Feast of the Angels

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels (in some countries, Michaelmas Day).

Archangels are believed to be messengers of God sent to guide and protect us. The three we celebrate today are named in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament.

Michael, called the “prince of the heavenly host,” is known as the great protector. In the tradition of the Church, Michael was the archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels, and so he is considered the protector of all humanity from the snares of the devil.

Gabriel is known as the bearer of good news. In Luke’s Gospel, it is Gabriel who announces to Zachariah the birth of John the Baptist, and to Mary the birth of Jesus. And in the Hebrew Scripture, he was sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah.

Raphael is known as the divine healer. In the Hebrew Scripture, he took care of Tobias on his journey. As a result, he is invoked for journeys.

I don’t know if these three archangels have significance for some of you, but I see no reason to doubt the existence of spiritual, non-corporeal beings”, as angels are referred to in the Catechism. (Indeed, according to one polls I saw, 77% of adults do believe in angels.)

Many do have devotion to the angels. And while this is good, there is also a danger. The Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy of the of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments identifies two possible deviations:

* when, as sometimes can happen, the faithful are taken by the idea that the world is subject to demiurgical struggles, or an incessant battle between good and evil spirits, or Angels and daemons, in which man is left at the mercy of superior forces and over which he is helpless; such cosmologies bear little relation to the true Gospel vision of the struggle to overcome the Devil, which requires moral commitment, a fundamental option for the Gospel, humility and prayer;

* when the daily events of life, which have nothing or little to do with our progressive maturing on the journey towards Christ are read schematically or simplistically, indeed childishly, so as to ascribe all setbacks to the Devil and all success to the Guardian Angels. The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.

I think those are good warnings to keep in mind.

With those reminders, Happy Feast of the Archangels!

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