In the last two offerings we looked at angels, faithful and holy, fallen and horrid. October is especially given to veneration of the Holy Angels. Angels are all over the pages of Holy Scripture, having hundreds of references across both Old and New Testaments. The Holy Angels are so closely aligned to the will of God as His ministers and messengers that they and God are hard to tell apart. Angels deliver God’s own words and will. They guided, defended and rescued all through salvation history.
Speaking of being all over pages, angels are all over the pages of our Missals, used for Holy Mass. We mention angels during our recognition of sin in the Confiteor, in the traditional version specifically naming St Michael the Archangel. At the Offertory of the traditional Roman Rite, the priest blesses incense invoking the intercession of, again, Michael, saying, “May the Lord, by the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who standeth at the right side of the altar of incense, and of all His Elect, vouchsafe to bless this incense and receive it as an odour of sweetness: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
During the Sanctus we, the Church Militant, join the chant of the angelic armies, arrayed in their hierarchical choirs: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!” Hosts – in Hebrew, t’saba (Sabaoth) – is “armies”. The phrase “Yahweh Sabaoth … God of Hosts” occurs some 285 times in the Old Testament, making it one of His most frequent titles.
In the Roman Canon (First Eucharistic Prayer), Father prays: “Command these offerings to be borne by the hands of Thy holy angel to Thine altar on high, in the sight of Thy divine majesty.”
Not only that, but during Mass, as we invoke Holy Angels, they are all over us as well. St John Chrysostom said that during the Divine Liturgy, “the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar”.
St Bridget wrote that during Mass she saw “an immense number of Holy Angels descend and gather around the altar, contemplating the priest. They sang heavenly canticles that ravished my heart, heaven itself seemed to be contemplating the great Sacrifice. And yet we poor mortals, blind and miserable creatures, assist at Mass with so little love, relish and respect!”
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