Saints & Angels

The Name of their Office is Angel

Today is the Feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and in some circles, Uriel. The Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels that reside in the Heavenly Kingdom. To learn more about the choirs of angels, go here. 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.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 329 states – “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.”

On angels in the Scriptures, Mother Angelica says, “When we talk of angels being pure spirits, we are talking about intelligences. Every one is a different species, every one is unique. The angelic nature is different from ours. Scripture tells us an awful lot about the angelic nature. Now, modern theologians keep saying there are not angels, and I feel sorry for them. We should feel sorry for anyone that lives half a lie.”

First, let’s 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 other angels. The Holy Scriptures speak of him four times. In Christian Tradition, Saint Michael has four important offices: first, to fight against Satan, second, to rescue souls from Satan’s power, especially at the hour of death, third, to be the champion of God’s people, both Israel and the Church, and fourth to 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 discuss 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 the Blessed Virgin Mary with the news that God had chosen her to bear the Messiah. Gabriel is blessed beyond measure when he said the words, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace.”

St. Gabriel - byzantine icon

The third archangel is Saint Raphael. The name, Raphael, means God is my healer. He appears only in the Deuterocanonical 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)

st raphael - icon

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.

On this special feast of the Archangels, let us ask for their intercession, that along with our guardian angels, that they will protect us and give us the strength to combat against Satan and all of his demons that seek to do us harm. For assistance, see my blog post – Prayers to the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

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