On the nightstand in the guest bedroom of our home stands a statue of St. Michael the Archangel. Its purpose is to remind guests and ourselves of the protecting power of God. “He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” ¹ Today’s Feast of the Angels (September 29), is a reminder that, in writing about Christian Community², God’s ministering spirits³ are very, very much among those in the family of our Faith.
The statue is modeled after Guido Reni’s painting of St. Michael, part of the altarpiece in the first chapel of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome. A marvelous copy by Giovanni Andrea Sirani, one of Guido Reni’s best students, hangs in the Museum & Gallery at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.
What does this have to do with community? With the Communion of Saints? Just this: as Catholic Christians celebrate and remember the lives of Saints daily, whose faith and holiness we are to imitate (1 Corinthians 11:1), these three ministering spirits — Michael (Daniel 10:13, 21, and 12:1; Revelation 12:7-9, and Jude 1:9), Gabriel (Luke 1:26), and Raphael (Tobit 12:11-22) — are very much among them.
For what reason? From Butler’s Lives of the Saints:
Of the good angels, we are called upon to give thanks to God for the glory angels enjoy and to rejoice in their happiness; to thank Him for His mercy in constituting such beings to minister to our salvation by aiding us; to join them in worshipping and praising God, praying that we may do His will as it is done by those blessed spirits in Heaven; and lastly, we are invited to honour them and implore their intercession and succour. —September 29, from the entry for Michael the Archangel
Is this a blessing, as a result of being one of Christ’s own? Or is it nonsense, as some of our separated brothers and sisters would maintain? “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). If our memory and honor of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael impels us to more perfectly seek to “do His will as it is done by those blessed spirits in Heaven,” let me be nonsensical! One is reminded of John 13:8-9.
Even more beautifully, one is reminded of the The Anima Christi. Our prayers matter. They say a lot about who we are as Christians. Read Amy Welborn’s The Words We Pray. Then we can rejoice that on this September 29 day of celebration, we can conclude The Anima Christi with the words (translations vary):
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come to Thee.
That, with Thy Angels and Saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever. Amen
¹ Psalm 91:11, from the translation I memorized years ago, though other translations don’t differ in meaning.