And Archangel Michael shall go before you…


Dear members and friends of our parish family:

Today, September 29th, is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, also known as Michaelmas, which marks one of the Church’s quarter days of the year. It marks a turning of the season, which we can feel in the weather, and a time of transition—do you sense this movement within you? Do you sense the angels around you? 

Angels are everywhere—in our dreams, sacred texts, our imaginations, everyday lives, and in our worship and praise of God—and they are countless, thousands upon thousands, ten thousand times ten thousand. Angels and their activity fill the pages of the Bible from its beginning to its end; the Book of Genesis unfolds with angels already on the stage, in angelic guard at the gate of Eden, and the Book of Revelation comes to a close with the angelic host in perpetual prayer at the heavenly throne. In between we read of angels with Jacob at Beersheba and Bethel, with Nathaniel under the fig tree, with a young girl named Mary, and with her son Jesus, in the wilderness, at his tomb, and resurrection. 

Angels and us humans are not unlike, in that we are creatures created by God to be his messengers —as the word angel means—of God’s mercy and promise. Humans and angels are given agency and tasked with multifarious missions—even angels sometimes have too much to do! Angels have a will, as we do, and they feel as we do; indeed, angels love, most especially God. But like us, angels also fall and turn away from God; Lucifer, the Light-Bearer and Morning Star, one of the most beautiful and exalted of all of God’s angels, fell from grace to become known as Satan or the Devil. 

As unique beings of God, we are also different. Angels neither mature nor die as humans do but are immortal, by grace. We are incarnate, with physical bodies, while angels are discarnate or without physical and bodily form, though to our benefit and aid, they sometimes appear to us in human form, particularly our guardian angels. Of angels and their presence, I especially love this line from poet Elisabeth Barrett Browning, “Listen, through man’s ignorances. Listen, through God’s mysteries, listen down the heart of things—ye shall hear our mystic wings murmurous with loving.

Archangel Michael whose name means “who is like God?” is revered in all three monotheistic faiths. In Islamic tradition, Michael was sent specifically to comfort Eve when she and Adam were expelled from Paradise, and assisted Muhammad in fulfilling his spiritual mission. To this day Archangel Michael is a guide to the Islamic people. In the Jewish tradition, Michael was a teacher of Moses, and is the special guardian angel of Israel, the prince of Israel, and advocate of the Jewish people. 

In Christianity, St. Michael is the great defender of the truth and of the Church, a warrior angel and commander of the army of God that battles Satan and Satan’s angels. Often pictured with sword raised and foot pressed upon a fallen dragon, the vanquished Adversary, Michael is also the weigher of souls at the time of death.

I’ll end with an invocation to St. Michael:

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness 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 down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen. 

Mother Kathleen 

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