Posted November 9, 2009
Yes, all do indeed have a personal guardian angel. And the full acknowledgment and realization of that truth should utterly transform the life of anyone, just as the many angelic apparitions mentioned in the Bible transformed the lives of those who saw them. Either seeing or truly believing that you have the awesome privilege of a personally assigned guardian angel would convince you, for instance, that there is no such thing as solitary confinement; the loneliest widow in the world would no longer languish in loneliness or self-pity; those tempted to lust would find it unthinkable to sin in the presence of their heavenly companion; those tempted to discouragement or despair would be reinvigorated by the radiant presence of their angel companion, etc.
For those angels assigned to us individually as guardian angels, their main function seems to be that of guarding and protecting us: “He will command his angels … to guard you in all your ways, …. so you will not strike your foot. .. ” etc. (Ps. 91:11-12).
The teaching about the existence of personal guardian angels (as distinguished from teachings about angels in general) is a doctrine of the Church classed as proxima fidei, that is, as a consistent and scripturally supported teaching that is affirmed by theological luminaries such as St. Jerome and St. Thomas Aquinas (whose extensive writings on angels earned him the title “Angelic Doctor”).
There is a class of evil spirits (fallen angels) known as “familiar spirits” (referred to in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles and Isaiah), so called because they become familiar with our weaknesses so as to attack us in those areas. Likewise, there is a class of holy angels, at least one of which is assigned by God to each human; they too become familiar with our weaknesses and strengths, and are commissioned by God to protect us, to inspire us, to pray for us, to encourage and support us in trials, etc. All holy angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve” (Heb. 1:14), but those ministering spirits assigned as special protectors of individual humans are those traditionally called guardian angels.
Do all have guardian angels, or only righteous persons?
St. Jerome and St. Basil held that serious sin drives away one’s guardian angel, leaving sinners vulnerable to spiritual and perhaps even physical hurt in life’s spiritual warfare. Although this is somewhat conjectural, and perhaps contrary to Jesus’ remarks about God’s indiscriminate beneficence to saint and sinner alike (Mt. 5:45), still there may be some basis for the conjecture. God does withdraw many favors from those who disobey him (Deut. 28:15-68). Psalm 91 promises angelic protection “if you make the Most High your dwelling” (verse 9): it refers to God-lovers: “because he loves me … I will rescue him” (verse 14). “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear (reverence) him” (Ps. 34:8). And Scripture clearly states that angels are “sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Although it is possible that God may send angels to protect those who will not inherit salvation, yet there is no scriptural indication that he does so.
“Glad You Asked” by Fr. John Hampsch, cmf