The Purpose of Angels
October 2nd is the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. The Church’s teaching that each person has a guardian angel is rooted in Sacred Scripture and in the words of Christ, when He said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Angels have a three-fold purpose: to praise God, to act as His messengers, and to watch over human beings. In many instances throughout Scripture, we see angels referenced in relation to these important functions. For instance, Psalm 103 states, “Bless the Lord, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word!” So we see here how important the role of praise is for angels, and we should remember, when we praise God, we are joined in an integral way to the function of our guardian angel. That should give us confidence that we are never alone in prayer. Our guardian angel is always there, amplifying our praise of God.
In Exodus 23, God says, “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice….” In these words, we see the function of angels as both guide and protector established clearly by God. So angels are messengers entrusted to share the wisdom of God with us, and they are protectors, guarding us amid the challenges of life.
Stories abound about saints and their awareness of and interaction with their guardian angels and even the guardian angels of others. Saint Padre Pio was known to communicate with the guardian angels of those who needed his help. Saint Veronica of Binasco and Saint Gemma Galgani both saw their own guardian angels regularly and were constantly aware of their presence. Saint Catherine of Laboure was once awakened by her guardian angel and led to a chapel to converse with our Blessed Mother.
Christ’s reference to guardian angels in relation to children demonstrates the care God has even for the littlest among us. This is also a reminder that our guardian angels are with us at every moment of our lives, especially at our weakest and most vulnerable points.
Saint Basil the Great wrote, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that from the very beginning of our lives until death we are surrounded by our angels’ “watchful care and intercession.” And the Catechism concludes, “Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC 336).
In Matthew 26, Christ mentions “legions of angels,” so we know that there are multitudes of angels, and it stands to reason that God, in His infinite care for humanity, would assign these heavenly beings to watch over us. Resting in the assuredness that we each have a guardian angel strengthens our faith in God and guides us to have greater confidence in all situations in life. So, let us cultivate a greater awareness of this heavenly protection that has been bestowed upon us, heeding the guidance of these great messengers, recalling their presence when we praise God, and walking in the path of peace and safety they lay before us.