Sept. 29 Feast of the Archangels

The angels show forth God’s greatness and perfection. “Each symbolizes individually some attribute or other of that infinite Being. In some we see his power, in others his love, in others his strength. Each is a reproduction of some beauty of the divine Original; each adores him and glorifies him in the perfection it portrays.” It is God, then, whom we honor in the angels. They are like mirrors reflecting the perfections of their infinite Creator. Raised to the supernatural order, they share in the life of God; and victorious in trial, they enjoy the beatific vision: “their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father, who is in heaven.”
— Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey (Source)

One of my very favorite feastdays, and a good tonic before we meet the curmudgeonly St. Jerome (whose sometimes frosty admonishments make him a perfect lead-in to the crisp air and chill mornings of October) tomorrow.

Pope Benedict XVI: “Angels manifest God’s care for every individual”:

“. . .push us to think of the provident attention with which God occupies himself of every human person. Feel beside you, dear young people, the presence of the Angels and let yourself be guided by them, so that all your lives might be illuminated by the Word of God.”

From today’s Office of Readings, we read Michael’s battle with the dragon (Rev 12:1-17a) and then this homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great:

You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.

And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us. Thus, Michael means, “Who is like God?”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do waht God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying, “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my thrown above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world, when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too, Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Today in a special way let us beseech our angels to pray and intercede for us at the throne of God; Gabriel, for the sake of all who are today bearing difficult messages and those who must receive them; Raphael, for the sake of all who are sick and the doctors, nurses, surgeons, technicians and researchers who labor in their interests; Michael, for the sake of the spiritually, emotionally and psychologically oppressed, and those who live with them, that they may be freed…

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