Allies of body and soul: Catholics and guardian angels
By Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh
I just read something that caught my interest about guardian angels. It was an article about angels. It stated everyone has a guardian angel with no exception. I think most of us, Catholic or not, doubt the validity of this idea either because we don’t feel deserving or because the concept of an angel watching out for us is too fanciful for us to comprehend. Often times, without realizing it, we will chase these helpful creatures away.
In 2007 the following was posted by a nurse on a medical blog:
“I work as a nurse in ICU. I often wonder when a believer dies, does their [sic] spirit get escorted to heaven by angels or does the spirit automatically ascend to our Lord in heaven. Sometimes at the moment a person passes, I get a very happy feeling and I wonder if I could be in the presence of our Lord’s angels. I get a sudden feeling of joy and I think to myself, ‘Why am I so happy? This person just passed away. I don’t see or hear anything unusual, just a sense of good feelings.’”
The response given to this nurse was that our journey to heaven is not a lonely one. God will dispatch angels at just at the right time and they will take us to the heights of His glory.
Let’s say for the sake of this argument, then, that it’s true. We all have a guardian angel. This being would be an angel who stays with you from birth until your transition back to heaven.
Like parents, they have an unconditional love for you. Their goal is to make certain you are safe.
There certainly seems to be scriptural support for such beings. In Psalm 91: 10-12, David sings, “No evil shall befall you. No affliction come near your tent. For he commands his angels to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
It has been said that God’s thoughts of love created these angels.
The role of the guardian angel is to guide us to good thoughts, good works and words. They also help with preserving us from evil.
Pope Francis when discussing guardian angels, commented, “It’s dangerous to chase away our traveling companion. Do not rebel; follow his advice.”
There are over 30 references in the Bible to angels. Obviously, they are an important reminder of our journey into heaven.
Here are just a few:
Matthew 18:10: “Beware lest ye scandalize any of these little ones for their angels in heaven see the face of my father.”
Hebrews 1:14: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with his angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he had done.”
“The doctrine of angels is part of the Church’s tradition. But why are we as Catholics encouraged to support this idea of a guardian angel? The late Father Hal Stockert, a Byzantine Catholic priest and writer notes, “The teaching of the ancient Church and the testimony of the Bible itself ought to settle the matter for anyone who accepts either of them as an authoritative source. Both Old and New Testaments speak often of angels.”
And these beings we call angels are still active today. Here is a story I read about a 12 year old girl that saw an angel at Mass:
“Laura L was attending a Catholic school in Merrill, Wisconsin, in June 1997. She went to church on Sundays with her family to celebrate the Mass. During one particular Sunday Mass Laura found herself bored and distracted. Her eyes wandered around the church wishing the service to be over when something astonishing caught her attention.
‘I looked up and saw by the stained glass a beautiful angel. It had wings about three feet wide and maybe six feet tall with white feathers. It wore what looked like a gold-spun flowing robe material of a kind never seen in this world. It had golden blond hair, was barefoot and was playing a baby harp in its hand. It looked to be about eight feet tall. It looked at me so lovingly with its head tilted to the side and its face perfectly proportioned. It looked as if it could be male or female.’
“[Laura L.] nudged her mom and dad to see if they saw it but everyone was singing and shushed her. As she looked around no one seemed to be looking in that direction. It slowly disappeared. When her family later visited her grandmother in the hospital shortly before she passed away she had wanted to give Laura a gift. Laura received a statue after her grandmother’s death.
“‘It was the same angel I saw at church, barefoot, baby harp, huge white feather wings and the flowing gown.’”
There are numerous books and stories written about encounters with angels. I find it interesting that we are drawn to reading these stories but are reluctant to believe their legitimacy. In the book entitled Angels in Our Midst: Encounters with Heavenly Messengers from the Bible, the author speaks of many extraordinary stories of the presence of angels.
“Six year old Macy was sleeping peacefully in her family’s home when a sudden crash of thunder woke her up. The next thing she realized was that her house had been struck by a bolt of lightning and was engulfed in flames. Macy saw no way out of her bedroom and cried out for her parents.
“Just moments before the spreading fire would have swallowed her up, an unseen force gently took her by the hand and guided her through the fire and outside to safety. She turned to thank them only to learn there was no one in sight.”
Why do I write about angels? I think we are always being shown God’s presence in our everyday lives. Sometimes it’s through each other, sometimes it’s through prayer, and maybe, just maybe, sometimes it’s our guardian angel keeping a close eye out for us.
I would like to suggest that we all take a look at our day-to-day encounters with everyday life and see if you can’t locate your guardian angel nearby.
Subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter Catholic, Ink. - click here - receive book reviews and the column "The Catholic Imagination and You"
Be part of the Catholic Literary Revival.