Entrusting Mother Church to the Guardianship of the Holy Angels

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.” —St. Basil the Great

Domenichino, “Guardian Angel,” 1615
Domenichino, “Guardian Angel,” 1615 (photo: Public Domain)

About 15 years ago, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, I heard a homily offered by a saintly priest who was serving as the chaplain for the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s sisters). He told the story of when he was a seminarian traveling on a rickety bus in Latin America. As the bus rattled over winding, treacherous roads, he savored his seat in the front of the bus, clinging to it desperately. At one point, he had to use the restroom in the back of the bus. When he returned to his seat, he saw that a man had “stolen” his seat. Irate as he was, he felt a little nudge from his guardian angel, reminding him that he was wearing the Roman Collar of a seminarian, and he should live up to it by treating this man as Christ would. Reluctantly, he let the man have his prime seat, and took a seat in the back of the bus instead. Soon after, the bus flew off the road and toppled over, killing some of the passengers – including the man who had been sitting in his seat – while he left the bus that day unharmed. “I believe God saved my life so I could become a holy priest,” he told us. “But if I hadn't listened to my guardian angel, I probably wouldn't be alive today. Since that day, I never go anywhere – not even across the street – without saying a prayer to my guardian angel first.”

The guardian angels are a gift of God's infinite benevolence and clemency; with them at our side, we can be victorious over all that Satan throws our way. As St. John Bosco once exclaimed, “When tempted, invoke your Angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: He trembles and flees at the sight of your guardian angel.” Our guardian angels are fearless comrades accompanying us on the battlefield of life, loyal friends to the end, and prayer warriors at our side, illuminating the way to Christ.

An endless stream of faithful souls have witnessed the marvelously contemplative influence that the guardian angels can have on one’s spiritual life. St. John Chrysostom once remarked, “When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.” As St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori said, “Our prayers are so dear to God, that he has appointed the angels to present them to him as soon as they come forth from our mouths,” and in the words of St. John Vianney, “How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!”

Traditionally speaking, the guardian angels have always served as a source of protection and divine grace for Holy Mother the Church and her members. Recently, Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Cardinal Raymond Burke called upon all Catholic clergy and laity to participate in a crusade of prayer and fasting to “implore God that error and heresy do not pervert the coming special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon.” If the proposed documents of the Amazonian Synod pass, many Church officials feel that it would ultimately bring tremendous spiritual damage to the entire Catholic Church, on many levels. During these turbulent times, let us call on the guardian angels to safeguard our Church from heresy, apostasy, discord and confusion.

This urgent call to prayer brings to mind the St. Michael Prayer, which was composed by Pope Leo XIII after saying Mass one day in the Vatican chapel. As the prophetic pope was leaving the altar, he suddenly collapsed to the floor and awoke saying, "Oh, what a horrible picture I was permitted to see." He later explained that he had witnessed a struggle between Satan and the Church, in which Satan bragged he could destroy her. Soon after, he was relieved to see that Satan would not triumph because St. Michael would be there to consign him to the abyss of hell. Not long after this experience, Pope Leo XIII composed the St. Michael Prayer, which he encouraged all to recite after every low Mass throughout the entire world.

Perhaps now more than ever, Mother Church needs her children to pray the St. Michael Prayer after each Holy Mass, and implore the guardian angels to watch over all of those who courageously lead us toward our eternal home.

Father Emil Kapaun in 1943 (r) and an anonymous 18th-century painting of a guardian angel

Father Emil Kapaun and Guardian Angels (Oct. 2)

Father Emil Kapaun, the Korean War military chaplain, prisoner of war and Medal of Honor recipient has finally returned home to Kansas, where his remains were laid to rest Sept. 29. Today Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen shares the story of Father Kapaun’s heroism, his journey home and the impact of his life on so many across the nation. Also, Happy Feast of the Guardian Angels! On this special day we’ll learn more from Msgr. Charles Pope about the mission of the angels.