Summary: Our guardian angels work with and for us to protect and encourage; so should we for the world.
October 2, 2014
Holy Guardian Angels
The Scriptures are pretty clear about the existence of guardian angels for us humans. The doctrine of guardian angels developed in the OT, at least partially because of the natural fear we have of seeing or experiencing God and dying of fright. So Exodus places the angel between the mortal human and God, as a kind of intermediary in power, judgment, enforcement of God’s Law, and honor. Angels were seen as God’s way of aiding human beings in their struggle with their adversaries. If you look at the Book of Maccabees, you see angels revealing themselves as Israel’s allies in battle. Here, also, Jesus recognizes that each of us, particularly in our youngest days, has one of these powerful divine allies in heaven, who gaze on the face of God and, presumably, intercede for us in our weakness.
We should be grateful for this divine assistance, and join our angels in heaven by praising the God they witness face-to-face. Someday we hope to see them and with them look on the face of the Savior, and the Father, and witness the love that the Holy Spirit is, binding all of us together in the heavenly banquet.
Today we may think that the greatest of our enemies are these Islamic thugs who want to behead anyone who does not accept their distorted and malicious servitude. They are just servants of the real enemy, whom St. Paul calls the “prince of the air.” The real enemy is sin and the devil, its architect. When we spread the Gospel by our words and actions, when we show love to our human enemies and give comfort to those who are injured by sin, we are aided by our guardian angels with all the power of God.
The Holy Father positions this as part of the new evangelization, and discerns three principal settings for that work.
“In first place, we can mention the area of ordinary pastoral ministry, which is ‘animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life’. In this category we can also include those members of faithful who preserve a deep and sincere faith, expressing it in different ways, but seldom taking part in worship. Ordinary pastoral ministry seeks to help believers to grow spiritually so that they can respond to God’s love ever more fully in their lives.
“A second area is that of “‘the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism’ who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.
“Lastly, we cannot forget that evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of them are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction’.”
For myself, I believe that a big part of this evangelization by attraction is being happy in my daily life, and steering conversations away from “ain’t it awful” to “let’s be grateful.” Several years ago when I was principal, my teachers told me to leave the discipline to my AP and go about encouraging my students. The results were positive, immediate and encouraging to me. There’s enough gloom and doom and pessimism. Let’s spend our limited time encouraging each other to do good and have gratitude for that good.