March 24, 2020: ST. GABRIEL, ARCHANGEL
March 24, 2020: ST. GABRIEL, ARCHANGEL
Rank: Greater Double.
“I am Gabriel who stand before God”
(St. Luke, i. 19)
It was thou, O Gabriel! that taughtest us the salutation wherewith we should greet Mary full of grace. Thou wast the first to pronounce these sublime words, which thou broughtest from heaven. The children of the Church are now, day and night, repeating these words of thine; pray for us that we may say them in such a manner, as that our Blessed Mother may find them worthy of her acceptance.
O God, who from amongst the other angels hast chosen Gabriel, the Archangel, to announce the mystery of thy incarnation, grant us propitiously, that we who celebrate his feast on earth, may experience his protection in heaven. Who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.
So far in the Church's Calendar [since the beginning of the Liturgical year], we have not met with any Feast in honour of the Holy Angels. Amidst the ineffable joys of Christmas Night, we mingled our timid but glad voices with the Hymns of these heavenly Spirits, who sang around the Crib of our Emmanuel. The very recollection brings joy to our hearts, saddened as they now are by penitential feelings and by the near approach of the mournful anniversary of our Jesus' Death. Let us, for a moment, interrupt our sadness, and keep the Feast of the Archangel Gabriel. Later on, we shall have Michael, Raphael, and the countless host of the Angel Guardians; but to-day,… it is just that we should honour Gabriel. Yes, [sooner on Annunciation] we shall see this heavenly Ambassador of the Blessed Trinity coming down to the Virgin of Nazareth; let us, therefore, recommend ourselves to him, and beseech him to teach us how to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the grand Mystery of which he was the Messenger.
Gabriel is one of the first of the Angelic Kingdom. He tells Zachary, that he stands before the face of God (St. Luke, i. 19). He is the Angel of the Incarnation, because it is in this Mystery, which apparently is so humble, that the power of God is principally manifested: and Gabriel signifies the strength of God. We find the Archangel preparing for his sublime office, even in the Old Testament. First of all, he appears to Daniel, after this Prophet had had the vision of the Persian and Grecian Empires; and such was the majesty of his person that Daniel fell on his face trembling (Dan, viii. 17). Shortly afterwards, he appears again to the same Prophet, telling him the exact time of the coming of the Messias: Know thou and take notice: that from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (Dan, ix. 25), that is, sixty-nine weeks of years.
When the fulness of time had come, and Heaven was about to send the last of the Prophets,—he, who after preaching to men the approach of the Messias, is to show him to the people, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world,—Gabriel descends from heaven to the temple of Jerusalem, and prophesies to Zachary the birth of John the Baptist (St. Luke, i. 13), which was to be followed by that of Jesus himself.
Six months later on, the holy Archangel again appears on the earth; and this time it is Nazareth that he visits. He brings the great message from heaven. Angel as he is, he reveres the humble Maid, whose name is Mary; he has been sent to her by the Most High God, to offer her the immense honour of becoming the Mother of the Eternal Word. It is Gabriel that receives the great Fiat, the consent of Mary; and when he quits this earth, he leaves it in possession of Him, for whom it had so long prayed in those words of Isaias: Drop down DEW, O ye Heavens! (Isaias, xlv. 8)
The hour at length came, when the Mother of the Emmanuel was to bring forth the Blessed Fruit of her virginal Womb. Jesus was born amidst poverty; but Heaven willed that his Crib should be surrounded by fervent adorers. An Angel appeared to some Shepherds, inviting them to go to the Stable near Bethlehem. He is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly army, sweetly singing their hymn: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will! Who is this Angel that speaks to the Shepherds, and seems as the chief of the other blessed Spirits that are with him? In the opinion of several learned writers, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who is keeping up his ministry as Messenger of the Good Tidings (St. Luke, ii. 10).
Lastly, when Jesus is suffering his Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, an Angel appears to him, not merely as a witness of his suffering, but that he might strengthen him under the fear his Human Nature felt at the thought of the Chalice of the Passion he was about to drink (St. Luke, xxii. 42, 43). Who is this Angel? It is Gabriel, as we learn not only from the writings of several holy and learned authors, but also from a Hymn which the Holy See has permitted to be used in the Liturgy…
These are the claims of the great Archangel to our veneration and love; these are the proofs he gives of his deserving his beautiful name,—the Strength of God. God has employed him in each stage of the great work, in which he has chiefly manifested his power, for Jesus, even on his Cross, is the Power of God (I Cor, i. 24), as the Apostle tells us. Gabriel prepares the way for Jesus. He foretells the precise time of his Coming; he announces the birth of his Precursor; he is present at the solemn moment when the Word is made Flesh; he invites the Shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the Crib, and adore the Divine Babe; and when Jesus, in his Agony, is to receive Strength from one of his own creatures, Gabriel is found ready in the Garden of Gethsemani, as he had been at Nazareth and Bethlehem.
A prayer to St. Gabriel.
The whole human race is indebted to thee, O Gabriel! and, on this day, we would fain pay thee the honour and gratitude we owe thee. Thou wast moved to holy compassion when seeing the miseries of the world; for all flesh had corrupted its way, and the forgetfulness of God increased with each new generation of men. Then did the Most High commission thee to bring to the world the good tidings of its Salvation. How beautiful thy steps, O Prince of the heavenly court, as thou earnest down to this our humble sphere! How tender and fraternal is thy love of man, whose nature, though so inferior to thine own, was to be raised, by the mystery of the Incarnation, to union with God himself! With what respectful awe didst thou not approach the Virgin, who surpassed all the Angels in holiness! Blessed Messenger of our Redemption! whom God selects as his Minister when he would show his power,—we beseech thee, offer the homage of our gratitude to Him that thus sent thee. Help us to pay the immense debt we owe to the Father, who so loved the world, as to give it his Only Begotten Son (St. John, iii. 16); to the Son, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant (Philipp, ii. 7); and to the Holy Ghost, who rested on the Flower that sprang up out of the root of Jesse (Isaias, xi. 1).
’Twas thou, O Gabriel! that taughtest us the salutation wherewith we should greet Mary full of grace. Thou wast the first to pronounce these sublime words, which thou broughtest from heaven. The children of the Church are now, day and night, repeating these words of thine; pray for us that we may say them in such a manner, as that our Blessed Mother may find them worthy of her acceptance.
Angel of Strength, Friend of Mankind! relent not in thy ministry of aiding us. We are surrounded by terrible enemies; our weakness makes them bold: come to our assistance, get us courage. Pray for during these days of conversion and penance. Obtain for us the knowledge of all we owe to God in consequence of that ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, of which thou wast the first witness. We have forgotten our duties to the Man-God, and we have offended him: enlighten us, that so, henceforth, we may be faithful to his teachings and examples. Raise up our thoughts to the happy abode where thou dwellest; assist us to merit the places left vacant by the fallen Angels, for God has reserved them for his elect among men.
Pray, O Gabriel, for the Church Militant, and defend her against the attacks of hell. The times are evil; the spirits of malice are let loose, nor can we make stand against them, unless with God's help. It is by his holy Angels that he gives victory to his Spouse. Be thou, O Strength of God! foremost in the ranks. Drive heresy back, keep schism down, foil the false wisdom of men, frustrate the policy of the world, arouse the well-minded from apathy; that thus, the Christ whom thou didst announce, may reign over the earth he has redeemed, and that we may sing together with thee and the whole angelic choir: Glory be to God! Peace to men!
Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Lent, Edition 1870; and
The Missal for the Laity according to the use of the Holy Roman Church, 1846.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.