The guardian Angel accompanies as a faithful ally the divine image in man, just as vicious inclinations have made their way into the human functional organism which was, before the Fall, the divine likeness. The guardian Angel undertakes the functions, destroyed by original sin, in the likeness, and fills the breach wrought by them. He substitutes himself for functions destroyed through the Fall.
As the prayer of the service of aspersion states it, in praying to God ‘to deign to send from heaven his holy Angel to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all those who are gathered together in this place’, the Angel acquits his charge in five ways: he guards, cherishes, protects, visits and defends. he is therefore a ‘flaming star’, a luminous pentagram, above man.
He guards memory, ie, the continuity of the past in the present, which is the preparation for the great future. it is the guardian Angel who takes care that there is a connection between the great ‘yesterday, today and tomorrow’ of the human soul. He is a perpetual ‘memento’ with regard to the primordial likeness, with regard to the eternal mission assigned to the soul in the cosmic symphony, and with regard to the special room for the soul ‘in my Father’s house, where there are many rooms’ (John xiv, 2).
If it is necessary, the guardian Angel awakens recollections of the soul’s previous earthly lives, in order to establish continuity of endeavour – of the quest and aspiration of the soul from life to life – so that particular lives are not merely isolated episodes but constitute the stages of a single path towards one sole end.
The guardian Angel cherishes the endeavour, quest and aspiration of the soul engaged on this way. This means to say that he fills in the breaks in the psychic functional organism due to the disfigurement of the likeness, and makes up for its failings – given the soul’s good will towards it. For support never signifies substitution of the Angel’s will for that of man. The will remains free, always and everywhere. The guardian Angel never touches on man’s free will and resigns himself to await the decision or choice made in the inviolable sanctuary of free will – in order to lend his assistance immediately if it is just, or to remain a passive observer reduced alone to prayer if it is not.
Just as the guardian Angel is sometimes constrained not to participate in the soul’s activity – this activity not being in accord with the divine image of the soul – so also he can sometimes take a greater part in human activity than usual – this activity being of a nature not simply permitted but also called for. Then the guardian Angel descends from the point of his ordinary post into the domain of human activity. He then visits the human being.
Such visits of the guardian Angel do sometimes take place – when their possibility and necessity coincide. But what the guardian Angel does unceasingly is to protect the human being. Here he makes up for the failings of the human senses, which are deprived of their clairvoyance from before the original sin. He is the clairvoyant helping the non-clairvoyant with respect to psychic and physical temptations and dangers. He warns, informs and helps to appreciate. Nevertheless, what he never does is suppress the occasions themselves of temptation. For, as St Anthony the Great said, ‘without temptation there is no spiritual progress’. Temptation belongs as an integral part to the exercise of human free will, which is inviolable – both for an Angel and for a demon.
With respect to the last of the five functions of the guardian Angel concerning man, namely his defence, it differs from the others in that it is turned above, towards heaven, and is no longer directed below or horizontally. In dealing with the question of the defence that the guardian Angel accords to his protege, we approach the holy mystery of the very heart of the guardian Angel. For the nature of Angelic love is revealed here, of which the following are some inclinations…
Meditations on the Tarot, unknown author, Letter XIV, Temperance