If you’re of a certain age, you likely remember “Touched by an Angel,” the wildly popular TV series that ran on CBS on Sunday evening (when else?) from 1994–2003. If you’re of a younger certain age, you’ve likely seen this series in reruns because it’s still in syndication today.
“Touched by an Angel” recounted the various missions given by God to three angels, Monica (the angel in training), Tess (her supervisor), and Andrew (the angel of death). In each episode, Monica, backed by Tess, was sent as a guardian angel to help a human being facing some life crisis. Andrew didn’t appear in all episodes, only in those in which someone was about to die, whether or not he or she knew it. His assignment invariably consisted of escorting the person’s soul to heaven.
Guardian Angels Throughout History
The idea of guardian angels has occupied both Western and Eastern cultures since the beginning of recorded history. Not only do both the Old and New Testaments refer to angels (not specifically called guardian angels) helping individuals and nations, but records of cultures other than the Judeo-Christian ones also refer to angels, such as those of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Neo-Platonists.
All of the following religions have a rich history of angel stories:
- Christianity (both Catholicism and Protestantism)
What Guardian Angels Do
For those religions that embrace the idea of guardian angels, the most common belief is that God appoints a guardian angel to each human being’s soul before (s)he is even born. This angel stays with him or her throughout life, offering guidance, wise counsel, protection, comfort, companionship, and whatever the human may need at any given time.
Since angels are spirits, the people they’re assigned to usually never see them, although some people have adamantly claimed to have done so. Usually a guardian angel communicates with his or her person via thoughts, emotions, and inspirations, sometimes acting as a conscience, sometimes a companion, sometimes “just” a friend. Free will being what it is, the person, of course, always has the option of listening or not listening to his or her guardian angel.
Proof Versus Belief
As with all things spiritual, no one can prove the existence of angels, guardian or otherwise, by means of empirical evidence. Nor can anyone prove the existence of a soul this way. Or even the existence of the mind itself as opposed to the physical brain within which the mind is thought to reside. But unless you’re an atheist, you may believe that guardian angels are responsible for certain things:
- A near escape from a serious accident or other catastrophic event
- An unexpected and medically unexplained healing
- A totally new idea from “out of nowhere”
- A poem, musical composition, or other artistic creation that arrives in your mind full-blown “out of the blue”
Different Kinds of Good
Just because one person dies in an accident and a second person lives does not mean that the dead person’s guardian angel failed in his or her mission to protect. Don’t forget about the angel of death, whose mission it is to accompany a soul to heaven. Angels are not God; they are messengers of God. Therefore, believers believe that if God “calls a person home,” his or her guardian angel must pass the person’s soul into the keeping and protection of the angel of death.
No religion insists that its followers believe in guardian angels as a matter of doctrine. Rather, this is another matter on which you get to choose. You can believe or disbelieve in guardian angels as you wish. But it won’t hurt you to believe. In fact, your belief could give you a lot of help and comfort during your life.