“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” St. Basil the Great
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Guardian Angels. Angels, as we know, are creatures endowed with intellect and will; they can, therefore, as personal creatures, know and love God. They already possess the Beatific Vision of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in glory and are faithful, humble servants of Christ the King and Mary the Queen.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Jesus Christ is the center of the entire angelic world. They were created through Him and for Him – the Alpha and Omega of all creation. It is the Franciscan tradition that the test of the Angels where they freely chose to love and serve God forever in Heaven was a vision or infused knowledge of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God. At this knowledge they had an immediate, but eternal choice: humbly serve Jesus and Mary or reject God’s plan. We know the response of Satan and his minions: Non serviam! Whereas the Holy Angels, like St. Michael, marvelled at God’s designs to elevate all of creation to Himself through the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and said: “Who is like God!?!”
[VIDEO on the test of the Angels]
What a privilege, then, for us to know that day and night that our glorious Guardian Angels “in Heaven always behold the face of My Father in Heaven” (Mt 18:10). Why is it that the Angels render such service to us when beholding the face of God unveiled? The answer lies in the fact that they exist for Christ. Their role as Guardians can be seen in two ways: they serve Christ in us; they serve us in Christ.
Serving Christ in us: We are made in Christ’s image. As St. Francis of Assisi states in his Admonitions to the Friars: “Consider, O man, how great the excellence in which the Lord has placed you because He has created and formed you to the image of His beloved Son according to the body and to His own likeness according to the spirit.” When God created us, He created us in view of Christ (Col 1:16) and with Him as our Head. And in our Baptism we were incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body. Hence the Holy Angels are sent to serve Christ which they see in us. While they never abandon us, one thing is for sure, their service of Christ in us becomes more powerful the more we resemble Christ. They want us to grow in union with Christ, to arrive at the full stature of Christ – in mensuram aetatis plenitudinis Christi (Eph 4:13), and the more they see Christ in us the more complete their service to us, especially in our tempations (Jesus in the desert – Mt 4:11), agonies and death (Jesus in Gethsemani – Lk 22:43), and finally in rising to glory (Jesus Risen from the tomb – Mt 28:5).
Serving us in Christ: Since they are forever united to God through, with and in Christ, they serve us in Him. In a particular way, while they cannot imitate Christ in the flesh, they can and do imitate Him in being sent by God. Christ was sent by God the Father; the Angels, in joyful imitation of the humility and obedience of Christ, rejoice to be sent in our service in imitation of Him who came to serve, and not to be served (cfr. Mt. 20:28).
May these, our precious companions, find us docile to their guidance and inspiration. May we, like them, seek to serve Christ in others and be Christ for others so that Jesus may be “all in all” (Col 3:11).
In Corde Matris,
Fr. Maximilian M. Dean