Chumminess and Our Guardian Angel

Attitudes to the feast of our Holy Guardian Angels can be quite revealing of how we approach the holy. Some people are clearly embarrassed by the very idea. For them, angels are chubby little putti, charming adornments to Rococo ceilings, but not to be taken seriously. We have outgrown all that, surely?  For others, angels are a constant presence — chums in the original sense of the word—sent to guide and guard us through life’s troubles. If a little sentimentality mingles with our devotion, what’s wrong with that? And then there are those who are awed by these mighty spirits sent to serve, these messengers of God whose dwelling is fire and flame. Their presence with us is a sign of the holy and we tremble at the thought. Siegfried Sassoon once wrote to D. Felicitas Corrigan that he had seen an angel. She replied very crisply that she did not think an angel of God could be so circumscribed as his description suggested. (I suspect D. Felicitas knew something about angels; she certainly had the measure of Sassoon!)

Have you ever stopped to consider the presence of angels all around you? St Benedict refers to their constantly reporting our deeds to God as they make their way up and down the ladder between earth and heaven Jacob saw in his vision. It is an arresting thought. We are more and more aware of State surveillance, of the long reach of the internet into our private lives, but we have forgotten that everything about us is known to God. Nothing escapes His merciful eye. The problem for most of us is how to live with that knowledge without being either crushed by it or making it into some kind of bugbear. You might try asking the prayers of your guardian angel to help you.

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