From Blessings of the Daily
May the angels defend us here below
Who walk by faith and not by sight;
Through them bestow on us your gifts
To follow true salvation’s light.
O Jesus, joy of angels fair,
Through them direct our steps aright,
That we may also by their care
Rejoice forever in your sight.
— Hymn of the Feast
A few years ago the subject of angels was much in vogue. Countless books, some of them bestsellers, were written about angels and people’s experience with them. Even a TV series was fashioned exclusively on the theme of good angels.
The name “angel” comes from the Hebrew, meaning “one sent,” or “messenger.” References to angels abound in both the Old and the New Testaments. The best-known Old Testament passage is the beautiful story of the visit of the three angels to Abraham, often used by ikonographers to depict the ikon of the Holy Trinity. The writings of Saint Justin mention that “a host of good angels was held in the greatest veneration” by the early Christians. These Christians firmly believed that angels were appointed by God to guard them from evil, so they often recommended themselves in prayer to their safekeeping.
Later Fathers, like Saint Basil, wrote that “no one denies that each of the faithful has his own guardian angel.” And Saint Augustine followed by thanking God for his guardian angel saying, “I deem it, O my God, an inestimable benefit that you have granted me an angel as a guide from the moment of my birth to that of my death.”
The mystery of angels, at times a bit nebulous, is nevertheless immensely consoling, rooted as it is in the belief that each of us is a child of God and therefore has a heavenly being appointed by him to be our tutor, our guide, and our protector. Our guardian angel also has the unique assignment of being God’s particular messenger to each of us. In the Eastern Church, angels are often referred to as “wind” and “fire,” images closely connected with the Holy Spirit. Whatever our conception of angels may be, there is no doubt that God entrusted these heavenly spirits with the role of ministering to us and of sheltering us safely beneath the shadow of their wings.