St. Michael the Archangel, Gabriel, Raphael: Alarming Beauty

We are not talking about your stereotypical greeting card angels. You know the type: round-cheeked, smiling among the rhododendrons – or the lace-winged Victorian angels embroidered on gift-shop pillows; doubtless lovely, yet un-intimidating.

On the Feast of the Archangels, we are are reminded of the arresting power, strength, and intimidating beauty of angels as described in scripture &emdash; not your garden-variety cherubim!

C.S. Lewis reminds, “In Scripture the visitation of an angel is always alarming; it has to begin by saying ‘Fear not.’ The Victorian angel looks as if it were going to say, ‘There, there.’”

Here is art, music and poetry curated to remind of the alarming beauty of God’s messengers: Michael the Defender, Gabriel the Messenger, and Raphael the Healer.

Today’s Prayer

I salute thee, holy Angel who didst comfort my Jesus in His agony, and with thee I praise the most holy Trinity for having chosen thee from among all the holy Angels to comfort and strengthen Him who is the comfort and strength of all that are in affliction. By the honor thou didst enjoy and by the obedience, humility and love wherewith thou didst assist the sacred Humanity of Jesus, my Savior, when He was fainting for very sorrow at seeing the sins of the world and especially my sins, I beseech thee to obtain for me perfect sorrow for my sins; deign to strengthen me In the afflictions that now overwhelm me, and in all the other trials, to which I shall be exposed henceforth and, in particular, when I find myself in my final agony. Amen.

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In The Arms Of An Angel lyrics

Three Archangels with Tobias - Francesco Botticini
Three Archangels with Tobias – Francesco Botticini

On Angels

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Shorts is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice — no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near
another one
do what you can.

— Czeslaw Milosz