Saint of the Day – 24 March – The Archangel Saint Gabriel whose name means “the Power of God. ” He appeared to the prophet Daniel (Dan 8:16; 9:21), to the priest Zachary to announce the forthcoming birth of Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:11, 19) and to the Blessed Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Our Saviour (Luke 1:26.). His Feast Day is celebrated today 24 March.
Saint Gabriel, the Archangel
Abbot Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
So far in the Church’s Calendar, we have not met with any Feast in honour of the Holy Angels. Amidst the ineffable joys of Christmas Night, we mingled our timid but glad voices with the Hymns of these heavenly Spirits, who sang around the Crib of our Emmanuel. The very recollection brings joy to our hearts, saddened as they now are by penitential feelings and by the near approach of the mournful anniversary of our Jesus’ Death. Let us, for a moment, interrupt our sadness, and keep the Feast of the Archangel Gabriel. Later on, we shall have Michael, Raphael, and the countless host of the Angel Guardians but today, it is just that we should honour Gabriel. Yes, a day hence and we shall see this heavenly Ambassador of the Blessed Trinity coming down to the Virgin of Nazareth, let us, therefore, recommend ourselves to him and beseech him to teach us how to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the grand Mystery of which he was the Messenger.
Gabriel is one of the first of the Angelic Kingdom. He tells Zachary, that he stands before the Face of God (St. Luke 1:11,19.). He is the Angel of the Incarnation because it is in this Mystery, which apparently is so humble, that the power of God is principally manifested and, Gabriel signifies the strength of God. We find the Archangel preparing for his sublime office, even in the Old Testament. First of all, he appears to Daniel, after this Prophet had had the vision of the Persian and Grecian Empires and, such was the majesty of his person, that Daniel fell on his face trembling (Dan 7:17). Shortly afterwards, he appears again to the same Prophet, telling him the exact time of the coming of the Messias: Know thou and take notice: that from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (Ibid. 9:25), that is, sixty-nine weeks of years.
When the fulness of time had come and Heaven was about to send the last of the Prophets, he, who after preaching to men the approach of the Messias, is to show him to the people, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, Gabriel descends from Heaven to the temple of Jerusalem and prophesies to Zachary the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:13), which was to be followed by that of Jesus Himself.
Six months later on, the holy Archangel again appears on the earth and this time it is Nazareth that he visits. He brings the great message from Heaven. Angel as he is, he reveres the humble Maid, whose name is Mary. He has been sent to her by the Most High God, to offer her the immense honour of becoming the Mother of the Eternal Word. It is Gabriel that receives the great Fiat, the consent of Mary and when he leaves this earth, he leaves it in possession of Him, for Whom it had so long prayed, in those words of Isaias: Drop down Dew, O ye Heavens (Is. 14:8.)!
The hour at length came, when the Mother of the Emmanuel was to bring forth the Blessed Fruit of her virginal Womb. Jesus was born amidst poverty but Heaven willed that His Crib should be surrounded by fervent adorers. An Angel appeared to some Shepherds, inviting them to go to the Stable near Bethlehem. He is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly army, sweetly singing their hymn: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will! Who is this Angel that speaks to the Shepherds and seems, as the chief of the other blessed Spirits that are with him? In the opinion of several learned writers, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who is keeping up his ministry as Messenger of the Good Tidings (St. Luke 2:10).
Lastly, when Jesus is suffering His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, an Angel appears to Him, not merely as a witness of His suffering but that He might strengthen Him, under the fear his Human Nature felt at the thought of the Chalice of the Passion He was about to drink (Ibid. 22:42, 43.). Who is this Angel? It is Gabriel, as we learn, not only from the writings of several holy and learned authors,but also, from a Hymn which the Holy See has permitted to be used in the Liturgy. …
These are the claims of the great Archangel to our veneration and love; these are the proofs he gives of his deserving his beautiful name, the Strength of God. God has employed him in each stage of the great work, in which he has chiefly manifested his power, for Jesus, even on his Cross, is the Power of God (1 Cor. 1:21.), as the Apostle tells us. Gabriel prepares the way for Jesus. He foretells the precise time of His Coming; He announces the birth of His Precursor; he is present at the solemn moment when the Word is made Flesh; he invites the Shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the Crib and adore the Divine Babe and when Jesus, in his Agony, is to receive Strength from one of His own creatures, Gabriel is found ready in the Garden of Gethsemani, as he had been at Nazareth and Bethlehem.
The Angel of the Agony
John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Jesu! by that shuddering dread which fell on Thee;
Jesu! by that cold dismay which sicken’d Thee;
Jesu! by that pang of heart which thrill’d in Thee;
Jesu! by that mount of sins which crippled Thee;
Jesu! by that sense of guilt which stifled Thee;
Jesu! by that innocence that girded Thee;
Jesu! by that sanctity that reign’d in Thee;
Jesu! by that Godhead which was one with Thee;
Jesu! spare those souls which are so dear to Thee;
Who in prison, calm and patient, wait for Thee;
Hasten, Lord, their hour and bid them come to Thee;
To that glorious Home, where they shall ever gaze on Thee.
O holy Angel who didst strengthen Jesus Christ our Lord,
come and strengthen us also, come and tarry not!
An indulgence of 300 day