Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels

In the Preface to The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis writes:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.

Might the same be said for angels?

To disbelieve in the existence of angels is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture and the witness of the Church and her saints. To believe in angels and to feel an excessive interest in them to is shift the central focus from Christ, to choose the lesser part of our faith. A middle way between the extremes of the spectrum is needed: a way that acknowledges and honors the angels as servants of God – and often as God’s ministers on our behalf – but which leaves the mystery of these servants in the hands of God and worships God alone.

Several prayers in The Book of Common Prayer find and walk this via media.

Collect of Saint Michael and All Angels
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect at Compline
Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

During the Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer D)
Countless throngs of angels stand before you to serve you night and day; and, beholding the glory of your presence, they offer you unceasing praise. Joining with them, and giving voice to every creature under heaven, we acclaim you, and glorify your Name as we sing,

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

In these prayers the church attends to God in praise and petition. In these prayers the church declares its solidarity and communion with the angels and with every praising creature under heaven in worship of the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of power and might. In these prayers the church places its hope in the Lord who commends us to the protection and ministry of his servants, the angels.

Worship God. Honor the angels, God’s servants and our fellow-servants. Stand with them and with all creation in praise. Acknowledge the incomprehensible mystery of God and his angelic providence for us and on our behalf. Amen.

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