02 October 2009

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

2 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the guardian angels. Every believer has a guardian angel who watches over us and helps each one to strive more perfectly to attain salvation with Christ. Our angelical guardianship begins at the moment of birth and continues throughout our whole life, ceasing only at the moment of death. God has given each of us a guardian angel as a protector and guide for our individual benefit, and we praise Him for this eternal blessing.

The idea that each of us has guardian angel assigned by God is a long-held truth of the Catholic faith. The feast of the guardian angels first appeared in the Church in Spain during the sixteenth century, and was made universal and obligatory in 1670 by Pope Clement X.

And, while tradition and scripture tell us that angels are spiritual, non-corporeal beings, they are usually depicted as having a human form with wings. The depiction of wings is meant to regonize that angels are dispatched by God for our protection--figuratively, flying from heaven to earth.

For those who may not be familiar with this part of the Church's teaching, let us examine the Catechism.

The glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines angel as "[a] spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan." Guardian Angels, in particular, are further described as "[a]ngels assigned to protect and intercede for each person."

Then, looking at the text of the Cathechism itself we find the fullness of the Church's teaching on guardian angels:
Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation . . . .
(CCC 332)
From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels.
(CCC 333)
They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment. (Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9.)
(Id. Footnote provided as a (parenthetical).)
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. (Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Ps 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.) "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." (St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, 1: PG 29, 656B.) Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
(CCC 336. Footnotes provided as (parentheticals).)

So, in the celebration of today's memorial the Church venerates the guardian angels that protect and intercede on behalf of each one of us and praises God for his love in granting each of us our guardian angel.


Angel of God, my guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.

Ever this day/night be at my side

to light, to guard, to rule, and to guide.


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