Symbolism

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The Luminous Angelic Assistance

Christine Fitzgerald

Our Lady of the Angels

Angels giving glory to the Virgin Mary and Christ Child
Your Guardian Angel is your companion and your friend. He is given to you at the first moment of existence and stays with you to the end. He inspires you with good and holy thoughts. He protects you from many dangers and accidents, and assists you in a thousand ways throughout your life. The Angels are most desirous to be our friends and they love us with all the intensity of their angelic natures. "He hath given His Angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up lest thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Psalm 91).

The Angels are pure spirits, mighty Princes of Heaven who stand before God. They are burning fires of love, filled with the plenitude of happiness. No two Angels are alike and there are too many to be numbered. All of them are indescribably beautiful. "Thousands and thousands ministered to Him and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him" (Dan 7:10).

St. Frances of Rome saw her own Angel. She said the splendor of her Angel dimmed the light of the sun and moon and stars in comparison. Often she could read her prayers by the light of her Angel. When the Angel rolled back the stone from the holy sepulcher, Sacred Scriptures says that the countenance of the Angel was like lightning and his clothes white as snow. His appearance was so full of majesty that the soldiers at the tomb were terrified and could not look at him. "For an Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow" (Matt 28: 2,3).

Reims, Angels

Above, the assistance of the Angels represented in the Cathedral of Rheims
Angelic intelligence is immeasurably superior to our own. We plod from truth to truth, studying, steadily investigating in order to understand a topic, but they understand the entire subject at a single glance. In that same glance, they immediately see all the nuances and consequences of a particular action. It is easy to see how important their assistance would be for us, who need help in making decisions each day of our lives.

There are angels in Heaven and also on earth, each with different jobs to do. Nations, cities, families, towns - all have their special Angels. St Thomas Aquinas teaches us that there are Angels that guide the stars, the moon, the sun, and the planets, keeping everything in harmony according to God's plan. Scripture tells us of the Angels that perform duties that some attribute to chance.

It was an Angel that gave its medicinal quality to the pool at Bethesda; an Angel generated the fires on Mount Sinai; the thunder and lightning were the work of Angels; and in the Apocalypse we read of the Angels restraining the winds. Thus, we learn that the course of nature, so marvelous and at times so fearful, is moved by these unseen beings.

Childish cherubs

Renaissance-style cherubs distort the image of the militancy of the Angels
Angels act as messengers as in the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary, or as protectors as when Archangel Raphael helped to guide young Tobias on a dangerous journey, or as avengers as when God sent an Angel who killed 70,000 Egyptians in one night as a punishment for the Pharaoh not releasing the Hebrews from slavery.

They are also powerful protectors against the tricks of the devil. They will fight by your side and inspire you on how to resist the temptations of the devil. "Be sober and watch: because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5: 8). The Angels protect us from falling into temptations and avert natural disasters from befalling us – often the person never even realizes the tragedy he narrowly missed.

It is interesting to note that at the time of the Renaissance, Angels began to be portrayed as fat, sweet babies with wings. This artistic style continues to our day. It is a shame for such militant warriors to be reduced to these weak, infantile representations. In the mind of the viewer, the role of the Angel as protector and avenger fades away, replaced by a different idea. It is a subtle way of gradually changing the notion of the principle that life is a war between good and evil with the agents of each side fighting to win the souls of men. There is no spirit of fight in the fat baby angels – in fact, they are so smiling and happy that it appears nothing is amiss in their world.

Protection of the Guardian Angel

Our Guardian Angels fight for us
until the last moment
And yet, there are many incidences in the lives of the Saints that show the militant, protective mission of the Angels toward men. St John Bosco, for example, was a man who fought vigorously against the Waldensian heresy. Many of the heretics hated him for his unrelenting fight and tried to kill him many times. During this dangerous period of his life, a large grey dog appeared and would accompany him as he walked the streets of the city, fighting off any attackers. When the danger passed, the dog disappeared. In his writings, Don Bosco called this dog Grigio [Grey], and he believed that it was an angelic intervention protecting him so many times over a period of 30 years.

Angels also reflect God's goodness, kindness, and generosity. He gave us these Angels to "level out the playing field." Man by himself is no match for the wily Devil, a fallen angel that still retains all his intellectual prowess and powers. Without some kind of supernatural help, we would be certain to make many mistakes, some irreparable.

God in His goodness gave us Angels. Knowing this, wouldn't it be foolish to ignore our Guardian Angels and not ask often for their help?

"Ask us and we will give you a share of all our treasures, all our graces, all our happiness," they seem to say. The only thing standing between us and these benefits is our forgetfulness of these wonderful beings.



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