At the time of writing I am preparing for a celebration of the angels. Principally the celebration is of St. Michael and All Angels which begins with a Holy Hour on Thursday 29th and concludes with a said mass on Friday 30th. The feast was peculiar to the Anglican church, having originated as the feast of St. Michael alone in the western rites, St. Raphael amongst the Archangels being celebrated on 24th October. Thomas Cranmer included ‘all angels’ in his prayer book and so it has remained in the Church of England. In more recent years Rome has joined St. Michael and St. Raphael together on 29th September in the modern calendar.
The remembrance of angels continues on 2nd October in the Roman calendar with the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. Although a strict application of Anglican practice renders this feast superfluous, I still like to mark it because of its intensely personal nature. In biblical theology, angels are both the messengers of God and also representations of his presence amongst us. Developed angelologies see the guardian angels as those sent by God to protect individuals or nations. In the New Testament Jesus makes reference to them in this context,
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18: 10)
There are over 50 uses of the word ‘angel’ in the Gospels alone.
Thoughts of angels can very easily descend into sentiment of course, but such an approach (and the art it spawns) do not do them justice. Gabriel joins the story at the annunciation, familiar to many at least from the Christmas narratives. Raphael appears in the book of Tobit where he is the minister of healing (see also John 5: 4). Michael appears in Daniel and then, within the same apocalyptic tradition, definitively in the Book of Revelation. In Anglican tradition the fourth Archangel is Uriel who is associated with knowledge and wisdom.
Many who were at school before the 1980’s will remember the hymn, ‘Ye holy angels bright’ which offers a clear understanding of the nature and role of angels – and it was sung to a particularly good tune!
Ye holy angels bright,
Who wait at God’s right hand,
Or through the realms of light
Fly at your Lord’s command,
Assist our song,
For else the theme
Too high doth seem
For mortal tongue.
The context, of course, is that of the praise offered to Almighty God, by the angels, by the saints at rest and by those of us who still run ‘this earthly race’. When we praise God for who he is, in his very nature and because of his glorious deeds, we join with the whole host of heaven – all beings in perfect unity. And so may we bear our part.
Father Andrew Burton, SSC
From the diary…
Sunday 25th September Trinity 15
Wednesday 28th September, 10.00am Mass
Thursday 29th September, 10.00am Mass (St. Michael and All Angels) – postponed to 30th
Thursday 29th September, 8.00pm
Friday 30th September, 7.00pm Mass (St. Michael and All Angels)
Sunday 2nd October Trinity 16
Wednesday 5th October, 10.00am Mass
Friday 7th October, 7.00pm Mass
Saturday 8th October, 1.00pm Wedding
Sunday 9th October Trinity 17
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
…no midweek services
Saturday 15th October from 10.00am Decoration for harvest
Sunday 16th October Harvest Thanksgiving
Wednesday 19th October, 10.00am Mass (St. Luke, Evangelist, tr.)
Friday 21st, October 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 23rd October Trinity 19
Wednesday 26th October, 10.00am Mass
8.00pm Parochial Church Council in the Parish Hall
Friday 28th October, 7.00pm Mass (St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles)
Sunday 30th October All Saints’ Sunday
Tuesday 1st November at 8.00pm
There will be a sheet at the back of church from 23rd October for the names of the departed to be remembered at the mass or hand your list to Father Andrew.
27th August Sammy Felgate-Schmid
Benjamin Felgate-Schmid (renewal of vows)
16th September Christine Deeny (aged 68 years)