Your Guardian Angel Throughout Life
by Rev. Johann Evangelist Zollner, 1883

"Behold, I will send my Angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared."--Exodus, 23: 30.

The feast of the Guardian Angels was formerly associated with that of the Archangel Michael, i. e., the Church celebrated with the feast of St. Michael on the 29th day of September also the feast of all holy Angels. In the sixteenth century the feast of the holy Guardian Angels was separated from that of St. Michael, and a proper day appointed for its celebration. Pope Paul V. confirmed this separate celebration in the year 1608, and Clement IX. ordained that the feast of the Guardian Angels, with an Octave, should be annually celebrated on the second day of October. For Germany, however, he permitted the celebration of this feast on the first day of September. The words which the Lord spoke to the people of Israel apply to the holy Guardian Angel: "Behold, I will send my Angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared." When the Israelites journeyed through the desert, God placed them under the special protection of an Angel, who went before them, protected them against all calamities, and conducted them into the land of Chanaan. The holy Guardian Angels do the same for us; they accompany us on our journey, guard and protect us, and lead us into heaven if we allow ourselves to be led by them. Of this comforting and encouraging truth, the protection of the Guardian Angels, I shall speak to you today. I say: the Angels guard us.

I. In the beginning,
II. In the course, and
III. At the end of our life.

Part I.

As the Angel of the Lord went before the Israelites on their journey through the desert, so the holy Angels precede us on our earthly pilgrimage: they guarded us,

1. In our mother's womb: Celebrated divines, such as St. Anselm, Albert the Great, St. Thomas of Aquin, St. Bonaventure, teach that God gives an Angel as guardian to children as soon as conceived in the mother's womb. Thus St. Anselm says: "Every soul, when it comes into the body, i. e., when God unites it with the body of the child, is entrusted to an Angel." There are good reasons for this doctrine.

(a) There is no doubt that the devil brings his dangerous influence to bear upon children in their mother's womb, and endeavors to implant in them many evil inclinations and passions; for he knows that these evil germs easily develop themselves and become the cause of many and grievous sins. The evil spirit strives especially to transfer to the children in their mother's womb those passions to which the parents, especially the mothers, are subject, v. g., avarice, voluptuousness, anger, envy; wherefore they need an angel even before their birth, to counteract the devil and prevent his injuries. Hence St. Thomas of Aquin says: "A Guardian Angel is appointed for children at the infusion of the rational soul, in order to put a stop to the power of the devil, who seeks to injure them."

(b) Nature too has numerous dangers for children in their mother's womb. Since sin has found entrance into the world, all nature is unfriendly to man and brings manifold woes upon him. Even the unborn child is subject to its pernicious influences, and its life is menaced so much the more that it is still very weak and resembles a tender plant which the first frost withers. Add to this, that the life of the child is most intimately connected with that of the mother, and that whatever injures the mother, is more or less disadvantageous to the child. Now it is the Guardian Angel that watches over the child, and keeps away from it whatever could endanger its life. It is a matter of the greatest importance to him that the child should be born living and be baptised, because otherwise it could not enter into heaven. Christian mothers, therefore, should not omit daily to recommend the child which they carry under their heart, to the protection of its Guardian Angel, that it may come happily into the world and receive the grace of Baptism.

2. After their birth

(a) Little children stand in an especial need of the protection of the holy Angels. They are yet entirely destitute of reason, and have no presentiment of the dangers that menace them on every side; they are also thoughtless and curious, and therefore experience a desire to see, hear, and enjoy whatever has a charm for them. How easily then can they be injured! Not less for them are the dangers of the soul; since they cannot yet distinguish between right and wrong, are by nature prone to evil, and hear and see many evil things, it happens only too often that they deviate from the right road. Many children are also badly watched and guarded, for many parents care more for their cattle than for their children. Is it not perfectly reasonable, then, to believe that God places children under the protection of his holy Angels in order to guard them against all injuries of body and soul?

(b) Jesus himself assures us in plain voids, that such is the case. "Take heed, that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their Angels in heaven always see the face of my Father, who is in heaven."--Matt. 18: 10. That is to say: Take heed that you do not scandalize children and induce them to sin, for he who does so, sins against the Angels whom God has given to them for their protection, and assumes a great accountability upon himself. As there are sentinels placed at the palace of a king, who day and night guard the entrances to it, so the Guardian Angels watch uninterruptedly over their foster-children, and take care that no unfortunate accident befalls them.

(c) History furnishes numerous examples of the extraordinary protection which children enjoy on the part of their Angels. (Give one or more examples.') If you look back upon the years of your childhood, must you not confess that on various occasions you were in the greatest dangers and would have been killed, if your Guardian Angel had not protected you? If, after all, children suffer loss in body and soul, we have no reason to conclude that the Angels have no care of them; the misfortune which befalls them is an ordinance or permission of God, to which the Angels entirely submit.

Part II.

The Angel of the Lord stood by the side of the Israelites on their journey through the desert in every danger and need. To us also, God has appointed an Angel upon our journey through a life so full of dangers and trials, who guards us in all our necessities,

1. Of the body. We have evidence of this,

(a) In the Old Testament. "God," says the Psalmist (90: 11, 12), "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." Proofs of this are, Agar, Abraham's bond-woman, who lost her way in the wilderness of Bersabee, and whose child, Ismael, was perishing from hunger. She lifted up her voice and wept, when an Angel appeared and showed her a well of water and saved her and her child from death.--Gen. 21. The Prophet Elias fled from Jezebel into the desert; exhausted from the laborious journey and discouraged by solitude, he sat down and asked God to let him die. An Angel of the Lord appears to him and brings him a hearth-cake and a vessel of water and commands him to eat. He eats and drinks and walks in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, unto the mount of God, Horeb.--III. Kings, 19. An Angel of the Lord went down with Azarias and his companions into the fiery furnace into which Nabuchodonosor had cast them, and drove the flame of the fire out of the furnace, and made the midst of it like the blowing of a moist, cool wind, and the fire touched them not at all, nor troubled them, nor did them any harm.--Dan. 3. Other examples are Lot, whom Angels conducted out of Sodom, in order that he should not perish; the two Tobiases, on whom the Archangel Raphael conferred great benefits; and Daniel, whom an Angel protected in the lion's den.

(b) In the New Testament. Peter was in prison guarded by sixteen soldiers; the following day he was to be executed. An Angel of the Lord comes to him, awakens him from sleep, and says: "Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me." The chains fall from his hands, the iron gate opens to them of itself, the Angel conducts him through the midst of the guards and accompanied him through a street, till he was in safety. Full of amazement Peter exclaimed: "Now I know, indeed, that the Lord hath sent His Angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews."--Acts, 12. St. Paul, in his voyage to Rome, was in a ship which was overtaken by so violent a storm that all hopes of safely were lost. But he exhorted his fellow-passengers to be of good cheer, assuring them that an Angel had stood by him that night, and told him that there should be no loss of any man's life among them. And thus it came to pass; every soul got safe to land.--Acts, 27.

History furnishes many similar examples of the miraculous protection of the Angels. Peruse the Lives of the Saints, and you will find many who enjoyed an especial protection of the Angels. How thankful must we be towards God, who has given us his Angels as guardians! But that we may count on their guardianship, we must strive to lead a pious life. He who lives in sins and vices, hopes in vain for the protection and help of Angels. As we read in the Sacred Scriptures, God employs his Angels rather to punish sinners. Thus Angels destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with all their inhabitants; the Angels struck Heliodorus and he fell to the earth as dead. Live piously and virtuously, that the Angels may keep a loving watch over you.

2. Of the soul.

The principal office of the Angels is to watch over men that they may serve God and save their souls; wherefore the Apostle writes: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for those who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?"--Heb. 1: 14. It is a part of the service of the Angels,

(a) To protect us from the snares of the enemies of our salvation. St. Peter Damian says: "Heavenly spirits daily hasten over the globe, and reach out to us a helping hand in the struggle. For how could man, weak as he is, resist the cunning of the wily and well-practised enemy, if the power of the holy Angels did not keep temptation away from us?" As long as we live upon earth we must fight; for the world, the flesh and the devil place all kinds of obstacles in the way of our service of God, and seek to lead us into evil. By the exertions of these our enemies, hard struggles ensue, in which even well-trained warriors of Christ might become faint-hearted. Now it is the Angels that assist and inspire us with courage and obtain of God the grace to win the victory over all the enemies of our salvation.

(b) To oppose those who intend to pursue evil ways and to guard them against sin and vice. When Balaam went to King Balac, the ass upon which he rode turned herself out of the way. He beat her and endeavored to bring her again to the road: but the ass thrust herself close to the wall, and bruised the foot of the rider. He still kept on belaboring the poor animal, for he was not aware that an Angel prevented her from proceeding any farther. At last his eyes were opened and he saw the Angel standing in the way, with a drawn sword, who said to him: "I am come to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse."--Numbers, 22. In like manner the Guardian Angel keeps man back when he is about to do evil. He does not resist him visibly, but invisibly by interior inspirations and suggestions, by the motions of conscience, by the admonitions of pastors in the pulpit and in the confessional, or by the fraternal correction of a well-meaning friend, he seeks to withdraw him from evil.

(c) To obtain of God grace for sinners, for the salvation of their souls. Jesus once spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. And he said to the tiller of the vineyard: Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and I find none. Cut it down, therefore; why doth it take up the ground? But he answering, said to him: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it; and if happily it bear fruit; but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."--Luke, 13: 6-9. Let us recognize the Guardian Angel in the tiller of the vineyard. God frequently raises his arm, in order to cut down men on account of their constant impenitence, like unfruitful trees, and to cast them into the fire; but the holy Guardian Angels intervene and intercede and obtain for them another lease of grace, that they may do penance and escape perdition.

Part III.

After wandering for forty years in the desert the Israelites were obliged to fight hard, for the inhabitants of Chanaan would not voluntarily cede their beautiful country to them. But the Angel of the Lord helped them to conquer all their enemies and with great miracles conducted them into the land of promise. Hard struggles also await us at the end of our pilgrimage here below; our Guardian Angels will not forsake us; but will,

1. Come to our assistance in our last struggle.

(a) The evil spirit, indeed, tempts men as long as they live, but especially at the approach of death, because he knows that he has only a little time to plunge their souls into perdition. We may apply to the dying the words of the Apocalypse: "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time."--12: 12. The dying man therefore experiences hard struggles. The devil will tempt him against faith and endeavor by various specious arguments to lead him into unbelief or errors about faith; he will represent all his sins vividly before his eyes in order to make him faint hearted and bring him to despair, or entice him to vanity, to inordinate confidence in his own goodness, and suggest to him; Heaven is yours by right, for you have more merit than many of the Saints.

(b) In these temptations the Guardian Angel will come to the help of the dying man. We cannot doubt this in the least, for if the Angels give us so ready and powerful an assistance in the struggles which await us in the course of life, how would it be possible for them to leave us without succor or abandon us in our last struggle, on the result of which depends our whole eternity? We need not therefore trouble ourselves, on account of the temptations which the devil prepares for us on our death-bed; if we lead a good Christian life, our holy Guardian Angel will defend us against all his attacks, and help us safely to finish our course.

2. The Guardian Angel will also conduct our soul to God.

Our Blessed Lord Himself testifies to this when He says of Lazarus; "And it came to pass that the beggar died, and he was carried by the Angels into Abiaham's bosom."--Luke, 16. 22. Thus we read of many Saints, that Angels stood around their death-bed and carried their departed souls joyously to the bosom of God, in heaven. Thus at the death of St. Gerard, Bishop of Toul, the following occurrence took place: A monk, named Falcuin, was lying on his death-bed at the same time with the holy bishop. His brothers in religion thought him dead, when he once more revived and said to those present: "Know my departure has been delayed, but over another there is now great joy in heaven. I have seen how the rejoicing legions of Angels hastened to meet a soul departing hence and carried it affectionately, caressing it before the face of the Eternal Judge." Shortly after, it was ascertained that the holy bishop had died at that time; and they concluded that the then departing soul was his. In the belief that the holy Angels accompany to heaven the souls of those who die in the Lord, the Church in her prayers for the dying asks for this grace, when she prays: "May St. Michael, the prince of the heavenly host, receive thy departing soul; may the glittering choir of the Angels of God hasten to meet and conduct her into the heavenly Jerusalem."


The Guardian Angels do to us what the Angel of the Lord did to the Israelites. They go before us; for already in our mother's womb and in our early childhood they watch over us and take us under their protection. They guard us on our way, give us succor in all needs of body and soul, and confer on us many benefits. Finally they bring us into the place which God has prepared for us, for they protect us in the hour of death from all the assaults of Satan and accompany our soul to God. Recognize, then, how much you owe to them, and labor to make yourselves worthy of their protection. Venerate them daily and invoke them every morning and evening to assist you in all dangers. Follow their suggestions and behave yourselves always decently and piously. Take heed that you scandalize no one, much less the innocent and children; on the contrary, edify all by a good example, and endeavor to preserve them in the way of virtue; or if they have strayed from it, to bring them back to it. Thus you will make the holy Angels your friends; they will keep a loving watch over you, protect you in life and death, and conduct your departing soul to God in heaven. Amen.