Saint’s Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels
Avignon, Musee du Petit Palais
Ordinary Time: September 29th
Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Old Calendar: Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel (Michaelmas Day)
The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who are venerated in the tradition of the Church. Michael (Who is like God?) was the archangel who fought against Satan and all his evil angels, defending all the friends of God. He is the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil. Gabriel (Strength of God) announced to Zachariah the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the birth of Jesus. His greeting to the Virgin, “Hail, full of grace,” is one of the most familiar and frequent prayers of the Christian people. Raphael (Medicine of God) is the archangel who took care of Tobias on his journey.
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Michael. St. Gabriel is observed on March 24 and St. Raphael on October 24.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.”
Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.
The name of the archangel Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like unto God? and he is also known as “the prince of the heavenly host.” He is usually pictured as a strong warrior, dressed in armor and wearing sandals. His name appears in Scripture four times, twice in the Book of Daniel, and once each in the Epistle of St. Jude and the Book of Revelation. From Revelation we learn of the battle in heaven, with St. Michael and his angels combatting Lucifer and the other fallen angels (or devils). We invoke St. Michael to help us in our fight against Satan; to rescue souls from Satan, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of the Jews in the Old Testament and now Christians; and to bring souls to judgment.
This day is referred to as “Michaelmas” in many countries and is also one of the harvest feast days. In England this is one of the “quarter days”, which was marked by hiring servants, electing magistrates, and beginning of legal and university terms. This day also marks the opening of the deer and other large game hunting season. In some parts of Europe, especially Germany, Denmark, and Austria, a special wine called “Saint Michael’s Love” (Michelsminne) is drunk on this day. The foods for this day vary depending on nationality. In the British Isles, for example, goose was the traditional meal for Michaelmas, eaten for prosperity, France has waffles or Gaufres and the traditional fare in Scotland used to be St. Michael’s Bannock (Struan Micheil) — a large, scone-like cake. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare.
Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany; Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sibenik, Croatia; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Symbols: Angel with wings; dressed in armour; lance and shield; scales; shown weighing souls; millstone; piercing dragon or devil; banner charged with a dove; symbolic colors orange or gold.
St. Gabriel’s name means “God is my strength”. Biblically he appears three times as a messenger. He had been sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah. He appeared to Zachary when he was offering incense in the Temple, to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel is most known as the angel chosen by God to be the messenger of the Annunciation, to announce to mankind the mystery of the Incarnation.
The angel’s salutation to our Lady, so simple and yet so full of meaning, Hail Mary, full of grace, has become the constant and familiar prayer of all Christian people.
Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.
Symbols: Archangel; sceptre and lily; MR or AM shield; lantern; mirror; olive branch; scroll with words Ave Maria Gratia Plena; Resurrection trumpet; shield; spear; lily; symbolic colors, silver or blue.
Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means “God has healed”.
Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.
Symbols: Staff; wallet and fish; staff and gourd; archangel; young man carrying a staff; young man carrying a fish; walking with Tobias; holding a bottle or flask; symbolic colors, gray or yellow.
Things to Do:
- This is a good feast to learn more about the angels. Children especially are fascinated by these celestial beings. The best place to start is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 328-336 to see the teachings of the Church on angels. John Paul II also did a Catechesis on the Angels during his General Audiences from July 9 to August 20, 1986.
- Find the passages in the Bible about angels, in particular the passages about Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
- Read the section on angels in the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy. The document examines the doctrine and devotions of the angels. Devotion to angels is good, but also can have deviations.
Devotion to the Holy Angels gives rise to a certain form of the Christian life which is characterized by:
- devout gratitude to God for having placed these heavenly spirits of great sanctity and dignity at the service of man;
- an attitude of devotion deriving from the knowledge of living constantly in the presence of the Holy Angels of God — serenity and confidence in facing difficult situations, since the Lord guides and protects the faithful in the way of justice through the ministry of His Holy Angels. Among the prayers to the Guardian Angels the Angele Dei is especially popular, and is often recited by families at morning and evening prayers, or at the recitation of the Angelus.
217. Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations:
- when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;
- when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. 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.
- Also read All About the Angels.
- Memorize the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Although no longer formally recited after Mass, our Holy Father John Paul II has encouraged us to recite this prayer daily. Read about this prayer. Here is the Regina Caeli message from April 24, 1994 during which the pope encouraged this prayer.
- In honor of St. Gabriel, Learn the Angelus and recite it daily. Traditionally, the prayer is prayed at the 6:00 and 12:00 hours (am and pm). There is a partial indulgence attached to those who pray this prayer.
- Read the Book of Tobit for the story of St. Raphael helping Tobit and Tobias.
- Make some recipes related to Michaelmas. Of special mention is the St. Michael Bannock from Scotland, roast goose and stuffing from Britain, waffles from France, and roast duck from Germany or France, gnocchi from Italy. Blackberries, apples and carrots also play a large role on this feast in various countries. Other ideas: make an angel food cake, devil’s food cake or angel hair pasta. Decorate with white, symbolizing the angels, or use other symbolic colors (see above). Non-dessert items: deviled eggs, deviled meats, etc.
- Try to find the Michaelmas daisy, a purple aster, to use for decoration. It also comes in other colors, including white, but purple is the most popular. It usually blooms in late summer until October. The official name is Aster novi-belgii, but is also known as New York aster. If you find plants or seeds to plan for next year’s garden. This site has photos and gardening information for the Michaelmas daisy.
- Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. A Traditional Irish proverb says:
On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.If you have access to blackberries, make this the last picking and eating. Perhaps make a blackberry pie? See Michaelmas Pie for a great recipe.
Meditation: John 1:47-51
Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels (Feast)
You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51)
When you think about the future, how do you feel? If you’re looking forward to a family wedding or the arrival of a new baby, you might be very excited. If you’re not sure you have enough cash to cover your bills next month or you’re awaiting the results of a high-stakes medical test, you might be anxious. Our view of the future is often colored by what we are experiencing in the present.
Our hope in the future with God in heaven is also affected by what we believe now. After Nathanael’s declaration that Jesus was the “Son of God” and the “King of Israel,” Jesus said Nathanael would one day see him in glory surrounded by the angels in heaven (John 1:49). That privileged glimpse into the future was predicated on the present—Nathanael’s belief in Jesus.
Nathanael could make that statement of faith because he was so amazed that Jesus saw into his heart, even though they had just met. In that moment, Nathanael knew he was known and loved by God.
That’s why it’s important for us to continually reaffirm our faith. If we doubt that Jesus knows us as well as he knew Nathanael, or if we wonder how he could love us, then we may not be so sure that we will even make it to heaven. We may even think we don’t deserve to live with Jesus forever.
So follow Nathanael’s lead and make your own declaration of faith. Every day, repeat to yourself, “God has known me before I was born. He loves me more than anyone else could. He longs to spend eternity with me.”
Over time, as you internalize these truths, your perspective on the future will change. You’ll begin to look forward to that day in heaven when you finally see Jesus face-to-face. Can you imagine standing before the throne of God, with his angels and archangels “ascending and descending,” just as Jesus promised (John 1:51)?
Heaven is filled with God’s saints and angels, and God wants you to join them. For us who believe, the future couldn’t look brighter!
“Lord, I want to spend eternity with you.”
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
328-332“The angels of God ascend and descend on the Son of Man”“I believe in one God…, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all that is, visible and invisible.” The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 18:10),they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Ps 103:20). As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness (cf Dan 10:9).Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him” (Mt 25:31). They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him,” (Col 1:16). They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (Heb 1:14).
Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan.
Saturday, September 29
Liturgical Color: White
Today is the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and
Raphael, archangels. They are the only angels
honored by name by the Church. Tradition holds that
we can look to Michael for help to repel Satan,
especially at the hour of death.
Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, Archangels
John 1: 47-51
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I approach this time of prayer earnestly. I believe that you have called me to be faithful and loving in your service. I thank you along with Mary, the saints and the holy angels for the marvelous works of creation. I will humbly try to reflect your greatness to all I meet today by honestly fulfilling my duty.
Petition: Lord, help me be an instrument of your peace and love.
- Honesty Is the Best Policy: Once as Jesus spent the whole night in prayer, he searched for apostles that would be honest and sincere. Jesus took a liking to Nathanael when he discovered an Israelite without guile in his heart. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him. It seems that Jesus admired this angelic trait in men. As soon as he saw Philip bringing Nathanael forward to meet him, Jesus immediately noticed the virtue Nathanael lived. If I want to be highly thought of by Jesus, then I need to be sincere in mind and heart.
- The Holy Angels: The Church venerates today the holy service of three of the archangels. They stand out for their honest love for God’s most holy will. With such fidelity, St. Gabriel faithfully delivered the most important messages of human history to Zacharias and Mary. St. Michael wrestled with Lucifer and cast him out of heaven. St. Raphael came to the aid of Tobias in the Old Testament. In these angels there isn’t any duplicity of heart. God asks them a favor and they truly fulfill it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to implement our talents and gifts toward a service of this nature? Wouldn’t it be great to be honest instruments of God’s infinite love like these three archangels?
- The Lord’s Gaze: Jesus looks into the heart and doesn’t judge by appearances. Christ’s gaze penetrated Nathanael on this occasion. Jesus penetrates the motives of my heart even though they are kept hidden from the others. Jesus is the first one to know if I am true to the faith I have received. If I am faithful to the dictates of my conscience and obey God’s lead, in private or in public, then I have nothing to hide and nothing to lose. If on the other hand, I am dwindling in my surrender to Christ by boredom and monotony, then it is about time I sought renewal. Christ needs me! How many are dying and fading away because they lack Christ and his love? I, in turn, have been graced by many special spiritual favors! Jesus gazes into my eyes and dreams of my fidelity and love.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the example of these three archangels and of the holy apostles. The holy apostles ended up shedding their blood for you and the holy angels aid us on our journey towards you. Lord, seeing so many lacking the faith, I resolve to be your tireless instrument, like them, so that many may come to praise you for all eternity.
Resolution: I will visit the Eucharist (if this is impossible, then kneel before the crucifix) and repeat confidently, Lord I wish to be your instrument – help me!
One Bread, One Body
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