Saint Michael and the Angels at Mass
It is said that Saint Michael
presides over the worship of
adoration rendered to the Most High
and offers to God
the prayers of the faithful
symbolized by incense whose smoke rises
towards Heaven. In fact, the liturgy
presents Saint Michael
to us as the incense-bearer, standing beside
the altar as our intercessor
and the bearer of the Church's
prayers before the throne of God.
"An Angel of the Lord stood near the altar of the temple,
having a golden censer in his hand, and there was given to him much incense, and the smoke
of the perfumes ascended before God." [Offertory, Mass of Saint Michael]
At the beginning of the Traditional Roman or Latin Mass,
his name is mentioned in the confession of faults made by the priest
at the foot of the altar, and by
the faithful in turn. At the offertory, in Solemn
High Mass, the priest implores the blessing
of the Almighty
upon the oblation through the intercession
of Saint Michael. And during
the Canon of the Mass, after the Consecration, the priest prays God to command
that the oblation be borne by the hands of His Holy Angel to
His Altar on high. The Angel here referred to is doubtless the Archangel Michael. With loving
solicitude he watches over the Precious Blood, that no accident
may occur, and also over all the tiny particles
which may fall from the consecrated Hosts at
the time of Holy Communion, that they may not be
But Saint Michael is not alone present at
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Christian tradition assures
us that innumerable Angels
also assist at Mass.
Saint John Chrysostom, among others, states that "When Mass is being celebrated, the Sanctuary is filled with countless
Angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar." Besides the guardian Angels of the faithful
who are present, thousands of Heavenly
spirits assist at Mass, reverently worshipping
their Lord and God. With what sentiments of profound veneration do they not adore the Precious Blood being shed anew upon the altar! It
is the self-same Blood that was shed on Calvary, but with this difference, that then It fell upon the ground and stones, whereas in Holy Mass, It
is applied to the souls of those present.
The efficacy of the Mass is so wonderful, God's mercy and generosity
are then so unlimited that there is no
moment so propitious to ask for favors as
when Jesus is born on the altar.
The Angels know this full well and come
in throngs to adore their Divine Master and make their petitions at this hour of mercy. What an example for us!
Whenever we attend Holy Mass, therefore, let
us unite with Saint Michael and the holy Angels, and place our offerings
and petitions in their
pure hands, to be presented to the Most High,
that He may receive
them graciously and pardon
our lack of devotion for the sake
of the devotion of the celestial spirits
with whom we associate ourselves.
It was revealed to Saint Mechtilde that three thousand Angels
from the choir of Thrones are ever
in devout attendance around every Tabernacle
where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.
Doubtless a much greater number are present at Holy Mass,
which is not merely a Sacrament, but also a Sacrifice.
And we read in the revelations of Saint Bridget:
"One day when I was assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, I saw
an immense number of Holy Angels descend and gather around the altar, contemplating the
priest. They sang heavenly canticles that ravished my heart, Heaven itself seemed to be
contemplating the great Sacrifice. And yet we poor mortals, blind and miserable creatures,
assist at Mass with so little love, relish and respect!"
Do Catholics ever think of this amazing truth, namely, that at Mass they are praying in the midst of thousands of God's Angels?
Let us beg
Saint Michael and his
Angels to impart to us a greater realization of the infinite
value of the Mass, "where Christ
spiritually sprinkles the souls of the faithful with His Blood." Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi says of this spiritual sprinkling: 'This
Blood when applied to the soul, imparts to it as much dignity as if it were decked in a
costly robe. It imparts such brilliance and splendor that couldst thou behold the
effulgence of thy soul when sprinkled with that Blood, thou wouldst fall down to adore it.'
Happy the soul
adorned with such beauty! Let us go to Holy Mass often,
that we may be sprinkled with this adorable Blood and our soul
arrayed in rich apparel which will render us
glorious forever in the sight of the Angels and the Saints.
The Catholic Church owns no greater, no more
costly treasure than the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ; for a single drop of this Blood, which is united to
the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity,
outweighs in value all the riches of Heaven and
Let us remember also that one Mass heard during life is of more benefit to the soul than many
heard for it after death, and that every Mass
will go with you to Judgment and plead for pardon. They
will, moreover, shorten your Purgatory and
win for yourself a higher degree of glory in Heaven. How pleasing to God is the frequent attendance at Mass, is well illustrated in the following
gracious little story:
A poor farmer was wont to attend daily Mass for many years of his
life. He was crossing the snow-covered fields one cold morning on his way to Church, when
he thought he heard foot-steps behind him, and turning, he saw his Angel Guardian bearing
a basket full of beautiful roses which exhaled a delightful perfume. "See,"
said the Angel, "these roses represent each step you have taken on the way to
Mass and each rose represents also a glorious reward which awaits you in heaven. But far,
far greater are the merits you have acquired from the Mass itself."
The thought of the priceless advantages that are to be derived from devout assistance
at Mass, ought to be a stimulant for us to
hear it not only on Sundays, but also on week days; whenever possible. Should illness or some other serious reason prevent us
from doing so, let us send our Guardian Angel in our stead with the
Fittingly is the Blessed
Sacrament called the "Bread of
Angels," because of the ardent
love with which the Angels cherish the adorable
Sacrament and the profound
adoration which they render
to their God hidden beneath the Sacramental veils. But this designation reminds us
also of the Angelic purity which ought to
adorn our hearts
when we receive Holy Communion. We ought,
therefore, to think of our Guardian Angels
and their incomparable purity whenever we
approach the Table of the Lord,
asking them to obtain for us the grace to approach the Heavenly
Banquet with true purity of heart
and worthy dispositions.
It is particularly when we approach the Holy Table
that our Guardian Angels exercise their most watchful care over us, for here there
is question of a very special homage to their
most beloved Lord in the wondrous condescension of His
Eucharistic state. With what glowing love
they hasten to render Him
their services! And yet the Holy Eucharist
was instituted not for the Angels,
but for men. Ought we not
to be wholly abashed in contemplating the Angels' fervor?
When we are preparing for Holy Communion, the Angels strive to awaken in
us holy sentiment;
they urge us to banish
distractions and to repeat pious acts of contrition, longing and love.
The evil spirit takes delight in disturbing us in order to hinder us from
receiving Holy Communion fruitfully, for he
knows that this is the fountain of all good.
On this account, we often experience that just during Holy
Mass and at the time of Holy Communion
we are most violently assailed by distractions and temptations.
But our faithful Angel also redoubles his watchfulness at this sacred
time, and if we cooperate with him, he
will assist us to conquer the enemy and to receive the adorable
Sacrament with proper dispositions.
We must also strive not to displease
our good Angel by want of
reverence in approaching the Holy Table.
Guardian Angels also rejoice in uniting with us in adoration
before the Most Blessed Sacrament
and during the time of Holy Mass. They do all they
can to keep us from inattention and irreverence, for they
are inflamed with love of
God, Whom they behold face-to-face. Saint Francis de
Sales had special devotion toward the holy Angels
charged with the guardianship of the tabernacles.
His veneration for these Angelic
Guardians was increased by an instance which showed that these pure spirits revere not only the Sacred Species, but also the priests
who consecrate and
handle them. After
having conferred Holy Orders on a pious
young man, Saint Francis noticed that the
newly ordained priest hesitated before a door as if to let someone pass before him. "Why do you pause?" asked the Saint.
"God favors me with the sight of my Guardian Angel,"
replied the priest. "Before I was ordained
to the holy priesthood, my Angel always remained at my right and preceded me. Now he walks
at the left and refuses to go before me." Such is the great
veneration which the Angelic spirits
show even to God's ministers
because of their reverence
for the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer When Unable to Assist at Daily Mass
Go, my Angel Guardian dear,
To Church for me ------ the Mass to hear.
Go, kneel devoutly at my place
And treasure for me every grace.
At the Offertory time
Please offer me to God Divine.
All I have and all I am,
Present it with the Precious Lamb.
Adore for me the great Oblation.
Pray for all I hold most dear
Be they far or be they near.
Remember, too, my own dear dead
For whom Christ's Precious Blood was shed.
At Communion bring spiritually to me
Christ's flesh and blood my food to be,
To give me strength and holy grace;
A pledge to see Him face-to-face,
And when the Holy Mass is done
Then with His blessing, come back home.
It is related of Saint Catherine of Sienna, who was also
favored with the visible presence of her Guardian
Angel, that once while praying in the church she turned her
head slightly to gratify her curiosity. Her Guardian Angel gave her so severe
a look for her disrespect in the presence of the Most
Holy that for several days Saint Catherine was
inconsolable and performed severe penance in
Blessed Veronica of Binasco relates a similar experience:
"Once," she writes,
"when, prompted by curiosity, I happened during the time of
Mass to look at one of the Sisters who was kneeling near the altar, the Angel of God who
is constantly beside me rebuked me with such severity that I almost fainted with terror.
How threateningly he looked at me as he said, 'Why dost thou not keep watch over thy
heart? Why dost thou gaze thus curiously at thy sister? Thou hast committed no slight
offense against God.' Thus spoke the Angel, and by Christ's command he enjoined on me a
heavy penance for my fault, which for three days I bewailed with tears. Now, when I hear
Mass, I never venture so much as to turn my head, for fear of incurring the displeasure of
the Divine Majesty."
What lessons for those who give free rein to their eyes
and even talk during the time of Holy