October 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It is a longstanding custom to refer to October as the month of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, in connection with her feast on October 7. But it would also be fitting to call it the month of the Holy Guardian Angels, whom we celebrate on October 2.
In the superb new book-length interview of LifeSite Rome correspondent Diane Montagna with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph over the Darkness of the Age (Angelico, 2019), an entire chapter is devoted to the neglected subject of the holy angels — their resplendent nature, their role in God’s providential plan, their hidden power and constant accessibility to us, and the importance of our ongoing efforts to honor them and seek their assistance. Bishop Schneider writes:
In ancient times, and before the Second Vatican Council, the reality of the guardian angels was stressed more. After the Council, there was a diminished veneration of the holy angels; a kind of obliviousness to the supernatural and invisible world of the angels rolled in across the ecclesial landscape. Over the past fifty years, the Church has tended toward naturalism, toward what is natural, to secularism, and away from the supernatural. Devotion to the holy angels is therefore a very powerful means of turning again toward the supernatural, of leaving behind this naturalistic tendency for the sake of the life of grace, and of becoming aware that God has given every man a personal brother, his guardian angel. Each of the baptized has a unique guardian angel, who has never served as guardian to anyone else. God is so lavish with His gifts that He chose an angel from all eternity to be, only once, the guardian angel for a specific person, even if this person lives for only one instant here on earth. And he will not be the guardian angel of another. (pp. 286–87)
St. John Henry Newman gave much attention to these angels. A poem from 1853 includes the stanzas:
My oldest friend, mine from the hour
When first I drew my breath;
My faithful friend, that shall be mine,
Unfailing, till my death;
Thou hast been ever at my side;
My Maker to thy trust
Consign’d my soul, what time He framed
The infant child of dust.
No beating heart in holy prayer,
No faith, inform’d aright,
Gave me to Joseph’s tutelage,
Or Michael’s conquering might.
Nor patron Saint, nor Mary’s love,
The dearest and the best,
Has known my being, as thou hast known,
And blest, as thou hast blest.
As much as St. Joseph is a spiritual father to us and St. Michael our defense, God did not entrust me to St. Joseph or St. Michael in the specific way that He entrusted me to my angel guardian. This angel knows me and blesses me in fulfillment of a “customized” role. In his mighty poem The Dream of Gerontius of 1865, about a soul after death, the guardian angel says these words about the soul under his charge:
Then was I sent from heaven to set right
The balance in his soul of truth and sin,
And I have waged a long relentless fight,
Resolved that death-environ’d spirit to win,
Which from its fallen state, when all was lost,
Had been repurchased at so dread a cost.
Bishop Schneider echoes this point when he says:
My guardian angel was given only for me, and he is a very powerful spiritual being who is always in the presence of God, and who remained faithful to God during the trial of the angels, when some of his brother angels apostatized with Lucifer. … In the present age, when demonic and satanic powers have so increased — we are in a spiritual battle of a magnitude rarely seen before in history! — God sends us the assistance of the holy angels to combat the evil spirits. (287, 291)
Since all the angels were created at the same time, before the creation of the material world, those who fell fell all at once, and those who remained in the grace of God were admitted to the beatific vision all at once. This means that each of the good angels, from the perspective of his finite but surpassingly powerful intellect, sees in a simple totality the consequences of sin and rebellion against God, as well as the happiness obtained by fidelity. This happiness is what they wish for us above all (for that is how the virtue of charity works: we love God in and for Himself and we want others whom we love to possess God as well), and they are prepared to use their intelligence and power over nature to assist us in our everyday needs, efforts, and aspirations — and particularly in the fight against the invisible malice, wiles, and snares of the devil and his angels.
In the old familiar and much loved prayer, we say each day upon waking:
Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom His love commits me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
What do we mean by “to light”?
When I venerate my guardian angel or the other angels, I am asking them to bring me the light of God so that I may better understand the mystery of faith, that I may better adore Christ, that I may better fight in the spiritual life. … The more we ask them, the more they help us. By growing in our awareness of their action in our lives, we come to see in a new light the striking events of our life that very likely happened through the action of the holy angels. This is their work. … The holy angels burn to magnify God and to glorify Him. We need to ask them to give us a little of their burning fire, this holy zeal for the glory of God, and then we will be sanctified and saved. (291, 294)
Bishop Schneider goes on to recommend that we consecrate ourselves to our guardian angels, in a manner analogous to the way in which we may consecrate ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He speaks of his own life experience:
When I was young, maybe sixteen years old, I consecrated myself to my guardian angel. Oftentimes, I have asked him to accompany me in all my prayers and I especially ask him to bring me the necessary illumination to understand the Catholic faith in the right manner. In the forty years since I first made this consecration, I have experienced this help in my mind to penetrate more deeply the truths and beauty of the Catholic faith. And in these forty years, in my prayers that my guardian angel bring me the light of God and help me to remain faithful to Christ, I have had the sensation and experience that one acquires a sort of instinct of what is Catholic, of what is true. I gratefully attribute this to my guardian angel and to the consecration I made to him. I have been living my consecration to my guardian angel now for more than forty years, and I can feel his silent presence, and the light he brings during prayer.
I’ve been praying to my guardian angel for many years, but until I read this passage in Christus Vincit, I had never considered consecrating myself to him. I was filled with a great desire to imitate the good bishop, so I began to look for a suitable prayer with which to do so. I discovered that some people on the internet have posted a formula specific to Opus Angelorum, which no one has permission to use except members of this organization, as Bishop Schneider mentions (p. 292). Further searching turned up attempts at such a prayer, but I continued to be surprised at the lack of resources.
Taking up the best elements available, I composed the following act of consecration for myself to use, and I share it here for any readers who also wish to follow Bishop Schneider’s advice.
HOLY GUARDIAN ANGEL, you were given to me by God at the very beginning of my life as a protector and companion for the journey through this passing world of trial and tempest to the world of glory that will never end.
Of all the countless host of the hierarchies of heavenly spirits, far exceeding mankind in number, you have been assigned by His gracious will to me and to no other. For this, I humbly give thanks to God and to you, who have already done more for me and will do more for me than I can ever understand in this mortal life. I adore God in His merciful Providence and I venerate you for your goodness, holiness, and power.
Poor sinner that I am, I, N., consecrate myself to you today in the presence of my Lord and God; in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and my mother; and before all the angels and saints. I desire to unite myself to you today and never more to be separated from you by any sin or negligence.
United intimately with you, I promise to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ and to His holy Catholic Church. I promise to proclaim my faith in you, my holy protector, and to promote devotion to the holy angels as being, in a special way, our protection and help during this time of spiritual struggle for the Kingdom of God. Make my union with you a protecting shield against all the assaults of the enemy.
Holy Angel of the Lord, I beg you to obtain for me all the strength of divine love so that I may be inflamed by it more and more throughout my life. Pray for me so that, guided by you, I may reach the heavenly Fatherland, to see Our Lord face to face and to share eternity with you and with all the blessed. Amen.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen once remarked that there are millions who hate what they think Catholicism is but very few who hate what it actually is, for they are sorely ignorant of it. In a similar way, millions of Catholics practice their religion as it has been explained to them, but very few understand the number and value of the aids — sacramental and otherwise — that God has provided for our salvation. The wonders and beauties of the Catholic religion are lost on the faithful because no one has ever taught them. Among these things I would certainly classify the consoling and encouraging truth that each of us has an angelic guardian from the moment of our conception and that this angel is waiting for us to speak to him, call on him, and rely on him.