Today is the Feast Day of the Guardian Angels. It is a day when the Church celebrates the heavenly creatures that God has charged with protecting us throughout our earthly pilgrimage. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91: 11-12)
St. Therese had a very strong devotion to the angels and writes about them frequently throughout her Autobiography and Letters. She writes from her monastery a letter of encouragement to her sister Celine who is experiencing many challenges in her life that, “Jesus has placed near you an angel from heaven who is always looking after you; he carries you in his hands lest your foot strike against a stone. You do not see him, and yet he is the one who for twenty-five years has preserved your soul…” (Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. II, p. 850)
I know that in my own life my guardian angel, David, has certainly earned plenty in overtime pay in protecting me from bodily and spiritual harm! I can give a few examples to prove my point. When I was 11 my family was vacationing in a mountain lodge in West Virginia. There was a large grassy area where my second-cousin and I were throwing a tennis ball back and forth. He sailed a throw way over my head and I turned and ran after it as fast as I could. All I remember was feeling the ground leave my feet and then feeling an intense pain in my legs as I came to a jarring stop. I had run off a cliff and landed on the only drainage pipe for hundreds of yards about six feet down the cliff! I may have been killed if I didn’t land on that one, lone pipe. My father was eventually able to pull me up to safety. A bit of luck…I think not!
On another occasion when I was 14 my friend, Patrick, was sleeping over my house and we thought it would be a brilliant idea to climb in some houses that were under construction at 3AM. Oh yeah, did I mention that it was February? We climbed up onto the roof of one of the houses some 30 feet above the ground. All was going well until I slipped on a patch of ice, began sliding down the peak of the roof on my stomach, and fell the full 30 feet down to the ground! Patrick screamed, “PAUL!!!!” and helplessly watched as I plummeted to my inevitable death. Amazingly I landed in a pile of soft rubble and didn’t even endure a scratch! When the shock wore off, I shouted up to Patrick that I was OK. When he climbed down to my landing spot we both noticed that a large, steel spike was sticking out of the ground just feet away from my landing spot and would have impaled me if I had landed on it! Nobody can convince me that my guardian angel did not preserve my life that night.
I could tell several other such stories about how my guardian angel protected me, but I will share them at a later date. St. Bernard honors the angels with the following words in one of his famous sermons. “And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need” (Sermon by St. Bernard, The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. IV, p. 1454).
May we always be grateful to our guardian angels for their service, love, and protection. Thank you, David, my guardian angel!