To all of our brothers and sisters whose name day we celebrate today on the Synaxis of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and all the Celeste-ial Powers (this was Mother Theodora’s former feast day under the name Sr. Celeste) – happy feast day to you!
A reflection by Sr. Gabriella:
Although my official feast day for St. Gabriel is July 13th, I had a spark of excitement to celebrate the first of FOUR feast days with my newly-received name. (Feasts of St. Gabriel include November 8th, March 26th, July 13th and for my Roman Catholic heritage, September 29th)
As I have been clumsily traversing the last few weeks since our tonsure, struggling to remember my new name (as everyone around me struggles as well!), I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take for me to connect with my new patron. I have spent the last few years becoming better acquainted with my baptismal patron, St. Christina, coming to a great love for her and feeling her intercession in my life, so I wasn’t sure quite sure what was in store for me and Gabriel.
When we sang the stichera for the feast at Vespers, this particular verse jumped off the page at me:
O Gabriel, leader of the heavenly hosts and intercessor for our souls,
crush the boldness of those who attack your flock.
Put an end to schisms within the Church.
Calm the storm of numberless temptations.
Deliver from trial and tribulation those who lovingly venerate you
and hasten to protect us with the shadow of your wings.
These words seemed very timely to me as we contemplate the reality of the results of the recent presidential election. I saw the necessity of asking for the protection of the angels and archangels as our Christian faith is boldly attacked by the healthcare mandate and other such legislation. My heart resonated with the ache for communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, as well as the need for all Christians to remain united in faith against the current attacks on religious freedom. And last but not least, I saw the need for strength in my own small life to ward off daily personal temptations, which I can offer up for the Church and the whole world.
As a wise priest-friend once recounted to me, “I joined religious life first to change the world, then to change the Church and those in the Church, but the one I really needed to change was myself.” Such a great truth! So may this feast be a reminder of the presence of and need for the protection and intercession of the angels, first changing our own hearts, and allowing that change to flow forth and create the change we wish to see in the world.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata