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
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.