From a reader of Father Z’s blog:
What happens to your guardian angel after you die? Did he necessarily exist before you were conceived? If so, was he possibly somebody else’s guardian before? Indeed are angels the guardians of more than one soul?
Thanks for the question about angels. Angels are fantastic and fascinating.
Yes, all the angels who exist, existed before material creation. When we profess that God created all that invisible, “unseen”, that means the angelic realm.
There are two kinds of persons, created and uncreated. The uncreated Persons are obviously the three Persons of God, the Holy Trinity. The created persons are in two categories, those who are individuated in matter and those who are not. Because we human beings are individuated in matter, we all belong to one species, the human race. Because angels are not individuated in matter, each angel is his own species, as different from each other as alligators are from giraffes.
There is no telling how many angels there are. Scripture indicates at certain points that there are so many angels that they are hardly to be counted. God knows, but we couldn’t count them if we tried. As a matter of fact, some think that there may be an angel for everything that moves, guiding it according to God’s great plan. In any event, there are far more angels than there are of us.
We know from Scripture that we have angel guardians. Christ even refers to the angels of little ones who see the face of God. Angels, not having bodies, are not limited to one place as we all. They are where they need to be acting. In seeing the face of God at the same time as they guard us, they watch over us according to God’s will.
What happens to our guardian angels after we die? They remain angels, of course. They can never be anything other than what they are. They do not lose their angelness. Could God assign them to some other person? Sure. Does He? Who knows. There are so many angels that every human every born could have a new one, from any of the choirs of heaven, high or low.
And even the least of the angels, at the very bottom of the angelic heap, by far transcends this material realm. Angels are mighty beings, indeed.
Aside: Remember that St. Francis said that were he to meet a priest and an angel on the road, he would reverence the priest first. An angel can’t do what a priest can, such as forgive sins and confect the Eucharist.
Nevertheless, angels perpetually behold the face of God and worship Him in the heavenly hosts, wreathed and thronging around the celestial altar of the Lamb, singing praises… KADOSH… KADOSH… KADOSH… DOXA DOXA DOXA… SANCTUS SANCTUS SANCTUS… HOLY HOLY HOLY. Holy angels are never not worshipping God, even when they have a job to do that refers to our lives. A “job”, a mission from God that makes these incredible pure spirit persons “messengers… heralds…”. “Angel is from Greek, “messenger”, Hebrew malakh. Once the mission is done, they are not then “messengers” but their nature doesn’t change.
Speaking of choirs of angels, the mightiest of the Angels whom we think about, Michael, is from what we identify as one of the lower choirs. At the top are the magnificent seraphim and cherubim described in Scripture.
There is a lot more to be said about angels, but that will suffice. There is, however, a story told in a letter St. Jerome to a friend, Eustochium, about a nightmare. Jerome was questioned by an angel. The angel asked him who he was. Jerome said that he was a Christian. The angel said, “No, you are a Ciceronian!”, because Jerome was a great admirer of Cicero. Then the angel beat him.
They can do that.