One of the first prayers I learned as a child was the Prayer to the Guardian Angel. For a long time, I thought that I had my own angel who kept me away from temptations, sickness, and accidents. In moments when fear and anxieties overwhelmed me, I found solace in Mario Lanza’s song:
Guardian angels around my bed
Joining me in my prayers.
They hush the shadows when they dance about
They shoo away the bears.
Guardian angels to comfort me
If I wake in the night.
They gather all my dreams
Their halos are my light.
It is reassuring to believe that each of us has a guardian angel that follows us around, to protect us from all harm and the seductions of the devil. In truth, angels are not our personal bodyguards. They are ministering spirits whose main function is to manifest God’s glory and power, and to help all of us attain God’s purposes, especially our salvation through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:14).
One of the ways they do this is to call attention to our worth as human beings. The fact that Jesus chose to become human like us proves the supreme value God sees in us. As we read in Hebrews 1:13: “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?'” We are worth more than angels because Jesus, the Son of God, who is infinitely greater than angels, chose to diefor us.
Angels also remind us of who we are. Like them, we are spiritual beings, although we have a body which is subject to the limitations of time and space. We are made after God’s image, and when angels minister to us, they behold God’s face in each of us. As today’s Gospel reading tells us: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
We need to be reminded that we are spiritual beings because we often put much emphasis on “being human” and neglect our “being spiritual.” Teilhard de Chardin points this out when he wrote: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
We are spiritual beings. We have an eternal soul. Our soul needs an intense and vibrant spiritual life in the same way that our body needs food. A life devoid of spirituality leads to restlessness, addiction, insecurity, and frustration.
We see around us today signs that we are starving our souls with spirituality: Inordinate desire for physical pleasures, blind faith in technology, attachment to electronic gadgets and conveniences, a lifestyle governed by the ethics of consumerism and advertising, and a mindset thoroughly influenced by the media of communications. It is probable that the paranoia, neurosis, and even psychosis afflicting many people today may be caused by the loss of spirituality in their life.
Nature hates a vacuum. If we can’t stop ourselves from obsessive eating, drinking, smoking, or if we can’t pull ourselves away from the computer or the television, it might be because these have become a substitute for the religious rituals that foster our spirituality.
We are spiritual beings destined for eternity. Eternity does not begin after death. It begins the moment we are born. There is wisdom in spending our earthly life as though we are already living in eternity. Jesus gives us a stern warning if we neglect to foster a spiritual life: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). As one poem goes:
“When your life is over,
Do you think that God would say,
You have earned eternity by what you did today?”