Tag Archives: archangels

Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

Master of Pratovecchio Three ArchangelsLast year (Sept. 29, 2014) on the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael Pope Francis spoke of the archangels. In the western Church we honor three archangels but there others. You know another famous archangel, Lucifer; another relatively unknown is Uriel. Vatican Radio reported the following:

The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and win.  They defend and custody  the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man.  Even though in Satan often presents “humanistic explanations” for his attacks on mankind.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at Mass Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta, marking the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Today’s readings present us with very strong images:

the vision of the glory of God described by the prophet Daniel with the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, before the Father: the archangel Michael and his angels fighting against “the great dragon, the ancient serpent, he who is called the devil” and “seduces all of inhabited earth,” but who is defeated, as affirmed by the Book of Revelation; and the Gospel in which Jesus says to Nathanael: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man”. Pope Francis speaks of “the struggle between God and the devil.”

“This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child. Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: ‘Thou hast made man superior to the angels,’ and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”

Satan, therefore, seeks to destroy humanity, all of us:

“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute.  He presents things as if they were a good thing.  But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honours the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”

“The task of the people of God – the Pope said – is to safeguard man: the man Jesus” because “He is the man who gives life to all men”. Instead, in his plans for destruction, Satan has invented “humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God.”

“This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches … If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”

Pope Francis concluded urging those present to pray to the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and “recite the ancient but beautiful prayer to the archangel Michael, so he may continue to do battle and defend the greatest mystery of mankind: that the Word was made Man, died and rose again. This is our treasure. That he may battle on to safeguard it.”

Angels defend us

Scripture reveals and theology teaches that angels help Christians fight the devil. Angels, those holy spirits who bring God’s messages to us help to overcome temptation. Good pastoral advice is to pray several times a day to one’s guardian angels, but also to the three Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, whom we honor today in the sacred Liturgy.
Here’s Vatican Radio’s summary of the papal homily for the Archangels, Saints Gabriel, Michael and Raphael:
“This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child.  Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: ‘Thou hast made man superior to the angels,’ and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”
“So many projects, except for one’s own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute. He presents things as if they were a good thing. But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
”This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches … If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night”.

The 4 known angels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel

There is an icon of an angel in the daily Mass chapel at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (East Haven, CT) but it is so high that no one can really see the details of the icon, even trying to make out the Greek is difficult for young eyes. The pastor, Father John, promised a gift to the one who identifies the icon at Mass this morning which opened a door for inquiry. Piqued with wonder several, including yours truly, set out to determine the angel’s identity. At first glance I thought it was the Archangel Raphael. But closer examination showed me that it was really Gabriel. In the meantime, I asked one of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, a curious creature and holy woman, how many archangels are there.

An “angel” denotes a function, not a nature; they are messengers. The archangels are leaders of the other angels, hence they are called the princes of the angels. As you know Western Christians venerate three archangels: Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. But, few know that there is a fourth named archangel (plus three other un-named archangels), one who is little known and not liturgically commemorated in the Latin Liturgy, but the venerated by Christians of Eritrea (related to the Coptic Church), the Anglican Communion, and Judaism. His name, Uriel, meaning “God is my light.”

Archangel Uriel’s feast day is July 11.

St Uriel.jpg

Archangel Uriel, according to pious legend (and I am not being dismissive by using these words because legend isn’t used as fiction), indicates that Uriel is known as the angel of wisdom as he illumines the heart and mind to know God’s truth. He is “The Light or Fire of God.” You might say he’s the archangel of discernment. Perhaps this is the angel who assisted Saint Ignatius of Loyola in writing the principles of Discernment in his Spiritual Exercises! As this Orthodox prayer says, 

Oh holy Saint Uriel, come to our aid with your legion of angels! Intercede for us that our hearts may burn with the fire of God. Obtain for us the grace to use the sword of
truth to fight against all that is not in conformity to the most adorable will of God in our lives.

The apocryphal texts of the biblical tradition in question are the little known Book of Enoch and Esdras. What we learn is that Uriel is one of seven archangels who preside over the world; that Uriel reveals that rebellious and fallen angels will be judged by God and that Uriel warns the prophet Noah about the flood.

Moreover, in 2 Esdras, God sends Uriel to answer a series of questions that the prophet Ezra about recognizing the signs of good and evil at work in the world.

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Saint Michael the Archangel and the archangels

Tadolini's Michael.jpgNo better day than today to recall the work of the archangels: Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Raphael is least known, but he’s remembered because of his ability to heal in God’s name and then there’s the famous Gabriel who announces to a young Jewish girl, Mary, that she’s to bring into history God, the Incarnate Word of God known to us as Jesus and then we know Michael because he’s best known for throwing Lucifer to hell (he was the 4th archangel turned Satan or known as the devil). Michael means “who is like unto God.”
Catholics know Saint Michael for 4 things:
1. he provides aid for the spiritual struggle fought by all people;
2. he is present at every deathbed, giving hope for one’s redemption;
3. weighs the merits of a person’s soul following death: you are judged worthy of heaven, purgatory or hell;
4. he guarantees Jesus Christ’s promise to that the gates of hell won’t prevail upon the Church and that the Church will last to the end of time.
Since the time of Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century, we’ve prayed …
Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, Oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels

Archangels.jpgOur Catholic faith teaches us that angels have a general and yet an important part to play in our salvation history, especially personally guiding us. Moreover, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are given to us by God for very specific purposes and they are the only angels named in sacred Scripture.

And so today, the Church honors the archangels, invokes their intercession and relies on their assistance in the spiritual warfare we daily face.

In Hebrew, “Michael” means “Who is like God?” Saint Michael is mentioned four times in Scripture: Daniel 10 and 12, in Jude and in Revelation. Scripture reveals to us that Saint Michael is known as the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” hence, the leader of all angels. It is to the Prince of the Heavenly that we owe a debt of gratitude for casting down to Hell Lucifer and the evil spirits; he is invoked for protection against Satan and all evil.

Sacred Tradition teaches that there are four offices connected to Saint Michael:

  • 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.

We know the archangel from his announcement of the dawn of salvation to Mary: “I am Gabriel, who stand before God” (Luke 1:19). What is crucial to remember about Gabriel are his two announcements in the New Testament: the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zachary and of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh in Mary. Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” is also mentioned four times in Scripture. 

Again, sacred Tradition tells us that it is Saint Gabriel who appeared to Saint Joseph and to the shepherds. At the beginning of the Passion it was Gabriel who “strengthens” Jesus in the his agony of the garden.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15)

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit. This book in the Old Testament is the only book in which Raphael is mentioned. He is the archangel of healing and acts of mercy. Tradition tells us that Saint Raphael is the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

As point of trivia, the Catholic hospital in New Haven, CT is named for Saint Raphael, likely the only one in the USA.

Those familiar with what is called the “old Mass” will remember praying the Prayer to Saint Michael at the conclusion of Mass. In 1899, after a vision of evil, Pope Leo XIII wanted to protect the Church and instructed that his prayer be prayed by all, especially the priest. I can’t recommend the prayer enough to you when making your thanksgiving following Mass or the Divine Office. Plus, I would recommend that you pray the Prayer to Saint Michael prior to going to bed.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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