October 2, 2008

Guardian Angels

I was surprised to notice this morning that the feast of the Guardian Angels--at least as a universal observance--is recent in origin. In 1670 it was assigned to the first free day after Michaelmas (now the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.)

If you want to believe Pseudo-Dionysius, the guardian angels come from the plain old "angels," as distinguished from the higher orders of Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and finally Seraphim (who are closest to God's throne.)

In my experience much of the talk or preaching we do about angels is pretty confused, and rarely takes seriously their entirely spiritual nature. Nevertheless, this feast day affirms what we say straight away about God in the creed, that he is the Creator of both a seen and an unseen world. This feast reminds us that, contrary to what we might believe if we took all of our religious instruction from the movies, the unseen world is on our side.

2 comments:

ben in denver said...

First, sorry I haven't emailed yet, Fr. Charles. I will get to it, but I can't do it from the computer I usually check your blog from.

Second, who wouldn't believe Dionysius? Isn’t he one of the main sources of the Franciscan theological tradition? It certainly doesn’t seem possible to overestimate the influence of Dionysius on the Seraphic Doctor Bonaventure.

Did, you know that St. Theresa Benedicta of the cross (Edith Stein) believed the tradition that he was one and the same as both the Areopogite and St. Denis of Paris? I'm not sure that I do, but all 3 (or is it one) seem to give an excellent witness of the faith—they even illustrate the mystery of the trinity in an unexpected way!

On the topic of guardian angels in particular, I was commenting to my wife last night that they are one of the great and unacknowledged graces of having a large family. It occurred t me that with 8 kids, that means we have 10 angels looking out for our household. The forces of evil don’t even have a chance!

Brother Charles said...

Of course I have to love P.-D. the A. As you say, put him and Augustine together and Bonaventure comes out.

Thanks for reminding me about Edith Stein; back on her feast day I made a resolution to read her and then forgot about it.