Guardian Angels are Real Angels not Hallmark Angels

See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father
(Mat 18:10)

In this text Jesus affirms the truth that we have Guardian Angels. Today is the feast of the Guardian Angels and it is a beautiful truth that God would assign an angel to have special care for us, it is a sign of his very specific love for each of us as individuals. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has much to say on angels. Here are just a few verses:

The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels….In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God….From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (CCC #s 334-336 selectae)

All this said, I would like to propose to you that, to some extent we have tended in modern times to sentimentalize the role of the angels in our lives and to drift from the Biblical data regarding them. I would like to propose a few corrective ideas to balance the sentimental notions we may have. I do not say that sentiment is wrong, but it needs to be balanced by deep respect for the angels.

  1. Angels have no bodies. They are not human and never have been human. Human beings never become angels or “earn wings.”  Angels are persons, but persons of pure spirit. Hence they have no gender. Now we have to envision them somehow,  so it is not wrong that we portray them with masculine or feminine qualities but it is important to remember that they transcend any such distinction.
  2. Biblically, angels are not the rather fluffy and charming creatures that modern portraits often depict. In the Bible angels are depicted as awesome and powerful agents of God. Many times the appearance of an angel struck fear in the one who saw them (cf  Judg 6:22; Lk 1:11; Lk 1:29; Lk 2:9; Acts 10:3; Rev. 22:8). Angels are often described in the Bible in warlike terms: they are call a host (the biblical word for army), they wage war on God’s behalf and that of his people (e.g. Ex 14:19; Ex 33:2; Nm 22:23;  Ps 35:5; Is 37:36; Rev 12:7). While they are said to have wings (e.g. Ex 25:20; 1 Kings 6:24;  inter al)  recall that they do not have physical bodies so the wings are an image of their swiftness. They are also mentioned at times as being like fire (Ex. 3:2; Rev 10:1). And as for those cute little “cherubs” we have in our art, those cute baby-faced angels with wings and no body? Well read about the real Cherubim in Ezekiel 10. They are fearsome, awesome creatures, powerful and swift servants of God and more than capable of putting God’s enemies to flight. And this is my main point, angels are not the sentimetal syruppy and cute creatures we have often recast them to be. They are awesome, wonderful, and powerful servants of God. They are his messengers and they manifest God’s glory. They bear forth the power and majesty of God are immensely to be respected. They are surely also our helpers and, by God’s command act on our behalf.
  3. What then is our proper reaction to the great gift of the angels and in particular our Guardian Angel? Sentimental thought may have its place but what God especially commands of us toward our angel is obedience. Read what God said in the Book of Exodus: Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. (Ex 23:21) So our fundamental task is to hear and heed the voice of our angel. How, you might ask do we hear the voice of our Guardian Angel? I would suggest to you that we most hear the voice of our angel in our conscience. Deep down, we hear God’s voice, we know what is true and what is false. In terms of basic right and wrong, we know what we are doing. I am convinced that our conscience interacts with our Guardian Angel. Now be careful, we like to try and rationalize what we do, explain away bad behavior, make excuses. But in the end, deep down inside, we know what we are doing and whether or not it is wrong. I am sure it is our angel who testifies to the truth in us and informs our conscience. God’s command is clear: listen to and heed this voice. Respect this angel God has given you not so much with sentimental odes, but with sober obedience.
  4. Finally, an on a less important note, we often think of angels in choirs singing. But there is no Scriptural verse that I have ever read that describes them as singing. Even in the classic Christmas scene where we depict them as singing “Glory to God in the Highest,” the text says that they SAY it not sing it (cf. Luke 2:14). If you can find a Scripture text that shows the angels singing please share it, but I’ve looked for years and can’t find it. Not a big point except to say that perhaps singing is a special gift given to the human person.

21 Replies to “Guardian Angels are Real Angels not Hallmark Angels”

  1. You said, “I am sure it is our angel who testifies to the truth in us and informs our conscience. God’s command is clear”

    I was thinking about when I pray the Lord’s Prayer and come to the part that says, “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” I would imagine that in Heaven, God’s will is done instantaneously, for His will is known and executed- but I hadn’t thought too constructively about angels being the servers of this. This makes me smile, because there are times (more often than I can count) when I want to do one thing but know (absolutely know!!) that I should do something else. It’s clear to me that, in those times, there’s a battle of wills going on- God’s vs. mine. It’s hard to make the wrong choice, even if I think I want to, when know it’s the wrong choice; I know I’m not going to be following God’s plan and things will go awry. The thought that there’s an angel at work in my life in those times is a rather comforting one.

    1. Yes, I too when I think of my own stubborn ways have often thought that the angels must have a hard time dealing with us humans. Perhaps it is like trying to herd cats. 🙂

  2. I was given a picture of my guardian angel in 1st grade Sister Alma Mary OP, told me to name her. I named mine Linda which means beautiful. I still have that picture, now its on my refrigerator, and I feel ‘her’ presence just about everyday. I always say the litany of St Michael which includes all the Heavenly hosts including the Guarian Angels, today October 2nd is their feast day. If you open yourself up to the spirtual you will feel their warmth, their presence and its a comfort to know I am never alone but my guardian angel is always with me.

    1. I am not sure why but I have never named my guardian angel. I guess I didn’t feel qualified and every name I came up with didn’t feel right. I am most often reminded of my Guardian angel when I sense my conscience speaking to me and when I sense danger and wisely draw back.

  3. I think an angel can have a spiritual body. An angel had a body when he appeared to the Israelites in the book of Judges.

    1. An angel my take the form (or appearance) of a body but angels do not have physical bodies. See Catechism of the Catholic Church (328, 329, 330) all of which emphasize that they are purely spiritual beings, that they are non-corporeal.

      1. Our Priest was talking about Angels during a children mass, about the angels being only spirital. I think I am crazy, but lately everytime something is wrong, I think I actually see angels and they stay for a min. and just smile at me. The first time I was sleeping and woke up from a laughter, he looked like my son Mikey and just smiled at me. I thought it was him, then he just slowly disappeared. Here, it was real cold and I went to higher the heat. Just last night I saw fat angel with black glasses twirling a towel looking at me and smiling and I screamed from fear and he disappeared. Here, my dog was left in the basement. I think I am crazy and loosing my mind. At least that is what my mother says. Well, if I am oh well this is what happens,to me ever since I had children. they are both alive and well by the way and very young and keep me exhausted from work.

  4. I pray each day for God’s blessing and our Blessed Mother’s blessing on my guardian angel and on all the guardian angels. I have prayed that I could know his name but have not yet been given the answer.

    I read that philosophy says that spirits are a “simple substance”. I have heard over my life perhaps a dozen people say they have seen “ghosts” and UFO’s. I honestly believe they are sincere. However, aren’t all these apparitions demonic in nature – meant to deceive? Aren’t demons somehow capable of appearing as people and even UFO’s? For I don’t believe in space ships or lost souls wandering the earth. What are they seeing?

  5. “Many official religions teach that miracles only happened during Biblical times.” (video)

    What a bizarre thing to say. Which religions are those?

    1. Yeah, it’s pretty dopey isn’t it. What do you expect of the secular media though! Perhaps though what they are referring to are the modernist tendencies of many liberal protestants to dismiss miracles in favor of rationalism and material explanations. But otherwise I don’t have a clue as to what the reporter is saying.

  6. “If you can find a Scripture text that shows the angels singing please share it, but I’ve looked for years and can’t find it. Not a big point except to say that perhaps singing is a special gift given to the human person.”

    I would propose Revelation 4:6b-8:
    …And before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
    7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.
    8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

    The four living creatures in the Book of Revelation are usually identified by Bible commentators as angels (as contrasted to the ‘elders’ –also often portrayed as singing – who are identified as human saints). Some translations (such as the NAB) render the word ‘singing’ as ‘exclaiming.’ This may explain why you couldn’t find the reference to singing angels; it depends on which translation you are working with. Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. The above citation of The Book of Revelation is taken from the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), by the way.

  8. Yes, I have seen the passage before and pondered that a few translations render it “sing” However, the usually reliabale RSV seems to take libertes with the Greek here translating the Greek word legontes (lego) as sing. Lego is quite plainly translated as “say or speak” . Further, my understanding of the four living creatures is that they represent all creation. They may or may not be angels per se, that is a matter of some debate. At any rate I am grateful for your contribution. It comes close but I don’t think it really resolves the puzzlement that biblically the verb “sing” does not have an angel or angels for its subject!

  9. Looking into it a little deeper (concordances, lexicons and such) I believe you are correct. It’s an interesting question, though. Thanks for posing it.

  10. Wonderful discourse with comments on angels! Thanks so much for enlightenment on them. Much has been written about them, including St. Thomas and a great book by a doctor who talks of the influence of angels in his life. Wish I could recall thename, but am away from my home library at present.

    My guardian angel is named Anthony (Tony, when I am feeling folksy). I named him Anthony because he comes to my aid when I am searching for lost objects. He is ever present to me for although I cannot see him, I can hear him in the voice of my conscience, as you mentioned above, and I can all on him for ever so many things when I am in need. He is, indeed, my personal and lifelong friend whom I believe will meet me in heaven someday.

  11. A voice raised it praise
    and so forth
    Can we really, who only see and understand partly the totality of the Heavenly realms,
    define singing?
    Is it perhaps, the voices of the Angels “speaking” in praise of Our Creator
    are you and I so beautiful
    that using the word “speak” (we talk and it often isn’t pretty)
    doesn’t begin, (for us)
    to describe the wonderfulness of the “speaking” of Angels, (Holy beings of spirit) raising voices to honor the ONE?

  12. A very good discussion..Thank you Msgr. Pope for confirming what our parish priests say about angels and humans. That when we die, we do not then become angels…. as some people would say to console a loved one’s passing… ‘don’t worry you now have an angel in heaven’… a wrong theology.

    I too believe in angels especially, ‘Guardian Angels’. I always pray the ‘Guardian Angel’ prayer have been since I was a little child and find comfort that my guardian angel has constantly guided and protected me through out my life. Yet, have never even thought to giving her (I envision my guiardian angel with feminine aspects) a name because I did not think it was necessary to name her so…. however, a friend of mine had asked me if I have a name for my guardian angel… She said, if I want to know the name of my guardian angel….pray a novena. But, I did not have to do that because just the other day as I was thinking about my guardian angel on my way home, there as a whisper into my heart..a name came up to me. ‘Rita’ which also made me think about St. Rita… I would like to think that this name Rita for my guardian angel and St. Rita are talking to each other and have been helping me.

  13. My daughter (13) says that one of her friends has a guardian angel that speaks through her. She says she can hear her and can speak what the angel is saying to her. My daughter also says that she has talked to her through her friend. As a lifelong Christian, I believe in angels (although admit that I do not have a deep understanding) have been stumped by this one…
    I have always known to be cautious of the deception (with caution of demonic presence) and I want to teach my child “right” without killing her spirit and childlike faith.
    Help please…

  14. angels are real I have seen an angel my self when hard times have happened in our family. I know that they are real so keep believing in god and angels please and thank you.

Comments are closed.