Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catechism on Guardian Angels, St. Thomas

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love entrusts me here
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.

All answers are from St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q. 113.

Who has the benefit of a guardian angel?

"Each man has an angel guardian appointed to him. This rests upon the fact that the guardianship of angels belongs to the execution of Divine providence concerning men."

"(T)hose benefits which are conferred by God on man as a Christian, begin with his baptism; such as receiving the Eucharist, and the like. But those which are conferred by God on man as a rational being, are bestowed on him at his birth, for then it is that he receives that nature. Among the latter benefits we must count the guardianship of angels, as we have said above. Wherefore from the very moment of his birth man has an angel guardian appointed to him."

"Jerome says that "each soul has an angel appointed to guard it from its birth."

"As long as the child is in the mother's womb it is not entirely separate, but by reason of a certain intimate tie, is still part of her: just as the fruit while hanging on the tree is part of the tree. And therefore it can be said with some degree of probability, that the angel who guards the mother guards the child while in the womb. But at its birth, when it becomes separate from the mother, an angel guardian is appointed to it; as Jerome, above quoted, says."

Why do we all have guardian angels?

"A guardian may be assigned to a man for two reasons: first, inasmuch as a man is an individual, and thus to one man one guardian is due; and sometimes several are appointed to guard one."

"Secondly, inasmuch as a man is part of a community, and thus one man is appointed as guardian of a whole community; to whom it belongs to provide what concerns one man in his relation to the whole community, such as external works, which are sources of strength or weakness to others. But angel guardians are given to men also as regards invisible and occult things, concerning the salvation of each one in his own regard. Hence individual angels are appointed to guard individual men."

"Man while in this state of life, is, as it were, on a road by which he should journey towards heaven. On this road man is threatened by many dangers both from within and from without, according to Psalm 141:4: "In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me." And therefore as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel guardian is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer. When, however, he arrives at the end of life he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the kingdom he will have an angel to reign with him, in hell a demon to punish him."

Jesus Christ is not only a man but God, so why did angels minister to him?

"Christ as man was guided immediately by the Word of God: wherefore He needed not be guarded by an angel. Again as regards His soul, He was a comprehensor, although in regard to His passible body, He was a wayfarer. In this latter respect it was right that He should have not a guardian angel as superior to Him, but a ministering angel as inferior to Him. Whence it is written (Matthew 4:11) that "angels came and ministered to Him.""

Adam and Eve were created in original justice, without sin.  Did they need or have guardian angels?

"In the state of innocence man was not threatened by any peril from within: because within him all was well ordered, as we have said above. But peril threatened from without on account of the snares of the demons; as was proved by the event. For this reason he needed a guardian angel."

What is the effect of an angel's guardianship?

"Even inferior angels exercise the office of the superior, as they share in their gifts, and they are executors of the superiors' power; and in this way all the angels of the lowest order can coerce the demons, and work miracles."

"Guardianship is ordained to enlightenment by instruction, as to its ultimate and principal effect. Nevertheless it has many other effects consistent with childhood; for instance to ward off the demons, and to prevent both bodily and spiritual harm."

If angles are perfect, and can coerce demons, then why are some men damned despite their protection?

"Angels are sent to minister, and that efficaciously indeed, for those who shall receive the inheritance of salvation, if we consider the ultimate effect of their guardianship, which is the realizing of that inheritance. But for all that, the angelic ministrations are not withdrawn for others although they are not so efficacious as to bring them to salvation: efficacious, nevertheless, they are, inasmuch as they ward off many evils."

"Just as the foreknown, the infidels, and even Antichrist, are not deprived of the interior help of natural reason; so neither are they deprived of that exterior help granted by God to the whole human race--namely the guardianship of the angels. And although the help which they receive therefrom does not result in their deserving eternal life by good works, it does nevertheless conduce to their being protected from certain evils which would hurt both themselves and others. For even the demons are held off by the good angels, lest they hurt as much as they would. In like manner Antichrist will not do as much harm as he would wish."

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