By Barb Arland-Fye
As my husband Steve and I finished evening prayer on the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels, a childhood memory tugged my heart. “Could we pray the ‘Angel of God’ prayer?” I asked Steve. He said yes, but didn’t think he remembered the prayer. The words returned to him as we prayed the prayer I taught our sons when they were little boys just as my mom taught me the prayer in my childhood.
The Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels followed three days later and the memory of praying the comforting “Angel of God” prayer with my siblings and later with my sons, resurfaced.
“Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide.
Bishop Robert Barron, in his Gospel reflection for that day, focused on our guardian angels. “Why does God send these spiritual messengers to help us? Well, Aquinas says that each of us, due to our fallen nature, has been assigned a heavenly guide.”
The bishop then shared one of his favorite stories about angels, a familiar one about two pilots on a plane lost in the fog. One prays for protection and an air traffic controller guides them to a safe landing at an airport. Except there was no air traffic controller and the airport was closed. Who else but a guardian angel could have guided the pilots to safety?
Bishop Barron wonders, are guardian angels a “sign that we are being protected by powers at a higher pitch of ontological perfection?” My guardian angel has protected me during harrowing experiences I can’t explain escaping otherwise. One involved a traffic accident in which a passenger van went airborne in front of me and came crashing down as if it would land on the top of my car. I remember thinking, “So this is how my life will end.” Inexplicably, the van missed landing on my car. In recent years, though, I wondered whether it was childish to think that my guardian angel remained at my side for protection.
In an article posted in Aleteia (10-2-17), an online Catholic news and information website, Philip Kosloski wrote that Benedictine monk Reginald of Canterbury most likely wrote the Angel of God prayer in the 11th century. “The Church has preserved it over all these years because of its simple yet profound truth. It recognizes the existence of our guardian angels, and invokes their aid in our time of need.”
“Guardian angels are here to protect us, guide us, and lead us to eternal life,” Kosloski said. This is not just a “child’s prayer,” but a prayer everyone should say on a daily basis. The prayer recognizes that angels can have an impact on our lives, and are here because of God’s love for us. We simply need to invoke their aid and trust in Jesus’ promise that our “angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
Pope Francis tweeted on this year’s Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels: “#Guardian Angels help us in our lives and show us where we need to go. Our angel is the daily bridge to our encounter with the Father.”
My mom shared a memory from her childhood of sitting on the edge of her desk in her Catholic grade school. Her teacher asked why. “I’m making room for my guardian angel,” my mom explained. Maybe it’s time for me to make room for my guardian angel, reciting the Angel of God prayer as a gentle reminder that my angel is a bridge to my encounter with the Father.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)