If you’ve kept up with my columns at all, you’ve probably noticed that I have a thing for feast days. While the presence of the saints has always been a reality for me, the last few years have truly solidified their presence in my life, and I have learned to broaden my group of regular intercessors outside of Mother Mary, St. Joseph and St. Thérèse.
As I was looking ahead on the liturgical calendar for upcoming feast days, one in particular caught my eye — the feast of the three archangels, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael.
I can’t say I’ve had a strong devotion to any of these saints, but they have popped up in different parts of my life, and they are not saints to forget or underestimate. And, given the state of the world, we could especially use their intercession.
As I’ve written before, for many years I’ve had a strong devotion to the Annunciation and Mary’s fiat. But I’ve never taken much time to focus on the role of the angel Gabriel in this pivotal moment in salvation history. Yet, there the angel is, delivering the message that changes the course of the universe — the moment where the word of God is made flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Gabriel is a messenger and an intercessor for clarity in hearing God’s voice in our lives. With all the noise of the world, and with all the division, it can be hard to distinguish our own will and the will of others from that of God. And while it is unlikely we will experience a vision or see an angel appear to give us specific instructions or explanations of what God desires of us, God still wants to speak into the silence of our hearts. So like Mary, we must take moments of silence to quiet our hearts and wait for God’s voice, even through the tiniest promptings of our heart. And we can ask St. Gabriel to pray that we may be open to hearing God’s voice and respond with a wholehearted yes.
Recently during a friend’s wedding, I was reminded of the powerful healing hand of this archangel. You, too, have likely heard wedding readings from the Book of Tobit. But if you have never read this biblical novela in full, I suggest you pull out your Bible and read it cover to cover. (Don’t worry. It’s one of the shortest books of the Bible.)
In the Book of Tobit, Raphael comes disguised as a fellow Israelite who helps Tobiah travel to the land of Media to retrieve his father’s fortune before he dies. Long story short, the angel assists Tobiah in ridding his wife of a demon who had killed her past seven husbands and gives him a cure for his father’s blindness.
Again, neither of these situations are likely to happen in your future, but we could all use some spiritual and physical healing. So, whether you or a loved one is battling illness — as many in the world are currently facing — or if the pandemic has left you spiritually dry and far from the sacraments, ask this saint and archangel for his intercession.
Of all the angels, St. Michael is likely the first that comes to mind with his flaming sword and his foot resting on the devil. And while he has been a great intercessor during times of plagues I think his more powerful intercession can be in our daily lives.
Each time I go to Mass, I’m grateful when the priest ends by leading the congregation in the St. Michael prayer. It is a constant and necessary reminder that evil exists — in the world and in our own hearts. For every time we leave Mass refreshed with the body and blood of Our Lord in the Eucharist, we are walking onto the spiritual battlefield. We may not recognize it, but the enemy is fully prepared to do his worst. With trust in God, we have nothing to fear, for Christ has already won the battle, but we could all use the intercession of St. Michael to slay our own demons — namely, our vices — in our everyday lives.
Sts. Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, pray for us.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.