The Church has always recognized the important role that they play in our lives. “They” are God’s angels.
“No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91: 10 – 12
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 328 states “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” Also in the Catechism, St. Augustine is quoted in 329 as explaining: “With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they ‘always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven’ they are the ‘mighty ones who do His Word, hearkening to the voice of His Word’.”
From the moment of our birth, to the moment we perish, and when we get to Heaven, we are forever assigned a guardian angel. As CCC 336 says, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. 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.”
The purpose of these angels, as stated on Catholic Online, is to “guide us to good thoughts, works, and words, and to preserve us from evil.”
It’s that last part, specifically, that I’d like to focus on. What exactly does preserving us from evil look like?
Keeping us from harm
A building collapses and rescue workers spend countless hours through the rubble, fearing the worst, only to discover that everyone has miraculously survived. Was that the work of angels? Whenever a doctor is able to revive a person who’s been pronounced dead, was it technology and doctor’s skill, or the work of angels? And whenever a recovering addict is about to relapse, but changes his mind at the last second, was that the work of his guardian angel?
In my own life, I can recall at least three incidents that I would definitely say involved divine intervention – my guardian angel looking out for me.
The first incident happened in 2005. Having recently graduated from college, I seriously did not know what to do with my life. I felt ill-prepared and frustrated trying to handle the post-college world. I was fearful, anxious, and depressed much of the time. Here I was a college graduate with a degree in Filmmaking, and not one prospective job in my field. The closest jobs I could find would have involved me moving to either New York or Hollywood, but I wanted to stay local. Bur what made matters worse is I didn’t even know if I wanted to work in the movie profession.
At that time, I was going to daily Mass at a small Catholic church nearby (where I now work, by the way). During the course of one particular Mass, I wasn’t really paying attention. Instead, I was deep in thought with my conflicting emotions, wrestling with my overwhelming anxieties and doubts. I was wondering how I was going to move forward with my life.
Near the end of Mass I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a young man in black sitting near the back of church. He was staring intently at me, and I thought that maybe he was a seminarian. He looked so familiar, yet I couldn’t place him. As I got ready to leave, he stood up, and approached me. He said to me “God told me to tell you ‘don’t lose hope. Don’t get discouraged. In time, you’ll find the way’.” Then he abruptly left.
I tried finding his picture on the list of seminarians and priests, but it was not there. I never saw the young man again, but to this day, twelve years later, his words still resound. Whether he was or was not, I’ll always think of him as my guardian angel.
The second incident happened in late October of 2012. It was unseasonably cold and wintry for that time of year in Pennsylvania. Where my parents and I lived, a huge forest surrounded our property. On this particular day, the rain iced up on the branches of the trees. This caused the trees to droop over our driveway, so every so often one of us would have to go out and try to knock the ice off the branches to keep them from breaking.
While my mother and I were outside tending to the icy branches, I was using a battery-operated chainsaw to cut off some of the more perilous looking limbs. At one point, it got stuck in a knot. While I was trying to wrench it out, there was an enormous crash! Glancing over to my right, I watched in horror as a number of our trees started toppling over. I ran as fast as I could, fearing for my life. When the trees slammed to the ground, I was lost in a blinding mist of white snow. When the snow settled down, I looked back and discovered that the tallest tree had landed six feet from where I had been standing. But both my mother and I were unscathed. To my way of thinking this was nothing short of a miracle.
The third incident happened on the evening of Sunday, September 10, 2017. My fiancée Marjorie and I were returning from a day trip to Lake Erie. The return trip had taken much longer than either of us had anticipated. As we were getting closer to home, we discovered one of those dreaded ‘Road Closed’ signs ahead. Grudgingly, I followed the detour route, which involved driving up a large hill. Out of the darkness, the headlights of our car revealed a fallen tree blocking the road ahead.
I turned on our flashers, and Marjorie and I got out of the car to survey the situation. Luckily, the tree had broken cleanly in two parts. The smaller portion looked small enough for us to move without any help. As we began hefting the tree trunk over to the side of the road, a pair of headlights appeared at the top of the hill. Working feverishly fast, we managed to remove the tree from our side of the road. As Marjorie started back for the car, I held back.
I was torn because I could tell that the car was hurtling down at breakneck speed. If I didn’t do something and the other driver tried to swerve around us he would most certainly smash into the larger portion of the tree still in the road. I tried to flag down the other driver, but the car didn’t slow down. Dodging to a ditch on the side of the road, I ran as fast as I could, still waving to the driver to stop. I closed my eyes, fearing the worst. Then I heard a loud screech! When I opened my eyes, I saw that the car had halted about a foot away from the tree. As Marjorie and I drove on, still somewhat frazzled, I thanked our guardian angels out loud.
Thank Your Guardian Angel
How about in your own life? How often have moments like these happened to you? Have you ever stopped to consider that your guardian angel stepped in to save the day? Has your guardian angel ever turned you away from something that could harm or kill you? Remember to take time to thank your angel today.
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. Amen.