Sermon: St. Michael and All Angels

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and Sunday, October 2nd, is the traditional date for celebrating the Feast of the Guardian Angels. We’ll combine those two days today.

My friend, St. Josemaría Escrivá, had a special devotion to his guardian angel. He would say, “For years I’ve experienced the constant and immediate assistance of my guardian angel, even in the smallest material particulars.” For example, it was his habit to wake at 6 a.m. every morning, so when his alarm clock broke, he turned to his guardian angel and asked for assistance. That angel never failed him, waking him at the correct time every day. Escrivá would refer to him as, “My dear watchmaker.”

At another time, he and friends were playing bocce ball. When it was his turn, Escrivá threw particularly well but immediately declared, “That doesn’t count—I was helped by my guardian angel. I won’t do that anymore.” Later he would confess how ashamed he was for asking his guardian angel to help with such a trivial matter.

And one more: while in seminary, a professor told them how priests, in addition to their guardian angels, have a ministerial archangel that watches over them. This he took to heart. His friend and biographer, Alvaro del Portillo, writes that whenever “[Escrivá] was leaving the room, he would pause, almost imperceptibly, before going through the doorway” to allow his two angels to go before him. Alvaro said, “This was a tiny detail, unnoticed by the others, which showed how he lived in relationship with his guardian angel and ministerial archangel.”

Referring to angels, the Catholic catechism states, “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith.  The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” It further states, “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God,” and St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “The angels work together for the benefit of us all.”

Not only do they watch over and guard, but they are also God’s messengers. The word angel is derived from the Greek word angelos, meaning messenger. Perhaps the most important message being delivered by Gabriel to Mary announcing the Incarnation. Throughout scripture, we hear of their work: the angel that freed Peter from prison, the grand visions of them by Isaiah and John in his Revelation, and how they ministered to Jesus following the forty days in the wilderness.

Like Escrivá, you don’t have to go far to find or hear stories about angels. There are many, many books of accounts and encounters (some of which claim that angels are, in fact, space aliens, but we won’t go down that road.)

We do not worship them. Upon seeing one, John tells us, “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel…but [the angel] said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” We do not worship them, but we do honor and celebrate these ‘fellow servants’ of the Lord. We celebrate their unswerving obedience to God and the many kindnesses they show: watching over and protecting us, bringing us God’s messages, and saving our behinds when we do something especially stupid.

Remember that these guardians and messengers are with you, and give them pause to go before you and protect you.

Let us pray: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

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