Saints and angels
Every single human being, whether Christian or non-Christian, in a state of grace or a state of sin, enjoys the constant care of a unique angelic spirit not assigned to anyone else.
Angels are not omnipotent, and they cannot penetrate one’s inner thoughts any more than another human person can. But we can, by an act of our own will, share our thoughts and confide in our guardian angel.
If this is starting to sound a bit New Age, bear with me. I am not suggesting we can sensibly perceive our angels. We can’t look upon them with our eyes, or hear their whispered warnings, or commune with them mentally. (As a matter of fact, I made a considered attempt during my prayer tonight to learn the name of my guardian angel, and I got nothing.)
Nonetheless, the Church has always encouraged us to heed our guardian angels. The Church Fathers saw in the Sacred Scriptures advice not only for the Ancient Israelites to heed the guardian angel of their nation, but also advice for each of us. “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.” (Ex 23: 20-21.)
Hence, St Ambrose insisted: “We should pray to the angel who is given us as a Guardian.”
St Bernard’s exhortations are even stronger:
“If we truly love our Guardian Angel, we cannot fail to have boundless confidence in his powerful intercession with God and firm faith in his willingness to help us. This will inspire us to frequently invoke his aid and protection, and ask his counsel in the many problems which confront us.”
St Thérèse implored her angel to kindle in her heart the same burning zeal for God which animated the angel. That’s a prayer I might use myself!
St Pio, who being a mystic was familiar with the angels in a way the rest of us are not, strongly encouraged devotion to one’s angel:
Develop the beautiful habit of always thinking of him; that near us is a celestial spirit, who, from the cradle to the tomb, does not leave us for an instant, guides us, protects us as a friend, a brother; will always be a consolation to us especially in our saddest moments.
St Josemaría fostered the habit of greeting the angel of every person he met — interiorly and indiscernibly. He also counselled conspiring with the angels when praying for and evangelising one’s neighbour:
Win over the guardian Angel of that person whom you wish to draw to your apostolate. He is always a great ‘accomplice.’