The New Testament names two angels: Gabriel and Michael. Michael has had greater historical devotion, thus today’s feast “Michaelmas” or “The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.” Even with Michael’s popularity, I wonder if the modern church isn’t more comfortable with Gabriel. The difference might be obvious: Gabriel, who appears in the birth narratives, is the one who carries the message. Though terrifying in appearance (“Fear not”), Gabriel’s holy task is a comfortable one: proclaim the good news.
Michael’s holy task is less comfortable: Warrior, Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts, Five-Star General of God’s Army.
When you see a representation of Michael the Archangel as described in scripture, do you see yourself?
I have trouble seeing myself. When I think of warriors, I often don’t count myself among them. In the modern architype, I’m not a warrior. I’ve never put on a uniform to serve in the military, I’ve never gone into battle. Michael, the patron saint of warriors, is certainly the patron of those brave warriors who have given of themselves to this task. In the Collect for today, we’ll ask God, concerning the angels that “by your appointment they may help and defend us.” These modern warriors will certainly be on my mind.
But could Michael be my patron saint too?
When I was baptized, my parents and godparents, using the newly revised rite we currently enjoy, promised on my behalf to “persevere in resisting evil” and to “strive for justice and peace.” In countless baptisms since, I have affirmed my commitment to that work.
These are warrior words.
In baptism formation, it’s easy for us to lift up the profundity of the Baptismal Covenant and reinforcing those questions over and over. They are wonderful and they are beautiful, but sometimes we gloss over another set of baptismal questions: our baptismal renunciations.
- Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
- Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
- Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
Our promise to “persevere in resisting evil,” that against which we “strive for justice and peace,” has already been described. Evil has three manifestations: Spiritual Forces of Wickedness, Evil Systems of this World, and the Sin Within.
Warriors don’t have to carry weapons or wear armor. Any of us, living into our baptism, are warriors. Our modern dragons are put down by you and me and by thousands of others who fight the struggle against evil. When we acknowledge and repent of the sin within us, we are warriors. When we stand up to injustice, degradation, and exploitation, we are warriors.
St. Michael’s Theme Song can be ours too.
Activities with Kids:
Talk to your children about those who persevere and strive, tell stories of family and friends. What corruption and injustice do your children see? Pray for the strength to fight and brainstorm action appropriate to their age.
Pray for service members and for those speaking out and standing up to our modern cornucopia of domestic injustice. Pray that God’s will be done and that peace and justice reign.
Write to your family’s warriors. “Angel” comes from the Greek, ἄγγελος, “messenger.” Be an angel to a warrior, send a message of love, hope, peace, and gratitude.
[Image Credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]