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.