Sunday, September 29, 2013

Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

In the old calendar, today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel. The new calendar calls it the Feast of the Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels. In the old calendar, the feastof St. Michael takes precedence over the Sunday after Pentecost, but in the new calendar, the Sunday is given priority.

The excerpt below is from the lessons for the office of matins in the Divine Office. The archaic translation may cause a little stumbling in your reading of it, but it still makes the point!

The Lesson is taken from the Sermons of Pope St Gregory the Great.
34th on the Gospels.
We say that there are nine Orders of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Mights, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four Orders, where he saith

The Father of glory.. raised (Christ) from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all Principality, and Power, and Might, and Dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.

And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith:

(By (the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,) whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers; (all things were created by Him and for Him.)

If, then, we add the Thrones to the four Orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five Orders; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the Orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.

But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office.  

Those holy spirits in the heavenly fatherland are always spirits, but they may no wise be always called Angels, (which is, being interpreted, messengers,) for they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist, ciii. 5, Who makest spirits thine Angels! x as if it were, Of them who are always with Him as spirits, He doth somewhiles make use as Messengers. They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels they who go on the greater Archangels.

Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth Who-is-like-unto-God? Gabriel, the Strength-of-God,and Raphael, the Medicine-of-God.

As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will be like the Most High, (Isa. xiv. 13, 14,) this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shown unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John, Apoc. xii. 7:  

There was war in heaven Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.  

Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted the Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of Him Who was content to appear lowly that He might fight down the powers of the air.  

Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth the Medicine-of-God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.

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We need the St. Michael prayer now more than ever! The well-known short version of this prayer follows in English and Latin. The Pope ordered this prayer to be recited daily after Low Mass in all the churches throughout the Catholic world. However, this practice was almost completely swept away in the 1960s by liturgical changes made in the wake of Vatican Council II.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our protection against the malice 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.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio.
Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur.
Tuque princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo
divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.


  1. Thank you for this post! Sadly, my local parish no longer recites the Prayer to St. Michael after mass, but I'm hoping to bring it back. I'll be talking with my priest soon about this matter!

  2. St Michael is the Patron Saint of law enforcement officers, warriors and sheepdogs (the human kind). As a long time law enforcement officer I recite the prayer to St Michael daily and wear a St Michael's medal at all times. St, Michael, defend us in battle. You know many are being waged now especially in the USA and within the Church.

  3. The fact that the Prayer to St. Michael hasn't been used in every parish these past 40 years has been catastrophic. It should be said in every parish.

    For me personally, I say it every night.

    I pray St. Michael intercedes for this wicked world and for Holy Mother Church.

    God bless.



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