The Word: Let’s talk about angel guardians

Published 7:31 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

In June 1916, military chaplain Father William Doyle was standing with some of his men in a battle trench when they heard the scream of a shell heading directly towards them. After it landed, the soldiers on Father Doyle’s left were both dead, and the man on his right was severely wounded. “I was absolutely untouched,” he wrote. “A moment before I was standing on the very spot where the shell fell…. I did not think it was possible… to be so near a high explosive and not be killed….” 

It is at times like these, of which we have so many accounts from history, that we are reminded of the very real, though unseen, presence of the angels of God.

The Catholic Church teaches that angels are pure spirits. They have never had bodies, simply intellects and wills. Without physical limitation, they are not bound by space or time. A 17th-century abbot, Fr. Henri Boudon, wrote that the angels are “utterly separate from matter and entirely free from all those infirmities which compass us on every side…. They know without labor countless things at the same time and in an instant of time, unaccompanied [by] doubt or obscurity.”

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With powers like these, it is not surprising that the angels are frequently God’s messengers and servants in the Old and New Testaments. We see scores of examples, from the angel placed at the gate of the garden of Eden, to the angel who carried Habacuc to Daniel in the lions’ den, to an angel asking Mary to be the mother of Jesus. These are just a few examples from among many, all showing angels to be powerful, effective, and favored by God to carry out His most important errands.

Besides being the mighty messengers of God, the angels are also our protectors. Jesus Himself said, “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven (Mt. 18:10).” We can also think of Psalm 90:11-12: “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” In keeping with Jesus’ words, the Catholic Church teaches that each of us has his or her own personal guardian angel to guide and protect us throughout our lives. “As He thoroughly knows our powerlessness,… He gives (aid) proportionate to our weakness,” Fr. Boudon writes.

This teaching of the Church, believed wholeheartedly and taken to its full conclusion, presents an astonishingly real and comforting truth. Each of us, no matter what our past, our station in life, or our beliefs, has a personally dedicated, powerful servant of God always at our elbow, who works exclusively for our salvation and the glory of Jesus. What a partner on the road to salvation!

Br. Maximilian Watner is on the staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Buckingham County. He can be reached at