Guardian Angel: Protector of the Heart

In an earlier entry I talked about how the Garden of Eden actually refers to the man and the woman, for they are God’s garden of delight (which is what eden means). God gives us many gifts and abilities, but He gives us two in particular; He refers to these abilities as trees: one is the tree of life, and the other is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life is the heart, and it is symbolized by the river that separates into four rivers.

The tree of life is the heart that loves, trusts and obeys God. The tree of life is the tree of life because when we love, trust and obey God, we have life. After the Fall, God sends an angel to protect the tree of life. I state that the angel is not given to keep us from the tree of life but to keep our hearts protected from disobedience and doubt. The woman was made from the man’s rib, and so she was made to encourage the man to stay faithful to God. She did the exact opposite of what she was made for, and the result is the “death” of humanity. Now we need a helper more than ever in our weakened state, and so God sends us each our own guardian angel. Genesis 3:24 which states, “at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life,” relates the giving of the guardian angel to protect our heart and keep us faithful.

That is how I understand that passage. Not long ago, I was reading Saint Josemaria Escriva’s book, The Forge, when I came upon entry 412:
“Custody of the heart. That priest used to pray: ‘Jesus, may my poor heart be an enclosed garden; may my poor heart be a paradise where you live; may my Guardian Angel watch over it with a sword of fire and use it to purify every affection before it comes into me. Jesus, with the divine seal of your Cross, seal my poor heart’.”

Many of the same elements of what I think about Genesis 3:24 are present in this paragraph. The founder of Opus Dei does not call the heart a tree here, but he does call it a garden and a paradise which is guarded by our Guardian Angel with a sword of fire. The center of our garden is our heart; the temple’s center was the holy of holies: the temple is a symbol of our body, and the holy of holies is a symbol of our heart. What are gardens for but to bear good fruit, and what are temples for but to worship God? We bear good fruit when our gardens and temples are protected from scavengers on the one side, and when it consists of good dirt which gets healthy amounts of water and sun on the other. We have to keep away from sin, be steeped in humility, drink deeply of God’s grace, and bask in the warmth of his divine love, seen most clearly in Mass and Eucharistic Adoration.

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Copyright 2007

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