When the Blessed Virgin Mary was informed by an Angel that she was to become with child by the Holy Ghost, the messenger who brought our fallen race the Good News of the Incarnation was the Archangel Gabriel. Of all the angels who honor Mary as their Queen, he will always be most closely associated with her by virtue of his role at the Annunciation. Because of this activity, he is the patron of messengers and telecommunications. Today, when the Truth of the Faith has such difficulty being heard amidst the babble of media and internet, devotion to him seems particularly necessary.
His name means “Strength of God,” and he was early identified as the angel who consoled Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he appeared to herald His coming, so did he console Him as He prepared for His agonizing exit. So St. Gabriel has often been invoked by suffering Catholics, especially if that suffering has been for the Faith.
Devotion to this second named of the seven archangels is as old as the Church. Although sharing the feast on September 29 with Ss. Michael and Raphael, prior to 1969 (and still wherever the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is offered) his feast was on March 24, the day before the Annunciation. In the Byzantine Rite, his feast is July 13. Although this observance commemorates all of his activities and apparitions, it was chosen specifically on this day because of his appearing at a monastery in Greece’s Mt. Athos, where he wrote with his finger upon a stone tablet the hymn to the Virgin still treasured by Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox alike, the Axion estin (“It is truly right…”). He also appeared with Ss. Raphael and Michael and a host of other angels to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635) of Quito, Ecuador, in connection with the approved Marian apparition of Our Lady of Good Success.
As Benedict XVI said of him, on September 29, 2007:
We meet the Archangel Gabriel especially in the precious account of the annunciation to Mary of the Incarnation of God, as Luke tells it to us (1: 26-38). Gabriel is the messenger of God’s Incarnation. He knocks at Mary’s door and, through him, God himself asks Mary for her “yes” to the proposal to become the Mother of the Redeemer: of giving her human flesh to the eternal Word of God, to the Son of God. The Lord knocks again and again at the door of the human heart. In the Book of Revelation he says to the “angel” of the Church of Laodicea and, through him, to the people of all times: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3: 20). The Lord is at the door – at the door of the world and at the door of every individual heart. He knocks to be let in: the Incarnation of God, his taking flesh, must continue until the end of time. All must be reunited in Christ in one body: the great hymns on Christ in the Letters to the Ephesians and to the Colossians tell us this. Christ knocks. Today too he needs people who, so to speak, make their own flesh available to him, give him the matter of the world and of their lives, thus serving the unification between God and the world, until the reconciliation of the universe. Dear friends, it is your task to knock at people’s hearts in Christ’s Name. By entering into union with Christ yourselves, you will also be able to assume Gabriel’s role: to bring Christ’s call to men.
We can also follow in St. Gabriel’s footsteps by consoling those who are suffering, and particularly for those who must suffer because of their faithfulness to the Church. Such charities as Aid to the Church in Need and the Cardinal Kung Foundation come to mind, but we need not look overseas to find such suffers. In our own country, on a smaller scale, Catholics in certain occupations face daily “dry martyrdom” for their religion. If we know of such we should aid them in St. Gabriel’s name.
In the Los Angeles, area, we have a particular link with St. Gabriel, because of course it was the Mission founded under his patronage from whence the Pobladores set out when they founded the city in 1781. We who live in the Archdiocese centered on this city should always be particularly grateful to the Archangel as a result.
- The Revelation of Axion Estin
- Our Lady of Good Success
- Institute of St. Gabriel The Archangel