Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who is like God?

St Michael is mentioned three times in Holy Scriptures. In the book of Daniel (chapters 10, 12) he is the protector and liberator of God's people: "Michael, that high lord who is guardian of thy race." (Dan. 12:1). Judas Thaddeus repeats the legend of his strife with the devil for the body of Moses. In the Apocalypse we are told that "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon...and flung him down to earth"(Apoc. 12: 7-9); Who is like God? Love gives its direction to the will, enlightened by understanding. The angels, those "flames of fire" as the Psalmist calls them, are burning with love. True, sincere love is the song which we must know if we would join the choir of angels in the kingdom of God."(Ruysbroeck). The Church has special devotion to St. Michael and its origin, doubtless, is in the Bible, but it has much increased in the course of ages; it has been, so to speak, christened. From protector of the Jewish race, he has became protector of the new people of God, the Church. As one of the seven who stands and watches by the Blessed Eucharist, and after leads souls of the faithful up to the throne of God after death. Protector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was considered as the Chief of the Christian armies in the wars against the Mahometans and the Turks in the Vth and XVth centuries. St Louis IX, did all "by my Lord St.Michael", and Joan of Arc was always led by him. He has his place in literature; Roland was taken to heaven by him; Vondel gives Michael's portrait in his "Lucifer". His statue stands in many towns which have chosen him for their patron, and he has inspired the artists of every century.

What gives him such an attraction?

The Psalmist, speaking of man, says, "thou hast placed him only a little below the angels" (Ps.8:6).
We know that the angels, those richly endowed and highly privileged beings, are far above us. The angel's knowledge is intuitive; he does not need the medium of reason; he was created with a strong will, and is confirmed in grace. His faculties are all in order and under control, making of him a unit of the highest perfection. That mighty being gave itself freely and once for all to God; his choice was absolute, making him for ever "free for God", and therefore perfectly adapted to his service. None but the Queen of Angels, whose being is yet greater and richer in grace, can surpass their praise and their service. They are a mighty host, strong powers, flames of fire. "Bless the Lord, all you angels of his; angels of sovereign strength, that carry out his commandment....bless the Lord, all you hosts of his, the servants that perform his will."(Ps. 102:20, 21). It is not difficult to see why St. Michael is so beloved. No other angel has been allowed to show us his virtues and qualities so clearly. No other has proved to us so often and so distinctly the inexorable nature of his choice, none has defended it more unceasingly. Today's Collect says, "God, who ordained the service of angels and men in a wonderful order, be pleased to grant that our life on earth may be guarded by those who stand always ready to serve thee in heaven." It is really he who called God's wrath down upon the fallen angels? Was he then, in the abyss of time, already God's well-beloved? Is the last day really his day? Is he to have the honour of bringing all souls to the foot of God's throne? Is he the trusted servant, the great general who will bring the last standard, taken from the enemy, to his king? For the Christian folk, he is the ideal of the great military leader. All who love the Church have the protector of God's kingdom here on earth, so penetrated is he by the will of the Lord of the angels. We in our weakness claim his help in our fight with the devil. Michael and his angels, so full of God's own power, are actual and invincible forces, infinitely greater than those of hell. In our day, the Church, more than ever, needs his protection against her enemies.

The Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas Day, is September 29. As it is not certain just what church is commemorated as having been dedicated on this day, the pious belief has gained favor that the entire Catholic Church is here indicated. For by casting the rebel spirits into the abyss, St. Michael dedicated the Church Triumphant in Heaven as the peaceful abode of the Angels; and as he wards off the devil and his colleagues from the Church upon earth, he has dedicated the Church Militant as the secure dwelling place of the faithful upon earth. Finally, as helper and consoler of the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering is place under his care. This feast of St. Michael has ever been one of the outstanding feasts of the Church. However, the liturgy for the feast is not confined to the veneration of St. Michael alone, but includes all the Angels, particularly those who are appointed as guardians of mankind.

O Glorious Prince of the heavenly hosts and victor over rebellious spirits, be mindful of me who am so weak and sinful and yet so prone to pride and ambition. Lend me, I pray, thy powerful aid in every temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Holy Michael, Archangel, protect us in the day of battle, and so on the day of judgment, that we may be saved from eternal loss!