Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

Feast of The Guardian Angels

March 24 is the Feast of St. Gabriel; September 29, the Feast of St. Michael; and October 24 is the Feast of St. Raphael. In the Novus Ordo calendar, those three feasts of the named archangels are all celebrated on September 29, but the traditional calendar keeps their feasts separate. Today -- October 2 -- is the Feast of the Guardian Angels -- and it is so for both calendars.

Today we honor those angels of whom each Christian has his very own. Theologians are divided as to whether every human being, baptized or not, has his own guardian angel, but it's certain that every baptized Christian does. They watch over us, guide us, protect us, and inspire us to goodness in the same way the fallen angels (demons) tempt us to do evil. As does Our Lady, they take our prayers and offer them to God. Truly imagine it! Apocalypse 8:3-4, my emphasis:

And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.

But how we so take our angels for granted! 

Talk to your angel! Pray to him and think of him throughout the day. Don't name your angel (exorcists strongly advise against this), and don't try to see him: angels are spirits who sometimes take on the appearance of being human -- and some few people, such as Padre Pio and St. Cecilia, are granted the grace of seeing them -- but it is not something to be sought because the fallen angels can -- and do -- play tricks on people. But do call on your angel and thank him. Seek his true friendship. From "Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Holy Angels and Especially to the Angel-Guardians":

Choose, therefore, sometimes a quarter of an hour, half an hour, an hour, or more, and, retiring apart, converse at leisure with your good angel. Place your self on your knees before him, prostrate yourself on the ground—for it is well to adopt this practice occasionally when alone; ask his pardon for your ingratitude; beg his holy benediction; say all that a good heart would prompt one to say to a faithful and loving friend.

Speak to him one while of your needs, of your miserable failings, of your temptations, of your weaknesses; at another of Divine love, and of the holy ways which lead to God. Converse with him sometimes concerning the offences which men commit against their Sovereign, and concerning the divine interests of the Adorable Jesus and His most blessed Mother; at other times, consider in detail the obligations you are under to him, his goodness to you, his beauty, his perfections, his admirable qualities. Deal with him as with a kind father, as with a mother all tenderness, a true brother, an incomparable friend, a zealous lover, a vigilant pastor, a charitable guide, the witness of your most important secrets, a learned physician to heal all your sores, an advocate, and a powerful protector, a compassionate judge, a king entirely occupied with your welfare; in voke him in all these characters, and in others which your love will suggest to you. They will serve you as so many considerations which will make you pass your time much more agreeably than with the creatures of earth.

We say that we are dull sometimes, that we have no one to speak to, and nothing to do: well, here is an occupation, here is something for us to do. A nun who had no relations, friends, or acquaintance to visit her, was asked whether, when she saw the other nuns receiving visits, she felt no regret. "Oh, no, indeed!" she replied, " for there is a very delightful person with whom I converse; and when I hear that a sister is summoned to the parlour, forthwith I go and pay him a visit." And when her meaning was not understood, she led the way to an image of a holy angel that was in the convent : " Behold," she said, " my father and my mother, and all my kindred and acquaintance. Hither I come to converse, while my sisters are talking at the grate; and I retire from my interview at least as well satisfied as they."

We are better able to remember something by tying that something mentally to other things -- for ex., recall the old practice of tying a string around one's finger to remind one to do something. Maybe it's a good idea to do this sort of thing with our angels: ex., because the angels are messengers, and because the ubiquitous smartphone is designed to bring us messages, perhaps practicing giving at least a mental nod to our angels every time we hear a phone ring or get a text message would help us to keep them in mind throughout the day.

But don't stop with your own angel. Keep in mind and call on the angels of others to protect and inspire them as well. From the same book quoted from earlier:

A person standing at a window which opened upon a public thoroughfare, was struck with a ray of light which sensibly touched his heart : in this heavenly ray he discerned that men lived in an incredible oblivion of the world of grace. Penetrated with this truth, he set himself to listen to what the persons who were passing through the street were talking about ; and he heard not one word of God, or of the things of God. No one spoke except of earth—of fine weather, of eating and drinking, of dress, of horses, and such like things. Oh, how many angels, he said to himself, are passing by here, accompanying these poor people! Is it possible that not one among all this crowd is thinking of these princes of Paradise? This thought affected him much, and then he went to a neighbouring fair, with the object of paying his respects to the angels of the persons who were flocking thither in crowds from all quarters. He sighed when he beheld in so large a gathering so little attention paid to the numerous angels present there. He went from place to place in order to salute them and converse with them. Truly, he exclaimed to himself, here are far other sights to be seen than all the merchandise and rareties of the fair!

This practice is well worthy of our imitation. We are in some town, and are walking through the streets filled with people: Oh, why, then, do we not contemplate interiorly the angels who accompany all this multitude? Why do we not go out sometimes for the mere purpose of conversing with them? You enter a church, or some large assembly: Oh, why do you not raise yourself above the region of sense and contemplate all the holy angels present? You are travelling in company with others; you speak to them, you converse with them: why not also with their guardian angels?

Don't ignore others' angels -- most especially the angels assigned to your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings! Your son is late coming home? Call on his angel to protect him! Your wife is struggling with something? Ask her angel to help and pray for her! Need to get a message to someone but have no means to do so? Try asking your angel to deliver it!


Some may prepare for this feast by praying a Novena to Guardian Angel beginning on September 23 and ending on October 1.

As for prayers on this feast itself, this one from "A Little Book of Prayers from Old English Sources" (1900) makes for a lovely one:

I believe, O holy Angel, that thou art appointed by God Almighty to be my guardian. Wherefore, through Him Who has set thee to this task, I, who am so miserable, so weak, and so unworthy, humbly ask that thou wilt ever and always in this life watch over me; that thou wilt guard me from all evils and ever shield me. And when God shall bid my spirit depart hence, let not the devils have power over it, but do thou gently receive my soul from my body and lovingly bear it into Abraham's bosom, at the bidding and by the help of my Creator, my Saviour, and my God, Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen..

So do these two early 16th century prayers from a French Book of Hours. The first one:

O my guardian, glorious angel who from among the heavenly hierarchy has been appointed by God as my guardian from the very moment of my birth from the womb: I beseech thee humbly and devotedly that thou thus illuminate, protect and defend me, entrusted to thee, driving far away the enemy who wishes me ill; not only restrain me from evil acts, but mayest thou also urge and induce me toward the good by thy virtue; and by the protection of thy actions mayest thou make me at last a dweller with thee and with those on high. Through Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, O God, world without end. Amen.

And the second one:

I beseech thee, angelic spirit, to whom I by providence have been entrusted: that thou guard me unceasingly, that thou protect, watch attentively, and defend me from every attack of the devil while I am waking and sleeping, by night and by day; for hours and moments without interruption cherish me and watch over me, and accompany me everywhere I go. Avert from me through the strength of God every temptation of Satan, and that which my merits do not extinguish, by thy prayers hold fast before God, the most merciful judge, so that nothing of a contrary strength may have a place in me. And whenever thou seest me wandering through the steep places of vices, by going through the paths of justice trouble thyself to lead me back to my Redeemer and Creator. And in whatever need or distress thou beholdst me to be, may I feel the help of almighty God approach by means of thy covering over me. I pray thee, my guardian, that, if it can be done, thou makest my end known to me. And when I shall be drawn forth from this body at the command of God, do not allow evil spirits to frighten me or make sport of me, nor allow me to fall into the pit of desperation. And do not abandon me at all until thou hast led me to the sight of almighty God, my creator, in which sight may I, for work and grace and the clemency of God my Father, and thou, as my protection, together with Mary the most blessed mother of God and all the saints forever be joyful and rejoice together with Christ, world without end. Amen.

And there's the Litany to our Holy Angel-Guardian that we can pray as well. But the most common Guardian Angel prayer, and one you should most definitely teach to your children to pray in the mornings (maybe before breakfast -- at some precise time so they remember) and at night, before bed, is the classic "Angel of God":

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God's love commits me here,
ever this day [or night] be at my side,
to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

You might enjoy this song sung to one's Guardian Angel, which could make for another form of prayer when sung with the right intentions:

Guardian Angel

Guardian angel, From heaven so bright,
Watching beside me, to lead me aright,
Fold thy wings round me, O guard me with love,
Softly sing songs to me, of heav’n above.
Beautiful angel, My guardian so mild,
Tenderly guide me, For I am thy child.

Angel so holy! Whom God sends to me,
Sinful and lowly, My guardian to be;
Wilt thou not cherish The child of thy care?
Let me not perish My trust is thy pray’r.
Beautiful angel, My guardian so mild,
Tenderly guide me, For I am thy child.

O may I never forget thou art near;
But keep me forever in love and in fear.
Waking and sleeping, in labor and rest,
In thy sweet keeping my life shall be blest.
Beautiful angel, My guardian so mild,
Tenderly guide me, For I am thy child.

Angel, dear Angel Oh, close by me stay;
Safe from harm shield me, All ill keep away
Then thou wilt lead me When this life is o’er
To Jesus and Mary To praise evermore.
Beautiful angel, My guardian so mild,
Tenderly guide me, For I am thy child.

Then, of course, there is Brahm's famous lullaby, which mentions Guardian angels protecting the sleeping baby (note that "bedight" means "adorned"):

Lullaby and good night,
with roses bedight,
With lilies o’er spread
is baby’s wee bed.
Lay thee down now and rest,
may thy slumber be blessed.
Lay thee down now and rest,
may thy slumber be blessed.

Lullaby and good night,
thy mother’s delight.
Bright angels beside
my darling abide.
They will guard thee at rest,
thou shalt wake on my breast.
They will guard thee at rest,
thou shalt wake on my breast.

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht
Mit Rosen bedacht
Mit Näglein besteckt
Schlüpf unter die Deck'
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt
Morgen früh, wenn Gott will
Wirst du wieder geweckt

Guten Abend, gut' Nacht
Von Englein bewacht
Die zeigen im Traum
Dir Christkindleins Baum
Schlaf nun selig und süß
Schau im Traum 's Paradies
Schlaf nun selig und süß
Schau im Traum 's Paradies

This old spiritual -- "All Night, All Day (Angels Watching Over Me)" -- is a nice one to teach your children. It's a good car-singing song, especially if you harmonize and throw in a "rhythm track" by including clapping and foot-stomping. This version is sung by the Oak Ridge Boys (the last two verses below aren't sung in this version, but they'd make a good lullaby for children):

All night, all day
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord
All night, all day
Angels watchin' over me.


Well I went down to the valley to pray
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord
My soul got happy I stayed all day
Angels watchin' over me.


Now when my heart is sad and blue
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord
I call on Him to see me through
Angels watchin' over me.

Well if you get there before I do
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord
Tell all my friends that I'm comin' too
Angels watchin' over me.


Now I lay me down to sleep.
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord.
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Angels watchin' over me.


Lord, stay with me through the night.
Angels watchin' over me, my Lord.
Wake me with the morning light.
Angels watchin' over me.

As to foods for the day, what could be more fitting than Angel Hair Pasta and Angel Food Cake?

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp (serves 4)

1 1/2 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
12 ounces angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving a half a cup of the pasta water. While it's cooking, heat the butter and olive oil in a big skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, cook until lightly golden and the oil is flavored, then remove the garlic and toss out. Add the shrimp to the garlic oil; sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Cook over medium heat until shrimp is opaque.Take off heat, add the pasta, some reserved pasta water (start with 1/4 cup and see if you need more), zest, and lemon juice and toss.Top with parmesan cheese, and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of parsley to make it pretty. Serve with salad, a good bread, and white wine.

Angel Food Cake

Whites of 9 large eggs (you want 1 1/4 cups of whites), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place oven rack in the lowest position and preheat oven to 350°.

Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together twice; set aside.

Mix together the cream of tartar, extracts, salt, and egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake until lightly browned and entire top appears dry, 35-40 minutes. Immediately invert pan; cool completely, upside-down, for about 1 hour. Run a knife around side and center tube of pan to remove from pan. Top with fruit and whipped cream, or ice with buttercream:

Fluffy Buttercream

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Cream together butter and shortening. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until well blended. Slowly mix in the heavy cream. Once it is fully mixed in, beat for 5-7 minutes. (You can make it a flavored buttercream by mixing in 1/4 cup of pureed strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, or other soft fruit).

Another option is to make angel-shaped sugar cookies. Recipe here, and a 6" tall angel template to use here (you can download and resize it in a graphics program if you prefer it smaller). Just print out the angel, place it onto a piece of cardboard, cut along the lines so that both the paper and cardboard are cut, and then place the angel-shaped cardboard on top of your cookie dough, tracing around it with a knife to cut out your cookies).

You and your children could also spend some time using the angel template to make angel ornaments out of salt dough Baker's Clay for your Christmas tree (Christmas is just a few months away) -- or you could make an angel for each child to paint and to hang in his window to remind him of the ever-presence of his Guardian Angel.

Whatever you do though, please don't dress up teddy bears and such to look like angels, or tell your children that when someone dies, he "gets his wings" and "becomes an angel." They must have a true conception of angels as spirit beings of great power and intellect, created by God to help keep the order the universe, serve Him, and help us attain eternal life. Don't sentimentalize them, turn them into gooey Hallmark card caricatures, or otherwise distort their true nature. This is so important!

For basic background information on the angels, see The Praeternatural World pages of this site, and read Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Holy Angels and Especially to the Angel-Guardians (pdf), available in this site's Catholic Library.


Pope St. Clement
Epistle to the Corinthians, c. A.D. 96

Great is the reward of good works with God. Joined together in harmony, let us implore that reward from Him.
The good servant receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: “Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work.” He exhorts us, therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this, that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will. Let us consider the whole multitude of His angels, how they stand ever ready to minister to His will. For the Scripture saith, “Ten thousand times ten thousand stood around Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him, and cried, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the Lord of Sabaoth; the whole creation is full of His glory.” And let us therefore, conscientiously gathering together in harmony, cry to Him earnestly, as with one mouth, that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious promises. For [the Scripture] saith, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which He hath prepared for them that wait for Him.”

Excerpt from a letter Padre Pio wrote to Anita, one of his spiritual daughters
July 15, 1913

May your good guardian angel always watch over you, and be your guide on the rough path of life. May he always keep you in the grace of Jesus and hold you up with his hands so that you may not hurt your foot on a stone. May he protect you under his wings from all the deceits of the world, the devil and the flesh.

Have great devotion, Anita, to this beneficent angel. How consoling it is to know that we have a spirit who, from the womb to the tomb, never leaves us even for an instant, not even when we dare to sin. And this heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother.

But it is very consoling to know that this angel prays unceasingly for us, and offers God all of our good actions, our thoughts, and our desires, if they are pure.

Oh! For goodness’ sake, don’t forget this invisible companion, ever present, ever disposed to listen to us and even more ready to console us. Oh, wonderful intimacy! Oh, blessed companionship! If only we could understand it! Keep him always before your mind’s eye. Remember this angel’s presence often, thank him, pray to him, always keep up a good relationship. Open yourself up to him and confide your suffering to him. Be always afraid of offending the purity of his gaze. Know this, and keep it well present in your mind. He is easily offended, very sensitive. Turn to him in moments of supreme anguish and you will experience his beneficent help.

Never say that you are alone in the battle against your enemies; never say that you have no one to whom you can open your heart and confide. It would be a grave injustice to this heavenly messenger.

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