9 - 12 minutes readMarch 18 – Saint Gabriel, Archangel

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March 18

SAINT GABRIEL, ARCHANGEL

 

So far, we have not yet come across any feast dedicated to the honor of the holy Angels in the Cycle; but in the midst of the splendours of Christmas night, we mingled our joyful and timid voices with the divine concerts which the celestial Spirits were making heard above the humble cradle of Emmanuel. This happy memory still moves with a sweet joy our hearts saddened by penance and by the approach of the painful anniversary of the death of the Redeemer. Today, let's take a break from the severe thoughts of Lent to celebrate the Archangel Gabriel; later, Michael. Raphael and the immense army of our celestial Guardians will receive our homage; but it was fitting that Gabriel should be greeted with our acclamations on this day. One more week,

Gabriel belongs to the highest hierarchies of angelic Spirits; he assists before the face of God, as he himself said to Zechariah (1).

  1. Luc. 1, 19.

The missions which concern the salvation of men through the incarnation of the Word are reserved for him, because it is in this mystery, so humble in appearance, that the force of God mainly shines: now, the name of Gabriel means Force of God. From the Old Testament, the Archangel preluded this sublime employment. We first see it manifested in Daniel, after the vision that this Prophet had of the two empires of the Persians and the Greeks; and such is the brilliance with which he shines, that Daniel falls annihilated at his feet (1). Shortly after, Gabriel reappears again; and it is to announce to the same Prophet the precise time of the coming of the Messiah: in seventy weeks of years, he told him, the earth will have seen Christ the King (2).

When the times are fulfilled, and Heaven has resolved to give birth to the last of the Prophets, the one who, after having warned men of the next manifestation of the divine Messenger, must show him to the people as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world , Gabriel descends from heaven into the temple of Jerusalem, and prophesies to the priest Zacharias the birth of John the Baptist, a prelude to that of Jesus himself.

After six months, the holy Archangel reappears on earth, and this time it is in Nazareth that he shows himself. He brings great news from heaven. Her celestial nature bows before a daughter of men; he comes to propose to Mary, on behalf of Jehovah, the honor of becoming the Mother of the Eternal Word. It is he who receives the consent of the Virgin; and when he leaves the earth, he leaves it in possession of the one she was waiting for like dew from the heavens (3).

  1. Dan. VIII, 17. - 2. Ibid. IX, 21. - 3. Isai. XLV, 8.

But the hour has come when the Mother of Emmanuel must give men the blessed fruit of her chaste womb. The birth of Jesus takes place in mystery and poverty; however, Heaven does not want the child in the manger to remain without worshipers. An Angel appears to the shepherds of the countryside of Bethlehem, and summons them to the humble cradle of the newborn. He is accompanied by an immense number of celestial Spirits who give the most delightful concerts, and sing: Glory to God and Peace to men! Who is this superior Angel who speaks alone to the shepherds, and whose other Angels form like the court? Serious Catholic doctors teach us that this Angel is Gabriel, who continues his ministry as a messenger of the good news .

Finally, when Jesus, in the garden of Gethsé-mani, at the hour preceding his Passion, experiences in his humanity the terrors of the fatal chalice, an Angel appears beside him, not only as a witness to his cruel agony, but to strengthen his courage. Who is this Angel whom the Holy Gospel does not name? Pious and learned men still see in him Gabriel; and this thought is confirmed by a liturgical monument which we reproduce here, and which bears the approval of the Apostolic See.

Such are the titles of the sublime Archangel to the homage of Christians; such are the features by which it justifies its beautiful name of Force of God . In fact, God associated him with all the phases of the great work in which he manifested his power even more: for Jesus Christ even on the cross is, the Apostle tells us, the strength of God( 1).

  1. I Cor. I, 24.

Now, Gabriel intervenes at every step, to prepare the way for him. He first announces the precise time of his coming; in the fullness of time, he comes to reveal the birth of the Precursor; soon he assists as celestial witness to the mystery of the Word made flesh; at his voice, the shepherds of Bethlehem, firstfruits of the Church, come to adore the Son of God; and when the beleaguered humanity of Jesus must receive help from a created hand, Gabriel finds himself in the Garden of Sorrows, as he had appeared in Nazareth and Bethlehem.

Let us therefore honor in him the Angel of the Incarnation, and let us humbly offer him on this day some of the hymns which liturgical piety has consecrated to him. We give here first two Hymns taken from the Franciscan Breviary.

First HYMN.

Mentibus lœtis jubilemus omnes,
Plectra tangentes fidibus canoris,
Inclytus quando Gabriel ab alto
Fulget Olympo.Virginis summæ Paranymphus adest
Hodie nobis, simul Angelorum,
Plurimis Christum venerans triumphis,
Concio tota.Principis laudes Gabrielis ergo
Concinat noster chorus, ipse quando est

Unus ex septem, Domino qui adstant
Jussa sequentes.

Nuntius cœli, mediator idem,
Exstat a summis Gabriel ubique
Laetus, et mundo reserat secreta
Omnipotentis.

Nuntia nobis, Gabriel, precamur,
Pacis aeternae speciale munus,
Quo poli tandem teneamus aulam
Semper ovantes.

Praestet hoc nobis Deitas beata
Patris, ac Nati, pariterque Sancti
Spiritus, cujus resonat per omnem
Gloria mundum. Amen.

With a joyful heart, let our hymns resound; let us walk the bow on the resonant strings, at the hour when Gabriel descends radiant from the heights of the sky.

Here is today the Paranymph of the august Virgin; he is accompanied by the whole choir of angels who celebrate with transport the praises of Christ.

Let our own choir sing in praise of Prince Gabriel: he is one of the seven who stand before the Lord, ready to carry out his orders.

Messenger from heaven, ambassador from on high, Gabriel, joyful in his mission, descends from the celestial dwellings; he watches over the world, and reveals to it the secrets of the Almighty.

Announce to us, O Gabriel, the gift of eternal peace, by which one day we shall enter full of joy into the celestial court.

Deign to grant us this grace the ever happy divinity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, whose glory resounds throughout the whole world. Amen.

 

II HYMN.

En noctis medium surgite propere,
Cantemus   Domino jam nova cantica ;
Hac hora Gabriel nam fuit omnibus
Vitæ nuntius optimus.Hac hora Dominum Virgineus alvus
Humano generi protulit ; insuper
Devictis pariter funditus hostibus,
Victor surgit ab inferis.Surgentes igitur mitibus invicem
Oremus precibus cœlica Numina :
Praesertim   Dominum , qui dedit Angelum
Curam qui gerit hominum.

Quae virtus hominis promere sufficit,
Quae mundo   Gabriel munera conferat ?
Sanctas hic animas visere Dominum
Praesto ducit in aethera.

Te, Princeps igitur inclyte, quæsumus,
Pro nobis miseris poscito gratiam ;
Fac et propitium, qui valet omnia,
Nobis ut veniam afferat. Amen.

 

It's midnight ; get up hastily; let us sing to the Lord a new song; it is the hour when Gabriel was for the world a messenger of life.

It is also the hour when the Virgin's womb gave birth to the Lord, for the salvation of men; it is the hour when the Lord, having struck down his enemies, rose victorious from the tomb.

When we rise, let us offer humble prayers to the celestial Spirits, but above all to the Lord, who has given us his Angel to take care of us all.

Could the spirit of man tell of the blessings that Gabriel continues to bestow upon the world? It is he who, conductor of souls, introduces them to the Lord to contemplate his glory.

Deign, then, O admirable Prince, to obtain pardon for us, unhappy ones; make us propitious to him who can do everything; get him to forgive us. Amen.

 

The Dominican Breviary provides us, in turn, with this beautiful hymn in honor of the holy Archangel.

ANTHEM.

O Robur Domini, lucide Gabriel !
Quem de principibus signat Emmanuel :
A quo promcruit discere Daniel
Hirci prodigium feri.Tu Vatis precibus curris alacriter,
Monstras hebdomadum sacrata tempora :
Quæ nos retherei germine Principis,
Ditabunt bene gaudiis.Baptistæ pariter mira parentibus
Affers a superis lœtaque nuntia,
Quod mater, sterili corpore, pignora
Longævo pariet patri.

Quod Vates referunt mundi ab origine,
Hoc sacrae veniens tu plene Virgini
Longo mysterium pandis ab ordine,
Verum quod pariet Deum.

Pastores Solymos, inclyte, gaudiis
Implesti, reserans cœlica nuntia :
Et tecum celebrat turba canentium
Nati mysterium Dei.

Oranti Domino nocte novissima,
Dum sudor madidum sanguine conficit,
Adstas a superis, ut calicem bibat,
Assensum patris indicans.

Mentes catholicas, inclyta Trinitas,
Confirma fidei munere cœlico :
Da nobis gratiam, nos quoque gloriam
Per cuncta tibi saecula. Amen.

 

Strength of God, luminous Gabriel, you whom Emmanuel distinguishes among the princes of the celestial militia, it is you who were chosen to reveal to Daniel the vision of the terrible goat.

At the prayer of this Prophet, you come from heaven; you explain to him the mystery of the sacred weeks which must enrich and rejoice the earth, by the birth of the King of heaven.

It is you who bring joyful and admirable news to the parents of Jean-Baptiste; you who reveal that a barren mother will bear a son to an old man broken by the years.

What the Prophets announced from the origin of the world, you come to manifest it fully to the sacred Virgin; your words develop the mystery, announcing to her that she will give birth to the true God.

It is you, august Archangel, who fills the pastors of Judea with joy, by showing them the heavenly news. The angelic troop celebrates with you the mystery of the God who has just been born.

When the Lord in the last night, drenched in a sweat of blood, suffers the agony, you come down from heaven, you declare to him that he must drink the chalice, according to the will of the Father.

Deign, O glorious Trinity, to confirm Catholic hearts by the celestial gift of faith; give us grace, that we may see your glory forever and ever. Amen

 

 

The whole human race is indebted to you. Oh Gabriel! and today we pay his debt of gratitude to you. From the height of heaven, you looked down with holy compassion on our misfortunes: for all flesh had corrupted its way, and the forgetting of God was becoming more and more universal on earth. It is then that you receive from the Most High the mission of bringing the good news to this world which was about to perish. How beautiful are your steps, O heavenly Prince, when you spring from the abode of glory towards our humble abode! How tender and fraternal is your love for man, whose nature so interior to yours is about to be raised to the sublime honor of union with God himself! With what respect do you approach the Virgin who surpasses in holiness all the angelic hierarchies!

Happy messenger of our salvation, you whom the Lord calls when he wishes to deploy the strength of his arm, deign to offer the homage of our gratitude to him who sent you. Help us to pay off our immense debt to the Father "who so loved the world that he gave it his only Son (1)": to the Son "who annihilated himself taking the form of a slave (2 )”; towards the divine Spirit "who rested on the Flower which came out of the stem of Jesse (3)".

It is you, O Gabriel! who taught us the salutation that we should present to "Mary, full of grace". It is from heaven that you have brought these sublime words; the first, you pronounced them; the children of the Church who learned them from you repeat them throughout the

  1. JOHAN, m, 16. - 2. PHILIP, II, 7. - 3. ISAI. XI, 1-2.

earth, day and night: get our great Queen to accept them always with our mouth.

Angel of strength, friend of men, continue your august ministry in our favor. We are surrounded by terrible enemies; our weakness further increases their audacity; come to our aid, strengthen our courage. Assist Christians in this time of conversion and penance; make us understand all that we owe to God, after this ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of which you were the first witness. We have forgotten our duties towards the Man-God, and we have offended him: enlighten us, so that we are henceforth faithful to his lessons and his examples. Raise our thoughts towards the happy abode you inhabit; help us to merit in the ranks of your sublime hierarchy the places which the defection of the bad angels has left vacant, and which are reserved for the elect of the earth.

Pray, O Gabriel, for the Church militant, and defend her against hell. Times are bad; the spirits of malice are unleashed: we could not subsist before them without the help of the Lord. It is through the Holy Angels that he gives victory to his Spouse. Appear front row. Archangel strength of God . Repel heresy, contain schism, dispel false wisdom, confuse vain politics, awaken indifference: that the Christ whom you have announced may reign on the earth which he has redeemed, and that we may sing with you and with all the celestial militia: Glory to God! peace to men!