Padre Paul’s Ponderings: All of us are Guardian Angels

Last week we celebrated the feast of the Guardian Angels on Monday, October 2nd.

Though there’s a lot of theology behind angels, the web site “saintoftheday.org,” (run by the Franciscans, very helpful to learn about the feast days of the various saints) summarizes guardian angels in the following way:

Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer, and to present their souls to God at death.

The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. Saint Benedict gave it impetus and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.

The day also coincided with the news of the tragic shootings in Las Vegas that left more than 50 dead and hundreds wounded.

On the one hand, when we see such events, the inevitable question of “why?” emerges. Tragedies occur daily in the world, and perhaps one might wonder why angels don’t intervene to stop accidents, wars, and violence.

Certainly evil is permitted to continue in the world by God, but this does not mean He is absent from it. Remember, He suffered along with us and was victimized by evil too, dying for us. But this does not mean that we are alone in the world. Indeed, angels do watch over us, but we also see angels in the flesh in the sense that from tragedies, we see heroes emerge. And that is something all of us are called to be: a guardian angel in this world.

On the one hand, there are those in uniform. The heroes in our military. The people who are police officers. The firefighters and paramedics. Two police officers were killed last Monday. These people do not get the respect that they deserve, and we should honor them, thank them, pray for them, and appreciate all they do for us. When we have an accident, when someone is breaking into our home, or when a family situation is escalating and becoming dangerous, they are the first people on the scene to bring peace to it. They are true guardian angels in a dangerous world.

But we also must remember that we are called to that role as well. Sin is ugly, and there is no escaping the reality of evil. As such, we need to do something about it and be guardian angels too for people in the world, especially children and vulnerable adults.

Certainly on the one hand, any time we suspect abuse, we must get involved and alert authorities. It’s always better to err on the side of caution, and that phone call to the police could save a life.

More often than not though, it’s the things that go on daily where we need to use fortitude to act to get involved. We need to be aware to what kids go through at school, when there is bullying going on, when a child may be exposed to pornography, or dealing with an overbearing parent at sporting events. The list really is endless, but that’s why God gives us a conscience that tells us “you need to do something.”

There will always be evil in the world, and there is no way to shield children from it all. But if you’ve seen guardian angels depicted in art, they are often pictured walking with children through a journey, and that needs to be all of us. When we do the right thing, we can truly combat evil with good, and by being aware to the presence of evil in all it’s many forms we can live out those words from Matthew’s Gospel that we proclaimed last Monday: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Jesus also wants us to be their angles, so let’s do that by being aware of what children deal with, and when we see threats, do something about them rather than remain silent.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Paul