(Homily of Holy Hegumen Anastasius)
The Lord is so merciful to us, brethren, that He gives to each of us, at the time of Holy Baptism, an invisible defender, a mentor for all good and right, and a leader to the heavenly land – the Guardian Angel – for life. “Those who are of the Christian faith receive an Angel from God to keep them in their whole lives”, St. Anastasius says (Prologue Apr. 20). Furthermore: “An Angel is granted to every faithful man by God, and that Angel writes down all his good works” (Ibid., p. 37). But if each of us has a Guardian Angel, why does the Holy Church petition for him every day during church services? “We ask the Lord for an Angel,” She says, “a peaceful, faithful mentor, and a guardian of our souls and bodies.” Likewise, a believer begs the Lord for a Guardian Angel in the evening prayer. He says, “Send Your Guardian Angel to protect and keep me from all evil”. Why is that? If the Guardian Angel is given for life, then why ask the Lord to send him to us?
That is because when we persist in hardheartedness and defiance, when we surrender to passions and vices, when we repeat the same sins and do not repent of them, then the Guardian Angel, though not leaving us at all, but, driven by the incompatibility of his pure nature with sin, withdraws from us so that we lose his angelic cover. “Every Christian is given an Angel from God to every man, as you have heard”, St. Anastasius says, but adds to this: “But whoever works evil will drive him away.” He goes on to say: “Bees are driven away by smoke, and doves are driven away by bad stench, whereas the keeper and guardian of our lives is driven away by our evil sins, by drinking and fornication, by malevolence and other evil deeds…” (Prologue Apr. 20). The very Angel of God says the same to the great Elder Pachomius: “Whoever through his evil life has become dead to God and virtue, stinks a thousand times worse than a dead body, so that we can neither stand nor pass near him.” The same was once said to Saint Nephon. “Why are you standing here crying?” he once asked a young man who stood at the gates of a house and cried. The young man replied, “I am an Angel, sent by the Lord to save a man who has spent several days in this brothel, standing here because I cannot get close to a sinner, crying because I lose hope to lead him to the path of repentance.” That is why the Orthodox Church pleads with the Lord every day that He sends us a Guardian Angel. We often drive him away from ourselves by our sins and defiance. Not only do we drive him away, but we also hurt him and make him sad. Indeed, brethren, we make him sorrowful and grievous. The same Saint Anastasius teaches, “But when a man is faithful and lives in truth, the Angel of God rejoices over him; however, if he fails to live truthfully but begins to lie and steal, to be drunk and jealous, not go to church, to be angry and avaricious, then the Angel of God grieves for him” (Prologue Apr. 20). What are demons doing at that very moment? “The demons are jubilant,” Anastasius continues, “attacking us with all sorts of malice.” That is, it opens the immediate access of the angel of darkness to man. A person who does not have a Guardian Angel, puts himself face to face with his enemy. Where this enemy is, there is darkness upon darkness, impurity upon impurity, unrepentance upon unrepentance, until death puts an end to that man’s sins.
Brethren, listen to this! Let us fear sin like a pestilence! If we realize that we have repeatedly driven away the Heavenly Mentor and Leader from ourselves by our iniquities, let us work hard to bring him closer to us by true repentance and correction of our lives. Along with that, let us ask him to strike the serpent in us more often and give us help to do good deeds: the power to eradicate the worst habits and passions and especially not to leave us without his protection at the dreadful hour of death. Saint Anastasius concludes, “Let us not give a place for the evil one in our hearts, but let us cast him away by the fear of God. Let us open our hearts to the Guardian Angel so that he may guide us to the truth, and deliver us from the devil’s treachery and his temptations” (Prologue Apr. 20). Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds