By: Deacon Marques Silva
How often do you think about or even pray to the angels? You might pray to your Guardian Angel, but how about the rest of them? Our society prides itself on empirical evidence and observation. Unfortunately, without Divine Revelation and Tradition, we would know nothing about the holy angels. In fact, angels are mentioned 165 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. Yep, equal in both – oh happy coincidence! Theologians agree that without the angels, salvation history would be vastly different.
Yesterday, we remembered the three great Archangels mentioned in Sacred Scripture: Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael [Editor’s note: Sept. 29, the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, traditionally known as Michaelmas]. These three played key roles in Sacred Scripture, salvation history, and the life of the Church.
Ancient writings suggest that just as Satan “rules” in hell, St. Michael is the governor of heaven (Praepositus Paradisi). Under the Old Covenant he was known as the “great prince” and protector of the children of God (Daniel 12:1). The Church expresses this too in her liturgy. During the Offertory Prayer while celebrating a Requiem Mass, she prays:
Sed signifer sanctus Michael repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini eius.
Saint Michael, the banner bearer, may conduct them into the holy light which Thou hast promised to Abraham and his seed.
An article in Communio (September 29, 2010) shared that Sacred Tradition teaches us that St. Michael exercises his four offices in the life of the Church in the following ways:
• to fight against Satan, his minions and the power of evil
• to rescue and protect the faithful from evil, especially at the hour of death
• to lead the people of God to full communion with God Himself
• to call our souls to judgment before God.
As one might imagine, Michael is the patron of soldiers. But did you know that he is also the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.
Gabriel means “the power of God” and is most remembered for the Angelic Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. Gabriel is also mentioned four times in the Word of God: Daniel 8:16, Daniel 9:21, Luke 1: 5-25, Luke 1:19 (Zechariah), and Luke 1: 25 (Our Lady).
Pius tradition also holds that it was Gabriel that strengthened our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane and announced in the Garden of the Resurrection that the Christ had arisen. The Fathers of the Church also mention that on the Last Day when heaven and earth are consummated and the final judgment is convened, Gabriel will sound the trumpet. Gabriel in Luke 1:19 mentions that he stands before the throne of God. Additionally, he is believed to be one of the seven angels that adore our Lord before His throne.
Gabriel is the patron of communication and postal workers – I definitely believe his messages will always be on time and timely.
No, Raphael is not a teenage mutant ninja turtle but is the angel that guided Tobiah to Sarah and healed his father’s (Tobit) eyes in the Book of Tobit. Appropriately, Raphael means the “medicine or healing of God”. In the Book of Tobit, he is mentioned by name twenty-seven times. Needless to say, he is a main character in this Old Testament treasure.
Like Gabriel, Raphael mentions that he is one of the seven angels that stand before the throne of God (Tobit 12:15). He is not only the patron of travelers he is also the patron of dating and engaged couples (Go figure with him finding the perfect wife for Tobiah).
Later this week, we will look more at the angels per se since the Feast of the Guardian Angels (Wed., Oct. 2) is almost upon us.