As children, we were taught to pray to our guardian angel and many adults, I guess, continue to recite this prayer: “Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom the love of God commits me here. Ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide, Amen.”
We were also asked to imagine that every time we sin, tears would flow from the eyes of our guardian angels. The ever cunning Satan, on the other hand, would be smiling in satisfaction. It would be the opposite scenario if we do what is good or successfully resist temptation. In this case, our guardian angel would smile and be proud of what we have done and Satan would be seething in anger.
Do we still pray the same prayer as adults and do we still imagine our guardian angels at our backs to protect us or in front of us to guide us? There are many who still recite the this prayer and for those who no longer do, I don’t fault them for feeling that they have outgrown this prayer.
Though some may have outgrown this belief in guardian angels, we can draw some “adult lessons” from it.
1. God respects our freedom. God does not want us to be robots in saying yes. God pleads for us to do good and is happy when we respond positively to God’s plea. Contrary to the Aristotelian notion of a perfect being, God is affected when we do evil. But in the end, the choice is ours.
2. In every individual, there are forces luring one to do what is good and forces tempting the same person to do wrong. Who is winning the war? Within society itself, there is the battle between the forces of goodness and the forces of evil. There are those who want to know the truth about corruption, and there are those who want to obstruct the search for truth. There are those who spread fake news, there are those who are “fact-checkers.” Some espouse violence ironically in the name of peace and order. They preach the need for a society that excludes misfits like drug addicts, homosexuals, and legitimate dissenters. But there are also those who espouse a more inclusive and compassionate society.
At this point, it is worth recalling the meditation of St. Ignatius on the standards of Satan and the standard of Christ. Satan lures us to follow our self-interests while Christ urges us to forget self in the service of others. As election draws near, it is important for us to discern who are serving their own and who are genuinely serving others.
3. Let us be angels to one another. Etymologically, angel means messenger. In the second reading of the office of readings of September 29, St. Gregory the Great explains that “...the word angel denotes a function rather than a nature.” In the saint’s explanation, these beings are already spirits but they become angels once they carry with them God’s message. What he said about archangels can also be said of guardian angels. If this is the case, we can actually be angels to one another. Let us bring God’s message of compassion and love to one another.