We celebrate the feast of three archangels today, September 29th. St. Gregory the Great says of the angels: “There are many spirits in heaven, but only the spirits who deliver a message are called angels.” Archangels like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, “are those who proclaim messages of supreme importance…
“And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.”
Their names, Gregory says, tell the service they perform. “Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.
“Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power…
“So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.
“Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.”
St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, dedicated his first foundation on Monte Argentario in Italy to St. Michael and he said the archangel preserved his community from harm. Paul was a Lombard. Historians say the Lombards believed the Saracens were stopped from invading Lombardy in the 6th century by Michael, which fostered devotion to the archangel afterwards.
In a world so convinced that human power is the only power, it’s comforting to have another level of power to look towards.
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…”