October 2: The Holy Guardian Angels

Memorial; Liturgical Color: White

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<<<      A personal spiritual bodyguard watches your back      >>>

Intuition is a fully formed way of thinking. It is more than just the occasional hunch or subtle perception. Native instinct, or “gut,” is used to calculate, discern, and decide on matters big and small throughout daily life. We think we are dryly logical about a decision to trust one accountant and not another, to frequent this store over that, or to confide in this new friend rather than that old one. But in reality it may just be a small mustard stain on the accountant’s shirt collar that convinces us that he is not the right man for the job. Squinty eyes, a weak handshake, a laugh, or just the way someone holds open the door or sips their coffee. We pay very close attention to the slightest nuances of facial gestures, body language, and tone of voice to draw immediate conclusions about people. We are not as coldly rational as we like to think.

So when an atheist, for example, walks alone down a remote country road in the dark of night and hears a long lost voice in the whistling wind, or sees tree branches twist themselves into a bony finger, he grows frightened. If he were to feel the breathy presence of someone hovering just over his shoulder at that same moment, the atheist’s sober rationality would be worth nothing. His valves of feeling and intuition would be fully open, the pores of his mind would be absorbing every ounce of strange reality, and a shiver of fright would run up his spine like an electrical charge. He would be in full contact with a reality as elusive to describe, yet as normal to experience, as intuition itself.

The holy guardian angels are created spirits, whereas God is an uncreated spirit. A man, however, is more than a spirit. He is an enfleshed soul procreated by parents who participate in God’s creative act. Though we are part spirit and part matter, we can nonetheless imagine what it would be like to be a pure spirit, like an angel. We close our eyes and imagine standing at the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and suddenly we are there, gazing over the City of Lights. The mind travels, the imagination soars, the soul

reflects. It’s our body that keeps our feet planted in one place and time. But if mind, soul, and imagination were not so tethered, then we would zip around the universe like an angel, a spirit unleashed, held back by nothing. God created the angels like He created us, out of nothing. God’s will is creative in the strict sense of that word. “Let there be light,” He said, and there was light. His will brings worlds into creation and maintains them there. God willed the angels into creation to communicate His messages, to protect mankind, and to engage in spiritual battle with fallen demon angels.

The age-old tradition of the Church is that every Christian, and perhaps every human being, has an angel guardian protecting him from physical and spiritual harm. Christ warned, “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven” (Mt 18:10). An angel was at Christ’s side in the Garden of Gethsemane, and an angel delivered Saint Peter from prison. The Fathers of the early Church wrote prolifically about the dense realm of the spirit inhabited by angels. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the angels belong to Christ. “They are his angels” (CCC #331). The Catechism also quotes Saint Basil, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (CCC #336).

We intuit that the world was made for more than just us, whether those “others” are lit with holiness or obscured by darkness. Some people scan the skies for alien ships in Low-Earth Orbit. Others listen for strange patterns of speech transmitted like radio signals through the cosmos. Is there life on Mars? Are there colonies behind the sun? There is no need to search so far, to seek life in the cold blackness of space. There are spirits all around us. Some need to walk down a dark country road to finally touch the realm of the spirit. Others are more fortunate and know from childhood that our guardian angels are present and accounted for, standing right over our shoulder, at God’s constant command to serve and protect.

Holy Guardian Angels, we implore your continued vigilance over our lives. Keep us from physical and spiritual harm, increase our trust in your presence, and remind us to turn to you when our well-being is threatened in any way. Amen.

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