Monday, September 28, 2009

Ss. Michaelis, Gabrielis et Raphaelis, Archangelorum (St. Michael and All Angels, that is): September 29

Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels: Michael ("Who is like God?"); Gabriel ("God is my champion"); Raphael ("God heals"); Uriel ("God is my light"). More about this:
The word El appears in other northwest Semitic languages such as Phoenician and Aramaic and in Akkadian ilu as an ordinary word for god. It is aso found also in the South-Arabian dialects and in Ethiopic, and as in Hebrew it is often used as an element in proper names. In northwest Semitic texts it appears to be often but not always used of one single god, of "the God", the head of the pantheon, sometimes specifically said to be the creator.

El is used in both the singular and plural, both for other gods and for the God of Israel. As a name of God, however, it is used chiefly in poetry and prophetic discourse, rarely in prose, and then usually with some epithet attached, as "a jealous God." Other examples of its use with some attribute or epithet are: El ‘Elyon ("most high God"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), El ‘Olam ("everlasting God"), El Hai ("living God"), El Ro’i ("God of seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("God, the God of Israel"), El Gibbor ("Hero God"). In addition, names such as Gabriel ("Hero of God"), Michael ("Who is Like God"), and Daniel ("God is My Judge") use God's name in a similar fashion.

Here's the Collect for the day, which is also called "Michaelmas":
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And the New Testament reading, from Revelation 12:7-12:
War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

"Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!"

And of course, Jacob's Ladder with angels ascending and descending, from Genesis, too.

Here's something about Michael:
Michael (Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎, Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; Greek: Μιχαήλ, Mikhaḗl; Latin: Michael or Míchaël; Arabic: میکائیل‎, Mikā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He is viewed as the field commander of the Army of God. He is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel, the Book of Jude and the Book of Revelation. In the book of Daniel, Michael appears as "one of the chief princes" who in Daniel's vision comes to the angel Gabriel's aid in his contest with the angel of Persia (Dobiel), and is also described there as the advocate of Israel and "great prince who stands up for the children of your [Daniel's] people".

The Talmudic tradition rendered Michael's name as meaning "who is like El?", - so Michael could consequently mean "One who is like God." But its being a question is alternatively understood as a rhetorical question, implying that no one is like God.

And Gabriel:
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavriʼel Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl; Latin: Gabrielus; Greek: Γαβριήλ, Gabriēl; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrail; Aramaic: Gabri-el, "strong man of God"[1]) is an angel who serves as a messenger from God. Based on two passages in the Gospel of Luke, many Christians and Muslims believe Gabriel to have foretold the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus.

And Raphael:
Raphael (Standard Hebrew רָפָאֵל, Rāp̄āʾēl, "It is God who heals", "God Heals", "God, Please Heal", Arabic: رافائيل, Rāfāʾīl) is the name of an archangel of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, who performs all manner of healing.

The angels mentioned in the Torah, the older books of the Hebrew Bible, are without names. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish of Tiberias (A.D. 230-270), asserted that all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and modern commentators would tend to agree.

Raphael in the Book of Enoch

Raphael bound Azazel under a desert called Dudael according to Enoch 10:5-7:

"And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire."

Of seven archangels in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only Michael, mentioned as archangel (Daniel 12:1) and Gabriel are mentioned by name in the scriptures that came to be accepted as canonical by all Christians. Raphael is mentioned by name in the Book of Tobit, which is accepted as canonical by Catholics and Orthodox. Four others, however, are named in the 2nd century BC Book of Enoch (chapter xxi): Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jarahmeel.

I think I'll leave these last Enoch angels for my 2010 post!

The Introit for the day is Benedicite Dominum, from Psalm 102:20 (103:20 in the Anglican reckoning), the second half being the wonderful Verse 1 from the same Psalm:
Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name.

Here's the mp3 from the Benedictines of Brazil, and below is the chant score:

The Offertory for the day is Stetit angelus, from Revelation 8:3-4:
3 And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God.

4 And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.

Here's the mp3, and below is the chant score:

Here's Giovanni Vianini's version of this Offertory:

And this Stetit angelus comes from a contemporary composer, Giovanni Bonato:

The Communion song for the day is Benedicite, omnes angeli, from Daniel 3:58 (part of the Benedicite, omnia opera):
O ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

here's the mp3, and below is the chant score:

See also the Office hymns, posted last year.

Here's a nice Guido (Reni, that is) of St. Michael:

I posted a lot of Michael images last year - they're a dime a dozen - but you know, I'd really like to give Gabriel and Raphael some equal time this year, so here goes.
About Raphael:
The name of the angel Raphael appears only in the Deuterocanonical Book of Tobit. The Book of Tobit is considered canonical by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Raphael first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of the younger Tobias, calling himself "Azarias the son of the great Ananias". During the adventurous course of the journey the archangel's protective influence is shown in many ways including the binding of the demon in the desert of upper Egypt. After the return and the healing of the blindness of the elder Tobit, Azarias makes himself known as "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" Tobit 12:15. Compare the unnamed angels in John's Revelation 8:2. Christian churches following Catholic teachings (Roman, Oriental, Orthodox, Anglican, etc) venerate and patronize him as Saint Raphael.

Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael,[1] we have little more than his declaration to Tobit (Tobit, 12) that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his daughter-in-law, from the devil (Asmodeus) that was the serial killer of her husbands.[2] Among Catholics, he is considered the patron saint of medical workers and matchmakers, travellers and may be petitioned by them or those needing their services.[3]

And - saving the best for last - I'm sure I don't need to mention (yet again) my fondness for this Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, and the terrific take on the Archangel Gabriel:

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