- Guardian angel
A guardian angel is an
angelwho protects and guides a particular person. The concept of tutelary angels and their hierarchy was extensively developed in Christianityin the 5th centuryby Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. The theology of angels, and tutelary spirits, has undergone many refinements since the 400s, and belief in both the eastern and western churches is that guardian angels protect whichever person to whom God assigns them, [cf. CCC 336.] and present prayers to God on that person's behalf. The Roman Catholic Church's calendar of saintsincludes a memorial for the guardian angels on October 2.
The belief that
Godsends a spirit to watch every individual was common in Ancient Greek philosophy, and Platoalludes to it in " Phaedo", 108.
Similarly, the belief appears in the
Old Testament, although it is not specifically articulated nor delineated. The belief that angels can be guides and intercessors for men appears in Job 33:23-6, and in the Book of Daniel(specifically Daniel 10:13) angels seem to be assigned to certain countries. In this latter case the “prince of the Persian kingdom” was referring to one of the fallen angels also known to many as a demon. The same verse mentions “Michael, one of the chief princes,” and Michael is one of the few angels named in the Bible. In the New Testament Book of JudeMichael is described as an archangel. The Book of Enoch, part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church's canon of scripture, says that God will "set a guard of holy angels over all the righteous" (1En 100:5).
In Matthew 18:10,
Jesussays of children: "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven" (" New International Version"). This is often understood to mean that children are protected by guardian angels.
This appears to be corroborated by Hebrews 1:14 when speaking of angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" The greek text reads "who are about to be given salvation." Once the child or any person has received salvation and has Christ in them, the need for a lesser guardian is obviated.
In Acts 12:12-15 there is another allusion to the belief that a specific angel is assigned to protect each individual. After Peter had been escorted out of prison by an angel, he went to the home of 'Mary the mother of John, also called Mark'. The servant girl, Rhoda, recognized his voice and ran back to tell the group that Peter was there. However the group replied, "It must be his angel"' (12:15).
Whether guardian angels attend each and every person is not consistently believed or upheld in patristic Christian thought. [ [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm Guardian Angel] -
Catholic Encyclopediaarticle] Saint Ambrose, for example, believed that saints lose their guardian angels so that they might have a greater struggle and persevere. Saints Jeromeand Basil of Caesareaargued that sindrove the angels away.
The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was
Honorius of Autun. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body, although such a thought requires the pre-existence of the soul/essence. Scholastic theologians augmented and ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinasagreed with Honorius and specified that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians, and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotussaid that any angel might accept the mission. Saint Gemma Galgani, a mystic, stated that she had spoken with her guardian angel.
Guardian angels appear in literary works throughout the medieval and Renaissance periods. Also later, the Anglican English
physicianand philosopherSir Thomas Browne ( 1605-82), stated his belief in " Religio Medici" (part 1, paragraph 33):
:Therefore for Spirits I am so farre from denying their existence, that I could easily believe, that not only whole Countries, but particular persons have their Tutelary, and Guardian Angels: It is not a new opinion of the Church of Rome, but an old one of Pythagoras and Plato; there is no heresay in it, and if not manifestly defined in Scripiture, yet is it an opinion of a good and wholesome use in the course and actions of a man's life, and would serve as an Hypothesis to salve many doubts, whereof common philosophy affordeth no solution.
By the 19th century, the guardian angel was no longer viewed in Anglophone lands as an intercessory figure, but rather as a force protecting the believer from performing sin. In Lord Byron's "
Don Juan," there is a parody of this:::"Oh! she was perfect past all parallel—::::Of any modern female saint's comparison;::So far above the cunning powers of hell,::::Her guardian angel had given up his garrison" (Canto I, xvii).While Byron's usage of the guardian angel is influenced by Alexander Pope's " sylph," it seems that the popular image of the angel was as a spiritual superego.
Guardian Angel prayer
This is the traditional Catholic prayer to one's guardian angel. [ [http://www.beliefnet.com/prayeroftheday/prayer_pf2.asp?paid=41&faid=68 Beliefnet Christian Children's Prayers] 07-20-2006]
:"Angel of God, my guardian dear" :"to whom God's love commits me here." :"Ever this day/night be at my side" :"to light, to guard, to rule and guide." :"Amen. "
In Latin::"Angele Dei,":"qui custos es mei," :"me, tibi commissum pietate superna," :"illumina, custodi," :"rege et guberna.":"Amen." [ [http://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html#A)%20COMMON%20PRAYERS "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church] " Dec. 8, 2007]
Eastern Orthodoxprayer to the Guardian Angel:
"O Angel of Christ, my holy Guardian and Protector of my soul and body, forgive me all my sins of today. Deliver me from all the wiles of the enemy, that I may not anger my God by any sin. Pray for me, sinful and unworthy servant, that thou mayest present me worthy of the kindness and mercy of the All-holy Trinity and the Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, and of all the Saints. Amen."
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