DPPL 216: Guardians

STA altar at night smallBelievers have adopted angels as patrons of cities and religious sites, as well as inspiration for music. And art, I suppose:

216. Down through the centuries, the faithful have translated into various devotional exercises the teaching of the faith in relation to the ministry of Angels: the Holy Angels have been adopted as patrons of cities and corporations; great shrines in their honor have developed such as Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, San Michele della Chiusa in Piemonte and San Michele Gargano in Apulia, each appointed with specific feast days; hymns and devotions to the Holy Angels have also been composed.

One of the Eastern Doctors endorses the notion of guardian angels:

Popular piety encompasses many forms of devotion to the Guardian Angels. St. Basil Great (+378) taught that “each and every member of the faithful has a Guardian Angel to protect, guard and guide them through life”(St. Basil of Caesarea, Adversus Eunomium III, 1: PG 29, 656). This ancient teaching was consolidated by biblical and patristic sources and lies behind many forms of piety.

The “sweet-voiced” Doctor also promoted angels being placed very close to us:

St. Bernard of Clarivaux (+1153) was a great master and a notable promoter of devotion to the Guardian Angels. For him, they were a proof “that heaven denies us nothing that assists us”, and hence, “these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us”(St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermo XII in Psalmum “Qui habitat”, 3: Sancti Bernardi Opera, IV, Editiones Cistercienses, Romae 1966, p. 459).

Some of the laudable developments in spirituality include a deeper sense of gratitude for angelic protection and a sense of closeness to the higher realm of angels:

Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:
• devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of (people);
• an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God;- serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels. Among the prayers to the Guardian Angels the Angele Dei (Cf. EI, Normae et concessiones, 18, p. 65) is especially popular, and is often recited by families at morning and evening prayers, or at the recitation of the Angelus.

Among the students I know, and a few older Catholics, this prayer is still known and prayed regularly. Likely not as widespread as it once was in North America. But not unknown. The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to DPPL 216: Guardians

  1. Devin says:

    I am fond of the following prayer and I believe it is of French origin:
    Guardian Angel,
    watch over those whose names you can read in my heart.
    Guard over them with every care
    and make their way easy and their labours fruitful.
    Dry their tears if they weep;
    sanctify their joys;
    raise their courage if they weaken;
    restore their hope if they lose heart,
    their health if they be ill,
    truth if they err,
    repentance if they fail.

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