Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
THE COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL: OCTOBER 1st, 2017 A.D. - THE HOLY GUARDIAN ANGELS
For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, celebrated on October 2. This Collect is identical in both forms of the Mass. Below is the Collect's translation in the Angelus Press edition of the Daily Roman Missal (MR '62):
"O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence hast deigned to send Thy holy Angels to keep watch over us: grant to us Thy suppliant people, that we may always be defended by their protection, and may rejoice in their fellowship for ever. Through our Lord."
The feast of the Holy Guardian Angels renders the entire month of October particularly devoted to the Holy Angels [October is simultaneously devoted to the Holy Rosary]. Like the feasts of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, this feast provides us an opportunity to celebrate God's providence, that is, His infinitely wise watch-care, guidance, and protection of us and all people. For thousands of years, Scripture and Tradition have been brimming over with countless examples of divine intervention through the Holy Angels. I imagine some of you could testify with moral certainty to a miraculous experience which you ascribe to your Guardian Angel.
Truth be told, whether or not we realize it, each of us experiences many graces, whether temporal or spiritual, which may be linked to the Holy Angels on a sound basis. In his excellent and systematic study, The Angels and Their Mission, Fr. Jean Danielou, S.J. shows us that Biblical, extra-Biblical, Patristic, and liturgical sources demonstrate that God is continually dispensing grace to everyone through the ministry of Angels, even if man is not always receptive to these graces (Danielou, The Angels and Their Mission, see especially chapters 1-2). This is what the Collect means when it acclaims God's providence, as it is mediated through his Angels, as "ineffable," or "unfathomable," as the ICEL translation of the Collect puts it. In other words, God's watchcare over us through His Angels is so wonderfully mysterious and wise, that the interventions of His grace transcend our limited understanding and perception.
When speaking about Angels, we must always be careful to avoid thinking too simplistically or egotistically about the divine Will. We also must avoid thinking that angelic protection means that we can fathom the mystery of evil or avoid suffering altogether. Our Guardian Angels do not take us down from the Cross. On the contrary, they help us to carry our Cross, just as an Angel was sent to strengthen Jesus in the Agony in the Garden (cf. Lk. 22:43). Indeed, God's gift to us of Guardian Angels is one compelling reason (among many others) to trust in His mercy and benevolence, which are at the very heart of His ineffable providence for each of us, even during our suffering. Hence, our dual petition: that our Angels may continue to protect us, and that we may find joy in their companionship both now and in heaven.
From childhood, many Catholics learn a simple rhyming prayer to their Guardian Angel:
"Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love entrusts me here: ever this day be at my side, to light and to guard, to rule and to guide. Amen."
This prayer is such a simple way for us to develop a greater attentiveness to God's providence and love. Let us stand in awe of the invisible workings of divine grace, thanking God for the fact that, long before time began, He planned to assign one of His Holy Angels to guard and protect us throughout our brief time on this earth (cf. Psalms 91 and 139).(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.