“See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way.”

Today’s Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels blesses us with the opportunity to hear of how angels have been guarding and guiding men throughout salvation history.  The quote above, taken from Ex 23:20-23 while Moses was still on the mountain receiving the commandments, is uttered by God.  Not only is the angel sent by Yahweh to guard the Chosen People (their guardian angel), God also promises that the angel will guide them in their journey.  But he must be heeded as a messenger of God or the people will suffer the consequences (as we find out happened time and time again).

The Responsorial Psalm comes from the beginning of chapter 91 and concludes with this verse: “For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go” (v. 11).  As this passage has been recited throughout the ages, how often must the pray-er have hearkened back to the aforementioned Exodus passage in which God commanded His angel to guard His people if they remain faithful.  The Navarre Bible puts this title on the psalm: “A person protected by the Lord has no reason to fear evil.”  A completely apt, eminently comforting, and practically useful thought of which we should be consistently mindful.

Finally, the gospel (Mt 18:1-5, 10), in which Jesus, in response to a question about who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven, calls a little child to Him and proceeds to tell His listeners that they must humble themselves like the youngster to be considered the greatest.  In the intervening verses that went unread, Jesus tells us that we are not to lead into sin or scandalize these small ones.  Besides harming others, our immortal souls are endangered when we do not eschew sinful behavior.  The reading closes with the words: “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.”

Belief in angels is a truth of faith.  As far as personal guardian angels are concerned, the evidence of their existence is strong per the verse from Matthew just cited.  In fact, St. Basil says, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 336).  It is easy to forget this spiritual friend, or relegate him to a quaint childhood belief that we have grown out of.  This should not be so, though.  The prayer we learned at an early age should still be invoked daily today and every day:

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,
to rule and guide.

Angels provide enlightenment, protection, and guidance.  We are unwise if we do not utilize the help of these heavenly messengers.

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