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Random Thoughts on the Feast of the Archangels

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 27, 2022 | In The Liturgical Year

The beloved feast of the Archangels, popularly known as Michaelmas, falls on Thursday this year. I’ve written about this feast day previously, both particularly and collectively as a harvest feast.

As I was contemplating this feast day overall, I couldn’t help but remember my sons and their enthusiasm, especially for St. Michael. We loved to celebrate this feast day. Their enthusiasm isn’t isolated, as most of the young boys I meet fall in love with the archangels. And realizing how much popular piety and traditions are connected to Michaelmas, the love of this feast isn’t isolated only in young boys!

So here are a few random thoughts about this feast that honors three of the archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

Gratitude Prayers of the Heart
There are so many traditions attached to this feast, especially regarding it as a harvest feast. Since ancient times all civilizations would have thanksgiving feasting for their harvests.

It is written in our hearts that God gave us these gifts, and we need to be thankful, and be good stewards of the gifts.

For so many of us detached from the rural tradition of farming and harvests, the harvest feasts can seem old fashioned and irrelevant. Michaelmas is a good reminder for our hearts to return with a prayer of thanksgiving.

One of the higher forms of prayer is professing love and gratitude to God. Prayers of thanksgiving are a personal recognition that everything is a gift from God, and we are grateful. We are expressing our love to God. We aren’t asking for anything, but thanking God.

Younger children have this form of prayer innately in their hearts. “Thank you, God!” Sometimes it can sound silly, thanking for the smallest things, such as, “Thank you, God, for my popsicle” or “Thank you God for the flower” or “Thank you God for my toes.” Hearing the child’s humble prayer of gratitude is a reminder of how I should turn my heart and pray like the child. As Jesus said in Luke 18:17: “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.

Michaelmas is just one of the group of traditional harvest feasts, and a great reminder of how we should be praying more often like a child with prayers of gratitude.

Feast of Imagination, Art as the inspiration
As I mentioned earlier, the angels, especially St. Michael, always capture the children’s imagination, particularly boys.

But the angels igniting imagination is not isolated to children. If you scroll through beautiful art (Web Gallery of Art is one of my go-to sites ) there are many, many depictions of the archangels, especially of St. Michael slaying the devil. The evidence is clear that even adults love to contemplate the work of the wonderful archangels!

I find there is a corollary with Catholic traditions and traditional sacred art, in that the large number of works of art for a certain scene of a saint or the life of Christ reflects how a particular event ignited the imagination. Popular piety and traditions also stemmed from this spark of the imagination.

Practically speaking, if you are trying to come up with ideas on how to celebrate this feast, let the art do the talking. For children especially from ages 6, present different works of art. Let the children contemplate, and release their imaginations. You will be amazed at their ideas of creativity and fun to celebrate the feast day. And I would say St. Michael’s images would be most inspiring!

Do Not Be Afraid!
Every time an angel makes an earthly visitation, there is always a reassurance, and some form of the angel saying, “Do Not Be Afraid!“ This feast of the archangels and the upcoming memorial of the Guardian Angels (which will be superseded this year since it falls on Sunday) are reminders and reassurances of the spiritual world. So often we forget how the heavenly world with God, Mary, the angels, the saints, etc. is even more real than our earthly existence.

Our work here is to prepare for our heavenly home. Our battle on earth is not intended to be alone. We do not need to be fearful or anxious, but to keep in mind the spiritual help we have, and ask for it!

Children also need this reassurance. We are not alone; we have angels to help us. Do not be afraid!

For Further Reading:

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year, or liturgical living. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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