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Don't Name (Or Try to Discover the Name Of) Your Guardian Angel

Sep 26, 2017 By Gretchen Filz

One of the beautiful and consoling teachings of the Catholic Church is that each one of us has a Guardian Angel given to us by God to lead us on the path to salvation.

Beside each believer stands an Angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life." - St. Basil the Great

Angels are bodiless spirits. They have an intellect and will, and they operate in specific ways to guide, protect, and influence us, which you can read about here: 25 Quick & Fascinating Facts about God’s Angels

It is not only commendable, but also advisable, to invoke our Guardian Angels and learn how to recognize their promptings; however, there are a few dangers to avoid when seeking out a closer relationship with them.

There is one particular persistent error among many Catholics when it comes to their Guardian Angels: trying to discover their name or identity, or assigning a name to them.

This is understandable, given that when humans form a relationship, knowing each other's name is the first step.

However, there is a distinction that must be acknowledged if we are to behave appropriately in respect to our Guardian Angels.

Among humans, we are equals; but this is is not the case between us and the mighty Heavenly Host. In fact, trying to find out the name of, or give a name to, our Guardian Angel is a bad idea for three main reasons.

 

First, God created a multitude of angels, more than we could count, yet He has given humans the names of only three in Sacred Scripture: St. Gabriel, St. Michael, and St. Raphael. Since this is all that God has chosen to reveal to us about the identity of specific angels, we should not try to discover the names of other angels. This knowledge is above our state, and to seek it out would not only be irreverent, but would mean falling into the vice of curiosity.

Read The Feast of the Holy Archangels: Their Identity & Mission

Sacred Scripture relays accounts of humans trying to probe the names of angels, to no avail. In the Book of Genesis, the patriarch Jacob was unsuccessful in obtaining the name of the mysterious being who wrestled with him in the desert. Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” He answered, “Why do you ask for my name?”

When an angel appeared to Samson’s mother as recorded in the Book of Judges, she told her husband, “A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of God, fearsome indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and bear a son…” When the angel returned, Samson’s father asked him, “‘What is your name, that we may honor you when your words come true?’ The angel of the Lord answered him: Why do you ask my name? It is wondrous.”

Second, the act of naming carries great significance. To name something is to claim authority over it. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam dominion over the animals. As an exercise of Adam's authority, God brought the animals to Adam so that he could give them a suitable name. However, God only brought Adam the creatures that were of a lower nature than humans (or of the same nature, as in the case of Eve). God did not bring Adam creatures that were of a higher nature than humans, that is, the bodiless spirits. Therefore, it is not within our authority to give names to, or find out the names of, creatures that are of a higher created order than us.

To know an angel's name is to discover much more about their identity than is the case when we know a human being's name. Because angels are simple spirits, to know their name is to know their essence, the very core of their being and the purpose of their creation. This knowledge is for God alone, and those in heaven with whom He shares this knowledge.

Tobias and Raphael

Third, when we attempt to discover the name of our Guardian Angel, we would then look for signals that our angel is trying to answer us with a specific name. Of course, we could mistake many things for "signals" that would be nothing of the sort, and in the end we would only be deluding ourselves. Not only that, but just as we are always in the company of angels, so too are we in the company of demons. If a demon sees that we are trying to discover the name of our Guardian Angel, and knows the kinds of things we will mistake as signs (because they are brilliant deceivers), they can masquerade as angels of light and send us false signals. If they observe that we are following their deception, they can lead us far astray. This is the reason why the saints divulged the supernatural occurrences in their lives to their confessor or spiritual director, to serve as a protection against demonic deception.

And there is one final reason: the Church warns against this practice. According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy  from the Holy See's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:

The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture."

In summary, because mankind has been made lower than the angels, it is not for us to assume a higher place by attempting to name or find out the name of the angels who are assigned to serve and guide us. The Church discourages this practice for our own protection. Like all ill-advised attempts to inappropriately communicate with the spirit world, doing so can open us up to demonic influence, which God could permit in order to teach us a lesson in humility.

Your angel does have a name, but it is a mysterious and holy name. There is a reason why God chooses not to let every soul know their angel's name. It might seem odd to us, but we don't need to worry; all we need to know is that we have the amazing gift of a Guardian Angel who is always there for us.

For these reasons, it is clear that it is not our rightful place to know more about our angels than God has revealed to us. It is for our own good. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't become acquainted with them. Seek the guidance of your Guardian Angel daily through prayer, learn how to love him and follow his lead, but don't try to know his mighty name!

Our Guardian Angels are our most faithful friends, because they are with us day and night, always and everywhere.  We ought often to invoke them." – St. John Vianney

Continue reading: Get to Know Your Guardian Angel and the Angels of Your Loved Ones

CATEGORIES: Catholic Living / Catechesis

Comments

Ruth says
Feb 8 2019 5:46PM
It would be well to read "The angels in the life of the Church" 334-354 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I can't find where it is forbidden to know the name of your Guardian Angel. Going out into the spirit world looking for signs, symbols, angels , whatever supports a new age philosophy that is not in keeping with our Catholic faith and is very ill advised and dangerous if not forbidden. On the other hand, there could very well be a private revelation where a person learns the name of his/her Guardian Angel. The person is a practicing Catholic putting God first with no intention of power in light of knowing the angels name. This could happen and should cause no worry.
Hello Ruth! The emphasis here is on not actively asking for a name or looking for signs of confirmation in one direction or another. Yes, it is possible to receive a private revelation of an angel's name, but even then that person would (or should) probably be in contact with a wise spiritual director who can help that person discern that experience.
Kathleen Dircks says
Jan 24 2019 11:47AM
So.... we’re not going to talk to Angels or dead relatives because we might talk to an evil spirit instead? What about praying to a Saint who’s name you know?

Catholics have always prayed to Angels and Saints, and they’ve always been accused of worshipping them by non-Catholics.

When you make a decision based on fear instead of love you choose fear as your god.
Hi Kathleen, this post is about the danger of trying to discover the name of your guardian angel; it is not saying to not pray to your guardian angel or to the saints, which of course the Church encourages.
Lori Ann says
Jan 22 2019 10:08AM
Let’s look at this from the opposite end:

Exorcists use the power and the permission the Church gives them to command demons—fallen angels—to give them their names in order to know their particular missions. Once the priest knows this, he has the authority to command those demons to leave., and that is s good thing to call evil for what it is in order to purge it.

Now, when it comes to the good and holy creature that God Hinself assigned to us for our salvation, should not we both honor and consider untouchable that sacred and secret mission between the Master and His creature —it’s name?

I propose that we are permitting God to execute His plan for our lives through giving Him total trust and ownership of our Guardian Angel’s name. God is Mystery; Satan employed tempting man’s curiosity to gain “knowledge of good and evil”. This led to man’s original sin. But, simple but profound trust in God’s ways always leads to major blessings for us.
Regina says
Jan 17 2019 8:27AM
I use to wonder who my Gaurdian Angel is. I am a Catholic who strayed for many years before returning. I did try other Churches but to me found that God was calling me back to my Catholic faith. I believe and thank God and my Gaurdian Angel for protecting me. Sometimes I would like to know who he/she is. Maybe someday it will be revealed if not I am happy not knowing.
Tawni says
Jan 16 2019 8:07PM
This is a very interesting article! I agree to an extent, that we as humans are incredibly curious and cannot rest until we have answers! Especially to things we have no business knowing. That, as you mentioned in the article, can lead us down a path we don't want to be on! I am discovering my path and purpose in life, and a woman very close to me has pointed me in the direction of the angels. This woman performs auto writing, and one morning when she woke up she wrote down the name of an angel, Chamuel. She had no idea what it meant until she researched it farther and discovered it was one of the archangels. Since God is in control of every being, could it be possible he allows names to be revealed to us?
Hello Tawni. One thing to remember here is that there is no way of knowing that the name came from God or a messenger of God. As well, you mention automatic writing. The Church looks at this type of practice with extreme caution, as it can possibly be overtly or indirectly associated with the occult. Here is an article that may shed some light: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14221a.htm. These are good questions to ask a priest as well. God bless!
Wendy Welsh says
Jan 15 2019 10:30PM
Before I knew not to ask I was listening to a meditation that led you to ask your guardian angel's name and I received a name. Now I'm worried I've done something I shouldn't. What do I do now?
Wendy - No need to be distressed. Simply continue on and act in the light of your new knowledge, asking for assistance from "My Guardian Angel" instead of using the previous name.
Barry says
Dec 31 2018 11:58AM
WARNING : read (1st John 4 : 1-3) = nuff said.
Abigail Rudge says
Dec 31 2018 1:03AM
Hey I read this article and it is making a lot of sense of my life these past few years. I have also read the comments and some of you are useful. So can I ask you all a question, after I explain why. About 5 years ago I got back from church and I thought, how can I truly know if I have faith in God because my life was nice and so peaceful and nothing came to test it. So I spent the night praying and trying to feel the presence of something, I told God that I needed to be tested. And since that night everything in my life has gone down hill, and I dont know if its God testing me or if im being lead by a demonic spirit because I opened that door. This article scares me because it proves my fears. If I am being tested then I have failed in my faith as I have grown very distant from God since that one night. So many terrible things have happened one after the other and it still seems to be going and I want it to stop. I want to feel how I felt 5 years ago. I want to feel that protective blanket. So my question is: How do I ask God help me without accidentally asking a demon? Its not just me this misfortune is affecting, it is every one close to me that gets the worst of it and if it is my fault I feel incredibly guilty.
Hello Abigail. I'm sorry that you've found yourself in this confusing situation; it sounds like there's a lot that has contributed to it. I suggest that you take this to a spiritual mentor or a priest who can walk with you through the whole journey and help give some meaning to all of this.
Sharon says
Dec 27 2018 4:13AM
Is the Angel same as the holy spirit .

Accuse for me i believe the holy spirit has been guiding me in everything.
Hello Sharon - Guardian Angels are very different from the Holy Spirit, though they share the mission of directing and inspiring virtue in us! The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy Trinity - God the Holy Spirit. Guardian Angels are creatures, created by God with the special mission of guiding and protecting human beings. Certainly ask for guidance from both sources - the more the merrier (and hopefully the holier!) ;)
Claudia says
Dec 22 2018 10:53PM
The Holy Spirit is always with us.. He teaches, protects and corrects us.. Why don't we leave it to Him to decide what angel he sends..Jesus said He would not abandon us, he would leave us a the Holy Spirit...Guardian angels do what the must to protect at the by the order from the Father, who tells Jesus at His right hand, who reveals it to the Holy Spirit , who reveals it to use...learn discernment. I would not find it necessary to call on an angel.. I would ask the Holy Spirit to send my guardian angel or a legion of angels above, below to surround me.. I would ask the Holy Spirit to go ahead of me...We need to put our trust in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Leave Him to tell them what to do...we could put ourselves in danger...Even St. Michael the Archangel said to the devil when Moses died and they were arguing over his body.. May the Holy Spirit correct you.. He left that decision to the Holy Spirit...we can ask for help, but ultimately it comes from a higher command...we don't want to get in trouble.. At the name of Jesus the evil one flees, the more you praise the God the more he can't stand it.. Been my experience to call on the Lord.
I would always ask when I went to bed at night, my guardian what is your name. I always wondered why I never got an answer. Searching on the internet for the answer to my guardian angles name , I came across your sight. Now I know why I never got an answer.I would with most certainty say my guardian angle led me right to this sight. I will no longer worry about obtaining my guardian angles name. Thank you
Carlo mancuso says
Dec 1 2018 1:26PM
Hello my name is Carlo. I was very devoted to mother Mary and prayed my rosary daily After 3 years of pouring my heart out to mother Mary and Jesus I heard a voice in my head telling me to pray to my angel So I started to buy books on Angels and read up on it The voice kept telling me to pray my angel and the name Raphael would come to mine. So one day I ask Jesus Jesus if you really want me to pray to my angel I need to know his name Before I can get it all out he said Rapheal. So please tell me what you think
Hello Carlo. The Church encourages us to have a relationship with our guardian angel, so definitely foster that! However, the Church cautions against trying to attach a particular name, for the reasons stated in the article.
On a different note, St. Raphael is the saint-archangel of healing. so you may also want to ask for his intercession in your heart and life!
Mark says
Nov 24 2018 5:01AM
Is this a new teaching on guardian angels? The reason I ask is when I was taking classes for first communion or Sunday school I don’t remember which is was 20+ years ago so I was only 10 or 11 the instructor told me if I asked my guardian angel would tell me if I prayed about for it. So I did and do believe after some time I was answered and have always held that to be special to me.
Hi Mark, this is not a new teaching. It has been a popular (and misguided) notion to ask one's guardian angel for their name - which is why we have written this post to clear up this misconception. We do not know the details of your personal experience, but this is simply the recommendation from the Church that we not attempt to give a name or find the name of our guardian angel.
I believe in angels says
Nov 10 2018 1:01AM
If you want to develop a close relationship with your guardian angel, close your eyes and simply say “Thank you my heavenly guardian.”
Lisa says
Oct 31 2018 4:12PM
Is it true or false that there is an angel for each day of the year?
Hello Lisa. We have not heard this in particular. But, as there is a multitude of angels, it's possible that they have particular roles, just as each of us has a particular guardian angel.
We should focus on the name Jesus. All others are a distraction.
yolanda cyrus says
Oct 16 2018 5:00PM
If and when there is a need (and I hope I will never be in a desperate situation) it will be revealed to me if God so permits. I place my faith and help in God....and I know that if I call on my guardian angel he will be there.
George Gloria says
Oct 9 2018 2:59PM
I would never try to ask the name of my guardian angel as long as I know that he or she will be with me until the end of my life. I do believe in them.
Terry says
Oct 3 2018 9:32AM
My sister told me years ago that God would tell me the name of my Guardian Angel if I asked Him. That night when I went to bed, I asked God to tell me the name. Sometime in the night, I heard a clear voice that said, "Her name is Rachael." I opened my eyes and said, thank you, and went back to sleep. It was very calming. I honestly believe that my Guardian Angel's name is Rachael.
Awai Tarfa says
Oct 2 2018 5:03PM
Thank you so much for this article. I have never had a close contact with my Guardian Angel, so during the celebration of mass to mark the feast of guardian angels, i decided to search and know my guardian angel. My search led me to this article. After reading it, i got a clear understanding of what we need to know about our guardian angel. But i still long to have a close relationship with my Guardian Angel. I feel we are miles apart. Thanks once again for the article.
Dominic Ford says
Oct 2 2018 2:30PM
I would agree you should not assign a name to your gaurdian angel. However, I don't see any harm if you ask your gaurdian angel what their name is, to which they can then choose to reveal to you or not, if it be God's will, as mine did in a dream. I asked my gaurdian angel what their name was and then that night I had this dream where this mysterious lady, to which I don't recall seeing her face, opens this giant book up and points to the word gaurdian and then across from that word to the name James. So I truly believe my Gaurdian Angel's name is James.
Hello Dominic. As mentioned in the article, one of the difficulties with asking for signs (such as a name) in any situation is that it's difficult to discern where an answer is coming from. I'll reference the end of the blog here:
"When we attempt to discover the name of our Guardian Angel, we would then look for signals that our angel is trying to answer us with a specific name. Of course, we could mistake many things for “signals” that would be nothing of the sort, and in the end we would only be deluding ourselves. Not only that, but just as we are always in the company of angels, so too are we in the company of demons. If a demon sees that we are trying to discover the name of our Guardian Angel, and knows the kinds of things we will mistake as signs (because they are brilliant deceivers), they can masquerade as angels of light and send us false signals. If they observe that we are following their deception, they can lead us far astray. This is the reason why the saints divulged the supernatural occurrences in their lives to their confessor or spiritual director, to serve as a protection against demonic deception."
Calvin Naylor III says
Sep 8 2018 10:21PM
Thank you. I am a Christian, not a Catholic, but have Catholic friends. I was glad this article came up FIRST on google, when I searched "How to identify guardian angels". I think I avoided a pitfall that could have caused needless suffering for me. So I really appreciate that you took the time to write this!
Zain Levesque says
Sep 8 2018 5:44AM
I think you are right about most of what you were explaining about the guardian angels. But do you think there is an infinite amount of angels or are they recycled into a family line like there is a finite amount of them? And if you are truly wicked in your ways or renounced god does your guardian angel leave you?
Hi Zain, there are not an infinite amount of angels (only God is infinite), however it is believed by Catholic theologians that there are a vast number, and that they were all created at once at the beginning of creation as immortal spiritual beings. We do not know one's relationship to one's guardian angel if one's soul ends up in hell; likely the angel will be assigned other duties by God.
Leisa Pastor says
Sep 3 2018 3:55PM
Re: Pat's comment, I used to think as she does. However, I can say from personal experience and that of others that we should NOT dabble in the spiritual realm. To do so opens up a door or portal, shall we say, to a realm that includes evil spirits that can follow us back through to harm us. This is one of those instances where we have to rely on our faith in God, and part of that faith is not questioning this. It is unwise to say the least.
Cynthia says
Aug 22 2018 10:04PM
My guardian angel sent me a beautiful gift today, 822. Thank you for hearing my prayers and my heart.

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Commentary by

Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at GetFed.com, she is also editor of the MorningOffering.com daily devotional email and author at GoodCatholic.com. She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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