Words on the Word

The Guardian Angels

The beginning of Newman’s poem The Dream of Gerontius speaks of a marvellous encounter. Just as Gerontius leaves this world, he realises he is not alone. A mysterious, discreet companion accompanies him into the hereafter. ‘Someone’, he says, ‘has me fast within his ample palm.’ Who? The answer is not slow in coming. His angel tells him: ‘My Father gave in charge to me this child of earth, e’en from its birth to serve and save, alleluia, and saved is he. This child of clay to me was given to rear and train by sorrow and pain in the narrow way, alleluia, from earth to heaven.’

One day, we, too, you and I, shall behold for the first time our life’s hidden guide. But do we attend to him now? Today’s feast bids us pay attention. Its message is a message of deep reassurance. The Lord has appointed, for each of us, an agent of particular providence. This agent’s purpose is, expressly, to guide us on the right path. How often we feel alone, abandoned, lost. How often we feel that everything around us conspires against our supernatural destiny. How blind we are! There is one who walks beside us constantly. If we would but help ourselves, he helps. We should look to him more often. We children of clay are held and protected, guided and raised up by the force of an immense love. Why wait, like Gerontius, until the hour of death to make its acquaintance?

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