Lent Circular Letter-2 - 2014
Children’s Consecration to the Guardian Angel
From the outset, the Consecration to the Guardian Angel for children - also called the Guardian Angel Covenant - had its place in the Work of the Holy Angels. According to Mother Gabriele the consecration has as its aim,
to give the child an understanding of the holy Guardian Angel; helping the child to love him, listen to him and receive from him its "first religious instruction", that is to say, the angel helps the child distinguish good from evil and helps it learn the first virtue of a child, which is obedience.
In this circular we want to explain why the Consecration to the Guardian Angel can be very beneficial for the physical and spiritual good of a child. We encourage those of you who have children to consider leading your children to this special covenant with their Guardian Angels for, as Mother Gabriele states, “the sooner a child learns to know and to love its Guardian Angel, the more likely it will keep its soul pure for God, and the surer it will find its way to God throughout its life.”
Parallel to early First Holy Communion
There is a remote parallel of the Children’s Consecration to the Guardian Angel to early First Holy Communion. Our Lord had always a special affection for children, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).
In 1910 Pope Pius X endorsed the decree Quam Singulari stressing the Church’s rule that children are to be admitted to receive Holy Communion as soon as they reach the age of discretion. Commenting on Our Lord’s words, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them” (Mt 19:14), the Holy Father complained that in various places “the age determined for the reception of First Communion was placed at ten years or twelve, and in some places fourteen years or even more were required.” These practices have been the cause of many evils, because “children in their innocence were forced away from the embrace of Christ and deprived of the food of their interior life.” The Pope, finally, observed that “the loss of first innocence … might have been avoided by reception of the Eucharist in more tender years.”
Analogically, the same principle can be applied to the children in relation to their Guardian Angels. Stressing the need to prevent children from scandal Our Lord solemnly stated, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Mt 18:10). While not per se a dogma of the Church, there is good reason to believe that already at conception a personal Guardian Angel is assigned to the child to protect and accompany it at every moment through life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church alludes to this angelic presence in a generic fashion, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by [the angels’] watchful care and intercession” (CCC 336). If parents would timely teach their children through instruction and example to know and to love their angels, how much light, strength and guidance could they receive from their angels already in tender age and, consequently, overcome more easily the temptations of the devil and the world.
What is the value of a Consecration to the Guardian Angel?
Through the consecration the child binds itself to the holy Guardian Angel, so that his help can become much more efficacious. It enables the angel to exercise more influence upon the child, speaking more clearly through inner admonitions, motivating it more to do good (cf. CCC 350), alert it to dangers, illumine the child’s mind, so that it advances more rapidly on the way to God.
The requirements for a child to make the Consecration to the Guardian Angel are comparable to those established by the Church for early First Holy Communion.
The Church has not determined a precise chronological age, rather she has wisely foreseen that the children should have reached the age of discretion so as to able to distinguish the Eucharistic Bread from the common bread; that is, to know that what looks like bread is not bread, but contains the real, living Body and Blood of Christ. The child further needs to be in the state of grace and desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharistic Host.
Similarly with respect to the Consecration to the Guardian Angel the chronological age of the child is not decisive - one grandchild of Mother Gabriele, was only about four years old when she prayed the Consecration to the Guardian Angel! It is only necessary that the child be mentally perceptive and open to the holy angel. To make the consecration, children do not need to submit an application, nor do they have to go through a year of preparation with formation letters as adults do, nor is a formal admission required. Naturally, the children should have a great love for the holy Guardian Angel and be able to express that they want to make the consecration to him. With respect to the OA, as an ecclesial association of the faithful, by this consecration children do not become official members. Later, when they are ready to assume the commitment of the Consecration to the Guardian Angel for adults, they may freely renew the Consecration to the Guardian Angel and become full-fledged members of the Work of the Holy Angels.
One further point: the children’s Consecration to the Guardian Angel as a personal act is not intended to be used in general for larger groups or school classes. For such groups the Promise to the Guardian Angel can be used, that is the traditional prayer “Angel of God, my Guardian Dear” with special OA addition.
The Role of the Sponsor
Because the child is not yet capable of making autonomous decisions for itself, a sponsor steps to its side as a visible Guardian Angel, while on the other side God’s messenger, the holy Guardian Angel, takes the child’s hand.
The sponsor is the visible representative of the invisible Guardian Angel. He takes care that the child lives the Consecration to the Guardian Angel. He guides and advises the child as the holy angel would do, and paves the way for him to God. The sponsor needs to know how the holy angel leads, what he as sponsor of the child can concretely do, and what the phrase in the promise of the sponsor means, to guide the child “as his (her) Guardian Angel would”. That is why the sponsor must have a basic knowledge of the holy Guardian Angel.
It is not required that the child be already introduced by the sponsor into the specific spirituality of OA. It is rather a matter of a basic Christian education in everyday life. It is therefore appropriate that the parents themselves take over the task of sponsor, as they are closest to the child. The sponsorship is for the parents a challenge, but also a strengthening in the task which they already have as Christian parents!
Making the Consecration to the Guardian Angel
If the above requirements are fulfilled the child can make the Consecration to the Guardian Angel in accordance with the approved liturgical rite. During the ceremony before the Blessed Sacrament the sponsor kneels on the left side of the child, while the place on the right side of the child remains vacant in order to symbolically indicate the presence of the Guardian Angel. After the consecration of the child and the promise of the sponsor the priest concludes:
Lord and God, You love children so much that You said: “Unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” And again You said: “Let the children come to Me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
We ask You now that You have heard the consecration of this child, grant him (her) and us the grace that we may always remain a child at heart, in purity and simplicity and boundless trust in You, in Mary and in the holy Angels.
And you, holy Guardian Angel, assist this child with all your might and strength! Ward off the evil enemy and all temptations! Guide him (her) along the right way to the light of God’s love, so that he (she) may never ever lose sight of this light and so one day at your hand can enter into the heavenly glory. Amen.
In the context of the Consecration to the Guardian Angel for children we recommend the following reading for both, the parents and children: The Book of Tobit from Sacred Scripture and the autobiography of Sister Maria Antonia Cony, Under Angels Wings, the true story of a young girl and her Guardian Angel. Sr. Maria Antonia relates with the touching simplicity of a child her intimate friendship with her Guardian Angel whom she called her “New Friend”. The angel kept her from moral dangers, from lying, stealing, revenge, from watching dangerous movies. The angel taught her to love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, to make sacrifices for Jesus and guided her in the practice of charity etc. In a word: the autobiography makes us understand God’s great love and care for His children on earth, that He gives us a personal Guardian Angel to lead us through this life into eternal life! (WS)