September 29 – St. Michael and all Angels

September 27, 2007 at 2:44 pm

raphael9.jpg

Raphael.  St. Michael. c.1503-1504. Oil on panel. Louvre, Paris, France.

 Daniel 12:1-3

At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

From Homily 34 of St. Gregory the Great, Pope (540-604)

You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature.  Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits.  They can only be called angels when they deliver some message.  Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels…

 

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform.  In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known.  But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us.  Thus, Michael means, “Who is like God?”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

 

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power.  So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.  He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment.  Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel. 

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary.  He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers.  Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

 

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness.  Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals. Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Entry filed under: feasts and festivals.

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