Grandmother’s always remind us of the little things that make up the Catholic imagination. Make the sign of the cross as you pass a Catholic Church or cemetery, pray before you travel, pray before you eat. One of my favorite treasures which I learned from my grandmother is to prayer the prayer of Saint Michael whenever I hear the sirens of the ambulance or police cars.
Today’s feast is popularly called Michaelmas celebrating the three archangels popular to the Catholic imagination. Today is special to my heart as it is the solemn festival for my alma mater seminary college, Mount Angel Seminary.
These archangels make up the stratia of God – the spiritual army who belong to an entire different world beyond our imagination and whose power to fight evil is beyond our human comprehension.
Michael’s name means Who is like God? Our First Reading speaks of this Archangel who thrusted Satan and a third of the angels into hell. Michael is invoked in all our spiritual combats with evil and is patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police, and the sick.
Gabriel’s name means Strength of God. He is the Archangel who announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah and whose famous greeting to Mary is recited on the lips of all who pray the rosary. He is patron of communication workers.
Raphael’s name means Medicine of God. He is the Archangel who cared for Tobias on his journey. He is patron of travelers.
The image, strength, and medicine of God. They join the legion of angels who in today’s Gospel ascend and descend before the Son of Man. But for what purpose?
If we saw evil for what it was in its unabashed ugliness, we would be repulsed and never choose it. Yet, Satan has a way of disguising evil to make it look attractive. The Archangels descend from the spiritual world to come to our defense for they see Satan, his trickery, and deception as they truly are. They protect us in the spiritual realm from all the devil’s enticements.
They ascend to worship God without ceasing before his throne as we all cry “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts” which is the reality that takes place here at this altar. They ascend because at the moment of our death, they will accompany us on our final journey to stand before the Almighty Presence of God.
In Matthew 10:8 Jesus gave authority to his disciples to cast out demons in his name. So while these venerable holy and spiritual beings fight our spiritual battles, how can we fight in this same battle against evil?
We must continuously transform our vision and re-align the way we see Truth through prayer and on-going conversation with God. In this way, we see the snares of Satan unmasked, we can hold Truth in the face of falsehood and always choose the good. In this manner we become the image, the strength, and the medicine of God for others. Don’t fret because we have the stratia, the spiritual army of archangels, to defend and assist us.
Now, Archangels are awesome in the kingdom of God. But remember, as we process to the altar of God, they guard this holy place as they stand in awe and wonder of what God does for man and women. They stand in awe and wonder because these spiritual creatures, great and mighty though they are, cannot do what we are about to do. We commune with Almighty God in Holy Eucharist and in this great act of love the angels kneel and worship at God’s unfathomable love for us poor and fragile sinners.
Blessed Michaelmas to you all and Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints. Amen.