Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels – 2 October
Sermon on the Holy Guardian Angels
By St Bernard (1090-1153)
Doctor of the Church
“He hath given his angels charge over thee.” O wonderful bounty and truly great love of charity! Who? For whom? Wherefore? What has He commanded? Let us study closely, brethren and let us diligently commit to our memory, this great mandate. Who is it that commands? Whose angels are they? Whose mandates do they fulfil? Whose will do they obey? In answer, “He hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” And they do not hesitate even to lift thee up in their hands.
So the Supreme Majesty has given charge to the angels. Yes, He has given charge to His own angels. Think of it! To those sublime beings, who cling to Him so joyfully and intimately, to His very own He has given charge over you! Who are you? “What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visit him?” As if man were not rottenness and the son of man a worm! Now why, do you think, he Has given them charge over thee? — To guard thee!
With what great reverence should you treat this word! What devotion should you proffer it, what great confidence should you place in it. Reverence because of their presence, devotion because of their benevolence, confidence because of their solicitude. Walk carefully, in all thy ways, as one with whom the angels are presen,t as He has given them charge. In every lodging, at every corner, have reverence for thy Angel. Do not dare to do in his presence what you would not dare to do if I were there. Or do you doubt that he is present whom you do not behold? What if you should hear him? What if you should touch him? What if you should scent him? Remember that the presence of something is not proved only by the sight of things.
In this, therefore, brethren, let us affectionately love His angels as one day our future coheirs, meanwhile, however, as counsellors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. Why should we fear under such guardians? Those who keep us in all our ways, can neither be overcome, nor be deceived, much less deceive. They are faithful, they are pruden, they are powerful, why do we tremble? Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them and in the protection of the God of heaven, let us abide. As often, therefore, as a most serious temptation is perceived to weigh upon you and an excessive trial is threatening, call to your guard, your leader, your helper in your needs, in your tribulation, cry to him and say: “Lord, save us; we perish!”
This excerpt from a sermon by St Bernard of Clairvaux (Sermo 12 in psalmum Qui habitat, 3. 6-8: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4 , 458-462) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the memorial of the Guardian Angels on 2 October.