St Michael’s is a (Byzantine) Greek Catholic Church under the Eparchy of Stamford.
St Michael’s is a (Byzantine) Greek Catholic Church under the Eparchy of Stamford.
Last 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.”
The feast of the Archangel Michael brings to table a certain wrinkle in the spiritual life that we don’t frequently acknowledge, or truly address as real. Recognizing the place evil has in the lives of many people due to the lure of sin and division, and noting that the true desire of man’s heart is really for God, Saint John Paul II in his ministry as a priest asked the faithful pray to Saint Michael the Archangel for divine assistance in the long and difficult work of spiritual warfare. He wanted us to make room in our devotional life for the intention when he said,
May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power” (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church.”
“St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. (Pope John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994)”
Michael, whose name means “who is like unto God” (Quis ut Deus?), does indeed protect us.
Will you take up the challenge and call to holiness of John Paul?
Popes Francis and Benedict at opening this morning at the blessing of a statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, near the Vatican Governorate. Pope Francis said,
“In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael – which means “Who is like God” – is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him.”
The Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus publishes a number of booklets on matters pertaining to the Catholic faith. Each of the 60+ booklets gives a very good introduction to what we believe but the booklets are neither the first word nor the last on the subjects they treat. One such booklet is All About Angels, and the following is an excerpt:
More often, however, angels appear in a multitude (cf. Daniel 7:10). When they do, the Old Testament writers employ military metaphors to describe their collective presence. Metaphors such as “host” or “army of the Lord” and “encampment of God” all suggest that angels could be found in large numbers, arranged in an orderly fashion. In rare displays of cordial greetings between men and angels, we are told the proper names of three angels: Michael (Daniel 10:13), which means “Who is Like God?”; Gabriel (Daniel 8:16), which means “Power of God”; and Raphael (Tobit 7:8), which means “God has healed.” These named beings were later identified by Catholic tradition as “archangels.” Although these personal names tell us something about the nature of God, they should not be considered solely as metaphors for God’s attributes. An archangel’s name, like our own, reveals the identity of a unique, personal being.
The Archangels are charged with protecting an individual or a multitude of individuals or with delivering solemn messages from God to man, such as when the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with the news of the Incarnation.
Finally, the Prayer after Communion on the Feast of the Archangels serves as a reminder that divine providence has placed us “under the watchful care of the angels” so that “we
may advance along the way of salvation.” Through the liturgy of the Mass we are encouraged, then, to love, respect, and invoke the angels. Invoking the angels may seem like an odd practice, but when we recall that those angels who did not reject God are saints, we quickly realize that there is little difference between this practice and the ancient practice of invoking human saints. We pray to the angels as we do to the saints, for the same reasons, namely, so that they will guide and protect us, as well as intercede with God on our behalf. At the end of the funeral liturgy, in the Prayer of Commendation we invoke the angels and saints to aid and accompany us as we leave this world:
Saints of God, come to his/her aid!
Come to meet him/her, angels of the Lord!
Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.
May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;
may angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
The Roman calendar sets aside two feast days to honor God’s invisible servants. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council’s reform of the sacred liturgy, we continue to celebrate (as we have for centuries) the feasts of the Archangels and of the holy Guardian Angels. The feast day of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, which the Church now celebrates on September 29, was first approved by the Lateran Council in 745. The feast day of the Guardian Angels, celebrated on October 2, originated in 1411 at Valencia, Spain. The liturgical celebration of these two feast days makes us mindful of our communion with the angels and of the immense expanse of the Church, which encompasses heaven and earth. The Opening Prayer for the feast of the archangels emphasizes the universal scope of God’s providence: “God our Father, in a wonderful way you guide the work of angels and men. May those who serve you constantly in heaven keep our lives safe from all harm on earth.”
Pope Leo XIII speaks of a vision he had at Mass that terrified him. In fact, there seems to be a variety of versions of the narrative. As it goes, either the Pope saw devils congregating around the Holy See or he heard that it was granted to Satan to try to undermine the Church for the next one hundred years. Who is to doubt the either interpretation of the vision? As a result of the vision, Pope Leo composed this prayer to Saint Michael and ordered in 1886 that it be recited after every Low Mass. This custom was suppressed in 1964 as part of the official liturgical acts of the priest at Mass but the tradition of saying the prayer persists. The prayer evokes a strong sense of protection and confidence in the holy work of the Archangel and therefore I strongly recommend that you say it following Mass and daily if you don’t make it to Mass.
Personally, in the past year I started saying this prayer I learned as a child.
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, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits
who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
The Latin text of the prayer is as follows:
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio.
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen.