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St Michael, St Gabriel, St Raphael
I empathize with you. It is indeed maddening when someone like your roommate, so intelligent and well-balanced, simply can’t see the clear light of reason when it comes to religious issues. It’s rather mysterious, in fact. It seems like such a contradiction. Is it so difficult to look at the universe, its wonders and beauty, and conclude that it must have had a Designer, a Creator? I don’t think so. And the Church has dogmatically defined that it is indeed possible to come to the knowledge of God’s existence merely through the use of human reason. But, even so, St Thomas long ago pointed out that that reason has been darkened by original sin, and further weakened by repeated personal sins, and so the path to knowing God through its power is a long and hard one. But you don’t need to fret, or give up. You are not alone in your efforts. You have God’s grace working for you (after all, God wants to save your roommate’s soul even more than you do), and you have all the heavenly hosts at your service.
In that sense, today’s feast should provide a boost of encouragement. The whole Church is celebrating the glorious archangels, those spiritual powerhouses who lead the hosts of angels that serve God in his heavenly castle. The theology behind angels is fascinating and quite instructive, but I don’t want to go into it here (if you’re interested, a good place to start is the Catechism #s 328-336, 392-395). I would just like to remind you that we don’t celebrate them just because they are beautiful and powerful beings. We also thank God (and the angels themselves) for giving them to us as our allies and guides in the spiritual journey. Remember “the spiritual journey”? That’s right, we are members of the Pilgrim Church – we’re not in heaven yet, remember? And God has entrusted a lot of our guidance to the archangels. The Bible speaks of St Michael and his army putting down Satan’s rebellion and casting the fallen angels out of heaven – counteracting their tactics of deceit and seduction. (Apocalypse 12) We see St Gabriel entrusted with announcing the birth of the Precursor (St John the Baptizer) and of the Messiah (Jesus himself) to Zechariah and Mary. (Luke 1) St Raphael is the guardian of Tobit’s journey and his family’s faith and prosperity. If we weren’t still on our way (“in situ viae” as the Catechism puts it) and in need of protection and guidance, the archangels would probably be less prominent; as it is, however, the devil and his minions energetically strive to dampen our love for Christ and stoke our selfishness in many hidden and devious manners, thus leading us astray, and so we need as much help as we can get to stay on the “straight and narrow” path. The archangels provide some of that help.
So make a special visit to the Eucharist today, and invoke the aid of these heavenly servants on behalf of your roommate. Then just keep trying to communicate the truth, in word, yes, but even more importantly, in action – nothing makes the truth shine more brightly than the grace-filled deeds of Christ-like love.
Your loving uncle, Eddy