Guardian, Angels, Their Ministry
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part IV
Angels are commissioned by Divine Providence to guard the human race and be present with every man to protect him from injury. As parents, when their children have occasion to travel a dangerous way, infested by robbers, appoint persons to guard and assist them in case of attack, so has our Heavenly Father placed angels over each of us, in our journey towards our heavenly country, that guarded by their vigilant care and assistance we may escape the ambushes and repel the fierce attacks of our enemies, proceed directly on our journey, secured by this guiding protection against the devious paths into which our treacherous enemy would mislead us, and pursue steadily the path that leads to heaven.
The important advantages which flow to the human race from this special superintending Providence, the functions and the administration of which are intrusted to angels, who hold a middle place between man and the Divinity, appear from numerous examples recorded in Scripture. These passages prove that angels, as the ministers of the divine goodness, have frequently wrought wonderful things in the sight of men, and they give us to understand that innumerable other important services are rendered to us by the invisible ministry of angels, the guardians of our safety and salvation.
The angel Raphael, who was appointed by God the companion and guide of Tobias, conducted him and brought him back safe again. He helped to save him from being devoured by a large fish, and pointed out to him the singular virtue of its gall and heart; he expelled the evil demon, and by fettering and binding up his power prevented him from injuring Tobias; he taught the young man the true and legitimate rights of marriage, and restored to the elder Tobias the use of his sight.
The angel who delivered the prince of the Apostles also affords abundant matter of instruction on the admirable advantages which flow from the care and guardianship of angels. To this event, therefore, the pastor will also call the attention of the faithful. He will point to the angel illuminating the darkness of the prison, awakening Peter by touching his side, loosing his chains, bursting his bonds, admonishing! him to rise, to take up his sandals and other apparel, and to follow him. The pastor will also direct their attention to the same angel restoring Peter to liberty, conducting him out of prison through the midst of the guards, throwing open the door of his prison, and ultimately placing him in safety without its precincts. The sacred Scriptures, as we have already observed, abound in examples which give us an idea of the magnitude of the benefits conferred on us by the ministry of angels, whose tutelary protection is not confined to particular occasions or persons, but extends to each individual of the human race, from the hour of his birth. In the exposition of this point of doctrine the diligence of the pastor will be rewarded with one important advantage: the minds of the faithful will be interested, and excited to acknowledge and revere the paternal care and providence of God.
They are the attendants of His heavenly court; they cease not to worship and adore Him day and night, saying Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. But He has given them also duties in regard to us. They are His messengers; they have charge of the Holy Church, of kingdoms and nations, and, moreover, of individuals. It is the teaching of Holy Church that at least each of the faithful enjoys the protection and aid of an angel guardian; and it is not in any way contrary to Holy Scripture to suppose that every child of man is thus protected. From the beginning the Catholic Church has honored the holy angels, has invoked them and solicited their aid; and it behooves us, dear brethren, to follow this example by being devout to our guardian angel. How consoling is the thought of princes of the heavenly court charged with the care of our souls and bodies; ever at hand to ward off temptation; to repulse the demons, to suggest good and holy thoughts, to protect us from bodily danger and accidents in our coming and going; to stand by us and care for us till at last they shall joyfully present our souls, redeemed and cleansed, before the throne of God to receive the reward. We should examine ourselves to see whether we have neglected and forgotten our angel guardian. It is to our interest to invoke him; to second his efforts by our earnest endeavors to avoid sin. How often we frustrate those endeavors by wilfully running into temptation! It is a matter of common gratitude, too, that we should remember him who has the charge of us; that we should thank him for his care, that we should try to live more in his presence. It is needless to say that the greatest spiritual good must be the result of such a practice. Remembering the presence of our guardian angel, we shall remember also the presence of God. We shall thereby be supported in temptation and restrained from sin; we shall be consoled in affliction and kept temperate in the time of joy: cultivating- the friendship of our celestial companion we shall be kept from harmful affection for the creatures of earth; more than any earthly guide and counsellor he will teach and lead us along the heavenly way, until the veil is taken from our eyes, and we shall behold at the last the angel of the Lord with whom we shall praise and bless the Father of us both forever in heaven.
O most faithful companion, appointed by God to be my guardian, my protector and defender, and who never leavest my side; how shall I thank thee for thy faithfulness and love, and for the benefits which thou hast conferred upon me? Thou watchest over me while I sleep; thou comfortest me when I am sad; thou liftest me up when I am down; thou avertest the dangers that threaten me; thou warnest me of those that are to come; thou withdrawest me from sin, and excitest me to good; thou exhortest me to penance when I fall, and reconcilest me to God. Long ago should I have been thrust down into hell, unless by thy prayers thou hadst turned away from me the anger of God. Leave me not, nor forsake me ever, I beseech thee; but still comfort me in adversity, restrain me in prosperity, defend me in danger, assist me in temptations, lest at any time I fall beneath them. Offer up in the sight of the Divine Majesty my prayers and petitions, and all my works of piety, and help me to persevere in grace, until I come to everlasting life. Amen.