I was surprised to read somewhere that “the practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged.” Please explain this. What if I was told the name of my angel in prayer?
A document written in 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship entitled, Directory on Popular Piety in the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines, says, "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.” (#127)
While the Congregation does not offer reasons for discouraging the practice, I would like to offer a couple.
First, there is the understanding of what a name is. For most of us in the modern Western world, a name is simply a sound we go by. But in the ancient, Biblical world, and even in many places today, a name has a far deeper meaning. A name describes something of the essence of the person. This helps explain the ancient practice of the Jews to name the child on the eighth day. The delay gave the parents some time to observe something of the essence of the child, and then, noting it, they would name the child. Indeed most Biblical names are deeply meaningful, and descriptive.
But it is presumptive to think that we can know enough of the essence of a particular angel, in order to be able to assign a name. Hence, assigning a name seems inappropriate.
The second reason is that assigning a name indicates some superiority over the one named. Thus, in the case of children, parents, who are superior over their children, rightly name them. However, in the case of angels, they are superior to us. And, even though we often speak of them as serving us, they do this on account of their superior power and as guardians. Thus, God commands us to heed their voice (cf Ex 23:20-21)
So, naming an angel does seem problematic, and to be discouraged. As for the name being revealed to you, let me respectfully offer that this is not likely the case, since it seems unlikely that an Angel, or the Holy Spirit, would act contrary to the directive of the Church, herself graced to speak for Christ.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."