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Legatus Magazine

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Al Kresta | author
May 01, 2012
Filed under Engaging the Faith

Why Catholics believe in guardian angels

Guardian angels, like everything the Catholic Church teaches, are completely Biblical . . .

Al Kresta

Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels on Oct. 2 because every individual has a guardian angel, and awareness of our guardian angel can be a comfort and aid in our spiritual growth.

Belief in guardian angels is a common-sense implication from many passages of Scripture. For instance, “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Ps 91:11-12).

Such angelic personal care shows up often. The Hebrew heroine Judith said, “His angel hath been my keeper both going hence, and abiding there, and return from thence hither” (Jdt 13:20 Douay). In the New Testament, the task of angels as “ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation” (Heb 1:14) is revealed even more clearly than in the Old Testament.

When Jesus urges us to develop the trust and unpretentiousness of little children and then warns those who would despoil the souls of these little ones, he concludes with what may seem to us a curious statement: “See that you do not despise one of the little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my heavenly Father” (Mt 18:10). Each of these little children has his or her own angel before God in heaven.

Christ’s original audience wouldn’t have found the reference puzzling. Jesus was drawing on the Hebrew revelation that angels are guardians of nations and individuals, adults as well as children, and they perform various assignments.

God casts each human person in a dramatic story of redemption. The future of the universe hinges on our choices. He has discharged guardian angels to assist us in our roles.

Referring to Christ’s words above, St. Jerome commented, “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” Saint Thomas Aquinas further taught that our guardian angels could act upon our senses and imagination, though not upon our will. He added that they would also remain with us after our final union with God.

I suspect that many people dismiss guardian angels not because they’ve examined the data of Scripture or considered how eternity might penetrate time, but because of an adolescent prejudice: Guardian angels look like “imaginary friends” who are just projections of our own need for consolation in an unsafe world. But the fact that some spiritually stunted people find comfort in the notion is no argument against the actual existence of guardian angels.

It’s like saying that because a frightened child finds peace in the notion that the police are watching over him while he sleeps, then police don’t exist. Why shouldn’t other rational spirits share the same space as we do?

This column is reprinted with permission from the book “Why Do Catholics Genuflect?” by Al Kresta, CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio.

Catechism 101

As purely spiritual creatures, angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.

From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #330, 334, 336


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