LESSON TWO: SAINT
St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are called "saints" because they are holy. But they
are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They are
angels. They are protectors of human beings and we know something about each of
them from the Bible.
Michael's name means "who is like God?" Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We can ask St. Michael to make us strong in our love for Jesus and in our practice of the Catholic religion. The prayer to St. Michael asks for protection from Satan.
Gabriel's name means "the power of God." He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke's Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our Savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We can ask him to help us be good communicators as he was. He can also ask him to help us know God’s will and to have the strength to follow it.
Raphael's name means "God has healed." We read the touching story of Raphael's role in the Bible's book of Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God's throne. We can ask St. Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to school. We can also ask him for protection and healing when we are faced with any of life’s challenges.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus (of Lisieux)
Marie-Francoise-Therese Martin was born into a devout Catholic home in France in 1873. At the age of 15, she entered a Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux. She discovered the “Little Way” to holiness, offering everyday sacrifices (flowers) for the love of God and neighbor. Put off by flowery, complicated books of spirituality, she discovered in Holy Scripture a simpler way to know the immense love of God the Father like an infant in the lap of his/her mother (Isaiah 66:12-13), the overwhelming love of God and His call for us to love one another (1 John 1:5: 7-16), and the necessity to be as little children (Mt 18:3) in our relationship with God. The spirituality of her "little way" was not about extraordinary things, but rather doing the simple things of life well and with extraordinary love.
As Therese died at the age of 24, she continued to offer her sufferings as little flowers, but her suffering had undergone a transformation: “I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me.”
St. Therese loved nature, and often used the imagery of nature to explain how the Divine Presence is everywhere, and how everything is connected in God's loving care and arms. Therese saw herself as “the Little Flower of Jesus” because she was just like the simple wild flowers in forests and fields, unnoticed by the greater population, yet growing and giving glory to God. Therese did not see herself as a brilliant rose or an elegant lily, but simply as a small wild flower. This is how she understood herself before the Lord - simple and hidden, but blooming where God had planted her.
Pope Pius XI canonized Therese on May 17, 1925, twenty-eight years after her death. A canonization so soon after death was unprecedented. However, her qualities of love, kindness, and closeness to God were so apparent to those around her that the Church quickly bestowed the honor of sainthood upon her. On October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church because of the impact that her spirituality has had on the lives of so many of God's children.
Fittingly, her biography, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, has provided millions of readers with a short, simple key to the “Little Way”.