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Preface: His Angels at Our Side

  • FATHER JOHN HORGAN

One of the most beautiful and comforting elements of Catholic belief is the existence and ministry of angels.


angelshorganFrom early childhood, we learn that God has created "things visible and invisible," including those invisible but mighty servants, His messengers, who obey His commands and speak on His behalf.  His angels watch over us, guide us on the path to holiness, and protect us from harm.

We picture them with shining faces, glorious wings that ascend on high, and strong arms that protect and surround us.  Their images look back on us from the pages of Bibles and catechisms and the windows and walls of our churches.  An angel announces the Incarnation of Jesus to Mary, and we echo his words in countless prayers each day.  A host of angels sing Christ's Birth and proclaim His coming to the shepherds, and another moves the star to guide the Magi; they accompany the Lord throughout His life and Passion and even roll away the stone from the empty tomb.  Angels work wonders in the lives of saints and prepare the way for the Mother of God in her apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré and the children of Fatima.

As guardian angels, they are sent by the Lord to stand by our side and to become our "personal patron saints," praying for us, protecting us from the terrors of darkness, and perhaps even prodding our consciences to bring us back from spiritual perils.  We join our voices with theirs in Christmas carols and ask them to "light and guard, to rule and guide," long before we understand what those words mean for us.  If we are fortunate, we are taught that they are the "invisible friends" whom we never outgrow, the inseparable companions whose unfailing love and loyalty to the saving mission of Jesus never allows them to desert us, even when we have deserted Him.  They call us back, if we have not grown completely deaf to their voice, and they raise us from the dust and set us on the right road.  And they continue their journey with us until we come home to our Father's house.  There, they will always be by our side in the joys of Heaven.

This book is based on a television series that Mother Angelica invited me to film almost twenty years ago.  That series, Angels of God, was the result of years of preaching retreats and days of recollection about devotion to the angels and their role in our spiritual lives.  EWTN Global Catholic Network has broadcast the series around the world, and I have been delighted to hear from listeners in England, Australia, the Philippines, and South Korea who have found some benefit in it.

…the angel guardian whom God has chosen to be your companion on the journey of eternal life is a true spiritual "elder brother" and friend.

In preparing this book, I have retained some of the format and much of the substance of the original talks, with the addition of footnotes and references that will be useful for readers.  I have also tried to add some more recent examples of angelic devotion from the Church's documents, the lives of saints and blesseds, and the teaching of our Holy Fathers.  In my own formation, I owe much to the writings and spirituality of the Opus Angelorum, an international spiritual movement that has been a great blessing to me from my seminary years.  I am particularly grateful to Father David Dubois and Father William Wagner, ORC, who introduced me to this great work.

This book is meant to be not a treatise on the theology of angels (angelology) but an introduction to a unique friendship, a marvelous relationship, that is available to each person: the angel guardian whom God has chosen to be your companion on the journey of eternal life is a true spiritual "elder brother" and friend. 

Spiritual friendships are remarkable things.  The human experience of friendship, which is a true and lasting form of love, has a powerful role to play in our interior life.  It links teacher and pupil, master and disciple, in a rapport characterized by respect, esteem, patience, and docility.  It helps us to understand and live out the divine intimacy to which Jesus invites us: "I no longer call you servants, but friends" (see John 15:15).

When I was in college, I discovered a remarkable series of small books written in the 1920s by the American Jesuit Francis P. LeBuffe.  Our Changeless Friend was made up of short, very practical meditations on the presence and friendship of Jesus in our lives, a presence that reveals its fullness in the Real Presence of the altar and the tabernacle.  The meditations were but of a few pages each, but they were excellent introductions to prayer and adoration of Jesus, seen as our never-failing Friend.

As I was revising my notes from the television series, I thought that this book on the angels is meant to do the same thing: to prepare you to enter into prayer and communion with Christ our Savior through a growing friendship with your holy angel.  The book can be read a chapter at a time, or picked up at a midpoint; it can be used as an introduction to an hour of adoration or simply read at leisure.  The chapters are short and often repeat and reinforce certain fundamental ideas about the angelic world.  I hope that it will make you eager to learn more of the Church's rich teachings about these great spirits.

May this little work bring blessings to all its readers!  And please say a prayer for the author, who has a very patient guardian angel.

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Acknowledgement

horgan11Father John Horgan. "Preface: His Angels at Our Side." from His Angels at Our Side: Understanding Their Power in Our Souls and the World  (Irondale, AL: EWTN Publishing Inc., 2018) ix-xiii.

Reprinted with permission of Father John Horgan and EWTN Publishing Inc.

The Author

angelshorganFather John Horgan is the host of the EWTN series Angels of God and the author of His Angels at Our Side: Understanding Their Power in Our Souls and the World. He is a graduate of Harvard and holds four degrees from the Angelicum in Rome. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Vancouver in 1986 by Pope John Paul II and currently is the Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in North Vancouver. He teaches moral theology for the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education and is on the Executive Board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 2018 EWTN Publishing Inc.
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