Honor the Holy Angels

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What is the feast day of the Guardian Angels? (continued)

Angels, who are mentioned throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, are just as present as humans are. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 328) teaches,

“The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.”

Guardian angels are the special angels assigned to humans, helping us throughout our lives from birth until death.

Who are the angels?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

CCC 350. Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas).

“When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.” – St. John Chrysostom

What do the Guardian Angels do?

All angels are in the presence of the Beatific Vision, worshipping God. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Further, guardian angels help us throughout our lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches,

CCC 336. From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by [the angels’] watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

How do angels help humans?

The angels help us in many ways, such as often protecting us from physical danger. More importantly, however, angels can help us in regard to sin. St. John Bosco said, “When tempted, invoke your angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: he trembles and flees at the sight of your guardian angel.”

Also, angels help us at the end of our lives. St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “The powers of hell will assail the dying Christian; but his angel guardian will come to console him. His patrons, and St. Michael, who has been appointed by God to defend his faithful servants in their last combat with the devils, will come to his aid.”

How many angels does God have in heaven?

Even though we do not know the precise number of angels, we do know that it is a number beyond human count. Hebrews 12:22 mentions “innumerable angels,” Revelation 5:11 refers to “many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” and in Rev. 12:4, St. John compares them to the number of the stars, a third of them being cast down in their rebellion. So, we cannot know how many there are, but likely far more than the number of human beings who have ever lived, estimated recently as over 100 billion and climbing.

“Invoke your guardian angel that he will illuminate you and will guide you. God has given him to you for this reason. Therefore, use him!” – St. Padre Pio

What does the Bible say about guardian angels?

Angels are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states,

CCC 332-333. Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.

From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: “Let all God's angels worship him.'" Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!" They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.

How many guardian angels can you have?

The Church teaches that every human being has a guardian angel given to them at birth. St. Basil the Great said, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.” Some have thought that priests, and perhaps others in important positions, have a second angel, but this is not taught by the Church.

Communities of human beings also have guardian angels, so indirectly the angels of our communities are also our guardian angels. St. Michael, for example, is the angel of Israel (Dan. 12:1), and recognized by the Church as the guardian of the Church. At Fátima the angel who appeared to the children in 1916 identified himself as the guardian of their country, “the angel of Portugal.” Thus, it is also piously believed that the United States has a Guardian Angel. We can therefore honor these guardians of our communities on this feast day, as well as our personal guardian angel.

“Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit. Without being seen, they are present with you.” – St. Francis de Sales

Can I see my guardian angel?

The nature of the angels as spirits makes them invisible to our human eyes. However, as we learn in Genesis 18 and in book of Tobit, with God’s permission they sometimes make themselves seen under a human form. Thus, some saints, such as Padre Pio and Gemma Galgani, had the privilege of seeing their guardian angels and speaking to them.

This is not something we should seek to do, however, as the fallen angels can also sometimes make themselves appear––whether to tempt holy souls, or to frighten or appeal to their curiousity in order to subject them (2 Cor. 11:14). Thus, like all spiritual phenomenon, the doctrine of the Church forbids seeking it (CCC 2115-2117).

How can I communicate with my guardian angel?

You can pray to your guardian angel, just as you can pray to any saint. It is important to note that this is not an act of worship, but of the honor due to the ministers of God sent to serve our salvation (Heb. 1:14).

Indeed, Scripture shows that the appeal to God bears fruit in the mediation and help of the angels, whether it was Abraham’s appeal for Sodom, ultimately unfruitful due to human obstinacy in sin, or Tobit’s appeal for healing, which resulted in the sending of St. Raphael to help him and his family. St. Raphael’s mediation of the divine will is shown to be direct, immediate and personal. The intercessory role of Raphael is also shown, when he reveals,

I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Lord. (Tobit 12:15)

This important intercessory role is further shown in the New Testament in Rev. 8:3-4.

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.

Following Scripture and Tradition, therefore, popes and saints have encouraged Christians to seek the help of their angels through prayer. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “We should show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs, just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the Father.”

Videos on Guardian Angels

For Children: Tomkin

Can you pray to someone else's guardian angel?

Yes, you may pray to your guardian angel and to anyone else’s angel. Often, people will ask the intercession of their children’s guardian angels. In Journal of a Soul, Pope St. John XXIII tells how when he had a meeting he often sent his angel ahead to speak to the person’s guardian angel. This was particularly the case if he expected the meeting to be important or difficult. Many other saints have done this, as well, or, as St. Josemaría Escriva would do, greeted the angel of the person as well as the person he was addressing.

What is the prayer to the Guardian Angel?

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, rule and guide.

Amen.

What powers do angels have?

The angels as pure spirits have a power of intellect and will that is greater than that which human beings possess. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

CCC 329-330. With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word."
As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.

Thus we should not trifle with angels, good or bad. The powers of the angelic nature in the bad angels, although wounded by their Fall, is still far superior to ours. All the more reason to strictly adhere to the guidance of the Church in such matters.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” – St. John Vianney

Do angels sleep?

No, they do not sleep. Since they are spiritual creatures, not physical, they do not require sleep.

Do angels have names?

Scripture provides us with the names of three angels of the second lowest choir, the archangels. Their names suggest something essential about them in relation to God and their angelic mission. Thus, Michael is “Who is like God.” Gabriel is “God is My Strength.” And Raphael is “God heals.” It is therefore likely that all the angels would have such names reflecting “who they are.”

Can I ask my guardian angel his name or can I name my angel myself?

Asking for the name of one’s guardian angel is forbidden by the Church. Three reasons can be given: The Church has a long process of discernment for private revelation. Who will authenticate your private revelation? The guardian angel would never violate the will of God or the mind of the Church, however, what kind of spirit might? Finally, do you really want to risk calling on the help of an angel whose pedigree can’t be proven? So no, we should not ask.

As for naming your angel, if you ask “Holy Guardian Angel” or “Angel of God” or “My Holy Angel,” in other words, with clarity lacking any equivocation, then the only angel that can respond is the Holy Angel assigned by God to your care. To do otherwise is contrary to authentic piety, as noted in the Church’s “Directory On Popular Piety and the Liturgy,”

n. 217 . . . The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.

What are the 9 Choirs of Angels?

St. Thomas Aquinas gave us the following hierarchical list of the nine angelic choirs, using the traditional names from the Hebrew and Greek handed on through the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome.

  • Seraphim (Is. 6:2, 6, seraphin)
  • Cherubim (Gen. 3:24, Heb. 9:5, cherubin)
  • Thrones (Col. 1:16, throni)
  • Dominions (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, dominationem )
  • Virtues (Eph. 1:21, virtutem)
  • Powers (Rom. 8:38, Eph. 1:21, potestatem)
  • Principalities (Col. 1:16, Eph. 1:21, principatum)
  • Archangels (Rev. 12:7, Jude 9, archangelus)
  • Angels (over 300 references, angelus)