Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feast of the Archangels

"We speak of nine orders of Angels, because we know, by the testimony of Holy Scripture, that there are the following: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. Nearly every page of Scripture witnesses to the fact that there are Angels and Archangels. The prophetic books, as has been noted often, speak of Cherubim and Seraphim. Four more orders are enumerated by Paul the Apostle, writing to the Ephesians, when he says, "Above every Principality and Power and Virtue and Domination." And again writing to the Colossians, he says, "Whether Thrones, or Powers, or Principalities, or Dominations." When, then, we add the Thrones to those he mentions to the Ephesians, there are five orders, to which are to be added Angels, Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, certainly making nine orders of Angels in all.

It must be realized that "Angel" is the name of their office, not of their nature. For the holy Spirits of the heavenly homeland are always Spirits, but they cannot always be called Angels; they are Angels only when they are announcing something. And so the Psalmist says, "He who makes spirits His Angels," as if he said plainly that, when He wills, He uses as Messengers those Spirits who are always His. Those who announce less important things are called Angels, and those who announce the highest things are called Archangels. And so not any Angel but the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary; for this ministry, it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he was to announce the greatest news of all. These Archangels are also given special names to describe their particular virtue. For Michael means "Who is like to God?" Gabriel means "Strength of God," and Raphael "Medicine of God."

Whenever something is to be done needing great power, Michael is sent forth so that from his action and his name we may understand that no one can do what God can do. Hence that old enemy who through pride desired to be like God, saying, "I will scale the heavens, above the stars I will set up my throne, I will be like the Most High," is shown at the end of the world, left to his own strength and about to undergo the final punishment, as destined to fight with Michael the Archangel, as John says, "There was a battle with Michael the Archangel." Similarly, Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called "Strength of God" came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air. And Raphael is interpreted, as we said, "Medicine of God," for when he touched the eyes of Tobias to do the work of healing, he dispelled the night of his blindness."

-- From a sermon by Pope St Gregory from the nocturn of the Dedication of St Michael the Archangel


Why not read today the Scripture passages on these Archangels. I assure you it won't take but a few minutes.

Michael: New Testament, Book of Revelation (Apocalypse), Chapter 12
Raphael: Old Testament, Book of Tobit, Chapter 12
Gabriel: New Testament, Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1


Michael - grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness
Raphael - apothecaries, pharmacists, nurses, physicians, nightmares, travelers
Gabriel - communications workers

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