When visiting the continent we are used to having to change the time on our watches. Until the middle of the eighteenth century we were also on a different calendar in England, so it was also necessary to change the date too. England followed the old Julian Calendar when the rest of Europe was on the Gregorian Calendar. In order to bring them into line it was necessary to advance the calendar by eleven days, in 1752. Some people, not unreasonably, thought they had been robbed of eleven days and ‘Give us back our eleven days’ became a popular electioneering slogan.
More happily the change of dates meant that asters, those colourful white or purple flowers, were now in full bloom around the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. This meant that in England they acquired their popular name of Michaelmas daisies and serve as the last colourful curtain call of summer.
They also help us to remember the Archangel Michael and all other angels. Michael is a Hebrew name, which literally means ‘Who is like God’, which reminds us how close angels are to God. They act as God’s messengers again and again in the Bible; most notably when the Archangel Gabriel brings God’s request to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Archangel Michael has particular responsibilities in the Bible for leading the angels against any force of evil. In the last book of the Bible he is described as throwing down Satan from heaven and in the Letter of Jude he protects the body of Moses from the devil. Since St Michael always stands up for right it is not surprising that he is often shown with the sword of justice and is the patron saint of policemen.
Jesus described how each of us has our own guardian angel. In my ministry a surprising number of people tell me that they have had angelic experiences. That is not my experience even though I am named after an Archangel! Nevertheless it is a lovely thought that an angel of paradise is always beside me and a sobering one that this perfect being also witnesses all my failings.
St Michael, the archangel, strives for all that is right on God’s behalf; may we do so also in our lives.
Posted By: valerie