SUNDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF THE ASCENSION

Ascension Day - Pietro Perugino

Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension Commemoration – St. Michael the Archangel

Excerpt taken from The Liturgical Year, Vol. VIII – Paschal Time – Book Two by  Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger

Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension

Jesus has ascended into heaven. His Divinity had never been absent; but, by the Ascension, his Humanity was also enthroned there, and crowned with the brightest diadem of glory. This is another phase of the Mystery we are now solemnising. Besides a triumph, the Ascension gave to the sacred Humanity a place on the very throne of the Eternal Word, to whom it was united in unity of Person. From this throne, it is to receive the adoration of men and Angels. At the name of Jesus, Son of Man, and Son of God, of Jesus who is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty, every knee shall bend, in heaven, on earth, and in hell. Give ear, O ye inhabitants of earth! This is the Man Jesus, who, heretofore, was a little Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes; who went through Judea and Galilee, not having where to lay his head; who was bound by the sacrilegious hands of his enemies, was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to a Cross; who, whilst men thus trampled him, as a worm, beneath their feet, submitted his will to that of his Father, accepted the Chalice of suffering, and, that he might make amends to the divine glory, shed his Blood for the redemption of you sinners. This Man Jesus, child of Adam through Mary the Immaculate, is the master- piece of God’s omnipotence. He is the most beautiful of the sons of men; the Angels love to fix their gaze upon him; the Blessed Trinity is well-pleased with him; the gifts of grace bestowed on him surpass all that men and angels together have ever received:  but he came to suffer, and suffer for you; and though he might have redeemed you at a much lower price, yet would he generously overpay your debts by a superabundance of humiliation and suffering. What reward shall be given to him? The Apostle tells it us in these words: He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross; for which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a Name, which is above all names.

St. Michael the Archangel with St. Andrew and St. Francis of Assisi by Adriaen Isenbrant

St. Michael the Archangel with St. Andrew and St. Francis of Assisi by Adriaen Isenbrant

THE APPARITION OF ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

It is manifest, from the Holy Scriptures, that God is pleased to make frequent use of the ministry of the heavenly spirits in the dispensations of His providence in this world, and especially towards man. Hence the name of Angel (which is not properly a denomination of nature, but office) has been appropriated to them. The angels are all pure spirits; they are, by a property of their nature, immortal, as every spirit is. They have the power of moving or conveying themselves from place to place, and such is their activity that it is not easy for us to conceive it. Among the holy archangels, there are particularly distinguished in Holy Writ Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. St. Michael, whom the Church honors this day, was the prince of the faithful angels who opposed Lucifer and his associates in their revolt against God. As the devil is the sworn enemy of God’s holy Church, St. Michael is its special protector against his assaults and stratagems.

This holy archangel has ever been honored in the Christian Church as her guardian under God, and as the protector of the faithful; for God is pleased to employ the zeal and charity of the good angels and their leader against the malice of the devil. To thank His adorable goodness for this benefit of His merciful providence is this festival instituted by the Church in honor of the good angels, in which devotion she has been encouraged by several apparitions of this glorious archangel. Among others, it is recorded that St. Michael, in a vision, admonished the Bishop of Siponto to build a church in his honor on Mount Gargano, near Manfredonia, in the kingdom of Naples. When the Emperor Otho III. had, contrary to his word, put to death, for rebellion, Crescentius, a Roman senator, being touched with remorse he cast himself at the feet of St. Romuald, who, in satisfaction for his crime, enjoined him to walk barefoot, on a penitential pilgrimage, to St. Michael’s on Mount Gargano, which penance he performed in 1002. It is mentioned in particular of this special guardian and protector of the Church that, in the persecution of Antichrist, he will powerfully stand up in her defense: “At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people.

Reflection

St. Michael is not only the protector of the Church, but of every faithful soul. He defeated the devil by humility: we are enlisted in the same warfare. His arms were humility and ardent love of God: the same must be our weapons. We ought to regard this archangel as our leader under God; and, courageously resisting the devil in all his assaults, to cry out, Who can be compared to God?

 Lives of the Saints by Rev. Alban Butler – 1866

 

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