Today’s readings: Exodus 23:20-23; Psalm 91; Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 18:10
“For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.” These are incredibly comforting words that the Psalmist sings to us today. God never allows anything to overshadow us, never misses any event of our lives. Moreover, he commands the angels, his servants, to watch over and guard us in all our ways. Today we celebrate that the angels keep us safe and lead us ultimately to God himself.
I love the feast of the Guardian Angels, because my Guardian Angel was probably the first devotion that I learned. I remember my mother teaching me the prayer. Say it with me if you know it:
Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To watch and guard,
To rule and guide.
The impetus for today’s feast is summed up in the first line of the first reading. Hear it again:
See, I am sending an angel before you,
to guard you on the way
and bring you to the place I have prepared.
From the earliest days of the Church, there has always been the notion of an angel whose purpose was to guide people, to intercede for them before God, and to present them to God at death. This notion began to be really enunciated by the monastic tradition, with the help of St. Benedict, St. Bernard of Clairvaux and others. It is during this monastic period that devotion to the angels took its present form.
Many of us have probably moved over on our seats to make room for our Guardian Angel. As amusing as that may be, the concept of an angel to guard and guide us is essential to our faith. The gift of the Guardian Angels is a manifestation of the love and mercy of God. Devotion to the Guardian Angels, then, is not just for children. We adults should feel free to call on our angels for intercession and guidance. We should continue to rely on that angel right up to death, when our angel will present us to God. We hear that very prayer in the Rite of Christian Burial:
“May the angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the holy city,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.”
May the Guardian Angels always intercede for us. And, as we hear in today’s Gospel, may our angels always look upon the face of our heavenly Father.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.