Today, we celebrate the feast of the archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. We don’t use many occasions to speak about the angels, but they are all over Scripture. From our readings, we see that the angels minister to the Lord, some singing His praises and some bringing particular messages. They protect us from harm, fight demons, and worship God face to face. As Jesus says in the Gospel, they ascend and descend upon the Son of Man, working closely with the ministry and mediation of the Messiah.
Like the angels, the archangels are messengers of God. The name “angel” means “messenger,” and the name “archangel” means “chief messenger.” Drawing from this, Saint Thomas Aquinas points out that the archangels bear the greatest messages of God to man. Whether by direct battle (Michael), by prophecy (Gabriel), or by healing (Raphael), these angels relay the most significant communications from God.
In Tobit 12:15, Raphael calls himself “one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” From this, the Church has gathered that there are seven archangels in total. They each have a particular role, signified by their Hebrew names. Michael, “Who is Like God,” defeats Satan, as recounted in Revelation 12, with his humble acknowledgement of God’s omnipotence. Gabriel, “Strength of God,” foretells the Messiah to Daniel and Mary, telling of the King who will put all kingdoms under His feet. He also warns Joseph of the coming persecution in a dream. Raphael, “God heals,” cures Tobit’s cataracts and casts out the demon Asmodeus, clearing the way for the marriage of Tobias and Sarah. We cannot be certain of the names of the other archangels.
In former Missals, separate feasts were assigned for each archangel. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael each had a feast, each with his own specific readings, and in even older times Michael had a second feast to commemorate a special apparition at Gargano. Aside from our readings today, which focus on the angels in general and on Saint Michael, the other feasts showcased Gabriel and Raphael in Daniel 9 and Tobit 12 respectively, where they are sent to assist the prophet Daniel and to aid Tobit and Tobias.
It is good to be remind of the angels and of the archangels every now and again, even if we are used to invoking Saint Michael’s intercession in the Saint Michael Prayer. These readings and the writings of the saints on the angels remind us that angels (and demons) are real, and are part of the Catholic Faith. We can pray for the archangels’ intercession by name, and we already know of the mighty deeds they have performed in salvation history for the glory of God.
We ought to remember this spiritual reality often, bearing in mind that, as Saint Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” Satan and his demons would love to have us in Hell, but God and His angels are much more powerful. We can not only rely on their intercession, but can also be consoled in knowing that they join us at Mass and assist us in our prayers to God.
David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature Image Credit: Luis Ca, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/6327-cruz-cementerio