The Catechism of the Catholic #329 – “St. Augustine says, “’Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word.”
Today is the Feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and in some circles, Uriel. Most commonly, we know of the first three, but I will talk about Uriel as well in this blog since it’s my position to reach out to our Eastern brothers and sisters as well. The Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels that reside in the Heavenly Kingdom. To read more about the choirs of angels, please see the above link. Only three of the seven angels who stand before the Lord – Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael are mentioned in the Canon of Scripture.
First, we shall discuss Saint Michael. The name, Michael, means who is like God? Many of Early Church Fathers regarded Saint Michael the Archangel as chief of the angels. He is the general, the quarterback that leads all of the angels. The Holy Scriptures speak of him four times. In Christian Tradition, Saint Michael has four important offices: (1) To fight against Satan, (2) Rescue souls from Satan’s power, especially at the hour of death, (3) Be the champion of God’s people, both Israel and the Church, and (4) bring all souls to judgment before the Lord. After seeing a vision of evil in the world, Pope Leo XIII wrote the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer. It is a prayer that I recite at the end of Mass and I would encourage everyone to learn it and recite it daily.
Second, let’s take a look at Saint Gabriel. The name, Gabriel, means God is my strength. In the Old Testament, God sent the archangel Gabriel to help Daniel the Prophet understand his visions, and to give him a prophecy. What Saint Gabriel is really most known for happens in the New Testament when he announced to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist and he is the angel who also appeared to Mary with the news that God had chosen her to bear the Messiah. Gabriel is blessed to say the words, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace.”
The third archangel is Saint Raphael. The name, Raphael, means God is my healer. He appears only in the Deuterocanonical (second canon) book of Tobit, where, disguised as a man, he accompanies Tobias on his journey, shields him and his new wife Sara from demonic attack and brings healing to Tobias’ father Tobit. Raphael describes himself thusly: “ I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Lord.” (Tobit 12:15)
As I stated above, there is a fourth archangel that is named, and he is Uriel. His name means, God is my light or the fire of God. According to the Jewish apocryphal Book of Enoch, other apocryphal sources and the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Uriel is the name of the fourth archangel. As a saint, Uriel has the symbol of an open hand bearing a flame.
Today, let us ask for the intercession of the Archangels on their special feast, for they stand before the Lord.