Today is the great feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Among the many choirs of angels, the archangels have been many varied and important tasks. The Archangel Michael fought against Lucifer and his rebel angel so that Lucifer was plunged like lightning into the earth. It is St. Michael who will fight against Satan in that final climactic battle that is described in the Book of Revelations (the Apocalypse according to St. John). In Byzantine iconography as well as that of Roman Catholicism, St. Michael is consistently depicted as a warrior fighting against a man that we understand to be Satan.
Yet St. Michael is not only a warrior. There is an ancient tradition that calls him the one that leads the angelic choirs in their singing and the angel that is depicted by St. John the Evangelist carrying a golden censer. One could say that St. Michael is the defender of our faith in several senses as warrior and as a tireless worker in heaven.
It seems to me that we often are unaware of the presence of the angels in our own lives. Popular culture has depicted them as beautiful little cherubs with big, rosy cheeks. How far this image is from the prophetic writings of Daniel and Ezekiel in which the angels are shown as the awe-inspiring servants of God. Those that carry out His work in the world and that hearken to His voice, as the Psalmist writes. Indeed, our image is very far from the truth.
Yet their presence among us is undeniable. According to Church teaching, each and every person has been given a guardian angel to watch over them. Priests may be given several angels to assist them in their work as they offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments every single day. The angels watch over us and help us when we need. In their own individual way, they fulfill the same task that was given to St. Michael over the entire Church.
On this great feast day, let us ask God that we may become more aware of the presence of His angels and let us renew our devotion to St. Michael the Archangel.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!