Today is the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels in the Roman Catholic Church. While the Lutheran church doesn’t celebrate this feast, the notion of guardian angels (however uncomfortable and alien it may seem to modern ears, including my own) is deeply embedded in Lutheran teaching and spirituality. After all, Luther’s Small Catechism – at once a doctrinal standard and a pastoral and devotional tool – calls on us to conclude our prayers, in the morning and at night, with the words:
Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.
Luther also wrote:
For we who believe must be certain that the princes of heaven are with us, not one or two, but a great multitude of them, as is recorded in Luke that the heavenly hosts were with the shepherds (Luke 2:13). But if we were without this protection, and the Lord did not restrain the fury of Satan in this manner, we would not remain alive for a single moment. … Therefore the good angels are busy in order that the fierce enemy may not inflict harm.
As for the Catholic feast, today’s Magnificat has a lovely devotion on the guardian angels by Fr Adolphe Tanqueray. Fr Tanqueray quotes Fr Odier’s Trinitarian-flavoured meditation on the role of the guardian angels, based on our being children of God, members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit:
Because we are his children, he appoints to us as tutors the princes of his realm, who hold it an honour to have us in their charge. Because we are his temples in which he himself dwells, he wills that angels hover about us as they do about our churches, so that bowed down in worship before him they may offer a perpetual homage to his glory, supplying for our neglect and making reparation for our irreverence.
He sends this mysterious host of angels in order that they may by uniting themselves to us and binding us to themselves form one body of the Church of heaven and the Church of earth.
I particularly love that image of the angels hovering about us, “supplying for our neglect and making reparation for our irreverence.”