One of our sisters shared this story with me:
My mother, Catherine, had a great devotion to Saint Michael the Archangel. This led her to beg his intercession so that her two daughters could attend the Catholic school in a nearby parish, since our own parish did not have one. One day at Mass a request was made for volunteers to help care for the altar linens. My mother thought, “I know how to do that,” but promptly dismissed the thought from her mind. After Mass, on the way to the car, she heard a voice call her, “Mrs. M., aren’t you going to see the sacristan about the altar linens?” Startled, she looked up and saw a tall young man in front of her. She later told me, “He had on a suit of the most beautiful material I’ve ever seen, almost iridescent.” She did not get a good look at his face because she was “so taken” by the material of his beautiful suit. “Oh, of course,” she replied.
“The sacristan is coming now. Go ahead,” the young man prompted.
A bit dazed, she murmured, “Thank you,” and headed over to sign up. When she turned around, he was gone. My mother later searched for him at church but never saw him again. She was convinced that Saint Michael answered her prayer. She remembered distinctly that he had called her by name, which she had thought odd since we had only been living there for a short time and did not yet know many people.
My mother joined the Ladies Altar Society, and I was among the last of the first graders admitted to the parish school. My mother was convinced that God sent Saint Michael to answer her prayer. In gratitude, she cared for the altar linens for many years after that.
This story about Saint Michael shows how the angels can help us in our daily lives. The feast of the angels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, is celebrated on September 29. Michael is the chief of the angels, the one God entrusts with the mission of helping us in the battle of life. Michael is especially noted for his spiritual power against evil, and to keep us safe on our path to God. The story above shows that he can help us in many ways, especially in those things that are important to us. He is the patron of police officers and soldiers. When life gets tough, we can turn to Michael for his help on the way. Our battle might be against some sin or weakness we have, or it can be for courage in doing good. In all of these struggles, Michael can help us win the victory.
Gabriel is the angel we know best from the Gospels. God sent Gabriel to Mary to ask her consent to become the Mother of God. It was the most important invitation in the history of the world, and Mary said yes. We too have important invitations from God. He may invite us to a closer union with him, or to give of ourselves in a new way to our neighbor. If we are facing an important decision, we can ask Gabriel to help us see clearly what God is asking of us, that we might say fully cooperate with God’s plan, as Mary did.
Raphael is known as the angel of healing. We find his story in the Book of Tobit. Not only did he heal Tobit of blindness, but he also healed relationships, and helped Tobias and Sarah into a happy marriage. As the angel of healing, Raphael’s mission is to lead us to the fullness of life. While this can and does include physical healing, the ultimate goal is the health of our spiritual life. The Archangel Raphael is the angel of joy and is invoked as the angel of healing, the patron of travelers, and of those seeking a good spouse. When we turn to him in prayer, Raphael will lead us along the way to God.
By Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP