For a while there a few years back, angels were wildly popular. Posters and notecards, t-shirts and television shows, all featured angels or something purporting to be an angel. Lately this enthusiasm seems to have faded, and now the public fancy has turned to robots or zombies or something. But we members of the Body of the Lord are ever aware of the Angels, even though they have no bodies, for together we serve the Eternal Almighty. And this weekend falls right in the midst of our annual liturgical observance of their importance.
Friday, 29 September, was the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. We know all of these Archangels from their missions recorded in Scripture. Gabriel brought the message of the Incarnation of Our Lord to the virgin of Nazareth, whose name was Mary. Raphael assisted Tobiah on his pilgrimage, and identified the healing balm for Tobit. Michael is in charge of, shall we say, less delicate matters. He wields a flaming sword, and in addition to various struggles in which he intervenes in the Old Testament, we see this:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world -- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rev 12:7-9
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while. Rev 20:1-3
This is decidedly somebody we want to have on our side in our struggles, and someone with whom we want to have clear and quick communication. The ancient Prayer to Saint Michael is indispensable, and we should know it and pray it. In fact, we will be teaching it to the students by praying it at the conclusion of our weekly school Masses this year.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle! Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
He is clearly one of “the big guns” we have for our fight against sin and death. But that is not all of the angels we celebrate in these days. Monday, October 2, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels, when we recall that God has assigned an angel to each one of us, to help us safely on our way to heaven:
For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12
Where do we find the Angels, and how can we be united with them? The Divine Office for the Archangels reminds us by quoting the Scriptures:
An angel stood by the altar, holding a golden censer; a large quantity of incense was given to him, and clouds of incense rose from the hand of the angel in the presence of the Lord.
Thousands upon thousands waited on him, and myriads upon myriads stood before him. And clouds of incense rose from the hand of the angel in the presence of the Lord.
We are closest to the Angels when we are at the Holy Altar of God, worshipping Him. That is better, longer lasting, and more accessible than posters and notecards, t-shirts and television shows ever will be.Monsignor Smith