Guardian angels, often pictured as protective figures watching over children, play a comforting role in Catholic devotion, providing assurance not only to youngsters but also to adults. They are believed to serve as individual representatives before God, aiding in prayers, overseeing daily lives, and ushering souls to God upon death.
Although the belief in guardian angels draws inspiration from Scripture, it isn’t taken from it directly. A reference from Jesus in Matthew 18:10 provides the strongest scriptural backing: “Do not disdain these little ones, for their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Heavenly Father.”
The dedication towards angels flourished with the emergence of monastic traditions. Notable figures like St. Benedict and Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century reformer, played significant roles in shaping the modern perception and devotion to guardian angels. By the 16th century, a special feast honoring guardian angels was celebrated, which Pope Paul V later integrated into the Roman calendar in 1615.
The Catholic Church acknowledges the existence of angels and their pivotal role in God’s salvific design. Throughout biblical history, angels have been instrumental in revealing divine messages. Angels, distinct from saints, are pure spirits brought into existence by God. They perpetually laud and venerate Him. Meaning “messenger” in translation, angels are seen as conduits of God’s love, relaying divine plans and prompting individuals towards righteousness. The angels specifically tasked with safeguarding and guiding humans are fondly known as “guardian angels.”
A Hierarchy of Celestial Beings:
Angels are categorized into distinct types:
Angels, Archangels, and Principalities: These focus on the detailed governance of the universe and specific purposes, which encompasses the wellbeing of humans. Each person, church, and nation is believed to have a Guardian Angel. Their feast is celebrated on October 2.
Powers, Virtues, and Dominations: Often referred to as the “angels of creation,” they oversee the organization of the universe and its manifold causes.
Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim: These celestial beings are engrossed in adoring God’s splendor. The six-winged Seraphim are attributed with the chant of the Sanctus, extolling, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.”