Today is the feast of the Holy Archangels, which supplants the older feast of St. Michael, celebrated individually.
A few things:
1. St. Michael isn't a saint in the same sense that the Virgin Mary or John Paul the Great are saints. He was never a human being. But he was saint in the meaning of the word in French, the language from which the word comes to English. In French, saint is an adjective that means holy.
2. The name Michael means, in Hebrew, Who is like God? and the the legend is that gets his name from his defiance of Lucifer's rebellion.
3. We think of archangels, among whom is numbered St. Michael, as being the greatest of the angels. In fact, medieval theologians like St. Thomas ranked the archangels pretty low. Angel means messenger and an archangel is a lead messenger, a messenger with a very important message, like Gabriel's to Mary. If your average angel is an enlisted soldier, an archangel might be a sergeant. By contrast, Lucifer counted for much, much more: say, a five star general.
4. The incarnation of the Son of God in the person of a baby, the child of a peasant, is the beginning of a revolution on earth that overturns the whole order of hierarchy not by destroying it, but by filling it with a new spirit. Kings are not to lord it over peasants, but are to serve and lead them. The Sermon on the Mount, which calls blessed the states of meekness and sorrow, which tells us not to worry about our livelihood, is a sort of manifesto of this overturning of the old way. But the first steps in the new way of life come in the proto-history of Michael and Lucifer. Lucifer, a powerful and lordly spirit, leads an insurrection against the Blessed Trinity. Michael, a messenger spirit, stands up for God, defying Lucifer, challenging him, "Who is like God?!"
Miners used to carry canaries in cages to alert them to rising levels of noxious fumes in the mines. The canaries would stop singing, and then perish, as the levels of fumes rose. In like manner, a bellwether is a sheep with a bell tied to its neck and that is set in the first position in a flock. The other sheep are able to follow it by the clanging of the bell, and its bell also alerts people nearby to the flock's presence. Both the bellwether and the canary are signs of things to come. They are signs of the times.
You might not heard of Rotherham, in South Yorkshire in the north of England, and for that you can be excused. It is a small city of about one quarter of a million souls. Think of Lincoln, Nebraska, or Durham, North Carolina. Very nice cities, to be sure, but not the sort of places you'd expect people in England to have heard of. But lately, a situation has exploded in Rotherham that will explode the West, or at least be one of the blasts involved in the exploding West. Our media has not gone on about it very long, because it does not tell the story that they like.
Rotherham is our canary. Rotherham is our civilization's bellwether.
- Not being conformed to the spirit of the world, but
- Being transformed by the renewal of our mind.
Have you ever really had one of those shocking shockers that just shocks you in a way that you never expected to be shocked? Well, this might be one of them.
We've just had Pentecost. We are back to Ordinary Time, and Fridays abound. In fact, we are coming up on one. Not Fridays in Eastertide, or the Friday after Christmas, but just a Friday. And you know what that means? Well, maybe not. So let me try to break it to you gently, in case you don't know. Well, heck. No. Here goes.
No meat on Fridays.
Whaaaat?! Isn't that only in Lent?
Nope. It's all year long, baby. It's kinda one of those everyone-thinks-but-it's-not-true things that Catholics no longer have to abstain from meat on Fridays. Don't believe me? Read these canons from the Code of Canon Law (1983), which is the law of the Church in effect now (emphasis mine).
by G. K. Chesterton
If I ever go back to Baltimore,
The city of Maryland,
I shall miss again as I missed before
A thousand things of the world in store,
The story standing in every door
That beckons with every hand.
I shall not know where the bonds were riven
And a hundred faiths set free,
Where a wandering cavalier had given
Her hundredth name to the Queen of Heaven,
And made oblation of feuds forgiven
To Our Lady of Liberty.
I shall not travel the tracks of fame
Where the war was not to the strong;
When Lee the last of the heroes came
With the Men of the South and a flag like flame,
And called the land by its lovely name
In the unforgotten song.
If ever I cross the sea and stray
To the city of Maryland,
I will sit on a stone and watch or pray
For a stranger’s child that was there one day:
And the child will never come back to play,
And no-one will understand.
(I wish I'd ever shot a picture that more closely matches the poem; but the mismatch between the two makes me want to go back with my camera.)