“We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults. The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one’s life. But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being.”
Today is the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, and the Roman Catholic Church instructs us on our Guardian Angel: instructing us on the love that God has shown in giving each of us a Guardian Angel, a protector, and teacher. In this life, which is a raid or great adventure (GKC), having such a Heavenly Helper is most advantageous, to say the least. Today’s Roman Rite of Mass expresses Church teaching regarding these fine Heavenly Helpers:
Because each individual soul is priceless, God has appointed an angel of heaven to be its guide and protector. Today we give special honor to these guardians, whose duty it is to defend us from evil, help us in prayer, and inspire us to live according to our Christian ideals. But we should remember to ask their intercession every day of the year.
INTROIT Ps. 102:20
Bless the Lord, all you His angels, you mighty in strength who do His bidding, obeying the voice of His commands.
Ps. 102:1. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all my being bless His holy name.
V. Glory be . . .
O God, we cannot express in words the mercy of Your providence that has given Your angels care over us. May we always be safe under their protection and happy for all eternity in their company. Through our Lord . . .
LESSON Ex. 23:20-23
Thus says the Lord God: “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, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. But if thou wilt hear hi voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. And my angel shall go before thee.”
GRADUAL Ps. 90:11-12
God has given His angels charge over you, that they may guard you in all your ways.
V. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 102:21
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, His ministers who do His will. Alleluia!
GOSPEL Matt. 18:1-10
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying: “Who, thinkest thou, is the greater in the kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them. And said: “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot, scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. 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.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 102:20, 21
Bless the Lord, all you His angels, His ministers who do His bidding and obey His spoken word.
Accept, O Lord, the gifts we offer in veneration of Your holy angels. May Your mercy free us, under their unceasing guardianship, from our present dangers and lead us to eternal life. Through our Lord . . .
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Dan. 3:58
All you angels of the Lord, bless the Lord; sing a hymn of praise and exalt Him above all forever.
We have received Your divine Sacrament, O Lord, in joyful celebration of the feast of Your holy angels. May their protection guard us against the deception of our enemies and keep us from all harm. Through our Lord . . source
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (b. 1090- d. 1153) wrote the following on our Guardian Angels, which is quite instructive:
“He hath given his angels charge over thee.” O wonderful bounty and truly great love of charity! Who? For whom? Wherefore? What has He commanded? Let us study closely, brethren, and let us diligently commit to our memory this great mandate. Who is it that commands? Whose angels are they? Whose mandates do they fulfill? Whose will do they obey? In answer, “He hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” And they do not hesitate even to life thee up in their hands.
So the Supreme Majesty has given charge to the angels. Yes, He has given charge to His own angels. Think of it! To those sublime beings, who cling to Him so joyfully and intimately, to His very own He has given charge over you! Who are you? “What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?” As if man were not rottenness, and the son of man a worm! Now why, do you think, he Has given them charge over thee? — To guard thee!
With what great reverence should you treat this word! What devotion should you proffer it; what great confidence should you place in it. Reverence because of their presence; devotion because of their benevolence; confidence because of their solicitude. Walk carefully, in all thy ways, as one with whom the angels are present as He has given them charge. In every lodging, at every corner, have reverence for thy Angel. Do not dare to do in his presence what you would not dare to do if I were there. Or do you doubt that he is present whom you do not behold? What if you should hear him? What if you should touch him? What if you should scent him? Remember that the presence of something is not proved only by the sight of things.
In this, therefore, brethren, let us affectionately love His angels as one day our future coheirs; meanwhile, however, as counselors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. Why should we fear under such guardians? Those who keep us in all our ways can neither be overcome nor be deceived, much less deceive. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; why do we tremble? Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide. As often, therefore, as a most serious temptation is perceived to weigh upon you and an excessive trial is threatening, call to your guard, your leader, your helper in your needs, in your tribulation; cry to him and say: “Lord, save us; we perish!”
The following traditional Catholic prayer to our Guardian Prayer is a prayer that expresses what we believe about our Guardian Angel, and asks for the Angel’s assistance to light, to guard, to rule, and to guide:
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.
I love the image (above) which is an image of a mid-nineteenth century icon of a Guardian Angel. I notice a couple of things about this icon. First, the Angel is holding up The Cross. This indicates his role as teacher: he speaks to us of the one thing that matters, Christ Crucified.
The Cross is the flag we follow (GKC).
The second thing I notice is that the Angel is carrying a sword, which represents the Angel’s battle-ready stance: he is prepared to fight. We, the Church Militant, are in need of such a Heavenly Warrior.
Today, let us thank God who has gifted us with such an Angel-Warrior-Teacher.
May you, and your Guardian Angels (!), have a good day.
•Image, Guardian Angel icon, source