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  • Writer's picturePeter Kennedy

Feast of the Guardian Angel

guardian angel

Did you know that there are always twice as many people in a room as the number you can see? The continuous teaching of the Church dating back to at least the sixth century, has been that everyone has a guardian angel; a designated angel of the Lord assigned to our protection. For this teaching goes back to Sacred Scripture where Jesus says of the little children, “their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly father.” (Matthew 18:10b) It was for this reason that the renaissance painter, Raffaello Sanzio, painted the cherubs in his famous altarpiece as fat little babies with wings (Sistine Madonna, 1514). Thus, our guardians are frequently portrayed in art and film as winged children. We believe that these pure spirits of intellect and will, watch over each of us from the time we are born. But viewing them as children might not be the best imagery, as many writings of the saints describe them as fighting like lions for our protection. This is perhaps from the story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den (Daniel 6) where Daniel’s guardian, literally protects him from being eaten by hungry lions. Make no mistake, an angel is a powerful ally with tremendous intellect and a epic strength of will. They are capable of far more than any human.

I should be clear, however, that we do consider these angels to be people, in the sense that we can know them and have a relationship with them. The Church encourages us to pray to them and with them. This is where an old 1942 Donald Duck cartoon, Donald’s Better Self, might actually be more helpful with its imagery. These kinds of images date back to the Middle Ages but the comedic portrayal in cartoon stories frequently give us images of angels sitting on a character’s right shoulder and whispering in their ear to inform their conscience. While the devil spews his temptations. In this regard Jimmeny Cricket would be a good example of such a guardian. They do not overpower our free will, we always make our own choices, but they do communicate to us in various ways to help us stay on the right path or recover when we have fallen.

These guardians have a dual mission. For those who are not in a state of grace, their mission is to keep us alive until we can have our grace restored. For those already in a state of grace, they fight day and night to help us stay that way. Some say they carry our prayers to the throne of God in heaven quoting the passage about Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:10-22. Quoting the same passage, others say they descend from heaven to deliver God’s graces. In this sense they act very much like our best friend. They do everything they can to help us reach eternal glory.

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