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Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

The concept of archangels is deeply ingrained in Catholic theology and tradition. Rooted in both the Old and New Testaments, archangels are considered chief messengers or envoys of God. Only Michael is explicitly named as an archangel in the Bible, specifically in the Book of Revelation. He is often portrayed as a warrior leading God’s armies against the forces of evil.

Gabriel is another archangel, although not explicitly designated as such in the Bible. He plays a significant role as a messenger, notably appearing to the Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. He also appears in the Old Testament, delivering messages to Daniel. Raphael, who appears in the Book of Tobit, where he is an agent of God’s healing of Tobias.

The concept of archangels extends beyond the Bible into various Catholic traditions and writings of the Church Fathers. In Catholic tradition, archangels are invoked for specific needs. Michael for protection, Gabriel for messages of good tidings, and Raphael for healing. Many Catholics pray to them directly, seeking intercession in these particular domains.

Understanding the roles of the archangels can deepen one’s faith and enhance personal devotion. Though not central to salvation history, they serve as aides in the spiritual journey, connecting the divine and human realms in a tangible way.

The Archangel Michael

The Archangel Michael holds a unique role as the warrior leader in heavenly battles. He’s most famously depicted in the Book of Revelation, leading God’s armies against Satan’s forces during the apocalyptic war in heaven. This imagery has made Michael a symbol of protection, often invoked for defense against evil.

In Catholic art and iconography, Michael is usually shown as an armored angel carrying a sword or a spear, and sometimes holding scales. The scales symbolize the weighing of souls, another role attributed to him based on non-canonical Christian texts. These visual representations serve to underline his function as a defender of justice and righteousness.

Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” This rhetorical question serves as a battle cry and a reminder that no one can compare to God. It emphasizes his role as a divine defender, not just a heavenly messenger.

Michael has a broad cultural impact, appearing not only in religious contexts but also in literature and art. His warrior image resonates with people looking for strength and protection, making him one of the most venerated and invoked angels in the Catholic tradition.

The Archangel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel is best known as the messenger angel. His name means “God is my strength,” which fits well with his role of conveying God’s messages to humans. Gabriel is most famous for the Annunciation, where he appears to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she will conceive Jesus. This significant event is depicted in the Gospel of Luke and holds a central place in Catholic theology.

In art and iconography, Gabriel is usually shown holding a trumpet or a lily, symbols of announcement and purity, respectively. The trumpet links to the idea that Gabriel will blow the horn announcing the second coming of Christ, based on interpretations of texts like the Book of Daniel and Revelation.

Gabriel also appears in the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Daniel. Here, he assists Daniel in understanding his prophetic visions. While less warlike than Michael, Gabriel’s role is still crucial. He acts as a divine transmitter of wisdom, helping to interpret and communicate God’s will to people.

Gabriel’s enduring presence in prayers, art, and liturgy speaks to his importance in the Catholic tradition. He serves as a symbol of the communicative aspect of faith, encouraging believers to listen for divine guidance and act upon it.

The Archangel Raphael

Archangel Raphael is lesser-known compared to Michael and Gabriel but still holds a significant place in Catholic tradition. He primarily appears in the Book of Tobit, a text recognized as canonical by the Catholic Church. Raphael’s name means “God heals,” and appropriately, he is often invoked for matters related to healing and well-being.

In the Book of Tobit, Raphael aids the main character, Tobias, on a perilous journey. He provides guidance, protection, and eventually, a cure for Tobias’s father’s blindness. Due to these acts, Raphael is often associated with travel and healing. He is usually depicted holding a staff and a fish, which are symbols linked to the narrative in Tobit.

Though Raphael is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible outside of Tobit, his attributes make him a compelling figure for many Catholics. His characterization as a helper and healer aligns well with Christian values of compassion and service to others. Catholics may engage in special prayers asking for healing, safe travels, or guidance. Some also seek Raphael’s intercession for medical professionals, given his healing role.

Raphael’s role may not be as prominent as Michael’s or Gabriel’s, but he complements them by emphasizing the healing and merciful aspects of divine interaction. His narrative serves as a reminder that divine assistance can come in many forms, from physical healing to guidance in times of uncertainty.

Patron Saints of…

St. Gabriel is the patron saint of messengers, broadcasters, telecommunications workers, postal workers, diplomats, and stamp collectors. St. Michael is the patron saint of military personnel, police officers, paramedics, and grocers. St. Raphael is the patron saint of the blind, nurses, physicians, medical workers, travelers, and happy meetings.

Daily Mass Readings for the Feast of the Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

  • First ReadingDaniel 7:9-10, 13-14: The Ancient One takes his throne in a grand setting with many attending to him. A figure like a son of man appears and is granted eternal dominion and kingship by the Ancient One.
  • Alternate First ReadingRevelation 12:7-12ab: Michael and his angels fight the dragon and its followers in heaven. The dragon, identified as the Devil, is defeated and cast down to earth. A heavenly voice declares the coming of salvation and power.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 138: I thank the Lord wholeheartedly for answering my prayers. In the company of angels, I sing praises and find strength. Kings will also give thanks when they hear of God’s greatness.
  • Gospel John 1:47-51: Jesus identifies Nathanael as a genuine person and reveals knowledge of him. Nathanael acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus promises Nathanael will witness even greater marvels, including angels.

Homilies and Reflections

Word On Fire: Angels in Modern Times

Bishop Robert Barron reflects on the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, pointing out that despite widespread skepticism about the existence of God, angels have a significant role in religious texts and teachings. He cites a cultural fascination with angels and shares a story where a voice guided a pilot to safety through a radio during a severe storm, raising questions about the possibility of angelic intervention. Bishop Barron suggests that such events could be interpreted as signs that the spiritual realm holds realities not fully grasped by human philosophy.

USCCB Reflection: Understanding Archangels

This USCCB video reflection expresses a concern that social media often reduces the depth of angelic experiences. A personal novena to Saint Michael for protection against evil is shared, highlighting its timely help. In the Catholic tradition, it is noted that a role is played by angels and saints as messengers from God. The cultivation of individual devotion to archangels for specific life guidance and support is encouraged.

Quote

Today, the Church remembers the Archangel Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, messengers of God’s grace. Let us entrust ourselves to them so that our good works might make God’s love visible in the world.

Pope Francis

Resources

St. Michael the Archangel Prayer

The St. Michael Prayer is aimed at invoking protection against evil and temptation. St. Michael is viewed as a warrior and protector, often depicted in armor. The prayer is particularly accessible to children, who can think of St. Michael as a spiritual superhero fighting against his nemesis, Satan. Suitable for times when one is facing challenges or temptations, the prayer is easy to understand for people of all ages, underscoring the universal struggle between good and evil.

Prayer to St. Raphael the Archangel – A Healing Prayer

The Prayer to St. Raphael the Archangel is an intercessory prayer focused on healing. St. Raphael is known for his role in guiding and healing, as illustrated in the Book of Tobit. The prayer allows for the inclusion of personal intentions, asking specifically for physical and spiritual healing.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Comments

2 responses to “Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels”

  1. Deborah Pearson Avatar
    Deborah Pearson

    It appears you have put alot of work into your new website but I find it difficult to find topics like before. The old format was easier to maneuver and the information right at your fingertips, especially since it was all done by a specific date (not a calendar that won’t go any further than one month). I’m afraid it was very frustrating for me and you’ve probably lost a consistent user.

    1. Young Catholics Avatar

      The calendar goes all the way to 2032 at this point. Just go to Resources by Date near the top (https://young-catholics.com/catholic-resources-by-date/) and then select the month and year from the dropdown box. Then select Go. That will take you to a calendar for that month.

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