Today is the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, first promulgated in the Roman Calendar in 1607 by Pope Paul V. And yet, today’s Reading from Job conveys all the anguish of a person who thinks there is no help, no peace, no respite from the hardships of this life. Job even laments that death will not come to save the toilers from their misery.
This anguish is reflected also in today’s Psalm:
You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
into the dark abyss.
Upon me your wrath lies heavy,
and with all your billows you overwhelm me.
How often have we felt like that? Perhaps more than we would like to admit. Even those of us strong in our faith, I would dare to say, have despaired over some thing or other.
As for myself, I must confess that the thought of my angel by my side is almost never one I turn to in times of trouble. Out of sight, out of mind…
And yet, all through the Bible we find references to our angels, those messengers from God who are charged with out safekeeping. No, I don’t expect my angel to rush in to save me, nor is that what the word of God tells us. But they are powerful in spirit and soul. As “messengers” (the Greek word is angelos) they carry the memory and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, imparting to us urgings and feelings that we should take as comfort, if we would only remember.
Today’s Alleluia from Psalm 103 reminds us: Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will.
But today’s Gospel gives us clear instruction that we each have an angel who looks on the face of the heavenly Father. Jesus is showing us that though we may be helpless, like little children, our angel is present to give us comfort, again, if we would only remember.
Pope John XXIII reminded us in his Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels:
Everyone of us is entrusted to the care of an angel.
That is why we must have a lively and profound devotion to our own Guardian Angel, and why we should often and trustfully repeat the dear prayer we were taught in the days of our childhood.
May we never fail in this devotion to the angels! During our earthly pilgrimage we may often run the risk of having to face the natural elements in turmoil, or the wrath of men who may seek to do us harm. But our Guardian Angel is always present. Let us never forget him and always remember to pray to him.
And so I remember my mother teaching me this prayer:
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, to rule and guide. Amen.