Saturday, September 29, 2018
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during a celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, Sept. 29, 2018 at St. Mary Cathedral. The Mass concluded the annual conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, Sept. 27-29
“You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)
Today we celebrate St. Michael the Archangel, the head of the heavenly hosts, whom we invoke to “defend in battle and to be our defense against the wickedness and the snares of the devil.”
In the Novus Ordo Mass, Saint Michael is a little less lonely as the Church also celebrates with him the Archangels, Gabriel and Raphael. These three angels are signaled out for the role they played in Salvation History. These biblical messengers, God’s emissaries as it were, signify God’s transcendence and loving care: Michael (meaning “Who is like God?”), Gabriel (God’s strength) and Raphael (God’s remedy).
And, in a few days, the Church will celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels. While the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of the angels, the Feast of the Guardian Angels celebrates those angels assigned to guide and protect each one of us from our infancy till death.
The Catechism affirms: “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” (CCC 328) They are not dead humans “who have earned their wings” but are “personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creation.” (CCC 330).
St. Augustine says: “’Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, “spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel.’” With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven’, they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word.” (cf. Mat 18: 10, Ps 103:20)
At every Mass, angels are given a special mention in the Preface acknowledging that our own worship and praise is offered in the sight of the angels. Of course, in a secularized, rationalistic world there is no room for angels just as there is no time for liturgy. For a world closed to transcendence cannot bring itself to admit of the existence of these purely spiritual creatures with intelligence and will any more that it can admit that God matters.
Such a world, as Pope Benedict XVI said, can seem like a desert. But into this world an angel was sent by God to announce to Mary that the Word would become flesh in her virginal womb; likewise, Angels appeared at the tomb of Jesus and announced to the women that he had risen as he said.
Angels “evangelized”: that is, they brought good news, by proclaiming Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. Today, the angels – and the Church’s celebration of the angels – continue to remind us that the world, created by a good and provident God, is more than just a desert and that man is destined for more than just to one day die. And so today, we invoke the powerful intercession of Michael, the Archangel, praying:
Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And you, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.