Thursday October 2, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Guardian Angels
Reading (Exodus 23:20-23) Gospel (St. Matthew 18:1-5, 10)
Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels, each one of us really needs to stop and think about the faithful companion that God has given to us, who is with us and on the job 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, from the moment we are conceived until the moment we enter into eternity. What that means is even if we go to Purgatory, our guardian angel gets to go there with us. If we go to hell, he obviously drops us off at the door. If we enter into Heaven, he will be rejoicing with us there for eternity. Now what we have to understand is that guardian angels are real. They are not for little kids; they are for all of us. They are for little children too, but they are for every last one of us. Our guardian angels do extraordinary things for us everyday. Most of us do not recognize it because we are not paying any attention. And our guardian angels are persons. They are angelic persons and each one of us can have a relationship with our guardian angel.
Your angel has a name, but whether you will find it out or not is another matter. Chances are unlikely that we will know them because in Scripture every time that an angel is asked about his name, he refuses to speak about it. And so, when Jacob is fighting with the angel and asks his name, the angel says, “Why do you want to know my name,” which is wonderful. And when the angel comes down to Manoah and his wife, the parents of Samson, they ask his name and he again refuses to tell them. The names of the angels are so beautiful and so extraordinary that we would not be able to deal with it. Even the angels’ names we do know are not actually their formal names; I suspect they are their secondary names. In other words, when we look at the names of Michael and Gabriel and Raphael, they tell us more of what they do rather than who they are. So if you can look at somebody and you can speak of them based on what their job is, or you can look at yourself if you are a parent and say, “That’s Mom,” or “That’s Dad,” that is not your name, formally. Your children will call you “Mom” and Dad” but that is not your formal name. So too with our angels, each one has a formal name. His name is beautiful and we will not be able perhaps to know it in this life, but that will wait until the next.
As we saw in the first reading, each nation has a guardian angel. Each planet has an angel watching over it. Various things have angels watching over them. The angels are in control of lots of things that we pay no attention to, and most of us, even if we did know it at one time, because of the scientific advances we have decided that faith means less than science and that “obviously, we now know how things work scientifically so it cannot be that angels are really watching over the weather and doing things like that because we know better than that.” No, we do not. All we can say is that we know scientifically how things can operate, but the reality is that they operate that way because God has made them that way and He has put angels in charge of all these various things.
You have an angel who is in charge of you and you need to have a relationship with that angel. You can pray to him as often as you want because he is right there 24 hours a day. He never rests, he never sleeps; He does not have a body so he does not need to. He does not get tired so you do not have to worry that he is not going to be paying attention or anything else. The guardian angels can come from any of the nine choirs of angels, so we do not know necessarily which choir our angel is from. Regardless of which choir they come from, if they are from one of the higher choirs, what they actually do is leave their own attributes behind and take on the attributes only of the lowest choir. So what we see happening for each of us is that it looks like they are from the lowest choir of angels, but it is not necessarily that way. But again, that does not matter. What matters is that you have an angel whom God has put in charge of you, and if you show up at the door of Heaven one day and have to answer to God why you disdained this gift that God gave you, it probably would not be a happy thing to have to answer to. You need to pray to your angel; that is why he is there. God told the people of Israel, “I have given My angel charge over you. Heed his voice.” And if they do not heed his voice and rebel against him, He warns them that things will not go well for them. The same is true for each one of us.
You can ask your angel to do things. If you cannot make it to Mass for whatever reason, ask your angel to go. When you drive past a church, ask your angel to stop in and make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and tell Our Lord that you love Him, little things like that. Before you meet with somebody, ask your angel to greet their guardian angel and to establish things on the spiritual level first so that things will go well. Before you make a phone call or pick up the phone, ask your angel to greet the angel of the person on the other end, all these sorts of things that you can do. Ask him to tell Our Lady how much you love her, because our angels are at her service. They are beholding God face-to-face right now and every moment of the day, even though they are with us. It is not like they leave their place in Heaven to come to us; they are still with God. They are with Our Lord and Our Lady all the time. So we have a clear channel open to Heaven through our angels. We have an opportunity to ask them to pray for us, and we have an opportunity to place ourselves in submission and obedience to our angels who are there to carry out for us the Will of God. Like God (because we have free will), our angels will not force us to do anything. They will bring God’s message to us – that is what the word angel means, a “messenger” – and they will try to influence us to do what is right, but that does not necessarily mean we will. We have to want to do what is right; we have to make that choice.
So especially today of all days, make your guardian angel happy – live a holy life, pray throughout the day. But not just today on your guardian angel’s feast day (and remember to wish him a happy feast day) but everyday, because he is there everyday. He is a gift form God, and in a world that has gone astray like ours has, we need our guardian angels more than ever to keep us on the right path, to lead us in this life, to keep us from stumbling on all of the bad things, and to lead us to the glory of eternity by knowing and doing God’s Will, by listening and heeding the voice of God spoken through our angels, and to be submissive and obedient so that we will always do what is right.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.