Have You Given Your Guardian Angel a Name?

Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful? (Judges 13:18)

Before the Israelites had kings, they were ruled by judges, most of whom were warriors who were sent by God to conquer the idolatrous nations that afflicted the Jews in the promised land of Canaan. The most powerful among these nations and the most widespread were the Philistines. When the Israelites were loyal to God they subdued their enemies and ruled over them; when they were disloyal they were chastised by the same.

There were fifteen judges in all. They were leaders, arbitrators of the Mosaic Law, more than actual rulers and, sometimes, they were contemporaneous with another judge. Some were also prophets, like Samson, and Samuel, the last of the judges. They spanned a period of about four hundred years, from circa 1400 to 1000 BC.

Samson is the most renowned, although Deborah is hardly less known. When Deborah rode with Barak at the head of the army, the Jews were victorious. Barak would not go into battle without her.

The birth of Sampson was announced to his pious and barren mother by an angel. The angel also appeared to Manue, her husband, who believed the word even before he knew that the majestic “man” speaking to him was an angel. Four chapters, 13-16, in the Book of Judges recount the astounding exploits of Sampson.

I bring this up on the feast of the guardian angels because of an article I just read on the impropriety of naming your guardian angel. The article repeats the points made by Taylor Marshall on his blog. I know someone will object that Saint Padre Pio told someone named “Joe” to give a name to his guardian angel. I doubt that this is authentic, but if I am wrong someone can correct me. Padre Pio frequently was visited by his own guardian angel (not to mention thousands sent to him from his spiritual children) and he did not give the angel a name, other than Angelino. Padre Pio’s world was full of angels. His own Angelino would translate letters for him that were not written in Italian.

You can read the article I am referring to here.

Two other reasons than those given in the link above not to name your guardian angel are 1) Angels are pure spirits who received their names from God Himself and 2) The angel who appeared to Manue chided him for asking for his name.

Angels are pure spirits

The names of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are given to us in holy scripture. The Church did not invent them. In fact, when a certain church in Germany was dedicated to the Seven Spirits Who Stand Before the Throne of God, giving four of the seven spirits names from apocryphal works, Rome commanded that the bishop use either Michael, Gabriel, or Raphael, no other names are allowed by the Church.

We depict angels as masculine because they are active and stronger than any man, even than Sampson in his glory. It is fitting. Pagans worshipped goddesses in human form, figures for lustful eyes. Personally, I believe statues of angels, ought to be masculine figures, never, as you sometimes see, androgynous. If naming one’s guardian angel were allowed by the Church then you would quickly find silly people using women’s names for their guardian angel, when even a man’s name is unworthy of their greatness. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael gave us their names in Hebrew. They are derived from the name for God, which is masculine, “El.” There is only one Michael, one Gabriel, and one Raphael.

The angel who appeared to Manue rebuked him for asking his for his name.

What did the angel tell Manue when he asked for his name? Why askest thou my name, which is wonderful?

In other words, “it’s none of your business. You would not understand if I did give you my name.” It is wonderful, a cause for wonder.

Each angel has his own proper name because the name of an angel is not arbitrary as our human names are. It connotes the essential uniqueness of that angel. Shall I say “essence”? If I did, I would be giving you the thinking of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the subject. The Angelic Doctor considered each angel to be its own species, or whatness. All angels are pure spirits, but one angel differs from another like a rose from a lily.

There you have it. You must read the article I linked to above to read the other reasons why it is not a good idea to give a name to your guardian angel.

 

  • Personally, I have never bought into the idea that we are forbidden to give a name (a personal name of our own devising — a “nickname,” as it were) to our guardian angel. The only document I have seen forbidding it was, I believe, directed at the bizarre practices of Opus Angelorum (who fell into line). They, apparently, under the guidance of a lady “mystic,” believed that they could divine the actual God-given name of their angel.

    As Charles Coulombe writes on this site:

    ‘These archangels are three of the “Seven spirits that stand before the Throne of God” — and the only ones named in Canonical Scripture. Despite the Council of Rome forbidding any others to be named back in 745 (a ban renewed in the Holy See’s 2002 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, c. 217), both Eastern Catholics and Orthodox venerate all seven, giving the latter four names — and this has been tolerated in certain Latin Catholic areas — particularly in the German-speaking world and France.’

    Padre Pio called his Angel, “Angelino,” “little angel.” The Italian -ino is, as you know, diminutive. I believe that alone might scandalize those who find it inappropriate to name one’s angel guardian.

  • Daniel Smith

    There is also a risk of diabolical influence. If you choose to name an angel, how can you guarantee the name you choose is not a suggestion of demons? And if it is, when you use the name, you give them glory and invoke them, which can lead to oppression, obsession and even possession. The excellent exorcist Fr Chad Ripperger FSSP has done over 7000 exorcisms and attests to this fact.

  • Daniel Smith

    Also in this article, both examples of Jacob and the Angel and Manue and the Angel were actually encounters with the Pre-Incarnate Christ, the Angel of the Lord who speaks for and acts like God and receives the worship due to Him alone.

  • Alyosha Karamazov

    One would think the easy solution to this is to give one’s angel a Christian name.

    I would imagine the same danger would be attendant upon naming one’s offspring. So, we Christians avoid names like Moon Unit and Dweezil and stick to saints’ names.

  • Thomas Donnelly

    Fr. Ripperger has done ‘over 7000’ exorcisms?! If he did one per day, it would take him almost 3 years to do 1000, therefore on the order of 20 years to perform 7000. The number is astonishing and seems humanly impossible. Can you cite a reference to support it?

  • Daniel Smith

    Yes. He mentions it in this video. You should listen just because. Really good. https://youtu.be/j_7wC0kvZYQ

  • Daniel Smith

    Here you can see it’s not just me saying that:

    https://m.facebook.com/TheChurchMilitant/posts/198131390374441

  • Brian Kelly

    I beg to respectfully disagree with Charles Coulombe. The canonical scriptures only name three angels, and two demons, Lucifer and Asmodeus. Uriel and three others are named in apocryphal works written before Christ.

  • Brother Andre, I humbly submit that a diminutive like “Angelino” is simply an expression of the nature of the angel and is not the same as a given name. I once knew someone who called his dog ‘Puppy’ and everyone always asked him why he never named his dog. It was a black Labrador, so its ‘name’ was most diminutive indeed, as it grew well into adulthood. As you know, diminutives can be a kind of term of endearment – much like the term “Little Jewish girl” that Fr. Feeney sometimes used to refer to The Blessed Virgin Mary.

  • How would you reply to the points in the linked article on why we shouldn’t name our angels?

  • Is there such a big difference between a nickname as a term of endearment and a diminutive as a term of endearment? It seems to me that folks are looking for evil where it does not exist.

    Mind you, there was a serious problem with people who thought that they could somehow divine the actual God-given name of their guardian angels. I join the Church in condemning that practice.

  • Daniel Smith

    Actually the strongest argument I have heard isn’t so much the risk of diabolical influence as it is an inversion of nature. When God created the animals he brought them to Adam to name because he had authority over them. Additionally, this is why parents get to name children, because they have authority over them. Also, demons are finally exircircized by learning their name and using it to cast them out. But YOU and I don’t have authority over our guardian angel. His authority is God. Therefore we have no right to name them. And this can Segway into diabolical influence insofar as out attempts to name them are disordered acts, and whenever something is used in a disordered fashion It is ceded to the authority of Satan. This is why abused children can often be possessed through no fault of their own, because the existing authority structure abused its purpose and subjected an innocent victim to a disordered authority structure, thereby subjecting it to the devil.

    Fr Ripperger addresses this here:

    http://youtu.be/HROH926Ln-A

    Also the purpose of names for angels is to communicate their nature.

  • That argument has some merit. When I have time — which I presently don’t — I shall have to give it some study. I respect Father Ripperger.

  • Thanks for your reply, Brother.

    I think a nickname is more personal than a simple diminutive, and I don’t think of ‘Angelino’ as a proper nickname. A simple diminutive like ‘Angelino’ is no more personal, or particular to that angel as opposed to any other one, than the term ‘little one’ is when applied to a child. Both terms only refer in a generic way to the nature of the subject, with a term of endearment. But neither are personal to the subject, like the name Michael or Gabriel.

    Anyway, if St. Pio prayed to his Angel with the name Angelino, it’s not unlikely that the two were already on such intimate terms that the saint could see on his Angel’s very face that he didn’t mind.

    My question is: Why would anyone name their Angel?

  • Perhaps because addressing a person by the name of his genus is, well, not so personal.

    Perhaps also for quick reference.

  • I would think that some supernatural knowledge of my Angel would be necessary before I could give him an appropriate nickname. I would have to know how he is distinct from the other angels. That knowledge would seem to have to come only in some unmistakable (mystical) way. Surely that is a privilege for only the very few. It’s easy to simply say ‘My Angel’.

  • Derek Williams

    The issue here is partly to do with the nature of Hebrew names which does not have the same concept in the western mentality. Michael means ‘one who is like God’, Raphael – healing of God, Gabriel – might of God’. These translations are not definitive because one Hebrew word can mean a multitude of English but it does demonstrate that ‘joe’ would not be a suitable name and is right to be questioned! The naming of a guardian angel is dangerous as this name can only be revealed by God or the angel itself.
    Excellent article – thank you.