Today on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, we remember that our guardian angels are not just a symbol, but real spiritual persons who were created by God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” And while there are many people who credit their guardian angel with keeping them safe in moments when things could have gone very badly, there are others who wonder why guardian angels seem to help some people but not others.
That was the question a listener posed to Monsignor Stuart Swetland recently on Go Ask Your Father™. She wondered why people experience horrific traumas like child abuse if they have a guardian angel protecting them. She asked why their guardian angel didn’t help them.
Msgr. Swetland responded, “Guardian angels are always helping us. But, the angels are closer to God than we are and reflect God’s glory more radiantly than we do. God does not violate our freedom. He gave us a true freedom and He permits evil because He permits freedom. There would be no ability to love if there wasn’t freedom.”
“So when people are being persecuted or abused or anything else it’s because people are misusing their free will and doing evil things. So the source of evil, ultimately, is in the wicked choices of free beings, angelic and human, that chose to oppose God and the things of God. And that evil rebounds throughout the world.”
This question about why a good God would allow evil has been asked for centuries, but Msgr. Swetland pointed out that as Christians we do not believe in a God who is indifferent to evil, but one who suffered as we do to free us from our slavery to sin.
“God is not silent in the face of this evil,” Msgr. Swetland said. “God, as a matter of fact, did the most God-like thing possible in the face of evil by becoming one with us, taking on our condition, and suffering the results of that evil and giving Himself sacrificially for us so that we don’t ever have to choose evil. We have the possibility, despite our wickedness, to be united to God and to live in relationship with God.”
The reason our guardian angels cannot always stop bad things from happening is because they cannot violate someone’s free will. But just as we have the option to choose evil, we also have the option to choose good. So rather than looking to our guardian angel to stop someone from doing evil, we should look to ourselves and ask what we can do to stop evil and bring grace, healing, and goodness into the world.
“The answer is that the misuse of freedom is a very, very wicked thing,” Msgr. Swetland told the caller. “But thanks be to God we have freedom so that we can do the loving thing. And we know that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Meaning that God is always greater than any evil, even the worst evil we can think of. And so grace and goodness that comes from good free choices, far transcends the wickedness of sinners.”
“We are all responsible for one another. We are our brother’s keeper. This is what Jesus’ message to us was again and again in His public teaching and the way He lived His life. He answered the question. We’re to take care of each other, and that’s what we need to be about.”