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Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (I)

September 29
by F. K. Bartels | Source:

St Michael, the Archangel

The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St Michael as "one of the chief princes," and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been especially honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles.


Although he is always called "the Archangel," the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the angels - as Prince of the Seraphim. St Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.

St Gabriel, the Archangel
The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the angel who appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptizer. Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, Son of the Most High, and Saviour of the world. The feast day is September 29th. St. Gabriel is the patron of communications workers.

St Raphael
St Raphael is one of seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord. He was sent by God to help Tobit, Tobiah and Sarah. At the time, Tobit was blind and Tobiah's betrothed, Sarah, had had seven bridegrooms perish on the night of their weddings. Raphael accompanied Tobiah into Media disguised as a man named Azariah. Raphael helped him through his difficulties and taught him how to safely enter marriage with Sarah. Tobiah said that Raphael caused him to have his wife and that he gave joy to Sarahs parents for driving out the evil spirit in her. He also gave Raphael credit for his father's seeing the light of heaven and for receiving all good things through his intercession. Besides Raphael, Michael and Gabriel are the only Archangels mentioned by name in the bible. Raphael's name means "God heals." This identity came about because of the biblical story which claims that he "healed" the earth when it was defiled by the sins of the fallen angels in the apocryphal book of Enoch. Raphael is also identified as the angel who moved the waters of the healing sheep pool. He is also the patron of the blind, of happy meetings, of nurses, of physicians and of travelers. His feast day is celebrated on September 29th.

Who are the archangels?
Pope St. Gregory the Great distinguishes between angels and archangels: "Those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels." The Catechism explains: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. 'Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.' Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God" (No. 336).

"The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls angels is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 328).

Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels. Though we cannot know of all the many times these magnificent spirits and powerful allies have entered into history to accomplish God's will, protecting us, driving away demons, and bearing forth messages of God's providential plan of salvation, some of their specific actions are recorded in Sacred Scripture, and, in each case, we obtain a glimpse into their ardent love for God, intently focused wills and formidable intellects.

"Who Is Like God"
In the Office of Readings -- from The Liturgy Of The Hours, which is a part of the official, liturgical and public prayer of the Church --  antiphon we read: "The sea grew turbulent and the earth trembled when Michael the archangel came down from heaven."

As we read in Scripture, it was St. Michael who long ago led the battle against Satan: "Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him" (Rev 12:7-9).

The name Michael means "who is like God." St. Michaels will is focused, immovable, and entirely driven toward accomplishing goodness: he is a protector of souls, and wields his unrelenting sword of righteous justice against the poisonous and vindictive aspirations of the one who is known as a liar from the beginning. During a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, the Venerable John Paul II said, "The battle against the devil... is the principal task of Saint Michael the archangel."

When St. Michael the Archangel appeared to the three children at Fatima in 1916, preparing the way for the apparition of our Blessed Mother which was soon to follow, he said to them, "Fear not. I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me." Then, prostrating himself, he repeated three times: "My God; I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee! I beg Thee forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee!" In this simple yet wonderful prayer of profound meaning, St. Michael clearly reveals his burning adoration and love for God, as well as the fact that, deep within the center of his being, he also bears great love and concern for men. How serious and committed this warrior is! St. Michael offers us a model of unwavering dedication, focus, fearlessness, and trust in Gods sovereign goodness and power.

"God Is My Strength"
Gabriel means "God is my strength." As we read in the second antiphon of the Office of Readings, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and said, "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John" (see Lk 1:13). Thus St. Gabriel announced the coming of John the Baptist, the greatest prophet of the Most High, who would go before the Lord to prepare his way.

It was St. Gabriel who was sent from God to Nazareth, "to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph... and the virgins name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you" (Lk 1:27-28).

St. Gabriels message announced a pivotal moment in humankinds history: the Savior was, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Archangel who draws his strength from God brought us the message of strength in which we draw our hope: God Incarnate was soon to enter history for love of man.

Pope St. Gregory the Great wrote: "He [Gabriel] came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus Gods strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle" (excerpt from Hom. 34, 8-9).

"God Is My Health"
Raphael means "God is my health." St. Raphael is one of seven angels "who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord" (Tob 12:15). The meaning of Raphaels name reflects the fact that he touched Tobits eyes in order to heal them of blindness.

In the third antiphon of the Office of Readings, we are reminded that Raphael stands before God: "I am the angel Raphael, I stand in the presence of the Lord; as for you, bless the Lord, and proclaim his wonderful deeds."

When Tobit and his son Tobiah were discussing how they should repay ... St. Raphael for all that he had done for them, "Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Before all men, honor and proclaim Gods deeds, and do not be slack in praising him" (Tobit 12:6).

There is a great deal we can learn from the Archangels, who are powerful messengers, allies and friends of men.

To read more about other Saints of the day, CLICK HERE

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