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.
We 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.