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Why the archangels are more than just messengers from God

TOBIAS AND ANGELS
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The Church invites us to celebrate these particularly special saints — St. Raphael, St. Michael, and St. Gabriel — today. 

On September 29th, the Church celebrates the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These are the “super angels” — the swiftest of them all. Like all angels, they are sent by God to the people: “Praise the Lord, you his angels, who mightily execute his word and obey his command.”

The archangels are the first of the spiritual creatures who proclaim how incredible God is. They are often sent on the most challenging missions. These extra special agents are always before God and serve Him day and night. When they come out of anonymity, they use a personal name, and with this name comes a specific purpose. 

The warrior, the diplomat, and the merciful

First is the leader, Michael, fighter of the Dragon, whose name means “Who is like God?” He is the greatest of the archangels. He is the fighter par excellence against the forces of evil. When God needs a strong, fast angel, he sends Michael. 

Then comes Gabriel, the diplomat, whose name means “man of God.” The book of Daniel presents Gabriel as an angel who interprets. He is known mostly for appearing to Zachary and, of course, to the Virgin Mary. When God wants to make an important announcement, he sends Gabriel. 

And lastly, we have merciful Raphael, whose name means “God heals.” In the Book of Tobit, this angel accompanies young Tobias and helps him on his journey. He watches over pilgrims and travelers and also expels evil spirits. He introduces himself as one of the seven angels that stand before God, and freely offers our pleas to Him. When God wants to make someone advance on the road of life, he sends Raphael. 

When the archangels send us discreet signs 

These archangels of light directly tell us how beautiful God is, while the other anonymous angels send us more subtle signs, without ‘banging any doors down’: an intuition to do the right thing, an action to avoid a bad fall, a little help in being true to ourselves, a voice in the back of our head, a gesture just at the right moment, an unexpected happy feeling … 

By celebrating the archangels, the Church is telling us that we are not alone here on Earth. They fight alongside us against the dark forces. They invite us above all to praise God and to take time with them to adore Him. It is then when we might hear them pass by, with or without wings, in the loving silence of prayer. 

Jacques Gauthier

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