Why Do We Celebrate the Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels

Dear Family,

On September 29, in the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal/Anglican Church, and many other church traditions, we will celebrate the Feast Of Saint Michael and all Angels.  So why does the church have this celebration?

First, to remind us that we have spirits we can call on, to help us through this life.  The word angel means messenger, so angels are messengers of God to us.

As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation.[1] So we have them here to call upon and have them assist us.  However the church doesn't stop there, as it also recognizes on this day, the rank of Archangels, namely Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael.  So who are these characters, and why does the church choose to honor them today?  Furthermore what does it all mean for us in the 21st century?  Come with me as we explore further and answer that question.

1. Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael is the warrior angel who encounters the devil on a few occasions and beats him every time.  We first encounter Michael in Daniel, the 10th chapter.[2]

Daniel has been fasting and praying for 21 days for understanding from God.  Michael appears to Daniel to reveal to him that he had been sent to Daniel on the first day he had prayed, but he had been resisted by the Prince of Persia (Satan) for 21 days before he could finally break through and come to reveal what Daniel wanted to know from God.

This is the first time we see Michael fighting Satan and winning.  It also shows one of the functions of angels, which is to bring answered prayer to us, and to reveal things to us.

The next time we meet Daniel is a couple of chapters later in Daniel 12:1.  Here we see Michael described as the great prince who fights for the people of Israel and defends them.  Israel means one who has power with God and is a type of the church.  Thus then Saint Michael is the defender of the church, fighting on our behalf against Satan and his demons, even as he did for Daniel, as we saw earlier.

The third time we encounter Michael is in Jude where Saint Michael argues with Satan over the possession of the body of Moses, and Michael simply rebukes him in the name of the Lord and Satan flees.[3]

Something we need to note here.  Jude tells us that even though Michael is an Archangel he doesn't dare bring any accusation against Satan, but simply rebukes him in the name of the Lord.  Archangels are the highest rank and most powerful rank of angel's just one rank below God.  Yet Michael still refuses to accuse, but rebukes in the name of the Lord instead.

The name Michael means "who is like God".  The answer of course is no one.  No one in their own strength and power can do what God can do, not even an Archangel.  Therefore we need God's help in fighting the devil and coming out victoriously, even as Michael did.

The fourth and last time we meet Saint Michael is in the Book of Revelation.[4]

In the 12th chapter we see Satan along with 1/3 of the angels making war against Michael and the hosts of heaven, in order to overthrow God and make himself god in his place.  It ends up with the defeat of of Satan and he, along with his followers, is cast to earth where we now know them as demons.  We need to see something here and never forget it.

Although 1/3 of the angels fell with Satan and are powerful, still 2/3 of the angels remain loyal to God, which means a majority are on our side and backed up with God's power - an unbeatable team.  Add the prayers of the saints and we most definitely have an unbeatable combination.  All we have to do is access that power.  So how do we do that?

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up"[5]

Be careful how you read this verse.  Many take this verse as a license to go out and rebuke the devil wherever they think they find him.  Well I tried to rebuke the devil but the temptation was too great.  I just couldn't resist eating that one piece of chocolate cake, which then led me to eat the whole cake.  The temptation was just too strong, so I had to eat the whole box of chocolates, or eat the hot fudge sundae with lots of whipped cream, and nuts and a cherry on top.  I just couldn't resist.  Satan just made me do it.  It's not my fault.

I have one thing to say - Oh baloney!  All Satan can do is make suggestions and it's up to us what we do with them.  On our own we are nobody's that Satan is bound to honor, listen to, or flee from.  However, if we submit to God first, and get in line with God's plan, then, as a child of God calling upon his power and authority,  then we are somebody in God and can then go and rebuke the devil and he will flee. These are some of the things I believe we can learn from Saint Michael.

I would like to close this section with the Saint Michaels Prayer.  Originally this prayer was written by Pope Leo XIII after a vision in which he saw Satan attacking the church.  He went up to his room and wrote the words to the Saint Michael's prayer as a weapon to use against Satan. 

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,
Cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

That is my prayer for all of the churches, clergy and people of the Communion of the Synodal Catholic Churches and pray you all would be in agreement with it.  Okay that is one covered, but there are still two more.

2.  Saint Gabriel

Gabriel is the spokesperson of God who delivers divine messages to people.  We encounter him four times in the scriptures.  The first time we meet him is in the Book of Daniel in the 8th chapter.[6]

Daniel has had a vision which leaves him deeply troubled and which he doesn't understand.  So he prays to God for understanding, and Gabriel was sent to him to explain what it was that Daniel had seen.

In doing that, he reveals what will happen in the future.  Thus Gabriel is a revelator of things that will come in the future - a revealer of secrets.

The second time we meet him is a chapter later in the 9th chapter.[7]

Here again he comes to Daniel in answer to his prayers and explains some things to him.

The third time we meet Gabriel is at the temple in Jerusalem when he appears to Zechariah concerning the birth of John the Baptist and what the man would be like.[8]

Here we see him causing Zechariah to lose his speech for nine months until the birth of John.  I believe that was to keep John from talking himself out of a blessing and going into unbelief with his human belief.  Be that as it may, the thing here for us is that there are times when we need to be silent and let God speak while we listen, without interrupting him.  The psalmist says "Be still and know that I am God…" It is in silence, away from the hustle and bustle of life that we can hear, learn from, and learn to be guided and led by God.

The fourth and final time we encounter Gabriel is when he goes to Nazareth to tell Mary that she would bear the Son of God, Jesus.[9]

Mary is understandably shocked at this greeting.  After all, she is not married, a virgin who has never had sex with a man, therefore in the natural, impossible for her to bear a child.

Gabriel explains patiently how it's all going to happen, to which Mary replies it's God's will, so let it be to her, even as the angel has spoken.

One of the possible meanings for Gabriel is man of strength

In each of these cases we have looked at, the initial reaction is one of fear.  Then Gabriel begins to talk with them and explain things, thus bringing them peace and strengthening them for what was about to happen, so they could accept God's will for them and go with it.

God does the same with us.  His initial call may fill us with fear causing us to resist.  So God puts us on the shelf for awhile to stew until we decide that maybe God does have a better idea than ours, so we yield to him, letting him have his way with us and seeing that in the end it was the best thing that ever happened to us, and finding strength to get us through, and many blessings as well.  That is what we can learn from Gabriel.

3.  Saint Raphael

Raphael is the healing angel and his name means God has healed.

His story is found in the Book of Tobit, which is a part of the Apocrypha, which Catholics accept as canon, and Protestants on the whole, do not.

According to the story, a righteous man named Tobit leaves his native city to move elsewhere.  Before leaving he deposits a sum of money with some of his relatives.  Many years later Tobit decides he wants to get the money he left with his relatives.  He is told to make the trip himself but he decides to send his son Tobias to fetch the money.

Tobias however has no clue how to get there.  So while Tobit is praying to the Lord for someone to go with his son to show him the way, help him retrieve the money, and then return home with it, Raphael shows up claiming to be a distant relative of theirs.  He hides the fact that he is an angel.

Tobit hires him to accompany his son to retrieve the money.  They arrive at the relative's home and retrieve the money.

Raphael reveals that it is God's will for him to marry their daughter.  But there is one problem.  The woman is cursed. There is a demon who is in love with her and is very jealous of any man that gets near her.

She has been married seven times and each time, on their wedding night when they get ready to consummate the marriage, the demon would come and kill the husband.

Tobias fears he is about to become victim eight.  Eight is the number of new beginnings and Raphael assures Tobias that is exactly what will happen, and it is safe for Tobias to marry her.

On their wedding night Raphael instructs Tobias on how to make incense, that when the demon smells it he dislikes the smell and flees in disgust.  So the marriage is consummated.  They have a child and eventually make it back home to his parents.

There Tobias finds out that during his absence his father Tobit has fallen asleep under a tree and gotten bird droppings in his eyes which left him blind.  Raphael restores Tobit's sight and reveals that he is, in fact, an angel.  He shares some things with them and then returns to God.  This shows us that God is a healer, both spiritually as well as physically.

He heals when he calls us from the world as we make our profession of faith and decision to follow Christ.  He cleanses us and makes us into new creations.  When we blow it, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation and confession on Sunday mornings to confess our sins, receive absolution from the priest, and be healed and restored, as if we had never sinned.

God also heals in the natural through the prayers of his people and through the anointing of the sick with oil, at which time the prayer of faith will heal them.

In summation there is much more I could share, but this gives us a good foundation for why we celebrate the Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels.

It is to recognize their existence, and though we cannot see them, they are there to minister to us any time we need them.

Hope this blesses you and adds to your understanding and celebration of this Feast Day.

As always any thoughts or comments always welcomed.

[1]Hebrews 1:14
[2]Daniel 10:13-21
[3]Jude 1:14
[4]Revelation 12:3-9
[5]James 4:10
[6]Daniel 8:15-27
[7]Daniel 9:21-27
[8]Luke 1:11-20
[9]Luke 1:26-38