Angelic Hosts

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/06/24 at 12:00 AM

For a Gospel today we are given the familiar story of the rich man, “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day”, and poor Lazarus, “who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” It’s a compelling story that reminds us of the hellish power of the sins of greed and sloth, as well as the fact that sufferings borne humbly and patiently in this life can lead us to glory in the next life. Ultimately, our Gospel today reminds us to prepare well for death. While the rich man may have forgotten or ignored poor Lazarus, Holy Mother Church has not. In fact, there’s a very beautiful chant that references Lazarus called In Paradisum that is traditionally used at the end of Requiem Masses. The words of the chant are as follows: “May the Angels lead thee into paradise: may the Martyrs receive thee at thy coming, and lead thee into the holy city of Jerusalem. May the choir of Angels receive thee, and mayest thou have eternal rest with Lazarus, who once was poor.” One of the interesting points about this chant is that it references angels twice. And I bring this up because today, September 29th, is the Feast of the Holy Archangels, while this Wednesday, October 2nd, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. While both the Gospel as well In Paradisum, make mention that it is the angels who lead us into Heaven, they also do many other things as well! And these two feasts that the Church celebrates this week are the Church’s way for giving thanks to the angels for all they do. The primary mission of all of the angels is to give glory to God. However, each angel has it’s own particular mission for which it is perfectly suited and equipped. Scripture and Tradition divide the angels into 9 different categories or “choirs”: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominations, thrones, cherubim and seraphim – the seraphim being the highest and most important and powerful of the angels. Amongst these 9 choirs of angels are 3 hierarchies. The 3 highest choirs of angels: the seraphim, cherubim, and thrones, form the first hierarchy, and they are concerned with contemplation of God and His truth These angels help us to have a burning love for God, to understand His mysteries, and they instill humble hearts within us so that God can rest in our souls. The second hierarchy is formed by the dominions, virtues, and powers, and their primary job is governance. These are the angels that help us exercise self-mastery so that we can govern our passions. They also help preserve us from sin, and they sustain martyrs in time of trial. The third hierarchy, formed by the principalities, archangels and angels, are ministerial angels. They help us to be obedient to the will of God, they strengthen us in faith, they protect us in this life and conduct us into the next life. Whereas the liturgical calendar for the Novus Ordo Mass lumps the three named archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael into one feast day, in the old calendar each of the 3 archangels whose names we know from Scripture are given their own feast day. So while September 29th is celebrated as the Feast of Holy Archangels in the new Mass, in the old Mass today is dedicated just to St. Michael. While theologians and saints have debated about St. Michael’s exact place within the entire hierarchy of angels, the Church has long honored him as Her special protector. Following the four times that he is mentioned in Sacred Scripture (Dan 10, Dan 12, Jude, and Rev 12), Tradition has assigned to St. Michael four particular roles. First we know that St. Michael is our leader in the fight against satan and his demons. In that ancient battle in which satan and the other wicked angels rose up in rebellion against God, it was St. Michael who led the good counter-attack and thwarted them. Indeed, Michael’s very name, which means “Who is like God” was the battle cry of the good angels as they cast satan and the demons out of heaven and into hell. But as we know, the war between good and evil is not over. The devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And thus it is St. Michael’s role to rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. Thirdly, we know that Michael is the champion of God’s people and therefore the special protector of Holy Mother Church. And lastly, it is St. Michael who will bring our souls to judgment when we die. When the world as we know it comes to an end, it is St. Michael who will sound the trumpet that calls all souls to the Final Judgment, and he will witness the weighing of each soul. Given the extreme importance of his 4-fold mission, the Church has always afforded St. Michael a special love and veneration that is reflected in her liturgies, prayers, and in the numerous shrines and churches dedicated to him. In fact, so important and powerful is St. Michael’s assistance that in the 19th century Pope Leo XIII composed a prayer to St. Michael that he decreed should be said after every low Mass – a tradition that we carry on here in this parish. Interestingly, this prayer was written immediately after the pope had a vision of the power God would allow satan to wield in the 20th century. Very interestingly, this prayer was written exactly 33 years to the day before our Lady’s final apparition in Fatima, Portugal. Even though there is truly much evil in the world, as we consider the power of St. Michael and all of the angels, we should not fear. Rather, we should have great hope and confidence! All of the angels, each in their own way, help in the fight against evil and help us along the path to Heaven. For this reason it is so important that we honor and thank them, and that we pray to them daily for their help and protection. My brothers and sisters, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, the Archangels Gabriel and Raphael, and all of our guardian angels, may each of us be protected from all evils in this life so that we may enjoy heavenly bliss in the next. May the angels lead us into Paradise where we may have eternal rest with Lazarus, who once was poor. 29 September 2013 © Reverend Timothy Reid Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio. To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date. Link to Homilies: http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: