September 29 is the traditional day to celebrate the work of the archangels, especially the ones we know by name. Raphael, Michael and Gabriel were heavenly beings sent to do important tasks on Earth, as reported in the Bible and the Book of Tobit, an apocryphal text from the Hebrew Bible.
Archangel means a high ranking angel. Only Michael, in Jude 9, is called an archangel. Yet the tasks assigned to Raphael and Gabriel have caused Christians to classify them as archangels as well.
Today, let’s take some time to thank them for all they have done for us, known and unknown. Some of the known acts are:
- Michael is the great guardian angel of the Jewish people and Israel. (Daniel 10: 13, Daniel 12:1) He does battle against the spiritual forces fighting against Israel. Michael fought with Satan over the body of Moses. (Jude 9) The Book of Revelation also tells the story of how Michael and his angels fought Satan and his forces in Heaven and cast them out. Michael’s name means “Who is like God?”
- Gabriel delivers important messages to those who God favors. He was sent twice to see Daniel to help him understand a vision and to give him a prophecy (Daniel 18:16, Daniel 19). But he best known for his role in the coming of Jesus. He was God’s messenger to tell Zechariah about the upcoming birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1: 13-19). And he asked Mary for her agreement to become the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-33). Gabriel’s name means “God is my defender.”
- Raphael has a central role in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. He was sent to accompany Tobias in his effort to find a way to cure his father’s blindness. In this book, Raphael says, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One.” Raphael’s name means “God heals.”
Today is the day devoted to remembering how difficult the life of the Virgin Mary was. She is Our Lady of Sorrows.
Many mothers and fathers can relate. Although she was quick to accept God’s will for her life, that doesn’t mean it was easy to live.
She gave birth in a place meant for livestock. She was a refugee fleeing to save her baby’s life. She dealt with gossip, poverty, life in an occupied country, and the death of her husband. She watched her son be tortured and executed. And there’s all the everyday trouble that we don’t know about.
Finally, in the last glimpse of her in the Bible, Mary is praying to prepare the infant church to live without a visible Jesus.
Today I consider my life as a mother, which has had an abundance of sorrow. That can be seen as a blessing because it has led to two things: an abundance of prayer and an appreciation of the good times. Today is a good day to do something hard … thank God for all of it, even the awful parts.
This is a time when many Christians are appalled at others … including other Christians. Politics has overcome many of us. This Christian mindfulness exercise can help us to regain love and compassion for others.
Think of a person who you don’t like. If you are up for it, make it someone whose opinions you find obnoxious or worse. Put this person in your mind while you open with prayer and then meditate on these things:
- This person is a human with a mind, heart and body, just as I am.
- God loves this person, like He loves me.
- Jesus died for this person, just like me.
- This person has a history that I do not completely know.
- This person has thoughts and feelings like me.
- This person has gone through difficulties and hurts, just as I have.
- This person is not always wrong, just as I am not always right.
Then pray for this person: for their relationship with God, for their health, for their happiness.
I developed this idea based on the Just Like Me exercise in “The Mindful Day” by Laurie J. Cameron. She considers thinking well of others as one of the central practices of mindfulness. If that is true of secular mindfulness, think how much more true it is of Christian mindfulness.
At least that’s the best guess. Today is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of the Virgin Mary. So guessing that Jesus was born on 4 AD, and Mary was 14 at the time … I got my guess at her age today.
Celebrating mindfully today, I do a reading about Mary’s life and put flowers in front of her statue. I also talk to her.
“Praying” to Mary is controversial to say the least at my church. But I feel strongly that the Lord suggested I do so when I was a young teenager.
My parents didn’t support my deep interest in faith, and my mother forbid my request to go see what a Catholic church was like. That’s when I got the feeling that Mary was going to be a lifelong friend, as she has turned out to be.
On this birthday, I try to think of a good gift for Mary. Being kind to everyone I meet today is that choice. Of course, she’d like this to become a permanent habit. I see her point.
A photo of grilled food and picnic sides appeared on a magazine cover under the headline: Homegating. Tailgating at home? Welcome to the fall of 2020.
The cancellation of some favorite outdoor activities … hayrides, bonfires and tailgating to name a few … offers opportunity to enjoy this autumn mindfully … without rushing.
The apple orchard, the pumpkin patch and the fall leaves still beckon. But we can choose not to pack up the family and rush out every weekend.
This fall, let’s make a commitment to be mindful of God’s beauty around us. We can do things in the neighborhood that bring joy without additional pressure and stress.
Here’s some of them:
- Meditate and pray outdoors.
- Walk when you can
- Read outdoors.
- Picnic at the park or eat outdoors on your porch or deck.
- Go to a nearby park to look at the leaves changing.
- Take the kids on a Stop, Look and Listen walk.
- Encourage traditional outdoor games: hopscotch, jump rope and four square.
The fall of 2020 could be the best autumn we’ve ever had.