Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said about him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”J 1: 47-51
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are King of Israel!”
Jesus answered him, “Because I told you, ‘I saw you underneath the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these!” He said to him, “Most certainly, I tell you all, hereafter you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The devotion of St. Michael the Archangel finds its full expression above all in the holy liturgy, which the Council calls the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows (SC 10).
Therefore, following the encouragement of the Council Fathers, let us experience tomorrow’s feast of Archangels, in a special way through conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Eucharistic liturgy.
Let’s look at the prayers that that we will hear at tomorrow’s ceremony. It determines the proper content of the entire liturgy of the Holy Mass.
Collect, or prayer over the gathered people in its content comes from admiration for God’s Providence, which assigns tasks to people and angels. He assigns the job to the angels of caring for people and surrounding them with the glory of God’s throne (cf. Rev 5: 11; 7: 11). It ends with a request for angels to help us in our lives.
Prayer over the gifts comes like the previous text from the oldest surviving sacramentaries. It expresses the request that God accept our sacrifice, which we are commencing through the intercession of angels. Thus, it emphasizes our sense of unworthiness.
The prayer after Communion was writen much later, but it is in no way inferior with its profound theological content to ancient liturgical texts. It became a biblical prayer. Its essence is based on a passage from the Book of King’s (1 Kings 19). Just as Elijah, fed on a flatbread, went forty days and nights to Mount Horeb, so we, fortified with Eucharistic Bread, are spiritually strengthened to walk through difficulties of life. Angels show the source of food in both cases.
A very interesting composition is the Preface of Angels, which significantly expands the image of the world of heavenly spirits.
The first sentence and part of the second, which are: to praise you without end in your Archangels and Angels. For the honor we pay the angelic creatures in whom you delight redounds to your own surpassing glory,… shows us the figure of an angel in the light of Old Testament. The Bible, whenever it depicts the appearance of an angel, also speaks of great fear and the conviction that the man has to die. The reason for this fear is that the angels are reflections of the glory of the Creator. None of the living can see Him and remain alive. One of the angels’ mission is to reveal God’s perfection. The following part also clearly shows the expressive function of Angels: by their great dignity and splendor you show how infinitely great you are, to be exalted above all things. One must admire the brevity, clarity and precision of thought. It contains the quintessence of angelological considerations of biblists and theologians. A brief statement that acknowledging the perfection of angels is a way to recognise and glorify God is one of the most beautiful and important justifications for the existence of devotion to angels in the liturgy of the Church.
The novena in honor of the Holy Archangels: Michael, Rafael and Gabriel is coming to an end. Tomorrow we will celebrate with participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The presence and care of angels does not end with the end of the novena, however. Hence the encouragement that we continue to use the powerful intercession of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Rafael, and gazing at the angel’s holiness and zeal for the glory of God, by imitating them, become ourselves one flame of love burning before the throne of God. Amen.
Fr. Rafał Kamiński CSMA