2 October – Memorial for The Guardian Angels
The term “guardian angels” refers to the belief that each soul has an angel who is available to shepherd the soul through life, and help bring them to God.
Belief in the reality of angels, their mission as messengers of God, and Man’s interaction with them, goes back to the earliest times. Cherubim kept Adam and Eve from slipping back into Eden; angels saved Lot and helped destroy the cities of the plains; in Exodus Moses follows an angel, and at one point an angel is appointed leader of Israel. Michael is mentioned at several points, Raphael figures large in the story of Tobit, and Gabriel delivered the Annunciation of the coming of Christ.
The concept of each soul having a personal guardian angel, is also an ancient one, and long accepted by the Church:
“See that you despise not one of these little ones [children]: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 18:10
“How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” – St. Jerome in his commentary on Matthew
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14
The feast, celebrating the angels who helped bring us to God, began in many local calendars centuries ago, and was widely known by the 16th century. Pope Paul V placed a feast venerating the angels on the general calendar on 27 September 1608. Ferdinand of Austria requested that it be extended to all areas in the Holy Roman Empire.
Initially placed after the feast of Michael the Archangel, it was seen as a kind of supplement to that date. Pope Clement X elevated the feast, celebrated on 2 October, to an obligatory double for the whole Church. On 5 April 1883, Pope Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double major.
– Patron Saint Index
“O angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom whose love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to rule and guard, to light and guide. Amen.” – Prayer to our guardian angel
Job broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth. This is what he said:
May the day perish when I was born,
and the night that told of a boy conceived.
Why did I not die new-born,
not perish as I left the womb?
Why were there two knees to receive me,
two breasts for me to suck?
Had there not been, I should now be lying in peace,
wrapped in a restful slumber,
with the kings and high viziers of earth
who build themselves vast vaults,
or with princes who have gold and to spare
and houses crammed with silver.
Or put away like a still-born child that never came to be,
like unborn babes that never see the light.
Down there, bad men bustle no more,
there the weary rest.
Why give light to a man of grief?
Why give life to those bitter of heart,
who long for a death that never comes,
and hunt for it more than for a buried treasure?
They would be glad to see the grave-mound
and shout with joy if they reached the tomb.
Why make this gift of light to a man who does not see his way,
whom God baulks on every side?
The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. ‘See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I’m repeatedly astounded by how quickly young children learn new things. Their enthusiasm, energy, fresh starting points, and willingness to learn are so very infectious; a recipe for success. This process of learning continues as children progress through their formal education — they have teachers and coaches to show them the way, bringing out latent potential and refining them in the crucible of hard work.
I have noticed that all this changes once we become adults. We get caught up with life, and we feel that we can be our own teachers. In my experience, this isn’t very effective. Just as God guides us through prayer, we need people to learn from, to emulate, and to be inspired by. And just as we seek such people to mentor us, we too can be coaches and mentors to others.
What is this all premised on? It stems from being responsible stewards of the gifts God has blessed us with. It draws strength from the wisdom and experiences from within our communities. It builds bonds of friendship and mutual love. It gives us all a chance to foster human flourishing in God’s name.
We’re never too old nor too experienced to know everything. And whatever we do now that is meaningful and good is worth sharing. Let us all be guardian angels to our fellowmen, young and old.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Shaun Mathew)
Prayer: Dearest God, allow us to see all opportunities to lift up others. Bless us with unwavering commitment and gentleness of spirit.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for the voices in our lives. May we relinquish our pride and be satiated by their wisdom.