Title: Your Guardian Angel And You: A Match Made in Heaven
Author: Antonio Simon, Jr.
File Number: 04-190331
Release Date: March 31, 2019
Investigates the nature and duties of guardian angels; whether and when these angels are assigned to particular human beings; what manner of relationship one should foster with his guardian angel; what becomes of the guardian angels of the damned; and what one can learn from the guardian angels’ ministry to humankind.
The alarm goes off but it’s still dark out. You slap the snooze button a couple times, then roll out of bed. Next you shower, dress for work, and head downstairs—no time for breakfast. You’re still half asleep, so you miss a step but catch yourself before you tumble head-first down the stairs.
After that, it’s out the door and into the car. The highway is congested. If you hadn’t stayed in bed those extra ten minutes, you wouldn’t be stuck in traffic. Just as you start to merge into the off-ramp, an eighteen-wheeler tears across three lanes and cuts you off. You slam on the brakes as the semi roars past, coming within inches of stripping the fenders off your car. The semi’s horn keeps blaring long after its driver is out of sight of the hand gesture you flashed out your window.
All these things—the missteps, the close-calls—these are events in our lives that we hardly give a second thought. No sooner have they happened than we’re already forgetting them; or maybe we’ll remember long enough to complain about them to a friend or a co-worker.
Moments like these deserve introspection. Just what was it that made you grab for the handrail as you were falling? What made you hit the brakes in time to dodge that semi-truck? You wouldn’t be wrong in chalking those up to quick reflexes, but is it not also plausible that you avoided both of these terrible accidents by the grace of something else?
At the moment you were conceived, God assigned to you a guardian angel. Whether you are aware of your angel or not, he strives tirelessly for your benefit. This dossier investigates guardian angels and their roles in our spiritual growth.
Among the multitudes of angels that exist is a subset known as the guardian angels, each of whom comes from the lowest heavenly choir—the choir of Angels. The fact they come from the lowest choir should not insinuate that they are lowly, because even the lowliest of angel is, in terms of nature, more perfect than humanity.
The Bible makes it clear that God assigns His angels to care for humankind. Early scriptural evidence of guardian angels can be found in the Book of Psalms: “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Guardian angels are tasked with a special ministry. Like the other angels, at the moment of their creation, God asked whether they would serve Him. But, unlike the rest, to the guardians God put a second question. Naturally, this is not a direct quote, but it could have been something along the lines of: “One day, many thousands of years from now, there will be born a particular human being whom I will place into your care. Above all else, you must ensure he comes home to Me, but during his life, you shall protect, instruct, guide, and comfort him. Will you love this person?”
Without hesitation, the angel said, “Yes.”
That person is you.
Reflect on that. The first conscious decision that angel made after his creation was to choose God. His second was to choose you, out of nothing but love, and he had not even met you, because you did not yet exist.
Human beings possess such a degree of excellence that God—recognizing this—saw fit to place each of us in the care of an angelic guardian. No beings in God’s creation are assigned individual guardians except for humankind.
Each angel was uniquely created to carry out a specific destiny. In this context, an individual’s guardian angel is theirs exclusively. You are so important, and God loves you so much, that He created an angel just for you. Over the course of your life, you will play a unique and important role in history. To ensure you fulfill the purposes for which you were created, God sets an angel to watch over you.
Your guardian was not formerly someone else’s and then recycled to you. He will not be anyone else’s guardian after his ministry to you is finished. He is exclusively yours, made just for you, created with the explicit intent of being your particular guardian, and for no other purpose. He is uniquely matched and custom-tailored to you by God Himself since the dawn of time.
The bond you share with your guardian angel will survive your death. St. Thomas Aquinas observes: “When [a person] arrives at the end of life he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the kingdom [of God] he will have an angel to reign with him.”
This is just one of the joys that await a person who arrives in heaven. You and your angel will rejoice in the Lord for all eternity, but your angel will receive a special joy. This is because the person he was created to serve, and whom he has waited for since the dawn of time, has finally come home.
If instead your soul should arrive in purgatory, the angel’s work is not yet done. He will not accompany you there, though he may be responsible for depositing you there and retrieving you thereafter. Purgatory is reserved for the souls of those who died in a state of spiritual imperfection. While their conduct in life merited them heaven, they cannot enter into the august presence of God until every last blemish of sin is removed.
The angels of God are already perfect, and furthermore, they do not die. Therefore, it is not appropriate for angels to be in purgatory. Presumably, your guardian angel will nonetheless pray for you, but ultimately, there is nothing your angel or you can do to shorten your time in purgation. Only the prayers and charitable acts of the living can help speed your departure from there.
Hell is a different matter entirely. Unlike purgatory, the state of hell consists of a permanent detachment from God. Upon dying, the angel carries the soul of a person who merits hell to Christ for judgment. Thereafter, the damned soul is taken to hell. The angel’s guardianship ministry is now completed. He returns to heaven to glorify God in other ways.
There is a common misconception that conflates the reality of guardian angels with fanciful shoulder angels. These shoulder angels are often depicted in movies and television programs whenever a character is confronted with a moral dilemma. They take the form of a tiny angel hovering at a character’s shoulder to whisper advice in his ear. Its presence is followed by the arrival shortly thereafter of a shoulder devil—a red imp with horns and a pitchfork—who suggests the opposite of what the angel proposes.
This is a literary device, not a matter of the faith. It is employed to depict the internal struggle between the character’s conscience and his inclinations. While it is true that holy angels can direct us toward virtue and demons toward vice, not every instance of temptation is a moral tug of war between two live supernatural opponents. To believe this is to invite paranoia.
The truth is, balance is not as important to the universe as we might care to believe. Your guardian angel is constantly at your side. There is no complementary demon always at your opposite shoulder, but note the emphasis.
Let me make clear, this does not rule out the possibility of occasional—or even persistent—demonic influence in the lives of human beings, because such things do occur at times. In any case, it never hurts to exercise a healthy degree of prudence, and above all skepticism. Demons account for only one of the three things that tempt us to sin, the others being the world and the flesh. These latter two have plenty on offer that can lead us to ruin. Our best defense against sin is a virtuous life. And to that end, we should heed the inclinations of our angelic guardians, who labor unceasingly on our behalf.
The earliest Church fathers, particularly St. Clement of Alexandria and St. Basil the Great, supported the view that a person received a guardian angel’s protection upon his baptism into the faith. Thus, it was originally thought that only baptized Christians could derive the benefit of a guardian angel. This belief was premised upon the idea that human beings were fallen creatures due to original sin, and that this fallen nature somehow operated as a barrier to the efforts of a person’s guardian angel.
This view has since shifted. Writing in the thirteenth century, Aquinas opined that a guardian angel is assigned at birth to a person regardless of his religion, or lack thereof. Reasoning that a child in his mother’s womb would be protected by the mother’s guardian angel, Aquinas figured one angel would suffice to care for them both until the child was born.
The modern line of thought is that each individual person is entrusted to the care of a specific guardian angel at conception. Taking into consideration scientific advancements in obstetrics and the Church’s longstanding views on the dignity of the human person, it would appear that this view is superior.
It is commonly held that a person may be entrusted to the care of more than one angel. This is to say, the individual will have his personal guardian in addition to another angel assigned for a specific purpose. These extra angels differ from personal guardian angels because they are attached to the individual’s office.
For this reason, heads of state and religious leaders are each assigned another angel to ensure the orderly conduct of their responsibilities. Upon ordination, priests and bishops are given an angel to oversee their vocations. Couples who are married pursuant to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony are sent an angel to guard the family and the sanctity of their union. Unlike personal guardian angels, these additional angels are tied to an individual’s particular office or vocation; they do not replace his personal guardian angel.
Where the writings of Aquinas provide the metaphysical explanations for the spiritual world, it is through the experiences of such saints as Padre Pio that we have been able to witness firsthand the operation of angels, in particular, the guardian angels.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina (birth name: Francesco Forgione) was a Capuchin friar and Catholic mystic. From an early age, he was blessed with the supernatural grace of being able to see and converse openly with his guardian angel.
Pio’s relationship with his angel was so close that, as a boy, he believed everyone could interact with their angels as easily as he could with his. This became evident when a child of his village went missing. As the community began gathering into a search party, young Pio asked an adult, “Why don’t you just ask the boy’s guardian angel to tell you where he is?”
Despite Pio’s earnestness, the man with whom he spoke must have taken that as a snide remark. Pio then asked his angel where the missing child had gone, and he shared the angel’s response with the adults. To everyone’s surprise, the child was found where the angel had told Pio he would be.
Later in life, St. Pio endured horrific suffering at the hands of demons. These malevolent entities would beat him within inches of his life, and each time, he felt as though he might die. Following one such episode, Pio reflected upon how despondent he felt at his angel having left him when most he needed divine protection.
When his angel at last arrived to console him, Pio, out of anger, gave the angel a piece of his mind before storming away once more.
The angel then took hold of Pio, explaining that he had not abandoned him. As dismayed as he was to see Pio suffer, he, and God, both loved him more than Pio could ever conceive. Pio’s suffering was part of God’s plan for him. His perseverance through these trials, along with the many graces God had bestowed, would result in his sanctification.
Pio could not help but be moved by this heartfelt response. He felt ashamed at having rebuked his angel, and thanked him for his loving care.
Another particularly astounding miracle came to light in Pio’s other writings: his guardian angel would translate his mail for him. This is evidenced by correspondence in French in 1912 between the saint and Fr. Agostino, and again in a 1919 letter in Greek.
Pio never had the opportunity to learn these languages. He was the son of illiterate Italian peasant farmers. And while he did receive an education, it was centered on his religious formation. He was literate in his native Italian, but his apparent fluency in other languages can be attributed to no natural source.
Aside from fostering a devotion to his own guardian angel, Pio was known to have met with the guardian angels of his contemporaries. There are many accounts of people who asked their angelic guardians to impart a message to Padre Pio on their behalf. These messages Pio would miraculously receive, despite that he and these petitioners lived distant from each other.
The experience of St. Pio represents extraordinary supernatural intervention. By no means are such phenomena regular occurrences. However, they do bear witness to the angels’ interactions in our lives, of which we are often not aware.
The primary duty of a guardian angel is to conduct a person to eternal happiness with God. Salvation is the ultimate goal of every human being. God desires that everyone be saved and that we all come to knowledge of the truth. Note the interplay between guardian angels and the salvific mission. A guard protects valuables; while salvation, in its basest sense, is the state of being kept safe. You are precious and worth protecting; and your guardian angel works to bring you home safely to God.
Maintenance of your physical well-being numbers among a guardian’s duties, but this task is secondary to promoting your spiritual life. If that makes you feel even the slightest bit shortchanged, remember: this is only because we human beings are nearsighted with respect to God’s long-term plans for us. Christ taught that our physical bodies are important, but our souls are all the more so; and so if we must make a choice to save one and lose the other, the eternal destiny of the soul is what matters most.
Christ’s emphasis on spiritual perfection informs us that we are not bodies in possession of a soul; rather, we are souls in possession of a body. So that I am not misunderstood, I do not mean to implicate any Gnostic principles. Gnosticism tends toward depicting matter as bad. The Catholic view is that matter, the body, and material things are good. Both the body and the soul are important, but if one must be preserved to the detriment of the other, then it is the soul that must be protected at all costs.
The soul is the part of you that informs the matter—that which causes your physical makeup to arrange itself into its present configuration. More so even than your DNA, it is the blueprint of everything that makes you who you are. But it is still something more—it is the integral portion of your personhood. Assuming a perfect clone of you could be made, your body double would never possess your unique personality, mannerisms, and approach to life.
Your soul is also the only part of you that will persist after your death. It is absolutely vital that your soul be saved even at the cost of your body.
Our angelic guardians know what is best for us. They know that depending solely on the physical “here and now” is like making an investment that will ultimately shortchange us. The true wealth—the lasting reward—lies in the spiritual life with God in the hereafter, which will be forever. Nevertheless, guardian angels do keep us safe from physical danger, oftentimes in ways so subtle that make their intervention nonobvious.
Implicit in their mission are the duties to act as our advocates, to pray for us, to offer our prayers and good deeds before the altar of God, and to inspire us with holy inclinations.
As our advocates, our guardian angels pray for us unceasingly. It is a humbling thought that so powerful a creature as an angel should want to pray for us. Human beings must rely upon faith and prayer to communicate with God, but the angels actually see His face and are always in His holy presence. They know God in ways that will remain a mystery to us until the moment of our deaths. And yet, despite their closeness to God, they do not petition Him for their needs; rather, for ours.
Guardian angels are far more active in our lives than we think. Though, sometimes we find ourselves wondering why our guardian angel does not take a greater role in our lives. In times like these we should ask ourselves: “Doesn’t he already?”
To answer this question, we need to consider human behavior. God designed human beings to have general and specific natures. On the bedrock level, all human beings will generally behave the same way given the same circumstances. This is why we can say that something humorous will make most people laugh, while something sad will make most people cry. These generalities aside, on an individual basis, we each have our mode of being that is different from everyone else’s.
Just as a greedy man will accept a bribe that an honest man would refuse without a second thought, the actions we take that are according to our specific natures are seemingly automatic. When a guardian angel’s prompts comport with those virtues that come naturally to us, any actions taken on those prompts are intuitive. It becomes impossible to distinguish whether the impetus of our actions is angelic or born of our own volition. Thus, if you are functioning normally, then it is often a good sign that your guardian angel is doing his job.
Another example: if you were to walk into an unfamiliar room and find it in complete disarray, what would you think? Perhaps the room was ransacked by thieves. Maybe an earthquake upset its contents. Any number of things could have caused the mess in the room. The common factor is that the room is in a state that appears out of the ordinary.
Now assume you walk into a room and find it neat and tidy. You would not think twice about the state of the room if everything within it is in its proper place. Likewise, when we act according to our natures, we do not think twice about whether the inclination originated from us or from someone else.
Your guardian angel respects your free will. Unless God directs otherwise, your angel will not insert himself where he is not invited. Your angel will involve himself in your life only to the degree you permit him. This is why it is important to maintain an open line of communication with your guardian angel. As to how you can accomplish this, see below.
Angels are powerful beings. As such, they can greatly impact our lives if we permit them. Through prayer, we can communicate our thoughts and petitions to our angelic guardians.
The Guardian Angel Prayer is perhaps the most concise distillation of what we can ask of our spiritual guardians. It goes like this:
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side
to light, to guard, to rule, and to guide.
Just because it sounds like a child’s prayer does not mean we should stop reciting it in adulthood. Apart from being a beautiful prayer of friendship with our spiritual companions, its meaning and gravity are profound. Admittedly, it is an old prayer, and its verbiage and structure can make it difficult to fully grasp its meaning. Let me break it down for you, line by line.
The first line is an acknowledgement that God, who loves you, has sent you a mighty protector, who also loves you dearly.
The second line means: through God’s love, you have been put in the care of (i.e., you have been committed to) this angel.
The third line is your request that this angel always walk alongside you. As he will never leave you for as long as you live, this can be interpreted to mean that you wish to foster a deeper relationship with your angel.
The fourth line is what you ask of the angel. Here, you request that he light (illumine, or teach), guard (protect), rule (help you make the right choices), and guide (incline you toward holiness, and ultimately, heaven).
Many people today take for granted the gift of their guardian angel, while others who acknowledge their guardian fail to take full advantage of his aid.
Before prayers, consider inviting your guardian to pray along with you. Recall that angels are messengers. One of their primary duties is to present our prayers before God, and then return with the grace our efforts have merited us. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that we should invoke the presence of our angel before prayers.
Asking your angel to pray with you automatically doubles the number of petitioners before God. No longer is it just you praying to God; you now have a powerful intercessor working on your behalf—another of His beloved creatures, your guardian angel, who is far wiser and more eloquent than you ever can hope to be.
In addition, because prayer is predominantly a mental exercise, it requires focus. Achieving the necessary focus may require more effort depending on the state of your emotions, such as when you are anxious or upset. As you know by now, angels can calm our emotions. Calling upon your guardian angel can help you get into the proper state of mind. As an angel of God, he can impart the peace, illumination, and clarity you need to make your prayers all the more efficacious.
Asking your angel to pray with you is also a reminder of his presence. As you go about your daily life, it is all too easy to forget he is there. Similarly, when you enter into tough times, you might be swayed into thinking that you face these hardships alone. Developing a habit of asking your angelic guardian to pray with you serves as a continual reminder that you have the backing of a potent supernatural friend sent to you from God. And since he comes from God, you can be reminded that, like your angel, God will never abandon you.
Your angel is fully invested in you. His destiny, and indeed his ultimate purpose, is to look after your well-being. From the moment you were entrusted to his care, he has used all of his power, attention, knowledge, vigilance, and intellect toward this cause. He does nothing but that, and he does it at all times. As he has no need for rest, his watchfulness remains as constant at night as during the waking hours. With this in mind, there are countless other things we can ask of our angelic guardians.
Whenever you feel as though your emotions might get the better of you, it is helpful to send up a quick mental prayer to your angel, asking him to help keep your passions in check so that you do not speak or act rashly.
If you are anxious over future events—for instance, a job interview—you can ask your angel for confidence. If you feel threatened or afraid, ask for protection. If you are ill, ask for healing. If you are faced with a difficult decision, petition your angel for guidance. If you are studying for an exam, ask that your angel illumine your mind so you may better understand and remember what you learned. If you are beset by nightmares, ask for peace and a good night’s rest. If you are haunted by recurring traumatic thoughts, ask for clarity and the grace to help you heal. If you are accosted by temptations, ask for the steadfastness to overcome them.
Artists, musicians, and writers can ask for a variety of boons in connection with their art. Among them: the motivation to complete pending projects and the inspiration to commence new ones. As a personal aside, I can vouch that my guardian angel has helped me greatly in researching and composing this work.
It is also appropriate to pray to other people’s guardian angels. Recall that all the holy angels are saints, and that we have access to the communion of saints through prayer. We do not have to call upon them by name; it will suffice to address them as: “Guardian Angel of [person’s name].”
Once we have invoked them thusly through prayer, we can raise any petition we like. Common petitions include asking the angel for the physical protection of someone engaged in dangerous work or while they are travelling far from home; for the recovery of someone who is ill; to comfort those who grieve; to strengthen those in turmoil; to turn people away from bad habits or conduct; and to promote the spiritual betterment of a loved one.
In anticipation of meeting with someone whom we believe might give us a hard time, there is nothing wrong with asking the guardian angel of that person to help smooth things over beforehand.
You can also send your guardian angel to work on your behalf. By this is meant that you may ask him to do anything you might do yourself, or to do for another anything you would ask that person to do for you. This comes with some limitations. If you ask your angel to pray a rosary with you but you fail to complete it, he is not obligated to finish it for you. Assuming he does, he would get the credit—so to speak—for those prayers, not you.
Likewise, you can ask your angel to go pray before the Blessed Sacrament, but if you choose not to go yourself, you would not get credit, except perhaps in the asking.
When petitioning your own or someone else’s guardian angel, remember that results are never guaranteed. These angels are committed to us, but they do not answer to us.
In addition, we must accept that we cannot always have things go our way, despite our angels’ best efforts. And when petitioning other people’s angelic guardians, understand that angels always respect a person’s free will. If the person whose angel we petition remains intractable, then we must keep praying in the hopes that this person eventually listens to his angel’s counsel.
Your guardian angel is an exemplar of charity. He loves you for God’s sake. God has tasked him with your care, and because of the great love he has for God, he diligently carries out his ministry without complaints or excuses.
Moreover, he loves you because you are like him. He knows that you, like him, were created in the image and likeness of God, and that this establishes a shared kinship. Your angel sees the godliness in you, and this similarity to your Creator makes him love you all the more.
He also loves you for who you are. You both are unique individuals. There will never be another one of you, or of him. Out of all of creation, God paired the two of you. Even if God’s reason for your pairing is not immediately apparent, there is always a reason, and it is always for your benefit. The intentionality of God’s choice, and the fact that His decisions are motivated by His love of you, inform us that the angel God selected to be your guardian must be your best possible match.
Given the intimacy built into the relationship between an individual and his angelic guardian, it is only natural that one should want to foster it. And indeed, we should. The more we involve him in our lives, the more disposed we are to follow his advice. God said to Moses:
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, as with our relationships with other human beings, there are certain parameters that should govern our dealings with angels. Please note: this list is not exhaustive.
First and foremost, keep the first of God’s commandments: “I am the Lord thy God… Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”
It should already be foremost in your mind that angels are awe-inspiring creatures, but even they are nothing in comparison to God. John, in the Book of Revelation, relates what happened when he was visited by an angel:
And after I had heard and seen, I fell down to adore before the feet of the angel, who shewed me these things. And he said to me: See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them that keep the words of the prophecy of this book. Adore God.
Remember: the only being who should be worshipped is God. Worship of any created thing, whether an angel or a golden calf, is idolatry. Communication with angels in the form of prayer is fair game, but make certain that the content of this communication is not worship that is rightfully due to God.
Second, and related, not only must the content of your communication be proper, but also the means.
Prayer is the only permissible method. Attempting to communicate with spirits—even the holy angels—by means of Ouija, the tarot, astral projection, necromancy, conjuration, and other forms of divination, is forbidden. These acts constitute serious offenses against God. Moreover, resorting to unauthorized methods, or attempting to learn what God has chosen not to reveal, express a lack of faith in God’s plan for us.
Recall that humanity’s first sin was one of curiosity. Adam and Eve sought knowledge that was not meant for them. Their transgression brought on mankind’s fall from grace.
If God were to forbid consulting with spirits via certain means, then it should not be because He wishes to keep us ignorant. Rather, it must be because He is looking after our safety.
Except with God’s assistance, human beings often cannot distinguish the source of a communication as being divine or demonic. It is far too easy for Satan and his demons to fool us into thinking they are God’s holy angels. St. Paul cautions that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
The story of King Saul is a cautionary example of what can happen when one disobeys the Lord’s prohibition against consulting the spirits.
With an army of Philistines marching against Israel, Saul was staring defeat in the face. Making matters worse, he had no one to turn to for advice. His prophet, Samuel, was dead.
Seeing no alternatives, Saul commanded his attendants to scour the land for a spirit medium. Everyone in his court must have sensed his desperation. The laws of Moses had forbidden the practice of divination, and Saul had previously run all the sorcerers and mediums out of Israel under penalty of death.
When Saul learned that a spirit medium still remained in his kingdom, he disguised himself so he would not be recognized, and traveled to her home.
On arriving, he met with a witch who lived in Endor. At Saul’s request, the witch called up the shade of Samuel, who rebuked Saul for his transgressions. Just as he did while alive, Samuel uttered a prophecy: for his sins, Saul would die and Israel would suffer at the hands of the Philistines.
Sure enough, Saul was grievously wounded in battle. He ultimately committed suicide to avoid capture. Entire villages were abandoned in the face of the invading army, which the Philistines took for themselves.
Even if the intended recipient of our communication is a holy angel, when we employ communication methods other than those which God permits, we offend God. These actions also expose us to attack from demonic entities. Be sure never to resort to these forbidden practices, even if you place no stock in their effectiveness. Regardless of what you believe, these are not harmless games. The mere acts carry very real consequences. The consequences may not be immediately perceptible, but they are no less real or present for how subtle they are.
In short, do not do this.
Third, know your place. Be respectful. Angels are vastly more powerful and wiser than we are. Moreover, your guardian angel’s service—and indeed, his very existence—is a gift to you. To show respect is to demonstrate your thankfulness to God, who sent you your angel.
Fourth, when you ask your angel for things in prayer, ask for spiritual goods. Ask for God’s grace; ask for patience; ask to be shown what your faults are, so that you can focus on what keeps you from perfecting yourself. Remember that the angel’s mission is to see you home to our Lord in heaven.
If you must ask for earthly things, demonstrate how these things will benefit your spiritual life. This might not help your chances of getting what you ask for, but if God does see fit to grant your request, at least you will already have formed an idea of how to best to employ those goods for the betterment of your spiritual health.
Fifth, your guardian angel is not all-knowing or all-powerful. When bad things happen, even if you prayed for these things not to occur, you cannot blame your angel or God. Suffering is part of the human condition, and we must accept this. But, no matter how bad things get, remember that you have your angel to console you.
On that note—sixth, you are never alone. Your guardian angel will never abandon or forsake you. He cannot be dismissed by any human or preternatural power because he answers only to the authority of God.
In times of loneliness, ask your angel to walk with you. His presence is a reminder of God’s love. In hard times, call on him for help. He will never act against your best interest. When you are frightened or anxious, call him to you. He will lend you his strength. When you are faced with a difficult decision, ask him for advice. He will help you make the right choice.
Seventh, be thankful. In the course of your daily prayers, it never hurts to thank God for the diligence of your guardian angel. Your angel will not rebuff you for offering your thanks to God directly. Instead, think of it this way: when you perform well at your work and a client praises you to your supervisor, would you not feel honored? Your angel glorifies God in his service to you. To thank God for your angel’s service ranks among the highest praise you can give him.
It is entirely worthwhile to foster a devotion to your guardian angel. He is always ready, willing, and able to take a greater role in your life; you just need to give him the chance. Whether or not he may is up to you. As you will learn elsewhere in this book, prayer begets what it signifies. In other words, when you pray, you only get what you ask for, and you get nothing if you don’t ask. Pray to him regularly and often, speaking to him as you would with a close friend, because that is what he is.
This is not advised.
No one would consider it awkward if you were to give a name to your household pets. Likewise, it is perfectly acceptable to name your children. The reason this is considered acceptable is because of the degree of authority you exert over them.
Our pets and our young children rely entirely upon us for their care, feeding, and shelter. We bestow names to our children as a way of initiating them into our families. They adopt our surnames by default, but we give them the names by which they will be known to the world. It is not your place to name someone over whom you have no authority.
That said, it is not fitting for us to give a personal name to our guardian angels, which is why this practice is discouraged. At best, attempting to name your guardian angel only gives rise to awkwardness because the angel already has a name. God gave him one that perfectly matches his nature and his destiny. No name you can come up with will suit him better. Worse, it would be presumptuous to attempt to name a creature superior to you in the order of being. Worse still, it could constitute a usurpation of God’s authority. These are His angels; they answer to Him, not you; and He named them long before you were born.
The Catholic Church has expressly forbidden the faithful from assigning a personal name to our guardian angels. Moreover, we should not seek to learn the names of the angels.
Recall from the Book of Tobit that Raphael identifies himself as one of seven angels who stand before God. Scripture provides the names of two others. We can be certain of these three angels’ names, because these names are the only ones which have been given to us through divine revelation. This begs the question of the identity of the remaining four.
The non-canonical Book of Enoch purports to name the others—Uriel, Raguel, Phanuel, and Sariel—but we cannot rely upon the veracity of this text. As a result, we presently do not know for certain whether entities by these names exist; or if they do, whether they are elect or fallen angels. Therefore, the better practice is not to call upon these four by name, and to regard any name other than the canonical three with suspicion.
If you are wondering how to call upon your guardian angel, the best practice is simply to call him by his title: “My guardian angel.” He will know who you are referring to without confusion. Just as you know people whom you call “Mom” and “Dad” you have a personal guardian angel, and he has charge of just you. He will know when you call upon him.
First things first: there is no way for any human being to know with certainty whether a deceased person is damned to hell. It is exclusively God’s prerogative to judge humanity, and the mercy of God inures to the salvation of even the worst sinners. Even so, we understand the concept well enough to grasp at least three precepts: that people can be damned, what it means to be damned, and what conduct might result in one’s damnation.
A deceased human being is considered damned when, during the course of his life, he conducted himself in a manner that indicates a turning away from God. While God gives us all the chances we need to return to Him, He will not impose Himself upon us because this would destroy our freedom of self-determination. Conduct which evinces a rejection of God is sinful, and it comes in two varieties: venial and mortal.
Mortal sin, as the name implies, is a grave offense. It results in one’s cutting himself off from a relationship with God.
When one lives in a state of mortal sin, one chooses hell over God. This is true even if the person in question does not intentionally desire hell. Nor is a subjective belief in hell required. Hell, like the rest of supernatural reality, exists regardless of whether we believe in it.
A person who dies in the state of mortal sin goes to hell. At the moment of his death, he will meet his guardian angel and possibly other spirits, likely Archangel Michael, who will escort him to his personal judgment before God. Having been sentenced, he will then be taken to hell. Thereafter, the guardian angel will depart for heaven alone, but he will never again serve as anyone else’s guardian.
An angel has not failed in his mission if the person entrusted to his care is ultimately damned. The angel feels no remorse but instead revels in the administration of God’s perfect justice. God’s justice is an emanation of His mercy, because to allow unrepentant wrongdoers to enjoy the same reward as the virtuous faithful or the innocent would amount to a monstrous injustice. If a person whom the angel watched over should arrive in hell, then it would be as a result of his own life choices despite the best efforts of his angel or the mercy of God.
What follows is an illustration of what it might be like to finally meet your angel under the worst possible circumstances.
Imagine standing at the threshold of eternal darkness with your guardian angel at your side. Before you is the lip of a volcanic crater. There is no fire at its heart, only a bottomless pit that radiates intense dry heat. Something like a holographic screen opens up in the churning purple clouds above you. Displayed upon it are scenes of your life—particularly, each and every time your angel prompted you against choosing to sin, and all the times you ignored him.
Standing at his shoulder, can you imagine how remorseful and embarrassed you might feel, especially in light of the promise of eternal happiness which you purposefully cast away? But above all, can you comprehend the gravity of your sense of loss? What excuse could you offer, knowing it is too late now to make amends?
Just as you try to speak, you find that you cannot. The heat has evaporated all the saliva in your mouth. Your tongue is swollen. Your throat is so dry that you can barely manage a grunt, and it is hardly audible over the whipping gales that shift the sand and pebbles on the cliff face.
The wind dies down. The light in the sky vanishes. With a mighty beat of his wings, your angel departs, and you are alone, utterly alone on that desolate mountainside.
But not for long.
Tortured screams echo upward from the wolf’s gullet that is the volcano crater. You squint, and against the all-consuming blackness below, you can see the outlines of a multitude of clawing hands racing up to drag you into the pit with them, where you will never again see the light of day.
No one knows for certain.
It is clear that the heavenly host is a countless multitude, but it is not infinite. It is also clear that each individual is assigned his own guardian angel, who is not reassigned after that person’s death. Thus, we can know with reasonable certainty that there will be at least as many guardian angels as there will ever be human beings. What is not apparent from Scripture or holy Tradition is what will happen after the last guardian angel is assigned to a human being.
Theologians have conjectured that this event will mark the beginning of the end of the world, but this view remains strictly an educated opinion without the certitude of canon backing it.
The answer remains a mystery.
Angels know their place in life. Each knows his existence has a meaning, a purpose, and an ultimate destiny. They teach us that we, like they, have a purpose, even if it should remain unknown to us during life. No one is a lost cause.
Angels show us that there is strength in meekness and humility. They seek to emulate this in its prime example, that of Christ. Christ humbled Himself in assuming a human body and walking among us. He was God on earth, and yet not once did He boast. Recall that after His arrest, He was brought before the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, who asked Him, “Art thou the king of the Jews?” to which He responded: “Thou sayest it.”
Pilate’s conduct can be interpreted as either sympathetic to Christ or demeaning of Him. In the Gospel according to Luke, Pilate seems convinced of Christ’s innocence and prefers releasing Him to sending a blameless man to His death. John’s Gospel recounts how Pilate frog-marched the bloodied Christ before the crowd, having dressed Him with a regal purple cloak and crown of thorns, to ridicule Him as the king of the Jews. To add insult to injury, Pilate shouts to the crowd, “Ecce homo!”—”Behold the Man!”
In either case, Christ could have done any number of things to evade capture and execution. Instead, Christ’s curt remark exemplifies His humility. He said only what He needed to, and His comment in no way betrayed a hint of His godly nature. It was with this same humility and meekness that He accepted His death on the cross, which merited the salvation of all souls that ever were and will be.
This humility shows us the truth about pride, insofar as pride is understood as a false estimation of oneself. Pride sets us up for failure. Humility shows us our proper station in life.
Meekness is not weakness, despite the modern perception of meek people as quiet or shy. Meekness stands for patient self-control. It is mastery of oneself.
The meek person can withstand others’ attempts to tug at his emotions. If you have ever had to tell someone “Don’t get bent out of shape” when they exhibit a disproportionate emotional response, then you have met someone who needs to work on their meekness.
What graces might we merit if we keep to where we are needed and serve there to the fullest extent we are able? A wealth of grace, if Christ is our example.
Angels demonstrate that more emphasis should be placed on the intellect than on feelings. How we feel about something can change. If we base our decisions solely on how things make us feel, then we are prone to making fickle judgments.
Millions are spent each year on advertisers who know that if their product can elicit the right emotional response, you will buy it. A few seconds of any junk food advertisement will show you this is true. Almost every ad for soft drinks, snack foods, beer, and the like seeks to correlate its product with good times, nights out with friends, sporting events, and other fun occasions. Advertisers know that they can get us to buy their products on impulse if their message registers emotionally with us.
Do not buy into the hype—use your head. The purpose of the intellect is to seek the truth. Be skeptical. Gather the facts. Ask critical questions. Do not ask, “What do I get out of this?” or “How does this make me feel?” but instead, “What does this mean?” The angelic mind cares little for how something will make him feel, but instead informs him as to the objective truth of the thing considered.
Therefore, think like an angel. Do not make decisions based upon your emotions.
Angels are always learning. They constantly strive to improve themselves, not for their own sakes but to better serve the Lord. You cannot love what you do not know; and to know God is to know wisdom itself. By extension, angels are always teaching. They never turn down the opportunity to share what they know with others. They are charitable with their time and talents.
For all their power, angels are quiet. They are not loudmouths, showmen, or chatterboxes; rather, they are subtle to the point of intangibility. Throughout Scripture, each time they arrive to deliver a message, they remain only for as long as the task requires before leaving.
There is wisdom in this. Think twice before you speak. Are your words truthful? Will they cause more harm than good; or will remaining silent cause greater harm? Are your words even necessary? Talk is cheap, and idle talk is harmful. Discretion is the better part of valor. Silence is indeed golden.
Angels are fearless, not because they are extraordinarily brave, but because they rely entirely upon God to provide everything they need. As human beings, we will inevitably experience fear from time to time, but we must never allow it to prevent us from carrying on with what is righteous. In times like these, we should recall that God always has a plan for us. In the words of King David:
The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the protector of my life:
of whom shall I be afraid?
If we place our trust in God, then God will provide us the grace to see things through. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of sobriety.
And when times are dark, angels remind us that we are never alone. Always at our side there walks a friendly companion to comfort and guide us.
 The Holy Bible: Douay-Rheims Version, Psalm 90:11.
 Summa Theologiae, I, Q. 113, Art. 4.
 1 Timothy 2:4.
 Matthew 5:29.
 Exodus 23:20-21.
 Exodus 20:2-3.
 Revelation 22:8-9.
 Deuteronomy 18:10-13.
 Genesis 3:4-7; 23-24.
 2 Corinthians 11:14.
 Leviticus 19:31.
 1 Samuel 28:1-19.
 1 Samuel 31:4-6.
 1 Samuel 31:7.
 Tobit 12:15.
 See: I Stood at the Mouth of Hell: A Near-Death Out-Of-Body Experience (File Number: 02-230115).
 Luke 23:3.
 Luke 23:20-23.
 John 19:5.
 Psalms 26:1.
 2 Timothy 1:7.
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