Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
I have noticed, that this week the Archangels are going to remind us that they exist to protect us and strengthen us, so before we will come back to write to You about next mystery of faith – The Most holy Trinity, and before in our Parish we start Neocatechumenal Catechesis, and before from next week we will start Sunday School for children, I first call on their help. – Their humility is breath-taking. For a long time the Bible does not reveal their names, and when we get to know them, it turns out that they complement a soaring toward the Supreme. They will do everything to not overshadow His brilliance. Welcome to the angelic language course. Excuse: ‘archangelic’.
No words are able to express their power. But just look at a few biblical quotes to see that they are nothing like our baroque imagery (chubby face, trumpet plus a mandatory cellulite on kicking legs). Those who had contact with them, trembled with fear. I read about Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, to whom “appeared an Angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. At the sight Zechariah fell down in fear”. I read about the shepherds: “Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” And then about women who “they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. But when they entered, they could not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and therefore they were helpless. Suddenly there stood before them two men in dazzling apparel. Startled, they bowed their faces to the earth.” For years the strongest appeal to me is the biblical record of the prophet Daniel who, after meeting with the Archangel walked for many days as if unconscious. ‘He was still speaking, when I fainted, face downwards on the ground. He touched me, however, and raised me to my feet (…) At this I, Daniel, lost consciousness; I was ill for several days’. (Dn 8, 18, 27a) Sinful man is not able to withstand encounters with a powerful messenger of God.
The first observation of a man who begins to flip through pages of the Bible and the Church’s documents, is that in Heaven there is an order and hierarchy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that Angels have intelligence and free will: they are personal immortal creatures. ‘Hide behind your good Angel, when you are unable to pray – ask him to pray for you’ – taught St. John Vianney. The Bible defines the word ‘malak‘, the messenger. Angels do not reveal their names due to the fact that their identity should not distract a person from God’s name. When Jacob wrestled with the Angel, he asked: ‘What is your name?’ The angel said: ‘Why do you ask my name?’ And the Angel did not tell him his name. Their beloved business is service. They are trying to imitate God who became man in Christ the servant.
We first know their names from the Book of Daniel. They present themselves as the Archangels: Gabriel and Michael, named ‘Grand Prince’. Just as the Holy One created four winds and four standards for the Israelite’s army, he made four Angels that surrounded His throne: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. In the Jewish tradition, we have a beautiful relationship saying that it was Michael and Gabriel who were best men during the marriage of Adam and Eve, and they also assisted in the burial of Moses.
In Judaism and early Christian tradition besides the Archangels whose Feast we celebrate on the 29th of September, there is a fourth Archangel Uriel – His name means ‘Light of God’, and according to the Midrash he had just drained the Red Sea so the Israelites could go through dry shod. It was he who also revealed himself to Samson’s parents to tell them that they will have a son who will save the nation from the Philistines. Uriel, together with Michael, Gabriel and Rafael belongs to the entourage of Angels surrounding the Throne of Glory.
Michael is considered the most important of the Archangels. His lively worship existed in Christian antiquity. In Constantinople the occult of the Archangel Michael was so vivid, that in the sixth century there were up to 190 churches devoted to the apocalyptic slayer of the dragon (according to Biblical tradition, the main enemy of Archangel Michael is Samael – a fallen angel conductive of evil spirits). The Hebrew name ‘Mika’el’ is a compliment directed towards the Supreme and means “Who is like God ‘ So he had to call Michael at a time when Lucifer rebelled against God, entailing some angels. Who is the Archangel Michael? The Angel of repentance, righteousness, mercy and sanctification of the soul, carrying the keys to Heaven. St. John in Revelation puts him at the forefront of heavenly spirits. Jude the Apostle adds: It was he who guarded the body of Moses after his death. This is an extremely important part of showing how humble are messengers of heaven.
Although Judaism and Christianity see Michael as part of an Angel Court, Jude the Apostle remind us: ‘Not even the Archangel Michael, when he was engaged in argument with the devil about the corpse of Moses, dared to denounce him in the language of abuse; all he said was, ‘May the Lord rebuke you.’ (Jude 1: 9) Humbly the Archangel fighting with Satan, did not dare to judge him! Archangel Michael is revered as the Angel of Divine Mercy. We believe that he stands at the head of the dying, and he accompanies us later on the way to the Kingdom. It was he – according to the Midrash – Sarah announced that she will bear a son, and later stopped Abraham when he was wielding the knife to kill Isaac. It was also he who led the Israelites through the desert. Prince of The Angels – Archangel Michael was proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII, the patron saint of the Catholic Church. The most popular icons depict him as a warrior. He wears a ruler’s robe and holds a weight in his hand. His oldest image is in the British Museum.
The most common Archangel, especially for painters is Gabriel. In medieval frescoes he is presented with a sweet and innocent look on his face. This time it was he who according to the Midrash was responsible for levelling the ground of the rebelled Sodom. His name means ‘God is power’. In the Christian tradition he announced to Zechariah the birth of the greatest of the prophets – John the Baptist, and to Mary the birth of the Son of God. It was he who appeared in the dreams of Joseph and he comforted the Condemned Son of Man sweating with blood in the Garden of Olives. In the iconography he is depicted most often as a young man dressed in a tunic and pallium, with a tiara on his head.
A third of the Archangels – Raphael – does not strike people with his brilliance, He occurs in the Book of Tobit in the form of a man and took the name Azariah. He faithfully accompanies the journey of young Tobias, on the way saving him from many dangerous adventures. In a spectacular way he drives away the demon Asmodeus and miraculously heals the blind father of Tobias. His name translates as ‘God heals’. In the iconography his attributes are: the cross, pilgrim of grace, fish and a container.
‘He who knows his own sin is greater than the one who raises the dead through a prayer. Whoever is crying an hour over himself is greater than he who taught even the whole world. Anyone who knows his weakness is greater than the one who had seen an angel…. ‘– wrote ascetic bishop of Nineveh St. Isaac the Syria. ‘Weakness’ is one of the most common phrases, Archangel Michael face to face –‘On the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, I saw by my side that great Leader, who spoke these words to me: “The Lord has ordered me to take special care of you. Know that you ‘are hated by evil; but do not fear – ”Who is like God!” And he disappeared. But I feel his presence and assistance. “(Diary 706)
Elsewhere Sister Faustina described that it was the Angels who brought her to the depths of Hell: ‘Today, I was led by an Angel to the chasms of hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one’s condition will never change; (160) The fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it – a terrible suffering, since it is purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.‘ (Diary 741)
Angels took her also to the heights of Heaven: ‘Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that await us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns is its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. ’ (Diary 707).
‘Even though we are children and have a very long and dangerous journey to make, with angelic protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, and powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven. ‘– said St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
So, I beg all the Angels to be with me, with us, when before us is another exciting and hopefully very fruitful pastoral year 2018 – 2019 Please, keep me in your prayers.
with Blessings father Marcin