Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back ...” (Revelation 12:7.)

Primasius of Hadrumetum comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“We must not think that the devil and his angels dared to fight in heaven, since he could not even tempt Job without God’s permission. Rather by “heaven” he quite manifestly indicates the church, where each one of the faithful constantly contends against spiritual evils. Therefore the apostle says, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers and against the world rulers of this present darkness.”

And so he says here that Michael with his angels fights against the devil, because by praying according to the will of God for the church in this world and by granting her his aid, he is properly understood to be fighting for her. And so the apostle says, “Are not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” Indeed, the name of Michael himself is interpreted to mean “the helper of God,” and so this work is properly assigned to him. Also Daniel said that in the last distress [Michael] would come for the succor of the church: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who stands for the children of your people. And there shall be a time such as has never been since the nations first began to be. And in that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book.” The angels are said to be his by a certain manner of speaking, such as we read, “For their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

And so it speaks of those who by believing began to be citizens in Christ and thus are his angels, because they are regarded as protected by one guardian king and as made glad by one life-giving spirit. The devil and his angels are not only those who are similar to him in nature and will. They are also as men, who after being caught in his traps, became pursuers of such things. Indeed, because of the qualities of his will it is said about the devil, “An evil man has done this,” and about Judas, “[One of you] is a devil.” The devil is said to express himself by way of a twofold body. When he is conquered, he is said to be thrown out by those who have renounced him and have received faith in Christ and so no longer do his errors. Rather, in them “love [remains] from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.” Or, since the church is already separated from any admixture of evil and is glorified by the future blessedness, no place is given to the devil and to his angels to seduce the evil or to tempt the good. The psalm refers to him and says, “I passed by, and lo! he was not; and I sought him, but his place was not found.” (Commentary on the Aposcalypse, 12.)

O God,
Who dispose in a marvelous order
ministries both angelic and human,
graciously grant
that our life on earth may be defended
by those who watch over us
as they minister perpetually
to You in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen