On a liturgical note: October

By Canon Philip Gillespie

"From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession." So says the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the ministry of the angels of God (article 336) and this month of October opens with a great feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

As Saint Basil the Great says: "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading them to life." It is lovely to hold the thought that, uniquely and individually, we are protected and shepherded – you could almost say 'nudged towards' the fullness of life which God desires for us.

That there is in the heart of God the desire and the love which will enable this to take place is a reminder that although we put our trust in the words of Saint John – "God so loved the world that he gave His only Son" (John 3:16) – we should never lose ourselves in the crowd (or 'the world') to the extent that we think this applies to everyone else ... but not to me!

You and I are uniquely and particularly lovable and loved by the Holy Trinity. It does not mean we are yet perfect; to use the image of Saint Paul in his letter to the church of Corinth, we are running the race, seeking and searching always for the perfection to which Christ Jesus calls us (I Corinthians 9:24).

In the Liturgy each day we unite ourselves to the angels as they praise the Holy Trinity (in the "Holy, Holy, Holy" at Mass), and on many Sundays of the year we echo the words of the angels as they give thanks for the birth of Jesus ("Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to those of goodwill"). It is good to reflect that the angels in their turn unite themselves to us as they protect and shepherd us through the difficulties and twists and turns of every day, if only we remain attentive to their presence.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.