Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Archangels
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
During this month of September, the month of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us ask of our good Lord to give us a true contrition for our sins and fervent gratitude for His great Goodness! This Sunday, I share with you a teaching on the Angels. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week:
September 29 – Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Archangels
Feast: The liturgy for the three archangels who have been venerated throughout the history of the Church. Michael (from the Hebrew Who is like God?) is the Archangel who defends the friends of God against Satan and all his evil angels. Gabriel, (the Power of God), is chosen by the Creator to announce to the Virgin Mary the mystery of the Incarnation. Raphael, (the Medicine of God), is the Archangel who takes care of Tobias on his journey.
The mission of the Archangels.
We read the words of Jesus in the Gospel of the Holy Mass: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see Heaven opened and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. (John 1:51) The Angels continually praise God. According to the plan established by Divine Providence they play a part in the Almighty’s dominion over creation as ‘mighty doers of His word’ (Ps. 102). The Creator entrusts special care and concern for each person to a Guardian Angel in particular. In a special way the Guardian Angels influence those who play a special role in our salvation, like priests for example. They present our petitions and prayers to God for our benefit. (John Paul II, Address, 30 July 1986) Their mission as ambassadors of God extends to entire nations as well. (cf. ibid.) Men call on the Angels and the Archangels every day and at every hour, within the Holy Mass, to praise the glory of God throughout the entire world.
Today’s feast is a special opportunity to consider that the Church honors three Archangels in the Liturgy by name. The first is Michael the Archangel (Dan. 10:13-20; Rev. 12:7; Jude 9). The etymology of the word is a synthesis of the essential disposition of these good spirits. ‘Mica-El’ signifies: Who is like God? The second is Gabriel, who is connected above all with the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God (Luke 1:19, 26). The term means Power of God or My power is God. The third is Raphael, whose name means God heals. (cf. ibid., General Audience, 6 August 1986) By meditating on his mission to Tobias we better understand the verse in Hebrews concerning the purely spiritual beings we honor today: Are they not all Ministering Spirits sent for service for the sake of those who shall inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:14)
Their proximity to our everyday life moves us to pray in the words of the Liturgy: O God our Father, in a wonderful way You guide the work of the Angels and men. May those who serve You constantly in Heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth. (Opening Prayer) We receive countless deeds of assistance from the Archangels, and from our Guardian Angels whose feast day we will celebrate in a few days. The existence of Angels is frequently a tangible proof of God our Father’s loving concern for us His children. Do we frequently seek their intercession in the midst of our daily work? Do we feel secure in their company throughout the day, especially in the midst of tribulation or when we are about to lose the serenity and peace proper to the sons and daughters of God?
The Archangel St. Michael helps us fight the devil.
In the First Reading of the Holy Mass today we read: Now war broke out in Heaven, when Michael with his Angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of Heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent known as the devil or Satan who had deceived all the world, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him. (Rev. 12:7-9) The Fathers of the Church interpret these words of the Apocalypse as a testimony of the battle between Michael and the devil when the Angelic Spirits were put to the test. They also understand the fight Satan sustains against the Church throughout the centuries. The ongoing battle will reach a final conclusion at the end of time. (cf. St. Gregory the Great, Moralia, 31, 12) According to Jewish tradition some Church Fathers corroborate that the devil is an angelic creature who became Gods enemy by not accepting the dignity granted mankind by the Incarnation. (cf. The Navarre Bible, note to Rev. 12:7-9) The devil and his followers were ejected from heaven, and ever since have never ceased tempting men and women so that through sinning they might be deprived of glory.
St. Michael appears in the Old Testament. He defends the chosen people on God’s behalf. (Dan. 10:13; 12:1) Pope John Paul II reminds us: The continuous struggle against the devil that characterizes Michael the Archangel is still going on since the devil who seeks to take advantage of every situation, is still living and operative in the world. (John Paul II, Address, 24 May 1987) There are periods in which the existence of evil among men becomes singularly apparent. We have the impression today that people do not want to see the problem. Everything possible is done to remove from public awareness the existence of the ‘cunning attacks of the devil’, who ‘holds dominion over the underworld’ as spoken of in Ephesians. Nevertheless, there are historical periods when the profound truth of this revelation of Faith is expressed with greater force and is almost tangibly perceived. (ibid., Address, 3 May 1987)
Given that the devil’s activity in society is occasionally expressed with great force and is almost tangibly perceived, the Church therefore invokes St. Michael as a protector in adversity and against his ploys: Send Michael, the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, to the aid of Your people. May he defend them against Satan and his angels on the day of battle. (Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds prayer) Their plots are real and threatening, since they try to extinguish the life of Christ in souls. Their maneuvers would be terrible if we did not count on divine grace, the help of the good angels, and the help of our Blessed Mother from heaven.
We are also reminded on today’s feast: At the beginning of Creation came the first adoration of the Almighty on the part of Angelic Beings of the spiritual caliber of ‘Who like God’, Michael, and his angels (Rev. 12:7). While the Apocalypse makes us aware of the most exulted affirmation of the Creator’s majesty in Michael’s complete love of God, it leads us to realize the fullness of hatred which broke out in rebellion against Christ. (John Paul II, Address, 29 September 1983) The impact of Satan is still prevalent in the world today in countless ways. When loving service to God and others is falling off and more keenly felt in our surroundings, it should be a reminder for us Christians to love and serve Him even more, with all our being, and without expecting anything in return. Serviam! Lord, I shall serve you, we can tell Him many times throughout the day in the intimacy of our hearts. May we take advantage of the feast day today to say: Jesus, I have no other ambition than to serve You.
Petitioning the Holy Archangel for his continual protection of the Church.
Christ is the true conqueror of sin, death and the devil. With Him and in Him we always achieve victory since He helps us through the Angels and the saints. Referring to the final events of His life on earth Jesus says: Now is the judgment of the world, now will the prince of the world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. (John 12:31-33) When the disciples report that the devils are subject to them in His Name the Lord exclaims: I saw Satan fall as a bolt of lightning from Heaven. (Luke 10:18)
Nevertheless, the triumph of Christ over the devil will not take place until the end of the world. Therefore after exhorting the first Christians to have full confidence in God, St. Peter tells them: Cast all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you. He also rouses them to vigilance: Be sober and be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:7-8) St. Cyprian appropriately comments: He encircles each one of us like an enemy besieging a fortress examining the walls to find a weak spot at which to launch an attack. (St. Cyprian, De zelo et livore, 2) Perhaps St. Peter recalls the following words of the Master as he writes his counsel to the early Christians: Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your Faith may not fail. (cf. Luke 22:31-32)
Perhaps the greatest triumph of Satan and his followers in our own day is that many have either forgotten about them or question their existence. They may say belief in Angels was held only during less culturally advanced periods of history. Let us not forget though: Their mysterious action in the life of the world and their influence on people is real and effective. May we frequently seek the protection of St. Michael the Archangel to triumph over every evil.
During the previously mentioned discourse Pope John Paul II repeatedly comes back to an ancient prayer made through the intercession of the Angelic Warrior: St. Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle and be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen. (Prayer to St. Michael) (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Joseph, St. Columbkill, and all the Holy Angels, may God grant us the grace to serve Him faithfully and generously! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel