September 24, 2009
On Tuesday we celebrate the feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Some Christians celebrate the feast as St. Michael and All Angels, whereas for centuries the feast was known as ‘Michaelmas’. Whatever we call it, the feast is a time for us to reflect on the great glory of God shown in the angels, and in God’s great goodness to us by making the angels our servants as well as his. For that is what we see them doing in the scriptures: Michael wages war against the forces of darkness and wins, Gabriel is the angel who announces God’s plan of salvation to Mary at the annunciation, and Raphael, as we read in the Book of Tobit, brings healing to mankind.
The Archangels and angels are the ones who praise God without ceasing in heaven, they continually pray for us, and protect and guard us. It is our great privilege to join in their hymn at Mass, the sanctus. As the evenings start to draw in, and the weather turns colder, it is good to know that we have the angels as our friends and helpers through the darkness of life to the glorious light of heaven.
May Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and all the Holy Angels pray for us. P.D.
September 4, 2009
There are three birthdays commemorated in the Church’s Calendar: that of Christ at Christmas, St John the Baptist’s in August, and that of Our Lady which we celebrate on Tuesday. We often find these three depicted in paintings and icons because all three are central to the mystery of the incarnation. We do not believe in a God who is distant from this world, who is above earthly cares and concerns. We are not called to be disembodied beings – that role is for the angels. Our humanity is not an obstacle to our holiness but rather its precondition and possibility.
Because in Christ God has taken on our human nature our human nature is for ever linked to the divine. Feasts like the one we celebrate on Tuesday call us back to the profound truth of the incarnation. Mary was born like one of us, though without sin, and had to grow in her knowledge and understanding. Paintings often show the child Mary learning to read at the knee of St Anne her mother.
As we begin a new term we can reflect on the high, God given vocation that is teaching. Mary had to be taught and so did Jesus. Both in their turn taught those around them. Our quest for knowledge is one of the things that makes us truly human, and as such it also leads to God who is the source of all wisdom.