Today is the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael — the three we know from Scripture. If you’re really zealous for the doctrine of the Fathers, you’ll want to spend the day cloistered somewhere pondering the ancient Church’s great work of angelology, The Celestial Hierarchy, attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite. That text exercised a profound influence on the later Fathers (like St. Maximus Confessor and St. Gregory the Great) as well as the greatest of the Schoolmen (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure). If you manage to read it prayerfully in the course of the feast day, you’ll probably need to make a retreat for the rest of the weekend, if only to adjust to the heightened intensity of your awareness of angelic help and presence.
Those of you who demand paper copy should invest a pittance in the book: The Celestial Hierarchy or, better, The Complete Works of Pseudo-Dionysius (the latter volume has a fine introduction by Jaroslav Pelikan). For Amazon’s prices, you can buy the books new, shred them, line your hamster cage with the confetti, and still get your money’s worth. But imagine getting a glimpse of heaven, too — Aquinas’s favorite view of heaven, at that!
If all you have is a couple of minutes to spend on angelology, do drop by Dymphna’s Well, to get a quick and useful doctrinal-devotional summary.
And, in your kindness, remember me to the celestial hierarchy today. It’s my name day, and I do take St. Michael’s patronage very seriously. One of my quirks is my habit of celebrating his feast twice every year. I’m as Latin as can be, but his feast falls on my birthday in the Byzantine calendar. So how can I resist?
Scott Hahn and I will be visiting the world’s most famous site of a St. Michael apparition during our Rome pilgrimage in May 2007. That’s Castel Sant’Angelo, where he appeared to Pope Gregory the Great. I hope you’ll join us.