Filed under: Patristics
Today’s the feast of the guardian angels. Everybody has one. The Scriptures say so (see Ps 34:7, Mt 18:10, Ac 12:15). The Fathers say so:
HERMAS (150 A.D.): “There are two angels with a man — one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity … The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When he ascends into your heart, he speaks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and every other righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all of these things come into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you.”
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (195 A.D.): “The Scripture says, ‘The angels of the little ones, and of the rest, see God.’ So he does not shrink from writing about the oversight … exercised by the guardian angels.”
ORIGEN (225 A.D.): “Every believer — although the humblest in the Church — is said to be attended by an angel, who the Savior declares always beholds the face of God the Father. Now, this angel has the purpose of being his guardian.”
ST. GREGORY THE WONDERWORKER (255 A.D.): “I mean that holy angel of God who fed me from my youth.”
ST. METHODIUS (290 A.D.): “We have learned from the inspired writings that all who are born … are committed to guardian angels.”
So there you go. The doctrine was around centuries — well, several weeks anyway — before anybody thought of printing a syrupy holy card. I culled the quotes from David W. Bercot’s Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, whose 704 pages are a real bargain at $19.95 new. The book is quite good, in spite of an intermittent Protestant bias (e.g., in his selection on the intercession of the saints). But in his abundant quotations on guardian angels, Bercot gives us ten from Origen alone!
Get to know your guardian angel. They’re there with us to light and guard, rule and guide. We, however, can choose to be more or less open to their influence. What a waste if we choose less of a pure and heavenly intelligence.
UPDATE: Danny Garland gives us Jerome’s take on Guardian Angels, plus assorted prayers.
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