.” Continually reminding ourselves of their presence is an excellent means of overcoming temptation. Let us frequently invoke their intercession in the time of temptation and trial. Let us revere their presence, bless their benevolence, and trust in their care.

We owe filial devotion to our guardian angels for kindly warning us and earnestly exhorting us.

The best gift of thanksgiving you can give to your guardian angel, as I mentioned in my last article, is to offer Holy Communion in gratitude for their ministry. It is also a good idea to take up the practice, as did many saints, of consulting our guardian angels before undertaking anything both great and small. Moreover, it is also a good practice to not only continuously remind yourself of your guardian angel but also to acknowledge and to greet the guardian angels of others.

Your guardian angel sees in his charge a soul of priceless value since it was redeemed by the Precious Blood of God. A soul becomes more and more radiant through the Blood of Christ. A soul in the state of grace is a beautiful thing for our angels to joyfully gaze upon. Let us not sadden our heavenly companion by staining our souls with sin, but if stained we become, let us make haste to run to the Blood of Christ flowing from all the seven sacraments.

Alexandra Richards is a long-time Atlanta resident and a senior at at Holy Spirit College. Her major is philosophy and her particular interests include ethics, phenomenology, and classical metaphysics. Alexandra actively participates in several ministries and outreaches within the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where she teaches numerous catechetical subjects, especially Theology of the Body.

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