"Make friends with the angels, who, though invisible, are always with you. ... Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs." So encouraged St. Francis de Sales.
And as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being" (352).
How blessed we are to be so close to angels. From our birth and all throughout our lives, marvelously, an invisible companion has taken a personal interest in us and our salvation: our guardian angel.
St. Basil the Great reassures us, "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life." Yet, so often, we forget all about the presence of these mysterious creatures — the angels — simply because we can’t see them.
Angels have been present since the dawn of creation, offering service and protection to mankind.
Our first introduction to the angels might have been when our parents or grandparents taught us to pray this simple prayer (which happens to carry an indulgence):
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, rule and guide.
Other than an initiation to angels by our parents or grandparents, we might not have received any other angel catechesis in our faith formation. To learn more about the angels, we can listen at Mass, for starters. We pray with the angels during Mass. Angels (yes, real, live angels) surround the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It’s pretty incredible to think about. As St. John Chrysoston explained, "Angels stand by the priest; and the whole sanctuary and the space round about the altar is filled with the powers of heaven in honor of him who lies on the altar."
Angels are glorious. They are pure, intelligent heavenly spirits possessing a will to make decisions, and they constantly behold the face of God. As angels are active in serving, they also see and adore God. That in itself can be a mind-boggling image to ponder. God created the angels before he created the physical universe. These heavenly beings are more perfect than any visible creature. Yet we don’t worship angels. We worship with them as bearers of God’s message.
In his "Catechesis on the Angels" address on Aug. 20, 1986, Pope John Paul II succinctly pointed out: "Let us note that sacred Scripture and Tradition give the proper name of ‘angels’ to those pure spirits who chose God, his glory and his Kingdom in the fundamental test of their liberty. They are united to God by the consummate love which flows from the beatific vision, face to face, of the Most Holy Trinity."
Angels in the Bible
Angels are mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible, helping people in various ways. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, "The angels work together for the benefit of us all." We are very blessed indeed that God created angels. The good angels, who live in heaven, adoring God constantly, also have many other tasks and responsibilities.
From my research for my new book, Angels for Kids, I came across many interesting facts about angels. Angels have always adored God and served mankind, proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. Scripture tells us that the angels closed the earthly paradise. They protected Lot, among others. They prevented Abraham from killing his son Isaac and continually led the faithful and communicated the Law by their ministry. They assisted prophets and announced births and callings. Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ precursor, and Jesus himself.
Angels were responsible for protecting Jesus in his infancy and childhood. Later on, angels served Jesus in the desert and strengthened him during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In Luke 2:14, we learn that the angels have not ceased to worship and praise the birth of Jesus Christ: "Glory to God in the highest!" The angels will accompany Jesus when he returns in glory. They will announce his coming and serve at his judgment.
For their service to people and God, the Church celebrates the memory of the archangels, Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (whose feast is Sept. 29), as well as guardian angels (whose feast is Oct. 2).
We should call upon our guardian angel and the angels of our family members often. Many of the saints, including St. Padre Pio, used this practice of asking someone else’s guardian angel to help set up a meeting or to simply seek help in praying for the person’s salvation.
We would be wise to keep the company of our angelic friends, who unceasingly glorify God and who have played a significant part in salvation history, protecting Jesus throughout his life, announcing heaven’s plans and guiding and protecting the faithful.
Angels are exceedingly interested in us, so we should take an interest in them. They will indeed point the way to heaven if we allow them to, so make friends with the angels.
As John Paul II reassured the faithful, also during his "Catechesis on the Angels," "We are powerfully helped by the good angels, messengers of God’s love, to whom, taught by the Tradition of the Church, we address our prayer: ‘Angel of God, who are my guardian, enlighten, guard, govern and guide me, who have been entrusted to you by the heavenly Goodness. Amen.’"
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
is an EWTN TV host and
author of numerous books, including
Angels for Kids.