On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, also known as Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.
The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship God in heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about them, but Jesus speaks of them rejoicing over penitent sinners and elsewhere in a statement that has been variously understood, He warns against misleading a child, because their angels behold the face of God.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, it is occasionally reported that someone saw a man who spoke to them with authority, and who they then realized was no mere man, but a messenger of God. All this leads us to understand that there are super-human rational created beings, either resembling men in appearance or taking on human countenance when they are to communicate with us and are referred to as “messengers of God,” or simply as “messengers.” The word for a messenger in Hebrew is malach and in Greek, angelos, which is where we get the word “angel.”
By the time of Jesus, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with names for many of them, including the seven archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Remiel and Saraqael.
What is the value to us in remembering the Holy Angels? They are the ones who fight the unseen battles and wars. From the Book of Revelation, “War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world– he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the other rebellious angels and they were defeated and cast out.
You only need to turn on the TV to see images of war and it seems that we are now constantly at war with someone. Bombing here. Invasions there. They will mount a camera on a missile so that you can watch it as it leaves the plane to when it hits it’s target. Spend anytime on the internet and you will come across images of war that are so horrible that they seer themselves onto your brain. In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget that there is another war taking place around you. And it is Michael and his angels, those that fought that great rebellion in Heaven, that continue the fight in this war. However, this war is not over control or real-estate. This war is for your soul. Therefore, we celebrate Michael and the angels for their constant vigilance in the spiritual realm protecting us against those enemies we cannot see and for assisting us in those times of trouble. They are the messengers of God and the play a very active, though unseen, role in our lives.
I’ll close with a prayer that we should all know and frequently pray:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against
the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.