The Archangels

The Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, whom we celebrate today, adore and serve God, and help us poor sinners. It’s rather awe-inspiring to think that these pure spirits, so far beyond us in intelligence and capabilities, deign to serve, help and protect us, who are so much lower than them in the order of nature.  In the Old Testament when an angel would appear to help or instruct one of God’s faithful, they were struck with fear, falling on their face at the awful majesty of God’s Messenger.  Today when we hear stories of angelic encounters they are often described as beautiful or handsome in an otherworldly way, and exuding strength and power unlike that of mere men.

Yesterday we came across this article, which recounts some fascinating stories of people in grave danger who were rescued by what they believe were angels. And why not?  Sometimes the explanation which makes the most sense is the one that is supernatural.  And we’ve all heard first-hand from friends or relatives who have had some experience with angel-like helpers who mysteriously show up at just the right moment.  In fact, at the end of the article linked above is Deacon Bill’s account of an experience he and Mother Angelica had in Italy with a car full of angels!  Sr. Grace Marie was one of the sisters there when the mysterious and handsome strangers arrived on the scene to help, and she agrees that they were most certainly angels.

And, as the article also points out, there are fallen angels, who want to lead us away from God just as much as the faithful angels want to lead us to God.  All of us, members of the Church Militant, must be very aware of the fact that we are in a battle zone, and the battle is for our souls.  God gives us all the helps we need, the Sacraments, sacramentals, and our heavenly protectors the angels and saints, but we must put those gifts, helps, and graces to good use.  It’s no good having the finest armor if you’re not willing to put it on and wear it.

For me, the hymns and chants of the Eastern and Orthodox Churches convey the strength and power of the angels in a very moving way.  This is one hymn to St. Michael chanted in the Byzantine style.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the words, but even without knowing the words, the chant alone conveys something of the power and strength of the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts.  Obviously we are especially devoted to him since he is the patron of our monastery, and even though today we celebrate Sts. Gabriel and Raphael, too, we do give him extra attention.  And the world needs devotion to him so much right now, devotion to him and Our Lady.  Whenever we meet people who ask about our monastery, they are always excited to hear that it is dedicated to Saint Michael.  It seems everyone understands the important role he plays in our lives.  I came across this on an Orthodox website: We invoke Saint Michael for protection from invasion by enemies and from civil war, and for the defeat of adversaries on the field of battle. He conquers all spiritual enemies.  I thought it especially timely considering the precarious situation our nation faces, with many fomenting violence and hatred so openly now, and promising to unleash a new wave of violence and “resistance” in November.

The 100th anniversary of Fatima is fast approaching, but so is the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.  The spiritual war that has been raging since the fall of the angels is visible in the war and strife that mankind has experienced throughout history.  And the last 100 years have been especially bloody.  We must continue to pray, to strive to live lives of grace and fidelity, remaining faithful to Our Lord and His Church, which isn’t an easy task and likely won’t get any easier in the near future.  But we are members of the Church Militant, we are born for battle, sealed as soldiers of Christ at our Confirmation, and if we remain steadfast and faithful He will guide us through this battle, to final victory at the close of our lives.

O Commanders of the Heavenly Host, we the unworthy beseech you, that through your entreaties you will fortify us, guarding us in the shelter of the wings of your ethereal glory, even as we fervently bow before you crying: “Deliver us from all danger, as Commanders of the Powers on high!”  -From the Orthodox Synaxis of the Archangel Michael

Majestic Queen of Heaven and Mistress of the Angels, thou didst receive from God the power and commission to crush the head of satan; wherefore we humbly beseech thee, send forth the legions of heaven, that, under thy command, they may seek out all evil spirits, engage them everywhere in battle, curb their insolence, and hurl them back into the pit of hell. “Who is like unto God?” O good and tender Mother, thou shalt ever be our hope and the object of our love. O Mother of God, send forth the holy angels to defend me and drive far from me the cruel foe. Holy Angels and Archangels, defend us and keep us. (go here for the full prayer)