Today is the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. Paul V was the first Pope, in 1608, to authorise a feast day in honour of guardian angels. Pope Clement X changed the date to October 2nd and Leo XIII, in 1883, upgraded the date to a double major feast. There is a proper Office in the Roman Breviary and a proper Mass in the Roman Missal, which contains all the apposite extracts from Sacred Scripture bearing on the three-fold office of the angels, to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over mortal men. "Let us praise the Lord whom the Angels praise, whom the Cherubim and Seraphim proclaim Holy, Holy, Holy" (second antiphon of Lauds)."Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear his voice" (Exodus 23; capitulum ad Laudes). The Gospel of the Mass includes that pointed text from St Matthew 18: 10:"See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."Although October 2nd has been fixed for this feast in the Roman calendar, it is kept, by papal privilege, in Germany and many other places on the first Sunday (computed ecclesiastically) of September, and is celebrated with special solemnity and generally with an octave (Nilles, II, 503). This feast, like many others, was local before it was placed in the Roman calendar. It was not one of the feasts retained in the Pian breviary, published in 1568; but among the earliest petitions from particular churches to be allowed, as a supplement to this breviary, the canonical celebration of local feasts, was a request from Cordova in 1579 for permission to have a feast in honour of the Guardian Angels. (Bäumer, Histoire du Breviaire, II, 233.) Bäumer, who makes this statement on the authority of original documents published by Dr Schmid (in the Tübinger Quartalschrift, 1884), adds on the same authority that "Toledo sent to Rome a rich proprium and received the desired authorisation for all the Offices contained in it, Valencia also obtained the approbation in February, 1582, for special Offices of the Blood of Christ and the Guardian Angels."
My mother introduced me to St Teresa of Avila and, later on, to St Thérèse of Lisieux. Her death on the day following the feast of the latter was the most difficult moment of my life. Her last breath came at twenty minutes past five o’clock on the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels 1992. All I can remember is my father’s distant voice proclaiming: “She’s gone.” Two little words that were of themselves devastating ― yet I knew in my heart she had not gone at all, but had passed into the Lord’s safekeeping where she would be for eternity. Like her favourite saints, my mother remained as fragrant as flowers in death, resisting decomposition until the last; even when I replaced the lid on her coffin in the stone chapel for the very last time. She became the “first person I would anoint and on whose behalf I would recite the prayers for the newly dead, since receiving the mitre.”[The Grail Church, Holy Grail, 1995, page 102.] My mother’s funeral was also the first I would conduct in my episcopal office. It was held at Islington and St Pancras Cemetery on the feast day of St Teresa of Avila, one of the two saints my mother felt most close to; the other being St Thérèse of Lisieux. I also conducted a funeral service in the same cemetery chapel some eight years later for my father.
"For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.” - Psalm 90: 11
"No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone" - Psalm 91: 10-12
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession” (No. 336). St Basil asserted: “Beside each believer stands an angel protector and shepherd leading him to life. ”
The truth that each and every human soul has a Guardian Angel who protects us from spiritual and physical evil has also been shown throughout the Old Testament, and is made very clear in the New Testament.
It is written that the Lord Jesus is strengthened by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane and that an angel delivered St Peter from prison in the Acts of the Apostles.
But Jesus makes the existence and function of guardian angels explicit when He says: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18: 10).
In saying this, Jesus points out that all people, including little children, have a guardian angel and that the angels are in Heaven, always looking at the face of God throughout their mission on earth, which is to guide us and protect us throughout our pilgrimage to the house of our Father. As St Paul says: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" (Hebrews 1: 14)
However, they guide us to Heaven only if we desire it. St Thomas Aquinas wrote that angels cannot act directly upon our will or intellect, although they can do so on our senses and imaginations – thus encouraging us to make the right decisions. In Heaven our guardian angels, though no longer needing to guide us to salvation, will continue to enlighten us.
It is important to pray to your guardian angel and become friends with your angel. Call upon them in times of temptation or weakness and they will assist, enlighten, and protect you.
The prayer to the guardian angels has been present in the Church since at least the beginning of the twelfth century.
Guardian Angel Prayer:
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. Amen.
Guardian Angel Quotes:
"The servants of Christ are protected by invisible, rather than visible, beings. But if these guard you, they do so because they have been summoned by your prayer. "
~ St Ambrose
“Let us affectionately love His angels as counselors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide.”
~ St Bernard of Clairvaux
"God's universal providence works through secondary causes . . . The world of pure spirits stretches between the Divine Nature and the world of human beings; because Divine Wisdom has ordained that the higher should look after the lower, Angels execute the Divine plan for human salvation: they are our Guardians, who free us when hindered and help to bring us home."
~ St Thomas Aquinas