MEDITATIONS FOR ADVENT: The Perseverance of the Holy Angels
ANGELICO, Fra Linaioli
MEDITATIONS FOR ADVENT:
3. The Perseverance of the Holy Angels
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place
for them in heaven” (Rev. 12:7-8). What kind of war was this? What were the weapons of those spiritual powers? “For
we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against . . . the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” and in “the present darkness” that surrounds us (Eph. 6:12).
We must not imagine this war as having been one of bodily arms or material weapons, nor of bloodshed, as it is among us: it was a conflict of thoughts and affections. The angel of pride, who is called the dragon, raised his army of angels and said to them: “We are happy in ourselves, and like God, we shall do our own will.” And Michael contradicted him, saying: “Who is like God? Who can make himself equal to him?” From this comes the name Michael, which means “Who is like God?” Can there be any doubt that the name of God will triumph in this war? What can the weak spirits — weak because they are proud — what can they accomplish against the humble army that the Lord has rallied behind him? They fall from the heavens, and their place, once so great, is empty. What ravages have been done by their desertion! But these vast spaces will not remain vacant, for God will create man to fill up the places left empty by their treason. Flee, wretched army. Who is like God? Flee before Michael and the holy angels.
Thus were the heavens purified: the haughty spirits were banished from it forever. Neither revolt, nor pride, nor dissension has any place there. It is a Jerusalem, a city of peace, where the holy angels are united to God and “always behold the face of the Father” (cf. Matt. 18:10). Assured of their happiness, they wait with submission for the renewal of their ranks that will come from the earth.
Be happy, holy angels. Come to our aid. May the innumerable armies of the enemy perish in a single night by the same hand that slew the firstborn of Egypt, the persecutor of the people of God (Exod. 12:29).
Holy angel, whoever you may be, to whom God has entrusted me, throw back those proud tempters who, continuing their war against God, struggle with him for the man that is his conquest and try to make off with him. O Saint Michael, powerful protector of the holy people, whose prayers you offer to God like incense (Rev. 8:3), let me endlessly join you in saying, “Who is like God?” O Saint Gabriel, you who were called the strength of God, who brought to Mary tidings of the coming of Christ, whose future arrival you had foretold to Daniel, inspire us with holy thoughts so that we may profit from your predictions. O Saint Raphael, whose name means “the physician of God,” heal my soul of a more dangerous blindness than that which afflicted the holy man Tobit; bind the demon of impurity that attacks the sons of Adam even within the holiness of marriage; bind him, for you are more powerful than he, and God himself is your strength. Holy Angels, all of you “ministering servants” who see the face of God (Heb. 1:14) and whom he has commanded “to guard us in all our ways” (cf. Ps. 91:11), use the aids God has given you for the salvation of his elect, and raise up our weakness.
O God, send us your holy angels: those who served Jesus Christ after his fast, those who guarded his sepulcher and announced his Resurrection, those who comforted him in his agony. Jesus Christ had no need of this help; he had but clothed himself with our weakness. We are the infirm members that the consoling angel came to fortify in the person of their head.
Archbishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet