Saturday, September 29th we celebrated the Feast of St. Michael, St. Raphael, and St. Gabriel the archangels. I think it is a little confusing at times when we refer to them as St. Michael, St. Raphael, and St. Gabriel, not that it is wrong if we are talking of saints as those in the presence of God in heaven, but we have to realize that they are angels and never were humans. The Catechism defines angels as “a spiritual, personal, and immortal creature with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan.”
But the angels (which literally means messenger) that we celebrate here are called archangels.Arch refers to them as being above others in rank in some way and in this case we realize that they are the three angels who are mentioned by name in Scripture due to their important purpose or the message that they would bring.
St. Michael, whose name means “who is like to God” is mentioned by name in the Old Testament in the book of Daniel, and in the New Testament in the Letter of Jude and in the book of Revelations. He is described as having the responsibility of combating Satan, to rescue souls from the enemy, and to be a champion of God’s people.
St. Gabriel, whose name means “God is my strength” is also mentioned in the Old and New Testament. He is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel but is probably best known for announcing the birth of John to Zechariah and the birth of Jesus to Mary in the Gospel of Luke, thus most clearly living up to the role of an angel as a messenger.
St. Raphael, whose name means “God is my health” is mentioned by name in the book of Tobit. He is associated with healing since he cures Tobit and gives him back his sight. He is not mentioned by name in the New Testament but is often considered the angel referred to as healing through the pools at Bethesda in the Gospel of John.
Other angels are also mentioned and specifically numbered as seven a few places in Scripture. You might even hear names attributed to them but they are only named in non -Scriptural texts such as the Book of Enoch and other sources that give slightly different names.
So as we celebrate the feast of the Archangels let us be open to their help and protection, but also realize that while we strive to one day be saints, we will never be angels.