I remember learning about guardian angels as a child, and being completely freaked out by it. In my spiritual immaturity, the idea of a being that I could not see following me around wherever I went was unsettling.
As I grew and matured, of course, I began to not only understand the beauty and importance of guardian angels, but I also came to love, respect, and appreciate mine.
It’s the very thing that originally freaked me out – the constant presence of a being I could not see – that eventually endeared him to me. Given to me by God, my guardian angel is always there, loving me, caring for me, and guiding me.
I’ve called upon him and all the usual day-to-day things, and certainly in times of danger. But I’ve also called upon him for the less usual things, like helping me find a lost child in a shopping mall, or being watchful over the surgeon’s hands during a procedure. On days when I’m feeling distracted or unmotivated in my work, I call upon him to help keep me on track.
I love my guardian angel.
I have a friend who is insistent that we must name our guardian angels, and that puzzles me for a couple of reasons. My personal preference is that I like not knowing my guardian angel’s name, because it fosters in me an awe for his mysterious nature and the way God created him.
The other reason is that the Church frowns upon naming our guardian angels.
According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 216 (under the heading about Devotion to the Holy Angels):
“The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”
We shouldn’t name our guardian angels because naming another implies authority over the other.
In Scripture, God gave a new name to Abraham, Israel, and Peter, for example, because he indeed had authority over them, and they were to act as his ministers in carrying out his plan of salvation. Similarly, God revealed the names of Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist to their parents before they were born.
Only God has authority over the Holy Angels.
There’s a deeper concern in naming, or trying to discover the name of, our guardian angels. The difficulty lies in discerning which spirits are responding to your seeking. Be assured that evil spirits are as interested in getting close to you as your guardian angel. They will find and use any way possible to derail your efforts to grow closer to God.
You won’t immediately be dragged down with the devil by naming your Guarding Angel, but you will be opening yourself to suggestions that may eventually lead you away from salvation.
It’s better then, to allow God to name his Angels and to be content in knowing that it’s not their name that’s important, but rather their position and function in your life.
They are God’s servants and messengers who always behold his face (see Mt 18:10).
The Catechism tells us that, “As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 330)
That’s why they can, and do, take such good care of us.
“From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession,” the Catechism states. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 336)
Sometimes I feel as though my guardian angel has a difficult, relentless job because I call on him often yet thank him seldom. But I know that he will never give up on me because he’s God’s holy servant and will do God’s will perfectly at all times. And that means carrying out his job of watching over me.
I have no desire to name my guardian angel. I simply want to love him.
This article first appeared at the Register on Oct. 1, 2015.