Angels are spirits without bodies, who possess superior intelligence, gigantic strength, and surpassing holiness. They enjoy an intimate relationship to God as His special adopted children, contemplating, loving, and praising Him in heaven. Some of them are frequently sent as messengers to human beings from on high.
This feast celebrates three Angels who were sent by God to humans over the course of the ages: Michael – Patron of Policemen, Gabriel – Patron of Communications Workers, and Raphael – Patron of Travelers. They are termed Archangels, the second of nine choirs of Angels, which are in descending order: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
The name Michael signifies “Who is like to God?” and was the war cry of the good Angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as “one of the chief princes,” and as leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He had been especially honored and invoked as Patron and Protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. Although he is always called “the Archangel,” the Greek Fathers and many others place him over all the Angels—as Prince of the Seraphim.
The name Gabriel means “man of God,” or “God has shown Himself mighty.” It appears first in the prophecies of Daniel in the Old Testament. This Angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks (Daniel 9:21-27). His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the Angel who appeared to Zachariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist (Luke 1:11). Finally, he announced to Mary that she would bear a Son Who would be conceived of the Holy Spirit, Son of the Most High, and the Savior of the world (Luke 1:26).
The name Raphael means “God has healed.” This Angel first appears in Holy Scripture in the Book of Tobit. He acts as a guide to young Tobiah on his journey to Rages, a city in the country of the Medes, east of Niniveh, to collect a debt owed to his father. The Angel binds the demon Asmodeus in the desert of Egypt, helps Tobiah to find a wife and recover the debt, and heals Tobit from his blindness. He then reveals his identity: “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the throne of God.”
PRAYER: God, with great wisdom You direct the ministry of Angels and humans. Grant that those who always minister to You in heaven may defend us during our life on earth. Amen.