According to Christian tradition, every one of us has a guardian angel, who accompanies us from the moment we’re born until the moment of our death, and stays at our side at every moment of our life. The idea of a spirit, of a supernatural entity that follows and supervises every human being, was already present in other religions and in Greek philosophy. In the Old Testament, we can read that God is surrounded by a genuine court of heavenly figures who worship Him and perform actions in His name. Even in these ancient books, there are frequent references to angels sent by God as protectors of people and individuals, as well as messengers. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to respect even the smallest and humble, in a reference to their angels, who watch over them from heaven and contemplate the face of God at every moment.
The Guardian Angel, therefore, is linked to anyone who lives within God’s grace. The Fathers of the Church, like Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Jerome and Saint Gregory of Nyssa, maintained that a guardian angel existed for each person, and although there was not yet a dogmatic formulation concerning this figure, already during the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) it was stated that every human being had their own angel.
From the seventeenth century onwards, the spread of popular devotion increased and Pope Paul V added the festival of guardian angels to the calendar.
Also in sacred representations and above all, in the images of popular devotion, Guardian Angels began to appear, and were usually depicted in the act of protecting children from harm. In fact, it is especially by children that we are encouraged to talk with our Guardian Angels, and to address our prayers to them. As we grow up, this blind trust, this unconditional love towards an invisible yet extraordinarily reassuring presence, fades.
The guardian angels are always near to us
Here’s what we should remember whenever we want to find it near to us:
- Guardian angels exist.
The Gospel affirms this, the Scriptures support it by countless examples and episodes. The Catechism teaches us from an early age to feel this presence on our side and to trust in it.
- Angels have always existed.
Our Guardian Angel is not created with us at the time of our birth. They have always existed, from the instant at which God created all of the angels. It was a single event, a single moment in which Divine Will generated all the angels, by the thousands. After this, God no longer created any other angels.
- There is an angelic hierarchy and not all angels are destined to become Guardian Angels.
Even the angels differ from each other in their tasks, and above all in their positions in heaven compared to God. Some angels in particular are selected to take a test and, if they pass it, they are qualified for the role of Guardian Angels. When a child is born, one of these angels is chosen to stand by his side until death and beyond.
- We all have one
… and only one. We cannot sell it, we can not share it with anyone. In this regard also, the Scriptures are full of references and quotations.
- Our Angel guides us on the pathway to Heaven
Our Angel cannot oblige us to follow the path of goodness. He cannot decide for us, impose choices on us. We are and remain free. But his role is precious, important. As a silent and trustworthy advisor, our angel stays by our side, trying to advise us for the best, to suggest the right path to follow, to obtain salvation, to deserve Paradise, and above all to be good people and good Christians.
- Our Angel never abandons us
In this life and in the next, we will know that we can count on them, on these invisible and special friends, who never leave us alone.
- Our Angel is not the spirit of a dead person
Although it might be nice to think that when someone we love died, they became an Angel, and as such returned to be by our side, unfortunately, this isn’t so. Our guardian angel cannot be anyone we have known in life, nor a member of our family who has died prematurely. It has always existed, it is a spiritual presence generated directly by God. This does not mean that it loves us less! We should remember that God is Love first and foremost.
- Our guardian angel has no name
… or, if he has, it is not our job to establish it. In the Scriptures, the names of some angels are mentioned, such as Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. Any other name attributed to these celestial creatures is neither documented nor confirmed by the Church, and as such it is inappropriate to claim it to use for our Angels, especially by pretending we’ve determined it using a fanciful method like the month of our birth, etc.
- Our Angel fights on our side with all his strength.
We must not think of having a tender plump cherub at our side playing the harp. Our Angel is a warrior, a strong and courageous fighter, who ranks at our side in every battle of life and protects us when we are too fragile to do it alone.
- Our guardian angel is also our personal messenger, charged with bringing our messages to God, and vice versa.
It is to the angels that God addresses himself in communicating with us. Their job is to make us understand his Word, and move us in the right direction.