An Angelic Feast!

In the older Roman calendar today is the Feast of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel, which refers to a basilica dedicated in his honor.

This has been the time of year to honor angels for a long time in the Roman Church. The ancient Veronese Sacramentary has an entry for “Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria” for 30 September. The Gelasian Sacramentary has a feast for “S. Michaelis Archangeli”. The Gregorian Sacramentary has “Dedicatio Basilionis S. Angeli Michaelis” for 29 September. It is possible that the basilica they were talking about was a long-gone church out the Via Salaria north of Rome. However, there is the monumental statue of St. Michael that looms over the City at the top of Hadrian’s mausoleum, known as Castel Sant’Angelo, placed there after the archangel signaled the end of a plague that had ravaged Rome.

Today at Matins in our Breviarium Romanum, in the 9th reading in the 3rd Nocturn, St. Jerome instructs us:

Oh, how great is the dignity of souls, whereof every one hath from its birth an Angel appointed to guard it! Hence, we read in the Revelation of John unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, (and so of the others,) write, ii. I And the Apostle (Paul) also saith: The woman (that is, in the Church) ought to have a covering on her head, because of the Angels. i Cor. xi. 10.

Hence… chapel veils!

From Scripture we know the names of three Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  There are other, apocryphal names of angels, but we are not to use them or invoke them.

Here is a nice depiction of all three angels easin’ elegantly on down the road with Tobias, Fido and the Fish:

Our perennial Catholic thought is that the angels are in a hierarchy of nine “choirs”.  This goes back to the writings of St. Dionysius and of Gregory the Great.  St. Thomas Aquinas developed their foundational teachings.   According to the Angelic Doctor the choirs, which designate offices and roles, are

  1. Seraphim
  2. Cherubim
  3. Thrones
  4. Dominions
  5. Virtues
  6. Powers
  7. Principalities
  8. Archangels
  9. Angels

Note that Archangels are second from the last.  That St. Michael seems to be the commander of the heavenly host shows that even among angels (who are created persons, but without bodies), so vastly above us in the order of creation, God chose the lowly for His own plans.

In a few days we will have the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

Guardian Angel is a role assigned by God. Your angel or angels could be from the ranks of any of the choirs.

Do you think about angels?

Do you consider your Guardian Angel or ask for help?

Do you remember that there are also fallen angels?

Finally, one of my favorite depictions of St. Michael as a samurai warrior by Daniel Mitsui.

St. Michael by Daniel Mitsui. Click for more.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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8 Responses to An Angelic Feast!

  1. greenlight says:

    I’m forever grateful to the ‘St. Louis Catholic’ weblog for posting this prayer:

    “O SANCTE angele Dei, minister caelestis imperii, cui Deus omnipotens mei custodiam deputavit: per maiestatem eius et pietatem te humiliter deprecor, ut custodias animam meam et corpus meum: et omnes sensus meos a pravis et illicitis desideriis: a noxiis, vanis, et immundis cogitationibus, et ab illusionibus malignorum spirituum: a pollutione mentis et corporis: et ab insidiis inimicorum meorum visibilium et invisibilium quaerentium animam meam: et sis mihi protector tutus, ubicumque iero diebus ac noctibus, horis atque momentis, et conserva me in mundo opere: et confirma me in timore et amore Iesu Christi cum sanctis desideriis: et post hanc miseram et caducam vitam perduc animam meam ad aeternam felicitatem: ubi cum Deo et omnibus sanctis gaudeat sine fine: praestante Domino nostro Iesu Christo: cui est honor et gloria in saeculorum saecula. Amen

    O HOLY angel of God, minister of heavenly power, whom almighty God appointed as my guardian, through His majesty and devotion I humbly beg thee to guard my body, soul, and all my senses from perverse and illicit desires, from hurtful, vain, and impure thoughts, from the illusions of evil spirits, from the pollution of mind and body, and from the snares of my visible and invisible enemies seeking my soul. Be my watchful protector wherever I may go, night and day, every hour and every moment, and preserve me in clean works. Strengthen me with holy desires in the fear and love of Jesus Christ. And after this wretched and perishable life, lead my soul to eternal happiness; where with God and all His saints it may rejoice without end; especially with our Lord Jesus Christ: to whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen”

    I made my own prayer card and I say it often. Sometimes I modify it so it reads as a prayer to my children’s guardian angels. Great stuff.

  2. marnie says:

    Yes, I think about angels and our Guardian Angels in particular. Angels have played a big role in my life. Once, while picking up my Mother from the hospital, I was having a hard time getting her into the car from the wheelchair. A man dressed in jeans and cowboy boots walked up and asked if he could help. He lifted my Mom up and put her in the car. I turned around to thank him and he was gone. Nowhere in sight. My Mother said that he was her Guardian Angel and she named him “Tex”.

    My husband and I have our 25th wedding anniversary coming up on the Feast of Guardian Angels, October 2. We know our Guardian Angels are always by our side, helping us in our marriage.

    Angel of God,
    My guardian dear,
    To whom God’s love
    Commits me here.
    Ever this day,
    Be at my side,
    To light and guard,
    To rule and guide.
    Amen

  3. ShenValleyLewis says:

    Father, you wrote: “Note that Archangels are second from the last. That St. Michael seems to be the commander of the heavenly host shows that even among angels (who are created persons, but without bodies), so vastly above us in the order of creation, God chose the lowly for His own plans.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Here is a quote from the article on St. Michael from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    “Regarding his rank in the celestial hierarchy opinions vary; St. Basil (Hom. de angelis) and other Greek Fathers, also Salmeron, Bellarmine, etc., place St. Michael over all the angels; they say he is called “archangel” because he is the prince of the other angels; others (cf. P. Bonaventura, op. cit.) believe that he is the prince of the seraphim, the first of the nine angelic orders. But, according to St. Thomas (Summa Ia.113.3) he is the prince of the last and lowest choir, the angels.”

  4. Antiquorum says:

    Being raised pentecostal, I was blown away when learning that I could pray to angels, and also that we have a specific guardian angel. I was listening to a great talk by Fr. Ripperger on angels that stressed the importance of prayer to angels.

    He mentioned people complaining to him that their guardian angel didn’t seem to be too involved with their lives, to which his response was, well do you talk to him?

  5. WmHesch says:

    Whatever happened to this Basilica? Any archaeological finds on it?

    Strikes me as odd there’s no trace of this church, one of 3 whose dedication is on the traditional Roman calendar.

  6. Patti Day says:

    I believe my guardian angel saved my life on several occasions when I was young, and I do pray to my angel daily and especially when I drive. I pray to St. Michael, of course, but must admit that I don’t always think of the others unless I’m reminded through scripture reading or by a feast like today. Holy Angels, please pray for us.

  7. KateD says:

    So, since it’s their only day of the year…what would be a special thing for children (or adults) to do for their guardian angels? I recall someone suggesting taking them to Adoration, because they are always before the Lord and yet with us at the same time. How nice for them to get a break and just be able to focus all their attention on adoring our Lord.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    This is great. That artwork of “all three angels easin’ elegantly on down the road with Tobias, Fido and the Fish,” reminds me I’d like to give my Guardian Angel a sack of Mystic Monk Coffee and a case of Birra Nursia.

    greenlight: Thanks for that prayer in Latin.

    Fulton Sheen’s angel erased his blackboard for him. That’s pretty cool.