St. Anselm assures us that, if an angel could make himself visible in all his glory in place of the sun, the light of the latter would altogether disappear in the light and splendor of the angel. The majesty of a mortal king impresses respect on all those who approach him: with what reverence, then, should we not be filled in the presence of this prince of heaven ! Now, the best manner of showing this reverence in presence of our guardian angels is, as the catechism says, often to think of them, often to remember their presence. "Wherever you may be," says St. Bernard, "in the church, at home, on a journey, in public or private places, your angel is near you. Do not do before him what you would not dare to do before me."
To reverence, we must join confidence in our guardian angels. We should show confidence in their protection. If we had a friend who appeared to us the most enlightened, the most faithful, and the most powerful of all men, what confidence would we place in him ! Now, such friends are the guardian angels, says St. Bernard: "They are wise, faithful and powerful." They cannot be deceived, drawing, as they do, their light from God himself. Much less can they deceive us. They are friends of tried fidelity. Their power is beyond conception. One of them alone can do more for our salvation than all the demons can do to ruin us. One of the chief duties towards the guardian angels which is neglected almost by all men, is the duty of gratitude for the numberless blessings, spiritual and temporal, which God bestows upon us by his holy angels.
After the angel of the Hebrew people had divided the waters of the Red Sea; to make a dry passage for them, he continued to assist them, by the order of God, until he had introduced them into the land of promise. It is thus that our guardian angels act towards us. After we have escaped, by the waters of baptism, the powers of hell, these zealous and charitable protectors accompany us through the dreary desert of this life which we must traverse to arrive at the abode of eternal happiness. Sometimes, like a refreshing cloud, our guardian angels temper the ardor of our passions sometimes, like a column of fire, they enlighten us in
the night of sin. If necessary, they let fall the manna of heavenly consolations, to sweeten the bitter waters of penitence and afflictions of our lives. They make us hear the law of God, and endeavor to engrave it on the living table of our hearts. It is to the Lord, it is true, that we are indebted for all these blessings ; for we would not have guardian angels, had not our dear Lord given them to us." He hath given his angels charge over thee." Glory to God who gave them this command ! But we owe, also, much to those who execute it, especially as they unite to their obedience an admirable charity. If they had a life to offer, and blood to shed, for our salvation, they would willingly give up all. Let us never be ungrateful towards such friends. How should we be grateful to them ? By listening to their words and following their inspirations ; by avoiding what would wound the sanctity of their presence ; by practicing the virtues so dear to them : purity, humility, zeal, charity, and conformity to the will of God. "If thou wilt hear his voice," said the Lord to Moses, "and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and I will afflict them that afflict thee." (Exod. xxiiii, 22.)
Finally, we should also pray to our guardian angels. The good angels often intercede for us, and obtain for us many graces through their prayers. The Patriarch Jacob entreated most earnest the angel with whom he had wrestled, that he would give him his blessing (Gen. xxxii, 26) ; and on his death-bed he prayed the angel who had conducted and protected him, to bless his grandchildren, Ephraim and Manasses. (Gen. xlviii, 16.) The Prophet Daniel was informed in his visions how vigorously the guardian angel of Persia interposed in favor of that country, and what good offices St. Michael and other angels did for the Jews, in removing obstacles which retarded their return from the captivity. The Angel Gabriel told Daniel that he had exerted his efforts for this purpose in Persia twenty-one days, and that St. Michael, the prince or guardian of the Jews, came to his help (Dan. x, 13), so that they conquered the impediments. The Angel Gabriel added : "From the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up that he might be strengthened and confirmed" (Dan. xi, 1), viz.: to promote the deliverance of God's people. The
same prophet, speaking of the cruel persecution of Antiochus, says : "At that time Michael shall rise up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people." (Dan. xii, 1.) This implies that St. Michael would support the Machabees, and other defenders of God's people, whose protector he was, by standing up for them, that is, by praying for them.
The Prophet Zacharias was favored with a vision of angels, in the seventieth year of the desolation of Jerusalem. The prophet saw an angel (probably St. Michael), in the shape of a man, standing in a grove of myrtle trees ; and several angels, the guardians of other princes, came to him and said : "We have walked through the earth, and behold, all the earth is inhabited, and is at rest." Then the angel made this prayer : "Lord of hosts ! how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Juda, with which thou hast been angry ? This is now the seventieth year." (Zach. i, 12.) The Lord answered his prayer: he told the angel that he would return to Jerusalem in mercy, and that his house should be built in it. From these examples, and other passages of Holy Scripture, it is clear that the good angels pray for us. The Church has always invoked the holy angels and paid religious honor to them ; and teaches that it is an article of faith that their patronage is piously invoked.
Let us entertain a great devotion to our guardian angels. We read, in the lives of many saints, that their lively faith and tender devotion towards their guardian angels obtained for them the grace of seeing and conversing familiarly with them. We find this especially in the lives of St. Camillus, St. Philip Neri, St. Frances of Rome, St. Rose of Lima, St. Lidwina of Holland. If we recommend ourselves often to them, we shall experience their ardent charity, their wonderful protection, and the miraculous effects of their prayers on many occasions. The great Prophet Isaias had no sooner complained that his lips were defiled, than a seraph purified them with a burning coal from the altar. (Isa. vi.) If the blessings which God has bestowed upon every one through his guardian angel were to be written down, they would fill a large volume. These blessings will become greater and far more numerous from the time that we begin to be more grateful and more devout to the guardian angel. Often repeat this prayer, indulgenced by Pius VI and Pius VII : "Holy angel, to whose care I am committed, enlighten, protect, direct, and govern me this day !"
Source: The Apostles Creed, by Father Michael Muller, Imprimatur 1880