With Gratitude to Our Angels
October, in addition to being the month of the Holy Rosary, is unofficially the month of the Angels. Let us continue to celebrate them!
In his talk on angels, Dr. Mark Miravelle describes a strange situation: there are multiple groups of coexisting creatures: a group with great intelligence, goodness, and power, and another group with significant, but far lesser intelligence and power. Yet, the creatures with lesser powers spend their time ignoring the other group and never seek their guidance.
Yes–we are those creatures with less, who often spend our time ignorant and of, those who are constantly with us and seeking to aid us: the angels.
To acknowledge the intelligence and power of angels is not to deny that human nature is exalted by the Word become Flesh. And the Queen of the Angels is the humblest human, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet even the lowest choir of angels who serve God have far greater insight, knowledge, wisdom, and power than we ordinary humans possess.
We know much about the angels from the Church Fathers. Angels are immortal spirits, though the Lord may give them the ability and mission to appear visibly from time to time. St. John Damascene tells us that angels are created directly by the Lord and perfected by the Holy Spirit. They have powers and dispositions according to the specific roles the Lord God made them for. They watch over all places and nations. They enjoy the vision of His Face in Heaven while carrying out their roles in the world. They communicate with one another without the need for movement, words, sounds. Because they have no bodies, they need not worry about walls, taking up space, or how fast to move. And the good angels, having made their choice to serve God once and for all, are perfect in doing His will.
And His will is that each of us has a guardian angel, assigned to us alone, to guide us, protect us, and aid us in our journey to heaven. Thus, right now, you have one of them beside you, tasked with the care of your soul.
Then, should we not treat our angel as a dear and honored friend? In his book All About the Angels, Fr. O’Sullivan exhorts us to be devoted constantly, daily, hourly, at every moment, to our angels. For a guardian angel is our companion and guide to heaven, created for us long before we were conceived! Ought we not ask them for help, believing in their great power and compelling goodness? Do we not owe our angels gratitude–and daily? And he even tells us that we might greet our angels, and even others’ angels. When we meet a friend, they come with a companion: isn’t it rude to greet only one, and not the other?
Furthermore, angels are messengers: the word originates from the Greek angelos (messenger). Angels came to Abraham; the angel Raphael gave messages and accompanied Tobias; and the angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary. Without the need to travel or use an audible voice, angels can communicate instantly and at long distances! Thus, if we need help in a difficult conversation, if we see others in pain, anger, or danger, or if we encounter a stranger, we might ask our angel: “Please, will you ask so-and-so’s angel to help them? Will you ask their angel to help them be at peace?”
We are never alone. The Lord has given us each a protector for our own. Those who fear the dark need not face it alone: their angel has not left them. Those who feel the brunt of loneliness have a companion eager to comfort them. It takes faith and love to believe it: but the reward for having faith that God has given us a guardian angel is a constant comfort and peace.
In addition to asking our angel for aid, and expressing gratitude, we ought also to listen. But how does one listen to a spirit without a physical “voice”? Certainly we must be prudent and cautious in any kind of prayerful conversation. For example, demonology experts warn us not to give our angels names (has God neglected to name them? I believe not), and not to hope or listen for their voices responding to ours. For demons have all kinds of trickery and often come in the guise of good spirits.
A few have seen and heard angels, of course: a certain nun, Fr. O’Sullivan says, told of how she could hear and see the angels singing in choir at Mass. And St. Pio was said to have lectured his angel–something which I believe most of us ought not attempt! But we must not wish for miracles and wonders: angels are not magicians and conjurers to obey our wishes. They follow the Lord’s command, not ours.
No, we do not need ears to hear our angels or eyes to see them: we need only faith and love. By faith, we can hear our angels not with our ears, but with our hearts.
Perhaps you’ve felt a prompting to pray at a certain time. Perhaps you suddenly were attentive while driving and saved from a near accident. Perhaps you nearly fell down the stairs, but did not. Perhaps you did fall down the stairs, but by God’s grace, you are here reading this article. Perhaps you forgot to set your alarm and woke up on time anyhow. Perhaps you were waiting for Confession and suddenly remembered a sin that you had forgotten, but ought to confess. Countless accidents, temptations, evil doings, and more have been prevented; countless good deeds, thoughts, and words have been prompted and aided. The fact is, our angel does so many things for us throughout a day that we cannot keep count, and most of our angels’ deeds we will not know until it is revealed to us in heaven.
Once one begins to think upon the work of one’s guardian angel, one is filled with a sense of amazement–and curiosity–and, I think, a certain kind of creativity. I observed such in my students, all children. It required very little discussion of guardian angels before my class became very adept at coming up with things to thank our angels for. One year we compiled a list to put on a poster, with several students contributing multiple items per day as they thought of them. The “Thank You, Guardian Angels” posters (and various additions that the overflowing posters could not include) had contributions such as:
“stopping me from saying a bad word”
“helping me tell the truth”
“my little brother’s angel protected him from getting hurt when he fell out of a tree”
“protecting me when I was in a car accident”
“helping me when I had surgery”
“stopping me from tripping a lot when my shoelaces are always untied”
“stopping me from yelling at my brother”
“helping me not wiggle at Mass”
“prays with me”
“keeping me safe on trips”
One student even wrote, “I’m glad for Miss Diller’s angel keeping her from falling down the stairs” (a common thing my dear angel does, I admitted to my students). I had never in my life thought to thank another’s angel–until my students did!
We owe our guardian angels–and our loved ones’ angels–more gratitude than they ever receive. Yet there is one gift we can “give” them which surpasses all others: we can ask them to join us in front of the Real Presence. For an angel’s joy is in seeing the face of God. Dr. Miravelle suggests Adoration as a great gift to our angels.
And though this may just be my own hope, I believe that our guardian angels also take great joy when we, their charges, do God’s will: praying, confessing, being charitable, and following our callings. What better way to thank them than to listen to their promptings, and to strive for love of God and neighbor?
So let us thank our guardian angels today, and not just today, but every day. Let us often greet them, ask their aid, thank them, and worship with them: with the hope that one day, we will see God’s face, side by side with the companion who brought us to Him.