Sunday, September 27, 2009
September 29th is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael.
From Matins of September 29th:
The Lesson is taken from the Sermons of St. Gregory the Pope
We say that there are nine orders or choirs of Angels, for, by the witness of the holy Word, we know that there be Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Nearly every page of the holy Word witnesseth that there be Angels and Archangels. The books of the Prophets, as is well known, do oftentimes make mention of Cherubim and Seraphim. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, counteth up the names of four orders, where he saith : Far above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Dominion. And the same, again, writing to the Colossians, saith : Whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers. If, then, we add the Thrones to the four orders of which he spake unto the Ephesians, we have five orders ; and when we add unto them the Angels and the Archangels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, we find that the orders of Angels are beyond all doubt nine.
But we must know that the word Angel is the designation, not of a nature, but of an office. Those holy spirits in the heavenly fatherland are alway spirits, but they may nowise be alway called Angels. For they are Angels only when they are sent as Messengers. Hence also it is said by the Psalmist : Who makest spirits thine Angels! as if it were : Of them who are alway with him as spirits, he doth somewhiles make use as Messengers. They who go on the lesser messages are called Angels : they who go on the greater Archangels. Hence it is that unto the Virgin Mary was sent no common Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel. For the delivery of this, the highest message, it was meet that there should be sent the highest Angel. Their individual names also are so given as to signify the kind of ministry wherein each is powerful. Michael signifieth Who is like unto God? Gabriel, The Strength of God. And Raphael, The Medicine of God.
As often as anything very mighty is to be done, we see that Michael is sent, that by that very thing, and by his name, we may remember that none is able to do as God doeth. Hence that old enemy whose pride hath puffed him up to be fain to be like unto God, even he who said : I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High, this old enemy, when at the end of the world he is about to perish in the last death, having no strength but his own, is shewn unto us a-fighting with Michael the Archangel, even as saith John : There was a war in heaven : Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon ; and the dragon fought and his angels. Unto Mary is sent Gabriel, whose name is interpreted The Strength of God, for he came to herald the appearing of him who was content to appear lowly that he might fight down the powers of the air. Raphael, also, as we have said, signifieth The Medicine of God, and it is the name of him who touched as a physician the eyes of Tobias, and cleared away his blindness.