See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. (Ex 23:20-22)
See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. (Mt.18:10)
It is the conviction of the Church that every human being is assigned an angel of God to be his guardian, an angel who has as his task to "lead (us) to the place that (God) has prepared," heaven. Not everyone listens attentively to their guardian angel, however, as he seeks to enlighten them through the voice of conscience to avoid sin, or gives them good inspirations to the love and service of God and neighbor. Certainly Padre Pio was one who did, from the earliest years of life, so that God granted him the vision not only of his own guardian angel but those of others. Many times it was through the guardian angel of a person that their need was brought to Padre Pio's attention, who then prayed for that person.
One might ask, why would the angel bring the need to Padre Pio, rather than directly to God? First, people often sent their angel to Padre Pio to ask for prayer. The angels, for their part, like true friends were happy to perform this little service for their proteges, especially the ones who habitually listened to their guidance. Since the angel can do nothing contrary to the will of God, God Himself must have desired it, as well. As with the other forms of intercession and mediation acknowledged by the Church, God has ordained that the true magnificence of His own glory be shown through His working through creatures (angelic and human). As St. Paul noted, God chooses the weak to show up the strong (1 Cor. 1:27).
Padre Pio was especially careful for the well-being, spiritual and material, of those whom he had accepted as his spiritual son or daughter. He would look after them from a distance, with the help of their guardian angel. The following story is related in Send Me Your Guardian Angel, a book on Padre Pio's relations with the angels by Fr. Alessio Parente, OFM Cap.. Fr, Alessio had the privilege of taking care of Padre Pio in the later years of his life.
Once a person was accepted as Padre Pio's spiritual child, he would never abandon them, no matter what danger they were in. Even if he did not visit them personally, they would receive his help through his Guardian Angel.
Cecil Humphrey-Smith, a well known gentleman from England, is Padre Pio's spiritual child. Whilst in Italy, during the time Padre Pio was alive, Cecil had a car crash and was very seriously injured. A friend of his, seeing him in such a bad condition afterwards, went to the Post Office and sent a telegram to Padre Pio requesting his prayers for the injured Cecil. When he presented the telegram at the desk, the man gave him back a telegram from Padre Pio assuring his prayers for Cecil Humphrey-Smith's recovery.
It was some months before Cecil was in good enough shape to travel again, but immediately he had recovered he made tracks for San Giovanni Rotondo. On this occasion, both Cecil and his friend met Padre Pio and they thanked him for his prayers. At the same time, they were curious to know how he came to know about the accident and how a telegram had arrived in such a short space of time. In response to their demand, Padre Pio, in his humoristic way said: "Do you think the Angels go as slowly as the planes?"
God had given him the light to see his spiritual child in danger of death and, as usual, he sent his Guardian Angel to assure his prayers and protection.
Here at Our Lady of Grace Friary, we produce a magazine called "The Voice of Padre Pio", in which we publish information on the work going on at the shrine. This magazine is a mine of information on the life of Padre Pio and arrives six times a year in the homes of devotees throughout the world. The arrival of this magazine usually serves to brighten the day of those who receive it, but in some cases it has a very special significance... I receive a lot of English mail from all parts of the world and often people tell me how glad they are to receive it. On a number of occasions I was told of cases where a subscriber was feeling very depressed due to family problems or difficulties of some sort. Knowing that Padre Pio had always told them to send him their Guardian Angel, the ever-ready Angel was sent, and within a short time they found "The Voice" in their letter box! Nothing would convince these devotees that it was not their Guardian Angel who delivered it in time of need, acting on Padre Pio's instructions. The Bible tells us that the Angels act as messengers "sent out", and Padre Pio told us that they go faster than the planes so there is no need to doubt it.
On several occasions Padre Pio expounded further on the role of the angel in his ministry and in our lives, in this case to his spiritual daughter Raffaelina Cerase.
You tell me that in the midst of the sufferings that oppress you, you often turn to me in your thoughts and you call me. Well, your good Guardian Angel sometimes transmits these necessities of yours and then I, in my unworthiness, always do my duty with Jesus, recommending you to his Fatherly goodness. (Letters vol. II, no. 30)
Offer to the glory of His Divine Majesty the rest you are about to take, (she was struck down with cancer of the breast at this time) and never forget the Guardian Angel who is always with you, never leaving you for whatever wrong you might do. Oh, the ineffable goodness of this our good Guardian Angel! How many times, alas!, I have made him cry for not having wanted to comply with his wishes, which were also God's. May this our most faithful friend free us from further disloyalty. (Letters vol. II, no. 41)
Oh Raffaelina, what a consolation it is to know one is always in the care of a celestial spirit, who does not abandon us (how admirable) even when we disgust God! How sweet is this great truth for the believer! Who, then, does the devout soul fear who tries to love Jesus, having always close by such a great warrior? Oh, was he not one of the many who, together with the Angel Saint Michael, up there in the Empyrean, defended the honour of God against Satan and against all the other rebellious spirits, and finally reduced them to perdition and bound them in hell?
Well, know that he is still powerful against Satan and his satellites; his charity has not diminished, nor will he ever fail in defending us. Develop the beautiful habit of always thinking of him; that near us is a celestial spirit, who, from the cradle to the tomb, does not leave us for an instant, guides us, protects us as a friend, a brother; will always be a consolation to us especially in our saddest moments.
Know, oh Raffaelina, that this good Angel prays for you; offers to God all the good works you accomplish; your holy and pure desires. In the hours when you seem to be alone and abandoned, do not complain of not having a friendly soul to whom you can unburden yourself and in whom you can confide your sorrows. For pity's sake, do not forget this invisible companion, always present to listen to you; always ready to console you.
Oh delicious intimacy, oh blessed company! Oh if all men could understand this great gift that God, in His excess of love for man, assigned to us; this celestial spirit. Often remember his presence; you must fix on him the eyes of your soul; thank him; pray to him; he is so refined, so sensitive. Respect him; be in constant fear of offending the purity of his gaze.
Invoke often this Guardian Angel, this benevolent Angel and repeat the beautiful prayer: 'Oh Angel of God' (etc.) ... What will be, oh my dear Raffaelina, the consolation when, at the moment of death, your soul will see this Angel, so good, who accompanied you through life and was so liberal in maternal care. Oh may this sweet thought make you grow always more fond of the Cross of Jesus, this being also what your good Angel wants. May the desire to see this inseparable companion arouse in you that charity which incites you to leave this body quickly.
Oh what a holy and salutary thought it is to want to see this our good Angel. it is this thought which should make us want to leave this dark prison in which we are bound. Oh, Raffaelina, where do my thoughts fly to now...? Treat this dear little Angel, I do not say as a friend, but as one of the family. And, to tell you the truth, this little Angel does not seem to be the least little bit offended by my treatment of him. How dear and how good he is. (Letters vol. II, no. 64)