From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by (the angels’) watchful care and intercession. (Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Ps 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.) "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." (St. Basil) Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. (From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 336.)
If it were not a Sunday, today we would be celebrating the Feast of the Guardian Angels. The Collect for that day, the first prayer of the Mass, says it all:
O God, who in your unfathomable providence are pleased to send Your holy angels to guard us, hear our supplications as we cry to you, that we may always be defended by their protection and rejoice eternally in their company. Through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Angels have become quite the industry lately, and quite the idiom. There are posters and pins of angels, and kids are “little angels’ when they are good, and a neighbor can be an angel when he helps someone. It is easy to forget that they are not like vampires, talking rabbits, space aliens, or pokemons, who everybody sees and accepts because they, too, are pictured, produced, printed, animated, and appearing everywhere from greeting cards to television. No, angels are different. They are real, and powerful, and they have one very important mission regarding us.
Also from the Catechism: The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. (Emphasis mine) As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.
Angels work to defend us from evil. Angels lead us to eternal life. While we often credit them with protecting us from earthly dangers, and that they can, and will do, their principal mission is spiritual: to protect us from that which can kill the soul: the devil, and sin.
So as I ask you to remember your Guardian Angel today (say thank you!) and tell your families and children about them (so they can thank them, and know to whom they can turn for help), I share this image with you. It shows an angel protecting a child, not from falling into a raging torrent, as the popular picture has it, but rather from an omnipresent danger that is more often ignored.