Catechism of the Catholic Church
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.
St. Augustine says: “ ‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.’” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.
It is a truth of faith that God’s infinite power of creation has created besides us other persons of a spiritual nature. This is a startling idea: here, this earth of the unending cosmos with all its stars, their uncountable courses; here this earth with natural evolution and natural catastrophes, with its humankind and its history replete with greatness and averageness, victories and defeats, laughter and crying, pleasure and suffering — and in the midst of all this, faith speaks: all this, the stars, the earth, and humankind in its entirety is only a small part of that creation which God’s almighty word has called into existence, so that it might reveal his eternal power and wisdom.
Besides this there is an unsurveyable world of spirits with a life, in comparison with which, all earthly events are like a shadow; spirits with a life filled with thunderous victories and unlimited happiness, but also with a life leading into the destroying judgment of the wrath of the infinitely holy one. And from all these luminous worlds of roaring life and blinding light not a glimmer penetrates down into the depths of our material poverty; only faith informs us, only God’s word impinges on our ears so that we know that the spirit, the moral deed, our relationship with God, is the ultimate and most important reality; that every care for body and life, for bread and earthly welfare, is finally only provisional, so much so that God could create his entire world of spirits where all these things are lacking that so easily seem to make up life for us, and where only issue is at stake: God and his honor.
We are related to these remote spirits by reason of our spiritual, personal souls that are immediate to God; we are related in this essential and decisive factor: just as they, so we are also created to know God, to serve him, and so to bring about our salvation. And their affinity to us has increased by the fact that God’s wisdom has willed that the content of their life also extends into our earthly days in prayer and help, that they are our guardian angels and so are, as it were, caught into the everydayness of our pilgrimage in the dust of this earth. And for this reason, they are also a model for us, given to us for imitation. Two passages in the scriptures tell us how they are supposed to be examples for us.
The first passage is the statement of Jesus: “Their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”… The good angels are with God; they have entered into the land of the eternal peace, of eternal rest and security….
But we are still distant, pilgrims still on the way of the cross of this earth, far from the Lord…. When a person makes his way through life in this way, then two are always moving along the same street: the guardian angel and the human person, and both look on their own toward God, toward the one who is the content of eternal life for both. And soon enough, there comes then for human beings too the hour when their looking toward the face of the Father is no longer struggle and perseverance, but victory and eternal reward.
Yet another statement do we read in the scriptures about the angels: “They are ministering spirits, sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.” They are servants for human beings, messengers of whom it is said that they bear the prayers of the just as in golden vessels before the throne of God, join their prayer to ours, and protect us on our way. In this way every person should be a guardian angel for the other….
How much more then every person has the office of guardian angel to those whom God has specially entrusted to them, to those who go together with us along the path of life. Their service, to which we are sent forth, is a service unto eternal salvation. Because we are not just supposed to help others in regard to earthly welfare, but for the inheritance of eternal salvation, then everything we do for our neighbor has a special responsibility and a particular consecratedness and dignity.
And this can be anything direct or indirect done in a good attitude and genuine love of neighbor, whether it be only a drink of water or a friendly word. Everything like this can become guardian angel service. But if it is guardian angel service, then it is service of God; then, when seen and done from a this-worldly viewpoint, even the most external activity becomes divine service or worship…. we become like the angels who are always in the service of those for whose sake they should inherit salvation, and who, even so, never stop looking upon the face of the Father in heaven.