The Choirs of Angels & Guardian Angels

Written By Conor Gallagher

The Nine Choirs of Angels

Tradition holds that there are three hierarchies of angels, each divided into three choirs. The beautiful division is worthy of a short description of each. Just as you teach your child how to use the right tool for a certain job, you should teach your child how to invoke the best suited choir of angels for a particular intention. Do you not do this with the saints? When looking for a lost object, do you say, “Dear saints, help me find it!” or do you specifically invoke St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost articles? Likewise, teach your child how to invoke a specific kind of angel for a specific intention. Not only is such invocation far more interesting, but it shows proper respect for their divinely given function in the order of salvation. And lastly, given the extraordinary gratitude you owe to your son or daughter’s guardian angel, it is fitting that you learn extensively about his position in the heavenly court.

First Hierarchy

The first hierarchy is unique in its closeness to God.

  1. Seraphim: Their name means “ardor,” or “passion.” They sit right next to the throne of God, consumed by the fire of His love. Lucifer was a Seraphim. We should invoke the Seraphim to enkindle in us the sacred flame of love of God.
  2. Cherubim: Far from chubby baby angels, their name means “fullness of knowledge,” for they have deep insight into God’s secrets. They speak God’s wisdom to the other choirs. Invoke them to understand the deeper meanings of the Christian life.
  3. Thrones: Their main characteristics are submission and peace, for peace comes from holy submission to the Divine Majesty. Invoke the Thrones for peace and holy submission in your home to the will of God.

Second Hierarchy

The second hierarchy is more devoted to the management of human affairs.

  • Dominations: Their name refers to their being responsible for executing the angelic orders given by the Great Monarch. The Dominations make known to you the commands of God. Invoke them for the strength to follow the commands of God during our earthly pilgrimage.  
  • Virtues: These carry out the orders given by the Dominations. They also govern the seasons, the visible heavens, and the natural elements. You can thank them for the beauty of nature around you.
  • Powers: Known to be the favorite angels among mortals because the Powers are the primary fighters against demons and their wicked plans. There is a never-ceasing attempt by the powers of hell to destroy the Church and State for the sake of leading man astray. And the Powers of heaven are traditionally invoked to defeat the devil’s sinister plots upon the world.

Third Hierarchy

Similar to the second hierarchy, the third is dedicated to the visible world of men.

  • Principalities: Their primary role is to guard the nations of the earth. They should be invoked for protection of our country and for inspiring politicians to faithfully discharge their duties. 
  • Archangels: They are entrusted with the most important missions of men. Thus, great personages, such as the Holy Father, cardinals, bishops, and even rulers of state (which would include the president) are given by God not just a guardian angel, but an archangel. Saint Michael is the guardian of the Church and defends Her against demonic assaults. We should ask their protection over specific Church and State leaders.
  • Angels: Finally, the angels that are properly called Angels. These are the ordinary messengers sent to men by God. From these ranks come our own guardian angels. These are the ones protecting your little one throughout his or her life.

Familiarity with One’s Guardian Angel

Look upon your little one. Your child’s little veins are filled with flowing blood, but it is his guardian angel that gently pumps the heart in the palm of his hand. Your child’s little neuropathways are growing and shaping each day like the most elaborate interstate system to carry data throughout his tiny body. But it is your child’s guardian angel that directs all that traffic, ensuring that the lungs know to breathe, the eyes know to blink, the arms and legs know to move, that the tummy knows to rumble.

As a great cardinal of the Church once wrote:

“They never forsake us from the first breath we draw until we have entered into the possession of our eternal destiny. They hover about the babe slumbering in its crib, they guide the timid and untried steps with which childhood and youth enter upon life, as first so strange and at all times so full of perils. They hold out a helping hand to strong and rugged manhood, seasoned by struggles with the forces of evil, and bearing perhaps the scars which the wounds of sin have made. And when the light of life is transformed into the darkness and gloom of age, with its dreams unrealized and its hopes cherished in vain, Guardian Angels are near to support the bent form and tottering steps and to banish the shadows of loneliness and sorrow.”[2]

As a parent, you owe your child’s guardian angel tremendous honor, praise, and gratitude. But more importantly, you must teach your child to do the same.

Teach your child to be aware of his guardian angel. Tell your child that the angel protected him during sleep. Tell your little one that when he falls and gets hurt, the angel saved him from greater pain and suffering. Tell your child how many times you saw him fall as a baby, how many close calls he experienced, how many times your own heart skipped a beat as he darted into a busy parking lot. And then tell your child it was his guardian angel that wrapped his wings around him, protecting your little one from the surrounding dangers.

The sentimental Christian and New Age world has reduced guardian angels to a childish fantasy, nothing more than a holy imaginary friend captured in children’s artwork. But you, Dear Parent, must help your child develop a mature knowledge of the great glory, massive power, and blinding beauty of this heavenly creature assigned by God to your child. At some point when your child is old enough to comprehend, explain to him that if an angel were to appear, it might be mistaken for God Himself! Explain to your little one that an angel’s magnificence is so great that one look would overload the human brain and bring us to instant death. Truly. This is the splendor of even the ninth choir of angels. Imagine the extraordinary humility of such a creature who can fly about the universe in a blink of an eye but gladly protects your child from scraping his knee or elbow. Truly, as a parent, you know how gross humanity can be, how dirty one’s hands must get when we love a helpless human being. And the glorious guardian angel, so beyond our grotesque corporeal form, humbly stoops down to our level and joyfully cares for the helpless that you love so dearly.

Through creative means and Church devotion, foster in your child a personal affection for his guardian angel. Speak of him frequently. Pray to him together. Remind your little one as he grows older to constantly invoke the guardian angel’s protection, and you will provide him with a lifelong companion that no human relationship can replace.

And when your child dies after living a holy life, he will most likely still owe a penance in purgatory. Consider the guardian angels’ service to the souls in purgatory with the following noble thought:

“During its shorter or longer sojourn in Purgatory, the Guardian Angel will often visit the soul to bring it relief and comfort. In the writings of the Holy Fathers, it is revealed that the angels descend to the altars of earth, and drawing the Precious Blood from the golden chalices during the thousands of holy Masses daily celebrated, they shower it like a beneficent dew upon the flames of Purgatory.”[3]

And then upon your child’s release from purgatory, your little one will be met in joyous splendor by the very guardian angel that kept him safe throughout life and comforted him throughout purgation—and will now escort your child into paradise.

[1] The following outline is derived from St. Michael and the Angels, pp. 19–23.

[2] Ibid., p. 16 (quoted from a work by Cardinal O’Connell on the angels).

[3] Ibid., p. 45.

This article is taken from a chapter in Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher which is available from TAN Books.

Conor Gallagher is CEO of TAN Books. He is author of various books and is a proud husband and father of fifteen children. His subjects of interest include family life, philosophy, the spiritual life and spiritual direction.  His graduate degrees are from the Catholic University of America.