Tuesday October 2, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Guardian Angels
Reading (Exodus 23:20-23) Gospel (St. Matthew 18:1-5,10)
It is often said that Saint Joseph is the "Forgotten Saint," but I suspect that if we really think about it we could carry that a little further: In most of our lives, probably the most forgotten person is our guardian angel. He is right there with us, 24 hours a day, and most people never even think about him. Sometimes we think it is a cute idea for babies to have a guardian angel. But it is not about being cute - it is a reality that each and every human person is assigned a guardian angel at the moment of conception. And that angel will be with us until the day that we enter into eternity. That means that if we wind up in Purgatory, our angel is going to be with us and he will guide us into Heaven. Obviously, if we choose the wrong direction at the moment of judgment, our angel goes back into Heaven and we would go the other way. But nonetheless, up to that point our angel is going to be with us.
Now, as the Lord pointed out, we need to listen to his voice. He had assigned an angel to guard and to lead the Israelite people. They needed to listen to him; they needed to hear him. Most of us tend not to do that. We need to make sure we are carrying on an interior conversation with our angel: make sure we are talking with him and praying and asking his help and so on. There is not anything lacking on our angel's part, but most often there is something lacking on our part.
When we consider this feast, we can even align it with yesterday's feast of Saint Therese because in the Gospel today Our Lord talks again about becoming childlike - just what Saint Therese was so good at. But one other element of the spirituality of Saint Therese that I did not mention yesterday (that is very apropos for today) is confidence. She had absolute, unswerving confidence in God. And that is what she taught other people, as well.
You can see from today's feast that God loves you so much that he has provided for you, individually, an angel to be with you. Remember, the word "angel" means "messenger". So your guardian angel is there as a messenger between God and you, to be able to bring to you God's desires for you. Whatever His Will is, that is what your angel is there for, in part. He is there to guard you; he is there to protect you; he is there to help you; he is there to lead you. But he is also there to serve you, to bring to you the message of Almighty God.
We see how much God loves us: He does not just throw us out there and leave us on our own (not that He ever would anyway; He, of course, is right there), but gives to us somebody who is going to be with us 24 hours a day. We can see how much He loves us. Therefore, there is the necessity of having that confidence in His love, that confidence in God. We need to trust Him; we cannot be entertaining doubts; we cannot be wondering whether or not He is going to be true to His promises.
We see something that, from God's perspective, would seem as small as providing an angel for us throughout the entire course of our life. God notices every little detail, and He takes care of it all. We just simply need to be confident in Him, to trust Him. We cannot be waffling all over the place. But instead, we need to ask our guardian angels to help us, to lead us, and to bring us to eternity; and in the immediate time, to bring us to have that kind of faith in God, that trust in God. That is part of what we need to learn from this feast.
And we need to learn to pray to our guardian angels. Otherwise, they are there, they are doing their work - some of us, unfortunately, keep them very busy - but we are not even aware of it. How much easier it is if we are cooperating rather than fighting, and if we are trusting rather than trying to do things on our own. That is what our angel wants. It is what he is there for, anyway. He does not want to fight against us; the devil is doing that already. He wants to be able to fight against the devil for us. But we need to cooperate.
We need to have confidence. Do not doubt the existence of your angel. And do not doubt the love of God. Have confidence in God; have confidence in your angel - and trust. Look to God and let Him lead you through the work of His holy angels into the eternal glory of Heaven.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.