Faithful Protection of St Michael the Archangel
by Rt. Rev. Eugene Joseph Hayes
My attention recently was directed to a movie about a group of 20 somethings visiting a deserted house for a period of days. After a day or so they decide to entertain themselves by conjuring up a real demon thanks to the presence among them of a confirmed and self-professed skilled wiccan. Only one of the group shows any hesitancy and a brief discussion or exchange ensues that goes something like this. “You know I really don’t believe in the devil… I rather not be part of this.” The wiccan responds “But angels. You believe in angels don’t you.” The group member in question answers “Sure I do.” The wiccan replies “Well same difference,” as if to say “Angels, Devils, whatever.” We know that angels are very popular, ever popular. But what people understand about angels is another matter.
We can say that a feast day like today is one much needed in this contemporary world, a day on which the liturgy expounds Catholic doctrine concerning the angels, an exposition which will be continue and be completed in the near future with the celebration of the feast of the guardian angels. On this solemnity of St Michael and his co – archangels Gabriel and Raphael – we recall first and foremost the ministry of the angels. Both in the collect and the prayer over the gifts we pray the expression “ministry of the angels,” “the angelic ministry.” It is a ministry carried out in the presence of God, a ministry of praise and a ministry of service (much like the life we live here at the Abbey). Angels, day and night, extol the majesty of God and it is to them that while at Mass we are united in exultant adoration.
They bear our gifts of bread and wine, transformed into the body and blood of the Son, into the presence of the Father as we will be reminded once more in the Canon of the Mass. And with the reading from the Book of Revelation we are reminded also of the angelic war on the evil one, a war which has begun eons ago and one which continues now and will conclude only in the last days.
We also today look back to our founding fathers, Abbot Parker and his six brethren, who 60 years ago carried the name of our heavenly protector from the old world to the new and established our community. We recall also the first generation following the founding fathers, so many of whom, so many of us, who were vested in the habit and professed vows whether simple or solemn on this day (for me 48 years ago being vested in the habit of the Order and then 45 years ago solemn profession). We remember also today our confreres past and present who bear the names of the archangels, Fr Michael and Frater Raphael, also three of our postulants, Gabriel and then Angel and Angelo.
Finally, today of course is also the first celebration of our heavenly patron in this new place, in this new magnificent church. Looking back and looking around and looking ahead then may our hearts be filled with the sentiments found in the closing prayer that: Having been nourished with heavenly Bread, and drawing from it new strength, and under the ever faithful protection of St Michael the Archangel, a protection faithfully exercised for over six decades, we especially may honor him and be thankful for his ever constant vigilance in this new place, which God has destined for us and, with Him willing, for generations to come along the way of our and their salvation. Amen.
At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the twelve: “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” After signaling to John who it is, but not hearing the answer, Peter hears Jesus say to him: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” One imagines that Peter understood Jesus to be answering John’s question by identifying him as the soon-to-be traitor.
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