I love being Catholic! I know you have heard me say this many times yet I feel it is worth repeating especially as we celebrate our parish patron, St. Michael the Archangel.
September 29th is the actual feast day of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. October 2nd is the feast of the Guardian Angels. That is why I love being Catholic – who else celebrates angels and Archangels? As one person sitting next to me on an airplane said to me once, “You Catholics believe weird stuff.” To which I replied, “Yeah, isn’t that great?” Needless to say, we had a lively discussion.
“Arch” means chief or principle among. J. Peter Sartain is the Archbishop of the Archdiocese Seattle, meaning that he is the principle bishop serving the other bishops of the other two dioceses of Washington State, Yakima and Spokane. In terms of Catholic teaching, the role of archbishop is one of service, not power or prestige.
In Sacred Scripture, the Archangel Gabriel is the messenger sent from God who announces the Messiah’s coming in the Book of Daniel, chapter 9 and the births of John the Baptist and Jesus in Luke, chapter 1.
The Archangel Raphael served as a guardian angel protecting Tobias on his journey in the Book of Tobit and the one who heals Tobit, his father, from his blindness.
Michael, the Archangel, is the great warrior against evil as we heard in our second reading from Revelation 12 and the protector of Israel in the Book of Daniel, chapter 9.
Every Sunday we profess the Nicene Creed and pray: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”
This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in #326: The Scriptural expression ‘heaven and earth’ means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: ‘earth’ is the world of human beings, while ‘heaven’ … refers to the saints and the place of the spiritual creatures, the ‘angels’ who surround God.”
“As purely spiritual creatures, angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures.” CCC 330
Once more: “With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they ‘always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven’ (Mt. 18:10) they are the ‘mighty ones who do God’s word, hearkening to the voice of God’s word.” (Ps. 103:20)
I love being Catholic! We Catholics believe in so much more than meets the eye, than can be proven by the scientific method, and that isn’t just fantasy, but deeply real, revealing to us who we are truly meant to be.
If I wasn’t Catholic and if I didn’t believe in God, I would have to rely solely on myself, on my effort, on my reason and the opinions of the world around me. Quite frankly, that is frightening to me, for I know myself and the darkness and demons within this rather insignificant human being that I am.
Quite frankly, without faith, I would despair. For many billions of human beings on this planet the world is a gaping wound, an abscess filled with the putrid puss of evil, oppression, manipulation, exploitation, indifference, cruelty, abuse, poverty and horror.
I love being Catholic because we are real and don’t live in denial of sin and darkness.
Now let me take this homily in a whole new direction.
If you know what the game, “tug of war” is, raise your hand? Yes, most of us have played it in some form or another or have at least seen it in movies or on TV.
There are two sides pulling against one another with the goal of pulling the other side across the line, the goal in order to win.
If you are doing this as a team sport, who do you want on your team? People who are strong, big and look like the Hulk or Captain America or any of the super heroes, right? You don’t want Sponge Bob and Daffy Duck!
I love being Catholic because the Church realizes that we are in a tug-of-war between good and evil, light and darkness, slavery and freedom, sanctity and sin.
Unfortunately for far too many people, evil is winning. Satan, the evil one wants to drag us all into the fires of hell, into eternal damnation and everlasting separation from God and into the chaos of our worse fears. Satan will do everything in its power, subtle and blatant to achieve this.
I love being Catholic because we have the best team possible in this fight, this battle, this tug-of-war. We have St. Michael the Archangel and his heavenly hosts of angels who have already defeated Satan as our second reading told us.
“Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.”
We have Jesus, the lamb slain, who has defeated sin and death and sits on the heavenly throne who is on our side.
“They conquered Satan by the Blood of the Lamb.”
Let us conquer. Let us all out for the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, our patron. Let us pull together, struggle together, pray together and defeat evil together. This is why Sunday Mass each week is essential and why Small Groups can help us grow and stay strong in our faith and face the “wiles of the devil.”
Let us pray together the Church’s prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. It is on the outside back cover of the Breaking Bread songbook.