The archangels

Today Mother Church has been celebrating a very important feast day: the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels.

What separates these saints from others, of course, is that they weren’t human. They were celestial, that is to say, purely spiritual beings. They did have free will, intelligence, etc. But angels are more than anything messengers of God, sent to humans to help us on our journey of faith.

Originally these three archangels (there are seven in total; the three celebrated today are the ones mentioned in the Bible) shared the same feast day, but over time they were brought together.

Saint Michael (my favorite) got his feast day in the sixth century, known as Michaelmas. There is now a flower that goes by this name (Michaelmas daisy) that typically comes into bloom around late September. Here’s a photo:


St. Michael in Hebrew means “Who is God?” According to the Bible, Michael brought strength and justice to the Israelites (see the Book of Daniel). He is the primary fighter in the fight against Satan in the Book of Revelation. Thus, he is the Defender of Holy Mother Church. One popular image is of St. Michael killing the dragon of the apocalypse in the Book of Revealation (see Rev 12).

He’s doing good work with Mother Church! There are seven Michaels here at St. Meinrad. Another Michael told me the other day, “St. Michael is taking care of business.” HA. True enough.

He also looks out for the souls of the deceased. Christians in the second century drew courage from St. Michael’s ability to conquer Satan and believed that Michael would rescue from Hell those who had died in a state of mortal sin. Perhaps now might be a good time to pray for his intercession for the repose of the souls of the dead.


St. Michael


Then we have St. Gabriel, whose Hebrew name is translated “Strength of God”. He is known as the “messenger of redemption” because he was the messenger of salvation: (1) he explains to Daniel a vision he had about the Messiah; (2) he told Zachariah that St. John the Baptist was coming along; (3) and of course he told Mary that she would be giving birth to Jesus.


St.
Gabriel


Then we have St. Raphael, whose Hebrew name is translated “God’s ointment” or “God’s healing”. In Tobit, we find an account of Tobit sending his son Tibias on a journey with Raphael to collect a debt. Tobias collects the debt, gets married, and heals his father’s sight with fish’s bile. And it all happens of course because of Raphael’s guidance and power.

St. Raphael


So…we should pray to:

  • St. Michael in times of temptation, despair, and loss
  • St. Gabrield in times of discernment
  • St. Raphael in times of sickness