O Angel of God, I’m such a coward!

guardian angel

Some quick points:


We get nervous about angels and rush to be dismissive about them, you know, with the fluffy chiffon pastel crafty thingies you see around Christmas time, or the fat-faced cherubim with wings coming out of the back of their heads in baroque architecture, or with naked infants in Renaissance paintings, or as demon-like transformer-like monsters in children’s computer games.

jeannieWe can even go out of our way to be cute about the presentation of angels in such monstrosities as we see with the Islamic presentation of jinn, who can be good or truly evil (such a perversion of the Judeo-Catholic Scriptures!) and which the West presents ever so weirdly as “I Dream of Jeannie.” Up to date silliness includes angels as dolphins, and on and on and on, pretty much anything but anything like what they may be like. Although there are representations which are a bit more respectful, such as that in the Annunciation by Fra Angelico.


  • You’ll remember when the angel visited the Fatima children, how Lucia later described this (I paraphrase) as the weight of the glory of God, an experience of glorious manifestation of justice.
  • We do have angel guardians. Does Jesus not say that they see the face of God in heaven?
  • Just because they have the beatific vision does not mean that they do not see us. How could they guard us if they do not see us?
  • Angels, who have not become incarnate as has the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, cannot forgive us (as we read in Exodus, which warns us therefore not to offend them), for they cannot have the right in justice to forgive us as they cannot take our place for the punishment of sin as did Jesus on the Cross.
  • Angels respect the forgiveness Jesus commands of His Heavenly Father after having obeyed the Father to stand in our place, having become incarnate: “Father, forgive them!”
  • Angels rejoice in heaven over the conversion of a sinner with very great rejoicing indeed; they are in awe of Divine Mercy.
  • Angels want us to be in humble thanksgiving before Jesus, walking in His presence, and do all they can to assist us to that end, whatever it takes, their guardianship not necessarily to protect us from physical or emotional harm unless that would also be to our benefit or that of others.
  • You’ll remember when the angel visited Daniel in the Hebrew Scriptures and John in the Apocalypse; Daniel and John both face-planted, prostrate, as if dead. The presence of angels is powerful indeed.
  • Angels are well capable of smacking us down or in letting us be smacked down if that’s what it takes for us to get pointed to heaven. They know how to work with us afterward. They’ve been doing this a long time. And they’re really smart. Yet, of course, we still pray: “Ever this day be at my side to […] guard […]”
  • We can ask our guardian angels to assist us in coming to have proper reverence before Jesus. If we ask this of them, they will make it happen if we follow their inspirations. They may have to go way out of their way to make us pay attention. Just be aware of that. Don’t run away if you make that prayer. They will take it seriously. You will be brought to your knees one way or the other. And that’s a good thing, right? Just remember this: respect your guardian angel! Here’s the prayer:

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. Amen.

  • I’ve had lots of seminarians over the decades tell me ever so stupidly that that is an insipidly saccharine prayer. I fear for them. They will be smacked down hard. Will they run away as the cowards they were at the time they said such a thing? If we are asking such majestic persons to be at our side, they who see the face of God in heaven, a presence which would crush us, we are asking a great deal, no? If we are asking to be enlightened by them who see Truth in the Face, are we not asking to see ourselves as we are before God, we whose sins crucified the Son of the Living God, and will so much truth not crush us if our guardian angels do not take account of our weakness and cowardice? Are we not asking primarily that our souls be guarded so that our angels do “whatever it takes” to make sure that we are on the right path, and is that saccharine, knowing that that kind of guarding could well have us horrifically smacked down? And if we are asking to be guided, is this not admitting, finally, that we are out of control without their guidance, and that such is the speaking of truth as we never have before? And these were seminarians, mind you, some few, but they were in fact in the seminary. What about us? Do we also run away from such a frightful prayer by being arrogantly dismissive of it, you know, because we’re ever so sophisticated and up-to-date? Let’s try it again, and mean it:

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.


Filed under Angels

5 responses to “O Angel of God, I’m such a coward!

  1. nancyv

    Glad my parents taught me that prayer, and say it morning & evening.
    But Father, why do you say you are a coward? Wait, is it because of the courage to listen to inspirations after asking for them? Me too.
    Thank you for this.

    • Father George David Byers

      Yes, after, because the inspirations are like… whoa!!! My first reaction is to look to my own strength, which doesn’t exist, only after to that of Jesus. Yikes! But, please God, we learn.

  2. elizdelphi

    There is so much truth in these thoughts. The truth about myself is definitely extremely crushing and devastating. Yet, I want to see God; no matter how crushing or terrifying I desire Truth. Jesus has said “I consecrate them in the Truth.”

    I think one of the problems with me is if the demons are attacking me I can figure out sooner or later they are demons, and if the angels are helping me I think the good thoughts are my own! Under their good influence and Fr George’s I have remembered more lately to be thankful for God’s mercy.

  3. sanfelipe007

    I was at a point in my life where I could no longer “deal” with a sibling who had already been kicked out of the households of all our other siblings (so many chances!). Even I had thrown this “black sheep” out, once before; this would make a second time.

    We had a great argument about the setting of the AC (thermostat) and I wrathfully gave the order to “leave and vacate.” I left our abode in a fury, but immediately realized (the smacking down) that my feelings of futility were, in fact, a failure of charity of my part. Once i accepted this “realization,” I fell to my knees on the lawn and asked the Lord for guidance saying, “I know this is my fault, I don’t know what to do! Tell me what to do, Lord, and I will do it!” the tears flowed.

    My contrite and earnest prayer was answered by God through my Guardian Angel who gave the answer to me: I will describe the experience as best I can.

    My sadness left me immediately, like a child’s fear of abandonment upon hearing his mother’s voice*, crossed with seeing the postman walking up to your door with a much anticipated package.

    Then I “knew” what I had to do – in detail! The best analogy I can make is the moment when one becomes aware that it is raining outside and you have left the windows (or convertible top, if you had one) of your car down! You “know” what to do, and you snap to it with all haste, not questioning your actions.

    I knew what i had done wrong, how to atone for it, and I just did it. there was no inertia at all, just thanksgiving for having “remembered,” and having “gotten there” in time.

    My sibling, to be sure, wanted nothing to do with me or my reparations, but this did not rankle me in the least. I left again, but this time I was at peace, somehow knowing, not hoping, that my sibling would come around.

    * Not only do I remember crying when I was a small child whenever my mother left me “alone” in a strange place and the immediate relief of her return (moments?) later, but I often see this at school, in the lunchroom, when, after a certain time, a child (PK, K) loses faith in a parent’s promise to eat lunch with them. Oh my goodness, the tears, the drama, until mom walks into the room! Wow, talk about metanoia. Sorry, I think I am rambling now.

  4. Angela

    I also say this prayer morning and night, having done so since being taught it as a child. Once, maybe about 22 years ago a priest made a comment (in a homily I guess, seeing as I recall him being on the sanctuary) about that ‘ridiculous little prayer ‘O Angel of God my guardian dear…’ I was quite sad, I was obviously ridiculous too for having prayed it daily for years, but – thank God – he didn’t influence me enough to stop. I continued with it and still do. He has turned out to be a priest who ‘objectively’ needs a lot of prayers (yes I know you all do – and I pray for all priests!). From time to time I remember to pray to his guardian angel – but I pray for him in some way every day.

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