Sunday, September 09, 2007

Naming Angels

The other day, Carrie Tomeko blogged about Opus Angelorum and the practice of naming angels. This gets very interesting because she found on Father Z's old forum site a thread which was discussing that very practice. Did you know that there was a document published by the CDF on this topic back in 1984? Father Z quickly translated a bit of it here.

Essentially, this document says that there is not to be diffused the idea that one can know the name of one's guardian angel that that one is not to invoke the (unknowable) names of angels in prayer.

I have not found online an English version of this yet and I do not have the time to translate it at the moment.

What the CDF is warning about is the great spiritual danger that can come to a person from trying to invoke angels by name. The naming of angels is something that should be avoided. Not all angels are the friends of God and man. They are mighty beings that transcend our human nature. Some of them are bent on our eternal damnation. They can apply an angelic intellect in tricking us into the loss of heaven. They do not sleep. These are demonic enemies of the soul. Demons do not relent, unless God and His angels, unless the Church God's priest intervene. The naming of fallen angels is part of the rite of exorcism. It is perilous indeed to anyone without the protection and power that comes from the sacrament of Holy Orders to name angels.

This is a foolish and sentimental practice for most people who are into this sort of thing. But it is not benign. While it is not dangerous in all situations, it is dangerous in some. We just cannot know whom or what we are invoking outside the names of the angels friendly to God whose names appear in Holy Writ: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.

Fr. Z

Thank goodness for Father Z! I had heard on another forum that it was a good idea/practice to name one's guardian angel and did try it. I never really felt comfortable with it though...


RC said...

Thanks for posting about this, Lynne.

Some friends recently told me they are involved in an Opus Angelorum group led by a priest who belongs to the associated religious order. I'm surprised to hear that OSA and the order of priests are still functioning at all, let alone having a group here in Massachusetts.

RC said...

Like you, I have also heard it proposed that assigning a name to your guardian angel is probably OK.

For example, one could give him the name of a saint to emphasize that we're borrowing a human name and not trying to know his "real" name given by God, whatever that may be.

Thinking that we know the latter could expose us to a spiritual delusion.

UltraCrepidarian said...

The obsession with guardian angels, naming yours, finding yours, is creepy. It sounds like new-age touchy-feely spiritualism, dressed as pseudo-catholic devotion.

Protestants already think we're nuts to mention Michael, Raphael, or Gabriel. (And they are right there, on record, in scripture, as being holy angels.)

So how does y'all feel about the prayer "Blessed Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle..."

Personally I like it. I feel all fierce inside and glad to be on God's team. But I wonder if that prayer is on solid ground, if it's brick and mortar, theologically sound, or if it's just a part of our church's tendency towards "aggiornamento", our endless Catholic habit of ornamentation. Look back, and you'll see we have kind of a superabundance of (mostly) harmless pious quackery.

Where from Scripture, or holy tradition, is the belief founded, that we ought to invoke St. Michael by name, even?


Esther said...

Lynne, I understand what Fr. Z is saying. However, I trust Mother Angelica and she instructed us to name our guardian angels. Your thoughts? BTW, thanks for letting me know about your post. Very interesting!

Lynne said...

Esther, I too love Mother Angelica. In my humble opinion, however, if she knew of this document written by Cardinal Ratzinger I think she would change her mind.

Lynne said...

Hey, Ultracrepidarian! I'm not Protestant so it doesn't bother me that they think even SS Michael, Raphael and Gabriel should be named...

Pope Leo XIII composed his wonderful prayer to St Michael so I'm totally comfortable to use his name. This article had to do with naming guardian angels.

Carl said...

I have heard the Opus Angelorum priests, and they do not advocate naming your guarding angel. They said that your guardian angel was named by God and if we reach heaven, then we shall know it. The only angel names that they said we are allowed to use are the three
archangels named in the Bible. The priests of Opus Angelorum were very good!

Diane K said...

Ditto here with Opus Angelorum priests. They work out of my parish, Assumption Grotto in Detroit, and I can assure you they do not advocate naming your guardian angel. This question is asked at almost every Day of Recollection or retreat that they have, and each time, each of the many priests I have heard firmly states not to name your angel.