Print Edition: Feb. 22, 2015
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Let the Oct. 2 feast of the Guardian Angels be your cue: It’s time to get to know your own “best friend in heaven” a little better.
BY Joseph Pronechen
He has given
his angels charge over you to guard your in all your ways,” the Psalmist
confidently proclaims (Psalm 91:11).
“These words should fill you with
respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of
the angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of
their protection,” said St. Bernard of Clairvaux. “Why then are we
with the feast of the Guardian Angels on Oct. 2, it’s high time we get to know
and call on our own heavenly bodyguard — who is concerned not so much with
warding off bullies and bandits as with watching over our everlasting souls.
And with interceding for us just as our friends the saints do.
is filled with examples of angels fulfilling these duties, points out Father
Titus Kieninger of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross. The order
administrates Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (OpusAngelorum.org), an international
movement promoting devotion and consecration to the holy angels.
The priest notes that Exodus 23:20
gives the basics: “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the
way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” And Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel
(18:10), advances the advice: “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.”
“The angels have influence over
everything,” explains Father Kieninger, who recommends parents read the Book of
Tobit. “The holy angels can direct, guard, defend and alert us even through
secondary causes. If young people won’t listen to their consciences, there
still is the possibility the angel can arrange the circumstances so it works
out well for us.”
The priest tells the story of a
woman whose daughter was headed to Las Vegas with her boyfriend. Worried over
the temptations awaiting her daughter in “Sin City,” the mother went into her
daughter’s bedroom and implored the help of the young woman’s guardian angel.
Half an hour later the daughter called to say she had cancelled the trip.
Action Over Words
Terry and Mary Barber of West
Covina, Calif., have taught their four children to pray the Guardian Angel
Prayer in every situation. Now 11 to 18 years old, “The kids know it’s the
natural disposition to ask for help from the angels,” says Terry, who is
founder of St. Joseph Communications, the popular distributor of recorded
In the car the Barbers say the
prayer, asking their heavenly champions to pray for safe travel on the road and
for strength to resist sin always.
Through Opus Angelorum, Barber says,
he’s learned to live in the awareness that his guardian angel is in the
perpetual presence of God. He and Mary have passed this helpful mindset along
to their children with this reminder: “When you have peer pressure in school,
you ask your guardian angel to help you stand up for what’s right.”
Father Kieninger shares a wealth of
insight about our guardian angels. In our morning prayer, he says, we should
ask him to guide us through the day, understand every minute what God wants,
and help us not to offend the Lord. Then we trust and go ahead with the good
common sense God has given us.
The priest notes that the angels
communicate through our intellect, thoughts, interior feelings, circumstances
they arrange, and interior and exterior words we hear.
“The angels don’t give great
sermons,” he says, pointing to St. Peter heeding the angel in Acts 12:7-11.
“They are short with words.
“They rarely speak a great time
ahead, but just direct the moment,” adds the priest. “When you’re guided by the
angels, you do not have to think too much. You obey, but be prudent.”
If we have trouble discerning
whether an impulse is being sent to us from God — whether through our guardian
angel or directly — it’s wise to ask our angel for greater clarity, says Father
Kieninger. Then apply these questions: Is it against the Ten Commandments? Does
it lead to our own glory or to God’s glory? Does it bring us lasting peace or
make us feel fearful, anxious or ashamed?
“Angels never say anything against
Church teachings or love of neighbor,” he says. “If there’s a love of neighbor
in conformity with the love of God, we can trust.”
In Anchorage, Alaska, Judith Helzer
finds very little disturbs her peace in daily life. Why? Because in morning
prayer she asks her guardian angel to greet the guardian angel of each person
she will meet that day “so everything works according to God’s will.”
This practice, she says, even helps
lighten the burden of social obligations that come with her husband Eric’s
business. Such occasions “are not my cup of tea,” says Helzer, who made a
guardian angel consecration through Opus Angelorum. So she sends her guardian
angel ahead to smooth out the situation. “It turns out I have a great time. It’s
not drudgery at all.”
Kieninger refers to the Vatican’s Directory
on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
for two important cautions. First, we mustn’t think everything in our lives,
including our thoughts, is the work of spirits — to do so would be to deny our
God-given free will. And second, we should not name our angels or call on any
by name except for the three archangels in the Bible (Sts. Michael, Gabriel and
Raphael — whose feast we also celebrate this week). We should simply pray to
“my guardian angel,” says Father Kieninger.
He also advises avoiding petitions
for very specific intentions: What we should seek is not so much what we’d like
to have, but what God wills for us. “It’s very important to be open,” he says,”
so the angels can give some correction.”
As St. Bernard counseled, we have to
show the angels respect, gratitude and love. Offering holy Communion for our
guardian angel, these experts agree, is a wonderful way to say “Thank you.”
“Our guardian angel,” adds Terry
Barber, “is our best friend.”
Staff writer Joseph
is based in Trumbull,
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