Angel 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.

In the new calendar today all three Archangels are celebrated, while in the older, traditional calendar we focus on St. Michael.

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’ on down the road with Tobias:

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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  1. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Do you think about angels? … Speculatively? Sometimes.
    Do you consider your Guardian Angel or ask for help? … Everyday. I ask him to pray with me, and I have given him permission to know my thoughts, so he can warn me when I am straying.
    Do you remember that there are also fallen angels? … Indeed, and I ask my angel to deal with all that for me. I avoid ruminating about the damned.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Father Chad Ripperger taught us to thank our guardian angels daily; to tell them we love them; to ask them how we can show God’s glory in the world; to show us how to be holy; to show us our predominant faults…..

    I do this daily.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    oh LOL and to humble us interiorly daily….I pray that as well!

  4. Mariana2 says:

    “Here is a nice depiction of all three angels easin’ on down the road with Tobias:”

    Strictly speaking, the depiction is of all three angels only. Tobias is actually the attribute of the Archangel Raphael. But it’s a lovely picture, including the dog.

    Of course I talk to and thank my Guardian Angel daily. And the Archangel Michael who rendered me a great service once.

  5. Elly says:

    Did St. Thomas Aquinas receive divine revelation about the choirs of angels? Or did he use reason to come to that conclusion? Also, is that now official Catholic teaching?


  6. gracie says:

    They used to teach that angels also were in charge of towns, countries, the earth, other planets, galaxies, the heavens, etc. That thought is probably still on the books somewhere but I don’t hear it taught anymore. I suspect the Catholic Church downplays that idea so as not to appear unscientific.

  7. Mariana2 says:

    St. Faustina could see, from a train window, angels hovering over their churches, also her own Guardian Angel.

  8. GregH says:

    To Ed Peters,

    I find it profitable to think about the damned. Helps to keep sober and that there are consequences to sinful choices.

  9. Kent Wendler says:

    Over the years I can think of two instances which at the time seemed like they might have been direct interventions by our guardians. It would take two long to relate them here, though.

    And yes, I pray to the guardians of me and practically everyone else I know or have met that they will protect us. I especially rely on my guardian to do the “heavy lifting” of protecting me from hazards I can neither foresee or handle on my own.

  10. JARay says:

    Yes, I do pray to my Guardian Angel daily. I thank him for being one of my most trusted friends and I do hope to meet him when I die.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I love to think about angels but don’t speak to my guardian angel enough, he or she would surely say. Fatima had “the Angel of Portugal”, so I do believe angels guard geographic areas as well. Having a doctrine on angels is one of the marvelous aspects of the Catholic faith, and why not, the bible is full of them. They are lovely to contemplate. Mostly I think of the one most discernible to me, St. Michael, and anticipate his help at some moment in time, in our lousy world. We certainly need him.

  12. Anne C. says:

    Father Z, you would be pleased to know that your former parish in Crystal, whose feast we celebrate today, has reinstated the St. Michael the Archangel Intercessory Prayer after every Mass! (There is other good news that might be more befitting another post . . .)

  13. Bosco says:

    I love that depiction of the angels with Tobias because it details the little dog which appears and then disappears in the various and sundry translations of the book of Tobit at 11:9.

  14. Prayerful says:

    The priest had some very fine golden vestments for the Low Mass and the usual Leonine Prayers were particularly apt today. I was using today the excellent Baronius Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual. It associates the basilica with the sixth century Boniface II constructing a basilica on the Roman Circus (presumably the Circus Maximus as the Flaminian Circus fell out of use in the forth century and the Circus of Nero vanished when Constantine the Great commenced with the construction of St Peter’s basilica). Boniface II was the first Germanic Pope, an Ostrogoth who managed to confirm the hapless (and possibly heretical) Vigilius as successor. I cannot find support for any association with Boniface II, but maybe I didn’t look too hard. Thanks for the post Fr.

  15. Sieber says:

    Today I have been reading up on angels including the fallen. In one instance Lucifer was identified as from the choir, Seraphim, the other said he was from the 2nd choir, Cherubim. The latter writer, an exorcist, says that Lucifer and Satan are seperate entities….Satan being of a lower choir. Sort of a Capo di Capo and his hitman. Anyone have actual knowledge of this?

  16. Mike says:

    You know, today I had only two people wish me a happy Feast Day. One, my sister, the other a knowledgeable and pious and dear Trad friend. That’s fine with me, as I know St. Michael remembered too, but come on, people, let’s remember our friends on their saint’s Day!

  17. Sconnius says:

    For anyone looking for more about what the Church has to say about angels, I’ve found this CD from Lighthouse featuring Dr. Miravalle to be most excellent.

  18. Janol says:

    I once helped someone writing a book on angels in art, relating what the Church teaches on angels. Several years after the publication party and having lost touch, we ran into each other in a university cafeteria (which I think neither of us ever frequented before) on Sept. 29th. Sweet.

  19. MouseTemplar says:

    I have it in my head that Raphael is actually a Seraph. In the book of Tobias, he identifies himself as “one of the seven who stand before the Lord.”

    Doesn’t that make him one of the Seraphim?

    We took Tobit as one of the readings for our wedding Mass (we were married 9/29/2005), and think of Rafael as patron of our marriage. And yes, I pray to mine and others’ guardian angels each day.

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  21. Sieber says: “an exorcist, says that Lucifer and Satan are seperate entities….Satan being of a lower choir.”

    Lucifer’s name infers ‘light’ and is called ‘light bearer’. Apparently yes, he is a Seraph, now a fallen Seraph with all the same powers that this nature conferred, minus the graces of the supernatural.
    From what I have read and learned Lucifer and Satan are different. Lucifer being the top guy. One of his humiliations was St. Michael, not a Seraph surrounding the throne of God, being made the new head of the angels.
    More can be learned about the personality of Satan from exorcisms as he frequently names himself in these. He does seem to be the guy doing the work.
    For instance, there is the signature of Satan, and others, on the written pact the priest Grandier made in the 1600s, in the case of the possessed convent in the story known as the Devils of Loudun.

    In regard to this story, most of the story tellers were Huguenots and bent on discrediting the Church and her power – that propaganda persists to this day. So ignore the poo-pooing attitude in the stories and read between the lines. It was a real case of massive possession brought about by the priest who called up the devils, where exorcisms freed the nuns, and the case resulted in the civil authorities burning the sorcerer priest at the stake.

  22. Do you think about angels?
    Yes, probably every day. I have more than one image throughout the house. Also my confirmation name is in honor of all the angels – my devotion goes back a long way.

    Do you consider your Guardian Angel or ask for help? All. the. TIME!! I speak with him daily and sometimes remember to greet and ask for help from the angels of others, and speak to all the angels in a very general way. I greet the Queen of Angels daily in my morning prayer. The angels help me get places on time, find parking spots, assist me with health concerns, remind me of stuff, wake me up, help with complicated business issues, get along with difficult people — there is nothing for which I don’t ask the angels’ help. Like the angels did for Padre Pio, I haven’t gotten them to deliver mail yet, but maybe they surreptitiously help me with less obvious duties? If I make it to heaven, the angels will DEFINITELY know me haha!! [there just might be some happy eye-rolling (non-corporal of course) in relief?]

    Do you remember that there are also fallen angels? oh dear. Yes. Another reason I ask for protective assistance from the holy and loving angels.

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