THE FEAST OF ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS

THE FEAST OF ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS

There will be a (Said) Eucharist celebrating this important feast this Friday, September 29 at 12:00 noon.

THE FEAST OF ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS

“The scriptural word “angel” (Greek: angelos) means, literally, a messenger. Messengers from God can be visible or invisible, and may assume human or non-human forms. Christians have always felt themselves to be attended by healthful spirits—swift, powerful, and enlightening. Those beneficent spirits are often depicted in Christian art in human form, with wings to signify their swiftness and spacelessness, with swords to signify their power, and with dazzling raiment to signify their ability to enlighten. Unfortunately, this type of pictorial representation has led many to dismiss the angels as “just another mythical beast, like the unicorn, the griffin, or the sphinx.

St. Michael, who ranks among the seven archangels, is also one of the four angels mentioned by name in the Scriptures, the others being St. Raphael, St. Gabriel, and St. Uriel. The Archangel Michael is the powerful agent of God who wards off evil from God’s people, and delivers peace to them at the end of life’s mortal struggle. “Michaelmas,” as his feast is called in England, has long been one of the popular celebrations of the Christian Year in many parts of the world.”

“St. Michael is spoken of twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New. The first reference occurs in the Book of Daniel (chapter 10), where Michael comes to comfort Daniel after he has had a vision, and promises to be his helper in all things. In Daniel 12, Michael is called “the great prince who standeth for the children of Thy people.” In these references Michael is represented as Israel’s great support during the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. Daniel, wise and holy leader that he was, wanted his people to understand that God had not forgotten them, and that, even though enslaved, they had a royal champion. In the New Testament (Jude 9), we are told that Michael disputed with the devil over the body of Moses; this episode is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

In the Apocalypse (chapter 12) we find the most dramatic reference to St. Michael. Here John recounts the great battle in Heaven, when the wicked angels under Lucifer revolt against God, and how Michael, leading the faithful angels, defeats the hosts of evil and drives them out. In this role he has been painted by many artists, and the poet Milton, in book four of Paradise Lost, recounts the famous struggle. Because of this victory, St. Michael is revered in Catholic tradition and liturgy as the protector of the Church, as once he was regarded as the protector of the Israelites. In the Eastern Church, as well as among many theologians in the West, St Michael is placed over all the angels, as prince of the Seraphim. His emblems are a banner, a sword, a dragon, and scales. The name Michael is a variation of Micah, meaning in Hebrew, ‘Who is like God?’ ” (Sources: The Proper for the Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Third Edition, p. 330 and ewtn.com/library/mary/michael.htm).

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