Desert fathers were immersed in Christ’s wisdom and consequently were profoundly aware of the presence of angels. In this they were consistent with the first Christians of the New Testament and with the Eastern Churches of the early centuries. Angels were sons of God Most High and saints like angels were sons of God by grace. So when elders passed from this present life, angels were with them and the glory of God’s grace upheld them. Death for them was participation in Christ’s death, so entry through baptism with him into the glory of his resurrection. The risen body of resurrection was a body of light, a glorified body like that of angels, and angels were in attendance as they passed from this life into the glory of the age to come. The glorified among the saints were long dead already to all that subverted glorification, because all faithful Christians are risen by baptism in union with Christ, his Bride, the Church, the new Jerusalem. Angels rejoice in heaven when repentant sinners trust grace, letting glory raise them into the awareness and presence of God. For them, death was already overcome by the death of the slaughtered Lamb, so death had already lost its sting. For them, the Name of Jesus was saving, releasing them from the grip of fallen powers. Glory restored them to the glory of the awareness and presence of the Name. They surrendered to winged glory so rose into the expansive fulness of Christ, trusting the Spirit to watch over them and angels to guard their way.
The Book of Revelation gave the desert some of its symbolic, poetic diction and confirmed its ancient invocation of the Name, Hallelu Yah, conjoining wisdom and glory. The Apocalypse reveals the communion of wisdom and glory in the Holy of Holies, communion that Enoch saw when he entered the Holy of Holies. As in the Apocalypse, his animals signified men and his men angels, but whilst wisdom glorifies God not angels, when wisdom is exiled, angels, too, are driven away. Early Christian ascension texts speak of an ascent through seven heavens, involving release from seven hells, an ascent to the throne of the Holy Trinity, envisioned by the seer as three angels, as in the Holy Trinity icon of St Andrei Rublev. Guardian angels are wisdom shepherds of nations, cities, regions and individuals, imparting the wisdom of the Spirit of Truth to saints, wisdom that purifies, illumines and deifies those it glorifies. Guardian angels are shepherds of the Name, ‘I AM,’ obedient to Christ the Good Shepherd, who reveals his Name. The angel of the Name is guardian of the glorified, shepherd of wisdom gathering his own in his Name. He comes to meet those whose earthly lives are ebbing away, to gather them to himself. He protects them from deception by unveiling his Name in their midst, opening wisdom to glory beyond the reach of fallen powers. Guardian angels were called watchers because they watched over all who, in the Name of the Good Shepherd, hallow God’s Holy Name, being angels of peace to all who awaken to the Kingdom. They, too, attend the dying as they enter into their rest.
The New Testament affirms that we are all assigned guardian angels who watch over us throughout our life, including its final hours and moments. A guardian angel does not usurp God but supports our trust in God, defending against deception and protecting against temptation. Guardian angels continually behold the blessed presence of God with the wise awareness of God, so when we fall short of the glory of vision, they hold steady for our sake, maintaining our link with angelic vision. Angels of turning support angels of illumination so that angels of glory may guide us into glorification. The sacred mystagogy of guardian angels is intercession which blesses us with shining awareness, hallows us with glorious presence, completing us with Great Peace in the Name. The angel of peace is an angel of pure, unceasing prayer, shepherd of enduring wisdom who guides us from purification, through illumination, to glorification. Sometimes, elders may be like an angel to us, but when elders are few and we are left alone, our guardian angel is forever at our side. Angels strip us of the shredded shrouds of the grave, cladding us in light, robing us in glory for God’s Wedding Feast. Angels may be invisible but they share wisdom that renews visible creation in unexpected ways. The light of awareness welcomes the presence of glory in the hallowing Name and as ministering spirits, angels act in God’s Name to unveil his Name. Condemning death to death, they transmit the resurrection, ascension and glorification of Christ, who imparts the way, truth and life of the undying Name. This they do as wisdom seers and servants of glory, imparting wisdom in holiness and glory of wholeness, reminding us we are not alone even when alone and dying, remembering God is our midst.