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Feast of the Guardian Angels: Angels Are Real and All Around Us

By Deacon Fred Bartels
October 2nd, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Lord has given us devoted, powerful friends of resplendent beauty who stand ready at our side, ever-watchful angelic guardians who take a personal interest in seeing us arrive safely at our final destination. Let us remember to frequently speak with our guardian angels, converse with them as true friends, and gratefully thank them for all they have done, for we cannot as of yet know of the many times they have rescued us from some calamity. Let us ask for their assistance as we live our daily lives in the Lord.

GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) - When we contemplate the nearly endless gifts of grace and love our God has given us, we are left awe struck. Just a short time ago, each one of us did not exist. Now we live; not simply for a time, but for ever as the result of God's free gift of an immortal soul and the promised resurrection of our bodies.

Just a short time ago, we were lost. Now we have been found; for our Lord Jesus Christ stretched out his arms upon the cruel Roman cross, allowed himself to be brutally nailed to that unyielding wood, fixed there until death, and thus laid a new horizon of salvation before us: A road of Love stretching from here into eternity.

In the Mass and the Eucharist, in our parishes and families and homes we are surrounded by God's gift of himself and his love. From the farthest reaches of the cosmos to the depths of the sea, all of material creation has been given to man. We should think that enough. It is not enough for God. In our Lord's infinite love, compassion and tenderness, he sends us each our very own guardian angel, an invisible, spiritual creature who, magnificent and powerful, carefully guides us as we travel along in the midst of what is often a dangerous world.

"The Lord will send his angel to accompany you and to guide you safely on your way." -- Memorial of the Guardian Angels, Morning Prayer antiphon.

Angels: The Good And The Bad

We have not to look long nor far to find out something about angels. The question is, is that something accurate or inaccurate? Is it true, or, on the other hand, is it downright false? Whether it be a glance into the darker recesses of the Internet or a trip to the local bookstore -- whose shelves are often laden with dozens of pounds of printed material concerning the angels -- both will yield a bewildering array of conflicting information.

This problem of discord is due to many factors, which we will not go into here. However, it is important to remember that our knowledge of the angels is not a matter of natural revelation (what can be known by human reason), but rather is a matter of supernatural revelation; that is, God himself has revealed what we know of the angels' existence, who and what they are.

So, the question arises, how do we access what God has revealed about these powerful spiritual beings, sorting out what is true from what is false? In order to do that, it is necessary to turn to the authoritative institution God willed should exist: The Catholic Church. It is through the Church that, founded by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, we receive the fullness of truth that is faithfully transmitted to the nations.

It is necessary to here mention that some will think it trivial to speak of the need to turn to the Church's authority concerning the angels. It is not, however. For   in our contemporary society we find people who insist they have communicated with angels, and who, against the teaching of the Church, make wild claims about spiritual and eschatological realities.

For instance, it is not unusual to find people who insist that, according to the messages they received from angels, hell does not exist, as a final separation from the Love of the God who is Love. Such false claims are obviously due to an lack of awareness of the aspirations of the fallen angels, those diabolical spirits we know as demons, and their evil intent. The guardian angels, however, do not bring us messages opposed to God's revelation, for their intellect thrives on God's truth, and their will is fixed on love of that same Truth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Satan and the other "demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God" (CCC No. 414). St. Peter warns us: "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

The point is, the devil and his cohorts intend not only to destroy our belief in God and his Church, but also pollute our understanding of God's revelation with every sort of error. Thus it is necessary to turn to the Church whose divine Founder is Jesus Christ in order to properly understand what God has revealed about the angels and, in fact, all of created reality.

Who Are The Angels?

The word "angel" comes from the Greek word angelos, which means "messenger." The chief source of Divine Revelation about the angels is Sacred Scripture, and in both the Old and New Testaments there are many references to these incorporeal beings. For instance, we find in Acts that angels opened prison doors for the apostles, delivered Peter from chains, and accompanied Paul during a storm at sea.

The Catechism reminds the faithful that the "existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition." These purely spiritual creatures "have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness." Further, from our beginning until death, "human life is surrounded" by the "watchful care and intercession" of our angel guardians, for "beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life" (see Nos. 202, 203, 328, 330).

The Lord has given us devoted, powerful friends of resplendent beauty who stand ready at our side, ever-watchful angelic guardians who take a personal interest in seeing us arrive safely at our final destination. Let us remember to frequently speak with our guardian angels, converse with them as true friends, and gratefully thank them for all they have done, for we cannot as of yet know of the many times they have rescued us from some calamity. Let us ask for their assistance as we live our daily lives in the Lord.

St. Thomas Aquinas' Teaching On Angels

St. Thomas taught far too much about the angels to list here, and, although what is listed below is not defined doctrine, it does represent a unified body of theological thought about the angels.

One interesting element of St. Thomas's teaching is on the uniqueness of each angel: He taught that each angel is a different species. We can understand -- at least in part -- such a concept by examining our own existence and that of animals. As humans, we all possess a human nature yet belong to the same species, even though we are individual persons. Animals, on the other hand, are of the same nature, yet are made up of different species. There are stark differences between say, an eagle and a giraffe.

With angels, they all possess an angelic nature, yet each individual angel is a unique species. Of course our imagination fails us here, for it is only good at reproducing pictures of material objects, and angels are spiritual and immaterial beings. So, while we can understand the concept of the angels' uniqueness of species, we cannot draw an image of it from our imagination.

Of this uniqueness of species Fr. Paul O'Sullivan writes: "No two angels are alike, no two are equal. God's perfections are infinite, and the countless millions of angels reflect these perfections in a divinely marvelous way. . . . Every angel is specifically different from the other as one species differs from another. . . . The angels are unspeakably lovely, . . . nothing on this earth can possibly give us an idea of their resplendent glory. No painter, no poet, no artist ever conceived anything like them. They are living replicas of God's beauty" (All About The Angels, 28).

We Ought To Love Our Guardian Angels

We have so much to thank our Lord for that should we begin each day by praising him for all that he has done for us, we would not finish such a task in our lifetime. Christ has given us the breath of life, he has given us himself on the cross and in Eucharist, and he has given us his Bride, the Church who nourishes us with the truth about God's revelation.
 
Yet, pouring out upon us even more love, our Lord has given us devoted, powerful friends of resplendent beauty who stand ready at our side, ever-watchful angelic guardians who take a personal interest in seeing us arrive safely at our final destination.

Let us remember to frequently speak with our guardian angels, converse with them as true friends, and gratefully thank them for all they have done, for we cannot as of yet know of the many times they have rescued us from some calamity. Let us ask for their assistance as we live our daily lives in the Lord.

"'He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways' (see Ps 91:11). These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need." -- St. Bernard

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Deacon Fred Bartels serves the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado as a member of the Catholic Clergy. He has been married to his wife Shelly for twenty eight years and they have four children. Deacon F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer and deacon who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

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