Beside You Stands a Guardian Angel — a Protector and Shepherd Leading You to Life

‘How consoling it is to know,’ said Padre Pio, ‘that we are always under the protection of a heavenly spirit, who never abandons us!’

Carl Bloch, “Angel in the Garden of Gethsemane,” 1873
Carl Bloch, “Angel in the Garden of Gethsemane,” 1873 (photo: Public Domain)

I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Just the barest shift of my daughter’s lips. She had crawled away from where I was sitting on the floor with her and her older brothers, asserting as much independence as she could with her newly found 8-month-old mobility.

“Rose!” I called, and she turned her small face to me, her lips definitely pursed. I slipped my index finger into her mouth, a move any mom of littles would instantly recognize, and flicked out the small item she had managed to capture from who knows where and immediately pop in her mouth. There is no real reason to explain how I knew it was there, or how I had recognized the shift in her face on the very edge of my peripheral vision. Some people would call it a mother’s intuition or the proverbial eyes in the back of a mother’s head. I, however, prefer to imagine that it was my Rose’s guardian angel tapping me on the shoulder.

We talk a lot about guardian angels in my home. I grew up with an active imagination and had frequent nightmares. The idea that an angel, sent by God for my special protection, was near me provided endless comfort as a child. I did not know then who Padre Pio was, but I would have heartily agreed with the sentiment, if not the eloquence, he expressed when he said: “How consoling it is to know that we are always under the protection of a heavenly spirit, who never abandons us!”

Eager for my children to share in this great consolation, my husband and I speak to them frequently about their guardian angels. My 3-year-old often counts the members of our family in the room and gleefully shouts “Mommy! There are five angels in here!” When my eldest son hears thunder booming outside, always a particularly frightful occurrence for him, I crawl beside him in bed, curling him in my arms, and talk to him about his angel, praying he feels the love of God coursing through the room via this mighty protector sent to aid him. Lest anyone wrongly assume my 4-year-old is too pious, I also talk to him about how the thunder sounds like big trucks at a construction site. I cannot claim which comforts him more currently, but I trust his guardian angel is above any jealousy and just wants my sweet boy to feel less scared.

More than anything, I do not want my children to think the angels are abstract entities who live in heaven and care not for us small mortals, like the petty gods on Mount Olympus in myth. The fact that God asked them to protect us shows how very beloved we are. I want my sons and daughter to be bowled over in awe that the Creator of the Cosmos, the King of the Universe, who created them and every other being on this earth throughout all of time, selected a special protector to be beside them always.

One of literature’s most powerful descriptions of our guardian angels comes from a demon. Screwtape, the eponymous creature of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, in his final letter to his nephew, Wormwood, who has just “lost” his human patient to heaven, writes:

As [the human patient] saw you, he also saw Them. … He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered.

Like everything we receive from God, angels are pure gifts. Unearned, unasked for, yet given generously and with unconditional love, through them we feel the protection of the Father, who sees us just as I saw my baby girl, sweet and helpless, and determined to make the completely wrong choice for her safety. Our guardian angels are not fabrications of our imagination and referring to their protection is not a kitschy colloquialism. They are creatures of heaven, existing outside of time from before the beginning of the world, who accompany us throughout our lives and eagerly wait for us to enter into eternity with them.

On this feast of our beloved guardian angels, I pray: “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, to rule and guide.”