Tomorrow (September 29) is Michaelmas, or the feast day of St. Michael and All Angels. In the whole church calendar/communion of the saints thing I have the hardest time with angels. Maybe because there is so much non-sense concerning angels in Christian pop-culture. There are at least some evangelicals who don’t know who St. Francis is, but whose house is littered with what can only be called icons of various guardian angels, whom they unabashedly venerate. Not that I have a problem with the theology of angels, or other people venerating angels per se, just that the practice doesn’t appeal to me. Give me your St. Laurences, your St. Francis’, and your St. Cyprians. These are people who mean something to me, who inspire me to be a better follower of Jesus. St. Michael and St. Uruel, not so much.
But as a purely cultural event, Michaelmas is fascinating as customs and legends are perpetuated tomorrow which date back at least to the Middle Ages. Eating the stubble goose, baking St. Michael’s Bannock, call me a nerd all you want, but I get into that sort of thing. And the church calendar is chalk full of opportunities to participate in deep-rooted cultural practices.
If you let them, these practices serve to re-enforce Christian discipline, and your committment to serve Christ. The St. Francis Day Blessing of the Beasts, All-Saints Day, Kingdom-tide, Advent, all serve as reminders of our shared history of redemption, and our shared commitment to follow in the footsteps of the saints, as well as reminders of particular practices and doctrines especially exemplified by certain saints (St. Francis’ care and appreciation for all Creation, St. Laurence’s care for the poor, St. Cyprian’s exemplification of Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies, etc.). The Church calendar with all its feasts and traditions is nothing more than a guide to medieval Incarnational living, making your faith an integral part of your everyday life, though simple things: meals, shared gifts, dances, carnivals, etc. What’s not to love about that?
And, while we’re on the subject of saints, why can’t I ask them to pray for me? I can call up my friend and ask him to pray for me, can’t I? Well, Christ’s redemptive work transcends time, uniting me with all my Christian sisters and brothers everywhere from every time, why can’t I ask some of them to pray for me as well? The answer: I can, and do.
As I go to the garden today, San Ysidro, pray for me, that my work is fruitful and glorifying to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.