DPPL 215: Angels in the Liturgy

STA altar at night smallChapter Six continues on the theme of angels:

 215. The Church, which at its outset was saved and protected by the ministry of Angels, and which constantly experiences their “mysterious and powerful assistance” (Catechism 336), venerates these heavenly spirts and has recourse to their prompt intercession.

Prompt for the intercessory needs of human beings? Angels always struck me as a snarky lot. Willing to do for God. That said, many saints have been helped by angels, and we do well to remember on those feasts, even if the Lectionary doesn’t tell the whole story of angelic assistance:

During the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the role played by the Holy Angels, in the events of salvation (The same is true, for example in the solemnity of Easter and in the solemnities of the Annunciation (25 march), Christmas (25 December), Ascension, the Immaculate Conception (8 December), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), Assumption (15 August) and All Saints (1 November)) and commemorates them on specific days: 29 September (feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael), 2 October (the Guardian Angels). The Church has a votive Mass dedicated to the Holy Angels whose preface proclaims that “the glory of God is reflected in his Angels”(Roman Missal, Preface for Angels).

I’ve never celebrated a votive Mass for Holy Angels. Does any reader have experience with it? Otherwise, angels are invoked at every Mass through their song (as reported by Isaiah) and especially in the first Eucharistic Prayer:

In the celebration of the sacred mysteries, the Church associates herself with the angelic hymn and proclaims the thrice holy God (cf. Isaiah 6, 3)(Roman Missal, Sanctus) invoking their assistance so that the Eucharistic sacrifice “may be taken [to your] altar in heaven, in the presence of […] divine majesty”(Roman Missal, EP I).

In the Liturgy of the Hours and sacramental rites:

The office of lauds is celebrated in their presence (cf. Ps 137, 1)(Cf. Rule of St. Benedict 19, 5: CSEL 75, Vindobonae 1960, p. 75). The Church entrusts to the ministry of the Holy Angels (cf. Rev 5, 8; 8, 3) the prayers of the faithful, the contrition of penitents(Cf. Rite of Penance 54), and the protection of the innocent from the assaults of the Malign One (Cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Vesper hymn for 2 October, “Custodes hominum psallimus angelos”). The Church implores God to send his Angels at the end of the day to protect the faithful as they sleep (Cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Gospel Canticle for Compline), prays that the celestial spirits come to the assistance of the faithful in their last agony(Cf. Rite of Pastoral Care of the Sick 147), and in the rite of obsequies, invokes God to send his Angels to accompany the souls of just into paradise(Cf. OCF 50) and to watch over their graves.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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