Welcome fellow souls to «The Human Family Crash Course Series», a project collaborated by empress2inspire.blog and dios-raw.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our tenth topic is focused on «Angels». Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!
“The moon will guide you through the night with her brightness, but she will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
“When you trust your inner guidance and begin moving in the direction of your dreams (aligned with your individual gifts) you will be cloaked in an armor bestowed upon you by your guardian angel.” ~ Charles F. Glassman
Imagine you had a bodyguard who was eternally with you. They did all the usual bodyguard endeavors such as protecting you from danger, warding off assailants, and generally keeping you safe in all situations. But they also did more than this: they offered you moral guidance, helped you become a stronger person, and led you to your ultimate calling in life.
We don’t have to imagine it. We already have such a bodyguard. Christian tradition calls them guardian angels. Their existence is supported by scriptures and both Catholics and Protestants believe in them along with seemingly all cultures and ancient civilisations having remnants of these beings in their musings, architecture and philosophy.
- Ward off demons
Sometimes we visualize moral decision-making as a debate between a bad angel whispering in one ear and a good angel speaking wisely in the other. There is a truth to this: according to St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the roles of the guardian angels is to fight off demons (Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 113, Articles 2-6).
2. Protect us from harm
Guardian angels generally protect us from both spiritual and physical harm, according to Aquinas (Question 113, Article 5, Reply 3). This belief is rooted in Scripture. For example, Psalm 91:11-12 declares, “For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
3. Strengthen us against temptation
Guardian angels do not just ward off evil, they also strengthen us so we can do it ourselves. As St. Bernard says in a sermon, “As often, therefore, as a most serious temptation is perceived to weigh upon you and an excessive trial is threatening, call to your guard, your leader, your helper in your needs, in your tribulation; cry to him and say: ‘Lord, save us; we perish!’”
4. Embolden us
St. Bernard also says that with angels such as these at our side we should have no fear. We should have the courage to live out our faith boldly and confront whatever life might throw our way. As he puts it, “Why should we fear under such guardians? Those who keep us in all our ways can neither be overcome nor be deceived, much less deceive. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; why do we tremble?”
5. Intervene miraculously.
Guardian angels not only ‘guard,’ they also can save us when we are already in trouble. This is illustrated by the story of Peter in Acts 12, when an angel helps break the apostle out of prison. The story suggests that it is his own personal angel that has intervened (see verse 15). Of course, we cannot count on such miracles. But it’s an added comfort to know that they are possible.
6. Guard us from birth
Church Fathers once debated whether guardian angels were assigned at birth or at baptism. St. Jerome argued decisively for the former. His basis was Matthew 18:10, which is a crucially important Scriptural passage that supports the existence of guardian angels. In the verse Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The reason that we get guardian angels at birth is that their aid is associated with our nature as rational beings, rather than belonging to the order of grace, according to Aquinas (Question 113, Article 5, Answer).
7. Guard all of us
This conclusion follows from the above. Aquinas also makes this clear in explaining that God never leaves any of us. As the great dogmatic theologian Ludwig Ott explained, “According to the general teaching of the theologians, however, not only every baptized person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth.” Pope Benedict XVI also taught that guardian angels are “ministers of the divine care for every human being.” (Thanks to Jimmy Akin for highlighting these sources.)
8. Remind us of the dignity of persons
This follows from all that has been said before. It is particularly evident from Matthew 18:10 where Jesus instructs us not to ‘despise’ the ‘little ones’ because they have angels watching over them. (I’m particularly indebted to Protestant preacher John Piper for pointing this out.) As St. Jerome puts it, “The worth of souls is so great that from birth each one has an angel assigned to him for protection.” Piper emphasizes how the presence of guardian angels should lead us to a greater respect for our fellow Christians: “Therefore don’t despise this simple, unimpressive disciple of Jesus! Let his angelic entourage remind you whose son he is.”
10. Bring our needs to God
Akin says that guardian angels act as intercessors who bring our requests directly to God based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 about angels beholding the face of God.
11. Bring us closer to God
It follows from the above that guardian angels also aid in bringing us nearer to God. Even when God seems distant, just remember that the guardian angel assigned to you personally is at the same time beholding God directly.
12. Move us to the good
Guardian angels also move us to the good. As Aquinas writes, “It is moreover manifest that as regards things to be done human knowledge and affection can vary and fail from good in many ways; and so it was necessary that angels should be deputed for the guardianship of men, in order to regulate them and move them to good” This includes prompting us to perform good works, according to Aquinas. (See Question 113, Article 1, Answer and Article 4, Objection 3.)
13. Communicate through our imagination
In addition to working through our senses and intellects, our guardian angels also influence us through our imaginations, according to Aquinas, who gives the example of Joseph’s dreams (Question 111, Article 3, On the Contrary and Answer). But it might not be something as obvious as a dream; it could also be through more subtle means like a ‘phantasm,’ which could be defined as an image brought to the senses or the imagination (Question 111: Article 1, Answer; definition adapted from the Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy by Bernard Wueller, SJ).
Let us know below how you work with your guardian angels or any thoughts or questions you may have…