Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Memorial of The Holy Guardian Angels
In homily St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who, I don't mind writing, is not one of my favorite saints, said that the angels who watch over us: "should fill [us] with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection. And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need. So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honour them as much as we can and should. Yet all our love and honour must go to him, for it is from him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect."
It is important to note that the belief that everyone is possessed of a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church. Therefore, it is a not doctrine. However, as St. Jerome, in his commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel, particularly the passage read at Mass today (i.e., Matt. 18,1-10), writes that this belief is "the mind of the Church". He continues, "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it" (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).
"We are God’s children," St. Bernard continues, "although it does not seem so, because we are still but small children under guardians and trustees, and for the present little better than slaves.
"Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven."
As far as the picture, there is Catholic kitsch and then there is Catholic kitsch. This piece of kitsch I love. When our oldest son was born and we were in grad. school we lived in a small four-plex. We received a blue blanket with and a medallion with this picture on it. His bedroom, in addition to his bassinet, had a bed. Sometimes, while he napped, I would lay on the bed and for some reason I looked at this picture a lot. It comforted me in the same way that a book about a dog who sailed the high seas when I was kid, I mean a really little kid, like 5 or 6. I cannot for the life of me remember the title of the book, but it gave me a lot of comfort when I was little because I spent a lot of time alone. Now, whenever I pray to my guardian angel, either along with or apart from our children, I think of this picture and it comforts me. That is my whatever moment for October. I thought I'd get it out of the way early.