Do you believe in angels? Most people are appalled at the question! How could we live without those beings whose presence in Scripture is so clearly significant and who have been with us since we first learned to pray? (“Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.“) People of faith, regardless of religious practice, look to spirits who (for most of us) are not seen in this dense realm but who are always active for our good. The major world religious traditions have a well-developed “angelology” (theology of angels). You can read all about it on the internet! (Just look for “choirs of angels.”)
Today is the feast of three of the most familiar “archangels” in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Michael, the defender of Israel against all enemies leads God’s armies to a final victory in the Book of Revelation and has been celebrated in the Christian West since the fifth century as our greatest help in times of trouble. Gabriel, present in the Hebrew Scriptures in Daniel’s visions, is best known to Christians in the story of the Annunciation to Mary that she is to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Raphael, the third member of this triumvirate, is chronicled only in the Old Testament story of Tobit, but this angelic guide provides evidence of monumental intervention for the good of Tobit’s family – a story not to be missed!
The website www.franciscanmedia.org has a paragraph for the “Saint of the Day” that is, for me, a succinct summary of today’s importance to people of faith.
“Each of the archangels performs a different mission in Scripture. Michael protects; Gabriel announces: Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given away to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God’s protection, communication, and guidance in ways that defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.”