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Commentary from 




Rivingtons, London, 1884


[September 29.]

There were anciently two days dedicated to St. Michael, May 8th and September 29th; and in medieval times a third, to St. Michael in monte tumba [Note: Churches dedicated to St. Michael are often on elevated spots, as at St. Michael's Mounts in Normandy and Cornwall] on October 16th.  But the day most generally observed was that which we now keep, and which appears both in the Lectionary of St. Jerome and in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, as the Dedication of the Church of St. Michael.  This basilica may have been that of Constantine near Constantinople, or that of Boniface at Rome, the latter being dedicated AD 606.  In the Eastern Church St. Michael's Day is November 8th, July 13th and March 26th being also observed in honour of the Archangel Gabriel.  These two are the only angels or archangels who are made known to us by name in the Canonical Scriptures, though Raphael and Uriel are named in the Book of Tobit and in Esdras.


The holy angels in general are commemorated by the Church from a deeply-rooted feeling of their communion with the saints, and of their ministrations among mankind on earth.  Such a feeling is warranted by the words, "Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn..." [Heb. xii. 22]: and, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" [Heb. i. 14.]  The holy Son of God condescended to be ministered to by angels in His Temptation and Agony; they waited upon Him at His Birth and Resurrection; and at His Second Advent He will come with "all the holy angels."  St. Peter was set free from prison by an angel. and one stood by St. Paul in the ship, thus illustrating their ministration to Christ's servants.  Our Lord Himself spoke of their rejoicing over penitent sinners; and said of the little ones who had passed under His hand and benediction, that "their angels do always behold the face of My Father Which is in heaven," as if indicating many ministrations to those who are His,--some known, and some that are not made evident to sight or other sense.  It has been a constant tradition of Christianity that angels attend at the ministration of Holy Baptism, and at the celebration of the Holy Communion; and that as Lazarus was the object of their tender care, so in sickness and death they are about the bed of the faithful, and carry their souls to the presence of Christ in Paradise.


Without taking into account, therefore, and of the many unveilings to our sight of holy angels and their ministrations recorded in the Old Testament, we have ample ground for believing that they are joined in a very close communion with those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.  But whereas the saints were once sinners, and yet God is pleased that we should honour Him by venerating these pure and spotless servants of His who do His pleasure.  And as our Father on earth as it is done in heaven, so may we take their example as the highest, next to His of perfect submission to the will of God.  While in respect to our worship on earth we may reckon it as exalted privilege to have such communion with them as to be able to say, "Therefore with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name, evermore praising Thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord most High."