The Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael
Feast Day: September 29
Patron of: against temptations, ambulance drivers, artists, bakers, battle, boatmen, Brussels Belguim, coopers, Cornwall England, dying people, emergency medical technicians, EMTs. fencing, Germany, greengrocers, grocers, haberdashers, hatmakers, hattersm holydeath, knights, mariners, millieners, Papua New Guinea, paramedics, paratroopers, police officers, radiologists, radiotherapists, sailors, security forces, security guards, sick people, soldiers, storms at sea, swordsmiths, watermen.
Symbol: dragon, scales, sword
God made everything from nothing by His Almighty power and His Love for His Creation. He made all parts of everything seen and unseen. He made everything for a reason. All physical living things that God made have 'souls', which is the life essence of their body. Both animals and people have souls. He also made the angels, who are beings of pure spirit. Angels have a mind and a will to know and love God. We know that we are most loved by God because He gave us both souls and spirits!
The name angel comes from the word messenger in Greek, and they are called angels because they carry messages and missions for God. God gave them great wisdom, freedom and power. Archangel means prince of the angels, and the Archangels Micheal, Gabriel and Raphael are the greatest of the angels. They are the leaders of all the angels.
When He created them, God gave all the angels the choice of following Him and obeying Him. We have the same choice, but because we have bodies and we learn as we grow, we can make the choice to love and serve God everyday. Some angels looked at God and saw His power and the beauty of his creation and they loved Him. Other angels turned away from God because they did not want to serve, they wanted to use their power for themselves. The chief of these angels was called 'Lucifer.'
There was a great battle in Heaven. Michael fought for God, and the other angels joined him. They drove Lucifer and the angels who followed him out of Heaven. They were cast into Hell, and are now called devils. The devils continue to battle against God, trying to turn people's souls away from God. The good angels who love us because they love God, help us fight against the temptations and lies of the devil.
Jesus often talked about angels, and they are referred to in the Old and New Testament. They appear many times in the Bible to bring God's messages to His people. An angel stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and pointed to the ram instead. An angel, the Angel Gabriel, appeared to Mary at the Annunciation. Can you think of some of the other occasions when angels appeared on earth to carry out God's commands?
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Scriptures give no indication of the precise time of the creation of angels; it is assumed that they were created very early. Like us, angels were created in and receive God's grace and love. But because, unlike us, they are non-bodily creatures, their response to God's love did not require time and reflection to grow and mature. As soon as they were created and received grace, they had the opportunity to respond to God's love and be welcomed into bliss. For them, this choice was once and for all time.
Despite the skepticism of our modern age, or the romanaticism of New Age cultic belief in angels as interstellar messengers, angels created by God to be His messengers and Heavenly court are real. We know this from the many Scripture references to them beginning with Genesis (Gen.3: 24) and moving through the entire history of God's people (Numbers 22:22, IV Kings 19:35, Dan. 10:13) and from the numerous mentions that Christ made of angels in His teaching. They are intermediate between God and man.
In the same way, we also know that there are good angels who follow and obey God and bad angels called demons or devils, who in pride refused to obey God's commands. The Temptation of Adam and Eve presupposes the reality of evil angels or demons wanting to lead others into disobedience. Accepting the existence of angels then naturally leads to an acceptance of the devil and of hell, which is nothing more than the total and everlasting absence of God without hope of redemption. The pride of Satan and the other demons created hell.
Accepting the existence of devils and of hell then leads to the understanding that Christian tradition holds that the Archangels have four tasks or offices:
- To lead the fight against Satan.
- To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death.
- To be the champion of God's people, the Jews of the Old Testament, the Christians in the New Testament.
- To lead away from earth and bring men's souls to judgement.
This feast celebrates the three archangels who were sent to man to proclaim wondrous messages, or defend mankind against the wickedness of the devil: Michael, whose name means 'Who is like God?' which was the war cry of the angels, lead by Michael who cast Satan and his followers out of Heaven. He is especially honoured and invoked as a patron and protector by the Church throughout history.Many German temples to Wotan were converted to Shrines to Saint Michael when Germany became Christian.
Gabriel primarily appears as a messager for God, in the Old Testament and the New. He was the angel who appeared to Zechariah to proclaim the conception of John the Baptist and then appeared to Mary at the Annunciation. The name means 'man of God' or 'God has shown himself mighty'.
Raphael means 'God has healed' This angel has acted as a guide to God's people and healed others. He reveled his identity as "I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the throne of God."
We do not know what angels look like when they are around the throne of God, or being creatures of spirit only, if they have any appearance at all. Their appearance on earth must be a terrifying and awe-inspiring sight. Many of the Scripture references say that their first words are "Be not afraid."
"You should be aware that the word 'angel' denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.
Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by His superior power."
From a homily by Pope Saint Gregory the Great.
God, with great wisom You direct the ministry of Angels and men. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.