About Angel Guardians

Angele Dei,

qui custos es mei,

me, tibi commissum pietate superna,

illumina, custodi,

rege et guberna.

Amen.

Catholic Prayer (Dompendium of the Cathehism of the Catholic Church)

 

A Guardian Angel (Ангел-Хранитель, or Angel Guardian in Russian pronunciation) is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person or group. Belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity.

Belief in both the East and the West is that guardian angels serve to protect whichever person God assigns them to, and present prayer to God on that person's behalf.

 

Origin

According to Leo Trepp, in late Judaism the belief developed that "....the people have a heavenly representative, a guardian angel. This is a new concept of Zoroastrian origin. Previously the term `Malakh', angel, simply meant messenger of God.

"The belief that angels can be guides and intercessors for men can be found in Job33:23-6, and in the Book of Daniel (specifically Daniel 10:13) angels seem to be assigned to certain countries. In this latter case the "prince of the Persian Kingdom" contends with Gabriel.

The same verse mentions "Michael, one of the chief princes," and Michael is one of the few angels named in the Bible. In the New Testament Book of Jude Michael is described as an archangel. The Book of Enoch, part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church's canon of scripture, says that God will "set a guard of holy angels over all the righteous" (1 En 100:5) to guard them during the end of time, while the wicked are being destroyed.

In Matthew 18:10, Jesus says of children: "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven" (New International Version). This is often understood to mean that children are protected by guardian angels, and appears to be corroborated by Hebrews 1:14 when speaking of angels, 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?'

In Acts 12:12-15 there is another allusion to the belief that a specific angel is assigned to protect each individual. After Peter had been escorted out of prison by an angel, he went to the home of 'Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark'. The servant girl, Rhoda, recognized his voice and ran back to tell the group that Peter was there. However the group replied, "It must be his angel"' (12:15). With this scriptural sanction, Peter's angel was the most commonly depicted guardian angel in art, and was normally shown in images of the subject, most famously Raphael's fresco of the Deliverance of Saint Peter in the Vatican.

 

Christianity

Whether guardian angels attend each and every person is not consistently believed or upheld by the Church Fathers in Christian thought, and hence is not an "article of faith", although the concept is clearly seen in both the Old and New Testaments. According to St. Jerome, the concept is in the "mind of the Church" and he stated that: "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it."

The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of Autun in the 12th century. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body. Scholastic Theologians augmented and ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinas , Italian Dominican priest and influential philosopher adn theologian, agreed with Honorius and believed that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians, and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotus said that any angel might accept the mission.

Centuries later, in his 1997 Regina Coeli address, Pope John Paul II referred to the concept of guardian angel twice, and concluded the address with the statement: "Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord's paschal mystery".

OLD TESTAMENT

The guardian angel concept is clearly present in the Old Testament, and its development is well marked. The Old Testament conceived of God's angels as his ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs.

In Genesis 18-19, angels not only act as the executors of God's wrath against the cities of the plain, but they deliver Lot from danger; in Exodus 32:34, God says to Moses: "my angel shall go before thee." At a much later period we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 91:11: "For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways." (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5) Lastly, in Daniel 10 angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called "prince of the kingdom of the Persians", and Michael is termed "one of the chief princes"; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8 (Septuagint); and Ecclesiasticus 17:17 (Septuagint).

NEW TESTAMENT

In the New Testament the concept of guardian angel may be noted with greater precision. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10). A twofold aspect of the doctrine is here put forth: even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels lose not the vision of God by the fact that they have a mission to fulfill on earth.

Other key examples in the New Testament are the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. Hebrews 1:14 puts the doctrine in its clearest light: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" In this view, the function of the guardian angel is to lead men to the Kingdom of Heaven.

 GUARDIAN ANGELS AS TRUSTEES OF CHILDREN

Jean Danielow writes in his classic study of Jewish Christianity that:

It is a remarkable fact that later theology can be proved to have borrowed the doctrine of the guardian angel for Jewish Christianity. Clement of Alexandria, . . . writes in the Eclogae Propheticae: 'Scripture says that little children who are exposed are entrusted to a guardian angel, who brings them up and makes them grow; and they shall be, he says, like the faithful here who are a hundred years old' (XLI. 1). Later on Clement quotes a similar doctrine, which derives from the same background, and which he attributes explicitly to the Apocalypse of Peter: 'Divine providence extends not only to those who are in the flesh, Peter, for example, says in hisApocalypse, "Aborted infants are entrusted to a guardian angel, so that having obtained a share in the gnosis they may arrive at a better destiny"' (XLVIII, 1).

Daniélou also noted:

It is in Jewish Christian theology that the angel of peace "Gavreel" occurs, who is charged with the task of receiving the soul as it leaves the body and leading it to Paradise. Thus Test. Asher states: If the man dies in peace, he goes to meet the angel of peace, who leadeth him to eternal life' (VI, 6; cf. also Test.Benj VI, 1; Test.Dan VI,5). The doctrine does not appear in earlier apocalyptic, in which the angels have the task of watching over the bodies of the saints (Life of Adam, 46-47); and in the New Testament, Jude 9, following the Assumption of Moses, and indeed is more reminiscent of the Hellenistic doctrine of the angel-escorts of the soul, though it does not in fact derive from it. Later it was to have an important place in Christian liturgy ('In Paradisum deducant te Angeli'), which seems to be one of the ancient inheritances from Jewish Christianity.

 

INTERACTION WITH GUARDIAN ANGELS

Christian mystics have at times reported ongoing interactions and conversations with their guardian angels, lasting several years. Saint Gemma Galgani and Maria Valtorta are two examples, both having also reported extensive VISION OF JESUS AND MARY.

Saint Gemma Galgani, a Roman Catholic mystic, stated that she had interacted with and spoken with her guardian angel. She stated that her guardian angel had acted as her teacher and guide, at times stopping her from speaking up at inappropriate moments.

The bed-ridden Italian writer and mystic Maria Valtorta wrote the Book of Azariah based on "dictations" that she directly attributed to her guardian angel Azariah discussing the Roman Missia used for Sunday Mass in 1946 and 1947. In these dictations, each Sunday her guardian angel, Azariah, commented on the Missia for that day.

Saint Pio, a Capuchin Catholic priest, was known to instruct his parishioners to send him their guardian angel to communicate a trouble or issue to him when they could not travel to get to him or another urgency existed.

(Excerpts from Wikipedia's article about guardian angels (religious aspect) as well as articles from the Catholic Encyclopedia).