Chapter XLVII The security of men committed to God
Angels as guardians
Although nothing seems so vulnerable and subjected to evey kind of danger as the society of the devout — they being ill-regarded, buffeted, and beaten both the devil and the world — nevertheless I saw that they were well guarded. For their group was perceptibly surrounded by a fiery wall which, when I approached it, I noted it to be moving. For it was nothing less than a circle of many thousand of thousands of angels, who made it impossible for all their enemies even to approach them. Besides, each Christian had an angel ordained and sent by God to be his guardian, whose duty it was to watch over him and protect and defend him against all manner of dangers and snares, pits and ambushes, traps and stratagems. These angels are indeed (as I myself have learned and observed) lovers of men, being their fellow-servants, particularly when they see them observe the duties for which God has created them: such they serve gladly, guarding them against the devil, wicked men, and untoward accidents, and if necessary, even carrying them in their arms to protect them from harm. Then I realized how much depends on piety, for these beautiful and pure spirits dwell only where they perceive the fragrance of virtue and are repelled by the stench of sins and of impurity.
Angels of our teachers
2 I have likewise observed (a thing not proper to conceal) another benefit derived from this invisible holy company: namely that they not only have angels as guardians, but also as teachers of the elect, to whom they often transmit secret hints and whom they teach the deep hidden mysteries of God. For since they ever look upon the face of the omniscient God, none of those things which a pious man desires to know can remain hidden from them. They, in turn, reveal what they know, with God’s permission, to men, if such knowledge is needed by the elect. Hence, the heart of the devout often has a presentiment of what is happening at a distance, and finds itself sorrowful in untoward and joyful in auspicious circumstances. It follows then that through dreams and other visions, or through secret inspiration, they picture in their minds either what has happened in the past, is taking place at present, or shall come to pass in the future. From this source come the increase of the gifts of God within us, the penetrating, beneficient meditations, and the astounding inventions with which man often surpasses himself, not knowing where they have originated. Oh, the blessed school of the sons of God! This is what often brings all the wisdom of the world to utter amazement, when it sees some simple insignificant person proclaim deep mysteries and foretell future changes in the world and in the Church, as if he saw them before his eyes, and name yet unborn kings and heads of states, and predict and announce other matters which could not possibly be learned from any study of the stars or from any exercise of human ingenuity. All these things are of such great benefit that we can never sufficiently thank our protector, God, for them or ever love sufficiently those heavenly teachers. Let us, however, return to the security of the devout.
God is a shield of the devout
3 I saw that each one of them was surrounded not only by the angelic protection, but also by God’s own august presence, so that he inspired terror in those who attempted to attack him without God’s permission. I saw miracles performed by some who had been thrown into water, fire, or to lions and wild beasts, but had suffered no harm whatever. Some had been fiercely attacked by human brutality, having been surrounded by a horde of tyrants and hangmen with their henchmen, so that sometimes powerful kings and whole kingdoms had labored assiduously for their destruction; but they had remained unhurt and had withstood it, cheerfully walking about their business. Then I realized what it is to have God for one’s shield; for when He commands His servants to accomplish certain tasks in the world, and they go about their duty courageously, He, dwelling in and about them, guards them as the apple of His eye, so that they do not succumb until their alloted task is finished.
The pious boasting of the godly
4 They are well aware of this divine protection and cheerfully rely upon it. I heard some of them boast that they fear not even though the shadow of death fall upon them, or the whole world be risen up an the earth cast itself into the middle of the sea, or the world be full of devils. Oh, the thrice happy security, unheard of in the world, when a man is held and protected so surely in the hand of God that he is safe from the power of other things! Let understand, ye true servants of Christ, that we have a most watchful guardian and protector — the almighty God Himself. Blessed are we!