Guardian Angels

Q. My grandchild was talking to me about guardian angels and thinks that every person has one assigned to them. This seems unrealistic to me, but wonder what the Church teaches in this area. What if a person doesn’t believe in angels, or even God, would they have a guardian angel?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:  

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica, “It is … manifest that as regards things to be done human knowledge and affection can … fail from good in many ways; and so it was necessary that angels should be deputed for the guardianship of men, in order to regulate them and move them to good.”

But St. Thomas was a latecomer when it came to embracing the comforting theology of guardian angels. St. Bernard preached about them 200 years earlier, and Sts. Basil and Jerome 600 years before him. They based their faith, of course, on the Scripture passage in which Jesus admonishes his listeners, “See that you do not despise not one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Mt 18:10).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels” (No. 334), and “from its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession” (No. 336). Belief in a personal guardian angel is not an article of faith, but is a logical conclusion from Jesus’ words, which apply to every person, not only baptized Christians.