Blessed Memorial of Your Holy Guardian Angel – 2 October.
Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, especially with respect to helping that person avoid spiritual dangers, to aid their prayer and achieve salvation.
The angel may also help the person avoid physical dangers, particularly if this will help the person achieve salvation.
The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: “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.”
Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. Saint Benedict gave it impetus and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.
A feast in honour of the guardian angels was first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God [CCC 336].
According to the general teaching of the theologians, however, not only every baptised person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth [Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 120].
This understanding is reflected in an Angelus address by Benedict XVI, who stated:
Dear friends, the Lord is ever close and active in humanity’s history and accompanies us with the unique presence of his Angels, whom today the Church venerates as “Guardian Angels”, that is, ministers of the divine care for every human being. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their constant protection. [Angelus, Oct. 2, 2011].
The Congregation stated: Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels [op. cit., 217].
Should we assign names to our guardian angels? The Congregation stated:
The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.