Gratefulness, Guardian Angels, and Us: Why We Shouldn’t Forget Our Guardian Angels


Merry Saturday, everyone. Look at this picture for a moment, if you would.


What we have here is a painting of a child and his guardian angel.


Now let me ask you a question: how often do you end up forgetting that your guardian angel is there? I know that this happens to me quite a bit. It may even be tempting for you to think of guardian angels as something little kids have, but as something adults don’t need. If you do think that, I can hardly blame you. The popular prayer to guardian angels (“Angel of God, my guardian dear…”) is child-like in tone, and since guardian angels are almost never talked about among adults, it can be very easy for adults to forget about them. In fact, the words of the Lord Jesus Himself only seem to indicate that “little ones” have guardian angels, since He only mentions children specifically and doesn’t refer to adults (Mt. 18:10).

And yet, adults do have guardian angels, and although this may not be blatantly laid out in Sacred Scripture, it has, nevertheless, been a constant tradition of the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that, “. . . as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel guardian is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer. When, however, he arrives at the end of life, he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the Kingdom he will have an angel to reign with him, in Hell, a demon to punish him” (Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q. 113, Art. 4). Pope St. John XXIII said in 1959, “In this earthly life, when children have to make their way along a path beset with obstacles and snares, their fathers take care to call upon the help of those who can look after them and come to their aid in adversity. In the same way our Father in heaven has charged His angels to come to our assistance during our earthly journey which leads us to our blessed fatherland, so that, protected by the angels’ help and care, we may avoid the snares upon our path, subdue our passions and, under this angelic guidance, follow always the straight and sure road which leads to Paradise” (Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels, October 2, 1959). There is also a multitude of quotes from the Church Fathers concerning guardian angels, and, most recently, Pope Francis said that the existence of guardian angels is a “reality”, and that we should actively attempt to form a relationship with ours.

I think it’s a little backwards when we primarily associate guardian angels with children. I would say that adults should be the ones to give their guardian angels more focus, because adults are well past the so-called age of reason, and therefore are going to be held more accountable than children when they sin. One of the best ways to avoid sin is to have your focus continually on what is “above”, since this puts priorities and even temptations into their proper perspective. Being mindful of the presence of your guardian angel can serve to keep temptations at a distance, as it will keep you aware of God and the things of God.

Furthermore, speaking of temptations, guardian angels have power to defend us against the allurements that demons and life’s circumstances give us. They can help us fulfill difficult tasks, they can remind us of things which need to be remembered, they can aid us while we pray (and pray on our behalf), and, if nothing else, they can remind us we’re never going to be alone in life. The point is, you and I should give our guardian angels more focus. They’re given to us to benefit our lives in so many ways, and really, it seems hardly grateful to forget they exist.





“Heaven Is a Place On Earth”? Indeed It Is!


I think that maybe the biggest problem with us is that by repeating things, they become routine. This applies to everything: work, school, play, the company we keep, pastimes we enjoy, prayer, worship, and on and on. Allow me to point out a few moments in Scripture before we truly begin:

When the angel visited the Virgin Mary and announced to her Whose mother she would be, she said, “Let it be so” (Lk. 1:38), and at that moment, the Holy Spirit came down and formed, in her virgin womb, the human nature of God’s eternal Son. John the Baptist found such joy in the presence of the incarnate Lord and His Blessed Mother that he leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, while she herself was moved to say, “How does this happen, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:41, 43). Then, when Our Lord was born, all the angels appeared and acclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk. 2:14). When Simeon saw the Child Jesus, he considered his life finished at last and said with complete contentment, “Now you may dismiss your servant” (Lk. 2:29).

Much later in the life of Christ, in the 14th chapter of St. John’s Gospel, Our Lord is speaking to the Apostles about the place He is going to after His resurrection. Philip, in all sincerity, blurts out, “Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us” (Jn. 14:8). There is a certain frustration in Our Lord’s response: “Have I been with you so long, yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. Do you not know that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” (Jn. 14:9-10).

Why do I mention all this? Because of the privilege which we have even today, which can be so often forgotten about due to the routine nature of our lives. When Our Lady said, “Let it be done to me according to your word” and Our Lord was made flesh in her womb, God became tangible. He became something we could see, touch, speak to, and hear, with the senses. In His new nature He became limited also, not losing but voluntarily placing aside the Divine Majesty so as to live like us and, ultimately, redeem us to the Father. The Lord, who until now had been infinitely distant, became intimately close. And this brought immense joy to all those who recognized what had happened: to Elizabeth, to John the Baptist, to Simeon, and to the whole Host of Heaven. Our Lord wanted Philip to recognize that He, Jesus Christ, is truly Emmanuel, “God with us”.

So now comes the important part: Do you, my fellow Catholics, recognize that the very same miracle which occurred in the womb of the Blessed Mother happens at every Consecration in the Mass? When Our Blessed Lady said to the angel, “Let it be done to me”, the Lord was made present there, physically, where He had not been so before, and all of Heaven was “concentrated” into Our Lady’s womb. The same thing happens in the Mass. When the priest repeats the words of Our Lord, “This is My Body . . . this is My Blood”, the Host and the wine are changed into Christ, and so, as at His conception, He is made physically present where He was not before, and all of Heaven is concentrated into what once was bread and wine on the altar.

It can be so difficult to remember this when we go to Mass, Sunday after Sunday, with our off-key choirs and boring homilies and unedifying church buildings and whatever else. But it is the reality of what happens in the Mass. Whether it is a Mass where the red is perfectly and reverentially adhered to and the black is perfectly and reverentially said, or a Mass where the priest makes up half the prayers and tries to be the center of attention, it is still the reality of the Mass (provided the correct words and matter are used, the correct intention had on the part of the priest, and the priest validly ordained, of course): God the Son, and in fact the entire Trinity due to the union of the Divine Nature, comes down to us in our own church and lifts us up to the sphere where, even now, He is “as a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). The only difference between Heaven itself and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is that in Heaven, we will see Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as He is, while here we see Him only veiled, and in Heaven there will be no more barrier of sin to separate us from sharing in His life.

Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP, said the following concerning the Mass: “…at the moment of Consecration, it’s not so much that Christ merely comes down, but that He lifts us all to the sphere where He lives in glory, once again beyond time and the limitations of this world, to the very presence of God” (qtd here, “Roman Catholic Mass Explained”). The Mass itself says, before the Sanctus, that we sing of God’s holiness together with the hosts and choirs of Heaven. The Holy Mass is not just the worshipping act of your or my particular parish, it is the act of the entire Church, both in Heaven and on Earth, a unitive act where you might say that Heaven and Earth are temporarily joined together. So in a certain sense those who say Heaven is a place on Earth are correct: they need look no farther than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

On Angels: Part 3: Demonic Abilities and Limitations (Heavily Belated)

Hello, readers, and happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans!

This post is incredibly late, but I either a) had school or b) wanted to do something else with my free time. But at last, I have the time and motivation to conclude what I began months ago, and hopefully, with this out of the way, can post on this blog concerning other topics. So, when I last posted, I said that the next post would go into demonic power (and by extension, the power of all angels). Let’s do this, then!

The Power of Demons In and Of Itself

First, I want to go into the power of demons considered by itself, without any external restraints placed upon it. A primary thing you should realize is that, because demons are angels, they have all the powers God gave to angels. God did not withdraw their angelic abilities when they sinned, thinking that because they’re now evil, they don’t deserve to be powerful. No, their angelic powers remained, which means that they’re a great deal more powerful than humans. What is the extent of demonic/angelic power? It varies. But even the lowest angel is intensely more powerful, whether intellectually or otherwise, than a human person. I assume, though, that you’d like a basic list of powers possessed by all angels, regardless of rank, so here you go (and since we’re referring in this post to demons, the list will as well; just know that it applies to good angels unless otherwise noted):

  • Demons have vastly superior minds compared to humans. In Fr. Francis J. Remler’s excellent book How to Resist Temptation, he says that demons know more about the material universe and the expansive cosmos than scientists could know in a million years. In the same book, he says that although demons cannot read our minds as God can, they are nevertheless able to have a generally-correct idea of what we’re thinking at a given moment (Fr. Remler compared it to having a friend whom you know so well that you can “read him like a book”—you don’t know exactly what he’s thinking, but can guess pretty well).
  • Demons have a great deal of power over the material world and the people in it. I recommend you read Part 1 for more on that, but I do have something else to add to the stuff listed over there. In Theology For Beginners, Frank Sheed says that “…angels could, so powerful as they are, destroy our material universe if the mightier power of God did not prevent them” (Chapter Two: Spirit, pg. 15).
  • Demons, as with the good angels, have wills that are unobstructed by emotions. Because of this, they are able to think far more decisively and clearly than humans. There’s no question of how a given thing makes them feel at a particular moment; they’re not one moment happy, another moment sad. They know what they want and they act accordingly.
  • Specifically with regard to demons, the temptations they give to man would at least almost always induce him to sin if he were not given God’s grace to combat them.
  • Demons can appear as good angels, as a saint, or even as Our Lord Himself! This is why one must be very, very deliberate and careful if he claims to have seen a vision from Heaven.

Limits on Demonic Power

Notice that I said previously, “I want to go into the power of demons considered by itself, without any external restraints placed upon it”. That means that there are, in fact, limits on what demons can know and do.

For example, Matthew and Mark’s gospels are at one in agreeing that the angels do not know when the end of the world will be (Mt. 24:53, Mk. 13:32: and just for the record, when it says the Son does not know, it is another way of saying He was not sent to tell us; He and the Holy Spirit do know when it is, because They share the divine intellect that is God the Father’s).

Another limitation placed on demons is that they cannot force us to sin. They can tempt us, and indeed they can tempt us very greatly, but they cannot make us sin. That’s ultimately up to us. Further, demons are prevented by God from tempting us beyond what we can handle. That’s not to say that temptations sent our way won’t be intense, but simply that, with God’s aid, we will be able to handle whatever temptations we encounter, no matter how bad they are.

Yet another limitation on demons is that they are bound to obey a direct command made by God. Note that whenever Christ tells a demon to leave a possessed soul in the Gospels, it listens to Him. This makes sense, since He created all the demons, but it’s still worth noting. I say the demons are bound to obey a direct command for this reason: you might say, well, they didn’t obey God when He gave them the choice between Heaven and Hell. The key difference is that when God offered the demons eternal life, He did not say, “You MUST love Me”, but rather, gave them the chance to do so or not, at their own peril. In the case of the demons, He definitely ordered them to get out, and they did, despite whatever protests and blasphemies they made first. Further, I say they’re bound to obey a direct command from God (as opposed to others) because the Scriptures record instances where men were unable to do cast out demons (Mt. 17:19-20). I’ll admit that on this last point, I may be oversimplifying the situation. It could be that demons must obey anyone who possesses the authority of Christ, but I honestly am not sure. I’d gladly accept pointers here.

There are two final limitations on demonic ability or knowledge that I can think of. The first was one placed on Satan by God in Job 1:12, where the former was not permitted to harm Job. The last and more interesting one appears within the Gospels. It would seem to some degree that Satan was unaware that Jesus Christ was the Only-Begotten Son of God and Redeemer of the world. During Satan’s temptation of Christ before His public ministry in Matthew 4, Satan kept saying, “If you are the Son of God, do yadda yadda yadda…”, going so far as to ask Our Lord to worship him. Now the question is, if Satan did know Who Christ was, wouldn’t he know that asking such a thing was not only pointless but even impossible, considering that God is incapable of sin? The only reason I can think of that he would even bother with the series of temptations is that he was honestly unsure about Our Lord’s identity. This is St. Thomas Aquinas’ take on it as well, who said that demons “can be misled with regard to supernatural matters; for example, on seeing a dead man, they may suppose that he will not rise again, or, on beholding Christ, they may judge Him not to be God” (Summa Theologica I:58:5).

In conclusion, it’s all very intriguing, isn’t it? Perhaps we’ll know more in the next life. In the meantime, I hope these posts have not been too shallow regarding their treatment of these issues, but if you have anything else you’d like me to write about, let me know. Once again, my apologies for taking so awfully long with this.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you and yours,