As pure spiritual beings, angels do exist

Published: December 15, 2018

By Chris Thomas
St. Edward Church, Texarkana

“Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.”

Last night, as I tucked our grandson into bed, we took a moment to pray this ancient prayer. I couldn’t help but remember this same evening prayer with his father decades ago and learning it myself before then. Attributed to a Benedictine source in the 11th century, its simplicity makes it easily memorized as we invoke the intercession of our personal guardian angel.

Angels are a different creation than humans. The existence of these pure spiritual beings is attested in the tradition of our faith as well as in Scripture where angels are found literally from Genesis, the first book, through Revelations, the last.

Angels are a different creation than humans. The existence of these pure spiritual beings is attested in the tradition of our faith as well as in Scripture where angels are found literally from Genesis, the first book, through Revelations, the last.

The Hebrew "mal’ak" for messenger is translated to "angelos" in the Septaguint, the earliest translation from Hebrew to Greek, and from there our English term “angel” is derived. 

St. Augustine teaches "'angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit;' if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel:' from what they are 'spirit,' from what they do, 'angel.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 329) 

From the Incarnation through the Ascension, Jesus’ life is surrounded by the service and ministering of angels. St. Gabriel, one of three named angels in Scripture, appears to Zechariah to tell of the coming birth of John.

Shortly thereafter he comes to Mary to bring her the good news of the conception and birth of Jesus. In both instances, the parent is troubled by the appearance and the angel quickly reassures with the words, “Do not be afraid.”

Yet again, at Jesus’ birth, the appearance of the angel of the Lord strikes fear in the shepherds in the field. They, too, are reassured with the words, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

At his words, the shepherds experienced the presence of a “multitude of the heavenly host” who were praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) We echo their words even to this day in the introductory rites of the Order of Mass.

In Matthew, Jesus teaches us not to despise the little ones, “for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” (18:10)

Throughout history, the saints have also taught of the existence and work of the angels including our guardians. In the last century, St. Padre Pio was known to rely on his guardian angel for intercession and protection.

Writing to his spiritual daughter, Raffaelina Cerase, he assured her, “Develop the beautiful habit of always thinking of him; that near us is a celestial spirit, who, from the cradle to the tomb, does not leave us for an instant, guides us, protects us as a friend, a brother; will always be a consolation to us especially in our saddest moments. Invoke often this guardian angel and repeat the beautiful prayer: ‘Oh angel of God, my guardian dear …’” (Letters, vol. II, no. 64)