DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     September 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 185


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Wednesday, September 29, 1999

      First Reading: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14 or Rev/Apoc: 12: 7-12
      Psalms: Psalm 138: 1-5
      Gospel Reading: John 1: 47-51


        This feast combines the three known Archangels. In past liturgical times Saint Gabriel's feast was fittingly celebrated on the eve of the Annunciation, March 24 and Saint Raphael's feast was observed on October 21. September 29 had always been Saint Michael's feast day until the revision after Vatican II. Since then poor St. Michael, which means in Hebrew "He who is like God", has been lumped with the other two who have been deprived of their previous feasts. Be that as it may, it is still a glorious day when we celebrate the greatness and august majesty God granted to these winged warriors so close and loyal to the Almighty. St. Michael has the most biblical references, specifically chapters 10 and 11 of Daniel and Apocalypse/Revelation 12:7-9 as well as the very brief St. Jude 1:9. Devotion and the "legend"of this mightiest of Angels took root after the Saracens were defeated by the prayerful Lombards. Later the Benedictines spread devotion to St. Michael with the magnificent "Seventh wonder of the world" Mont-Saint-Michel Monastery in Normandy on the French coast. There have been many reports of St. Michael appearing to numerous visionaries throughout the centuries, specifically at Fatima and Garabandal, but the most famous appearance seems to be the vision Pope Leo XIII had of St. Michael. On October 13, 1884 while the Holy Father was descending the steps at St. Peter's after saying Mass for a group of Cardinals, he suddenly collapsed in ecstacy. A doctor was summoned immediately to assist the frail Pope but he couldn't even get a heart beat. To all present the pontiff was dead and just as they were to pronounce such Leo awoke as if in a deep sleep. He sat up terribly distressed in a "frightful agony of spirit." The cause of this was the prophetic vision he had while in this ecstasy between Jesus and the devil who was bargaining with the Lord for more time in which to destroy His Church. Leo was given to understand that, though God had granted satan the next 100 years or so, in the end he would be crushed and defeated. Leo was mystically given the role St. Michael would play in this conflict and inspired to pen the beautiful Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel which he and all the pontiffs up through Vatican II decreed be said by the celebrant at the end of each Mass. Because the modernists sacked the rich Latin liturgy and watered down so much, the prayer was phased out giving satan an open door to enter into the sanctuary as Pope Paul VI so stated on his deathbed.

         Saint Gabriel, of course, is the archangel who appeared to Mary announcing that she had been chosen most blessed among all women as the Mother of God. This is documented in the first chapter of Luke as well as Gabriel's prophecy to Zecharia or Zachary about the birth of his son Saint John the Baptist. There is also mention of Gabriel in Daniel 8: 16 and 9: 21. Gabriel in Hebrew means "Power of God". In the Syriac Church Gabriel is placed highest among the angels. Gabriel is considered the patron of couriers and communication workers.

         The least known of the three, Saint Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit 12:12-15 where the Archangel identifies himself with the "seven archangels who stand before the Lord." In Hebrew his name translates to "God heals." He is the angel who "healed" the earth from defilement of the sins wrought by the fallen angels. He is considered the patron of the blind and of travelers.

Thursday, September 30, 1999

      First Reading: Nehemiah 8: 1-12
      Psalms: Psalm 19: 8-11
      Gospel Reading: Luke 10: 1-12


        Born of wealthy parents in Dalmatia, which is today the former Yugoslavia, Jerome was given the opportunity to study at the great universities. He chose Rome, studying the languages. Through his intellectual curiosity towards literature, Christian writings and Scripture, he came to realize the Truth and was baptized in 360 by Pope Liberius himself. Jerome, yearning for more, gave up the pagan culture and the social trappings and sought the life of a hermit for four years where he studied Hebrew which he later called "the language of hissing and broken-winded words." At the conclusion of this seclusion, he became a priest around 379 and journeyed to Constantinople where he studied Scripture with St. Gregory Nazianzus as his tutor. When Gregory retired as Bishop of Constantinople and left for Asia Minor, Jerome was drawn to Rome where, accompanied by Bishop Paulinus, he was introduced to Pope Saint Damasus I. So taken was the pontiff that he appointed Jerome as his secretary and commissioned him to undertake his greatest contribution: translating the Greek and Hebrew texts of Sacred Scripture into Latin. At that time the language of the common people of the empire in the west was Latin, yet most of the writings had been in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and thus understandable only to the learned. Urged on by Pope Damasus, Jerome accepted the tremendous task of translating the entire bible into Latin to which we are all grateful for the Latin Vulgate Edition of St. Jerome. It took great skill and discernment to express the meaning of the Word of God in Latin and to know which words to choose. Jerome was given another gift, that of being able to express the Word in the simplest and most meaningful way and honing in even more on the true essence of all that was written by the prophets and evangelists. Within a short time the people were able to read and understand the "Good News" of the New Testament. This played a major role in the people rejecting the heresy of Arianism in the West for they could now read first hand the truth. While he was working on this massive project, Jerome had also become spiritual director to three holy women who had come from nobility but wanted more than the world offered. Many believe these ladies - Marcella, Paula and Eustochia were the first religious nuns. Because of her wealth and strong faith, Paula built a monastery in Bethlehem for the women to live and when Damasus died in 384 Jerome graciously declined Pope Saint Siricusí offer to stay on as secretary, opting instead to become full time spiritual director at the Bethlehem monastery where he could also devote more time to translating the greater part of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Latin. For nine years from 393 to 404 many Arian clergymen sought to discredit him and cast scandal on Jerome, the sisters, and the Church but Jerome, through his faithfulness and the grace of God, withstood these attacks and staunchly defended the orthodox doctrine of his faith. He had intended to return to Rome at the urging of Pope Saint Innocent I who was elected the 40th successor to Peter on December 22, 401 but in 404 two events occurred. First, Sister Paula died, saddening Jerome and, after much prayer, decided to stay on at the monastery; and secondly, he received the terrible news that Rome was being sacked by the Goth Alaric and he prayed intensely for the Holy Fatherís safety and all of the Roman people, some of whom, in 410, had sought shelter at the monastery when the Saracens invaded Palestine. Jerome interrupted his work on Ezekiel to take the Roman refugees in, taking the opportunity to teach them all he knew during the decade they were together for in 420 he died near the age of 90 and was buried in the monastery which had now also become a hospice for many and would soon be the site for the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Itís interesting to note that during this period in history when Jerome translated the bible into Latin, Ufila, the Bishop of the Western Goths, was doing the same. Translating the Latin into Gothic.

September 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 185


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