Every year we celebrate the feast day of the Guardian Angels on October 2nd, which is a wonderful opportunity to thank those spiritual beings who God assigns to protect and guide us. There are myriads of guardian angels, just as there are myriads of angels portrayed in the Bible and throughout our church—have you ever tried counting them?
God sent an angel to go before Moses and his people Israel, saving them from Pharaoh’s armies and leading them into the Promised Land (see Exodus 14:19ss; 23:20-24, and 32:34-33:2). Our guardian angel does the same for us: “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:8); “For [God] 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” (Psalm 91:11-12). The Old Testament even portrays the angels praising God on our behalf (see Psalm 103:20 and 148:1-2), which is why our Lord says: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
In the New Testament the angels become even more prominent. As Pope St. John Paul II reminded us:
“Angels are discreetly present at all the most important moments of Jesus’ life in addition to the Resurrection. They announce his birth (cf. Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26; 2:9); they guide his flight into Egypt and his return to his native land (cf. Matthew 2:13,19); they are a comfort to him at the end of the temptations in the desert (cf. Matthew 4:11) and at the hour of the passion (cf. Luke 22:43); at the end of time, they will stand at his side when he judges history and the world (cf. Matthew 13:41)” (Regina Caeli, March 31, 1997).
In the Old Testament people feared the angels: if they saw one they thought would die for example, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.” (Judges 6:22). In contrast, Christians see angels as their friends, collaborators in the common mission to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. For example, St. Peter’s guardian angel help him escape prison twice: once when the high priests and the Sadducees became jealous at his preaching and miracles, throwing him and St. John in prison, only to have their guardian angels release them so they could continue their preaching (Acts 5:17-20), and then again when Herod had thrown him into prison, his angel released him so he could continue his mission (Acts 12:1-19). God the Father even gives Jesus an angel to strengthen his humanity when it was rebelling during his agony in the Garden (Luke 22:39-46).
Opus Dei was founded on the feast of the Guardian Angels, on October 2, 1928, precisely at the moment the church of Our Lady of the Angels in Madrid rang out its bells. St. Josemaría always saw the guardian angels as collaborators of ordinary Christians, helping us fulfill our mission to sanctify the ordinary events of our lives and to lead others to Christ. As he wrote:
“Have confidence in your guardian angel. Treat him as a very dear friend that’s what he is—and he will do a thousand services for you in the ordinary affairs of each day” (The Way 562).
“You seem amazed because your guardian angel has done so many obvious favors for you. But you shouldn’t be: that’s why our Lord has placed him at your side” (The Way 565).
Let us befriend our guardian angel more frequently, asking him for favors that help us. It may be as simple as finding us a parking space, or as serious as protecting us in dangerous moments of ordinary travel or perilous social events. He will help you… that’s his job!
Fr. John R. Waiss