St. Gabriel is an archangel whose name means "the Power of God." He appeared to the prophet Daniel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21), to the priest Zachary to announce the forthcoming birth of Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:11, 19), and to the Blessed Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Our Savior (Luke 1:26 ff.). His Feast Day is celebrated on March 24th.



Hymn of Praise to St. Gabriel, the Archangel.

Luke i. 19: "I am Gabriel, who stand before God."

Hail Gabriel, hail; a thousand hails
For thine whose music still prevails
To charm the list'ning ear;
Angelic word, sent forth to tell
How He the Eternal Word should dwell
Amid His creatures here.

Heaven's voice of sweetness, uttered low,
Thy words like strains of music grow
Upon the stilly night;
Clear echoes from the mind of God,
That steal through Mary's blest abode
In pulses of delight.

O voice, dear voice, the ages hear
That hail of thine still ling'ring near,
An unexhausted song;
And still thou com'st with balmy wing,
And still thou sweetly seem'st to sing,
Thine Ave to prolong.

Take up in Heaven for us thy part,
And singing to the Sacred Heart
Thy strains of rapture raise;
And tune with endless Ave still
The voices of the Blest, and fill
The ear of God with praise.





Saint Gabriel, the Archangel
(Father Prosper Gueranger 1870)

So far in the Church's Calendar, we have not met with any Feast in honour of the Holy Angels. Amidst the ineffable joys of Christmas Night, we mingled our timid but glad voices with the Hymns of these heavenly Spirits, who sang around the Crib of our Emmanuel. The very recollection brings joy to our hearts, saddened as they now are by penitential feelings and by the near approach of the mournful anniversary of our Jesus' Death. Let us, for a moment, interrupt our sadness, and keep the Feast of the Archangel Gabriel. Later on, we shall have Michael, Raphael, and the countless host of the Angel Guardians; but today, it is just that we should honor Gabriel. Yes, a day hence, and we shall see this heavenly Ambassador of the Blessed Trinity coming down to the Virgin of Nazareth; let us, therefore, recommend ourselves to him, and beseech him to teach us how to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the grand Mystery of which he was the Messenger.

Gabriel is one of the first of the Angelic Kingdom. He tells Zachary, that he stands before the face of God (St. Luke, i. 19.). He is the Angel of the Incarnation, because it is in this Mystery, which apparently is so humble, that the power of God is principally manifested: and Gabriel signifies the strength of God. We find the Archangel preparing for his sublime office, even in the Old Testament. First of all, he appears to Daniel, after this Prophet had had the vision of the Persian and Grecian Empires; and such was the majesty of his person that Daniel fell on his face trembling (Dan. vii.17). Shortly afterwards, he appears again to the same Prophet, telling him the exact time of the coming of the Messias: Know thou and take notice: that from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (Ibid. ix. 25), that is, sixty-nine weeks of years.

When the fulness of time had come, and Heaven was about to send the last of the Prophets, he, who after preaching to men the approach of the Messias, is to show him to the people, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, Gabriel descends from heaven to the temple of Jerusalem, and prophesies to Zachary the birth of John the Baptist (St. Luke, i. 13), which was to be followed by that of Jesus Himself.

Six months later on, the holy Archangel again appears on the earth; and this time it is Nazareth that he visits. He brings the great message from heaven. Angel as he is, he reveres the humble Maid, whose name is Mary; he has been sent to her by the Most High God, to offer her the immense honour of becoming the Mother of the Eternal Word. It is Gabriel that receives the great Fiat, the consent of Mary; and when he quits this earth, he leaves it in possession of Him, for whom it had so long prayed in those words of Isaias: Drop down Dew, O ye Heavens (Is. xlv. 8.)!

The hour at length came, when the Mother of the Emmanuel was to bring forth the Blessed Fruit of her virginal Womb. Jesus was born amidst poverty; but Heaven willed that his Crib should be surrounded by fervent adorers. An Angel appeared to some Shepherds, inviting them to go to the Stable near Bethlehem. He is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly army, sweetly singing their hymn: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will! Who is this Angel that speaks to the Shepherds, and seems as the chief of the other blessed Spirits that are with him? In the opinion of several learned writers, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who is keeping up his ministry as Messenger of the Good Tidings (St. Luke, ii. 10).

Lastly, when Jesus is suffering His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani, an Angel appears to Him, not merely as a witness of His suffering, but that He might strengthen Him under the fear his Human Nature felt at the thought of the Chalice of the Passion He was about to drink (Ibid. xxii. 42, 43.). Who is this Angel? It is Gabriel, as we learn not only from the writings of several holy and learned authors, but also from a Hymn which the Holy See has permitted to be used in the Liturgy, and which we give below.

These are the claims of the great Archangel to our veneration and love; these are the proofs he gives of his deserving his beautiful name, the Strength of God. God has employed him in each stage of the great work, in which he has chiefly manifested his power, for Jesus, even on his Cross, is the Power of God (1 Cor. i. 21.), as the Apostle tells us. Gabriel prepares the way for Jesus. He foretells the precise time of his Coming; he announces the birth of his Precursor; he is present at the solemn moment when the Word is made Flesh; he invites the Shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the Crib, and adore the Divine Babe; and when Jesus, in his Agony, is to receive Strength from one of His own creatures, Gabriel is found ready in the Garden of Gethsemani, as he had been at Nazareth and Bethlehem.




O holy Angel who didst strengthen Jesus Christ our Lord,
come and strengthen us also; come and tarry not!

An indulgence of 300 day



Let us, then, honour the Angel of the Incarnation. For this purpose, let us recite in his praise some of the pieces which liturgical piety has composed for his Feast. The two following Hymns are from the Franciscan Breviary.


HYMN I

Let us all exult with joyous hearts, and strike the tuneful lyre; 'tis the great Gabriel that comes in all his brightness from the high heavens.

This is the feast of the glorious Virgin's Messenger, and with him comes the whole host of Angels, singing in varied hymns the praises of Christ.

Let our choir, therefore, sing the praises of Gabriel the Prince, for he is one of the Seven that stand before the Lord, and do his biddings.

Gabriel cheerfully descends whithersoever God wills, for he is the Messenger of heaven, nay the Mediator that reveals to the world the secret decrees of the Omnipotent God.

Be thou, O Gabriel, we beseech thee, Messenger to us of the special gift of eternal peace, wherewith we may finally reach heaven, and everlastingly rejoice.

May the Godhead ever blessed of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whose glory is proclaimed through the whole world, grant us this our prayer. Amen.




HYMN II


'Tis the midnight hour: quickly arise, and sing your new canticles to the Lord; for it was at this hour that was sent the most welcome messenger of life to the world.

It was at this hour that the Virgin's womb brought forth our Lord, for the salvation of mankind: and it was at the same, that He arose from the grave, having defeated his enemies.

Let us, then, arise, and in our humble choral prayers, make supplication to the heavenly Spirits; let us pray especially to the God Who gave us an Angel to guard us.

What tongue of man could tell the blessings brought by Gabriel to the world? He it is that leads holy souls to heaven, there to contemplate our Lord.

We beseech thee, therefore, great Prince, pray for us miserable sinners. Propitiate Him that can do all things, and obtain for us His pardon. Amen




The Dominican breviary contains this beautiful Hymn in honor of the Holy Archangel.

HYMN III


Gabriel, Angel of light, and Strength of God! whom our Emmanuel selected from the rest of the heavenly Princes, that thou shouldst expound unto Daniel the mystery of the savage goat.

Thou didst joyfully hasten to the Prophet as he prayed, and didst tell him of the sacred Weeks, which were to give us the birth of the King of Heaven, and enrich us with plenteous joy.

'Twas thou didst bring to the parents of the Baptist the wondrous and gladsome tidings, that Elizabeth, though barren, and Zachary, though old, should have a son.

What the Prophets had foretold from the beginning of the world, this thou didst announce in all the fulness of the mystery to the Holy Virgin, telling her that she was to be the true Mother of God.

Thou, fair spirit, didst fill the Bethlehem Shepherds with joy, when thou didst tell them the heavenly tidings; and with thee a host of Angels sang the praises of the New Born God.

As Jesus was in prayer on that last night, when a bloody sweat bathed His limbs, thou didst leave heaven to be near Him, and offer Him the Chalice that His Father willed Him to drink.

O Blessed Trinity! strengthen Catholic hearts with the heavenly gift of Faith. Give us grace, as we to thee give glory for ever. Amen.





Prayer:

The whole human race is indebted to Thee, O Gabriel! and, on this day, we would fain pay thee the honour and gratitude we owe thee. Thou wast moved to holy compassion when seeing the miseries of the world; for all flesh had corrupted its way, and the forgetfulness of God increased with each new generation of men. Then did the Most High commission thee to bring to the world the good tidings of its Salvation. How beautiful thy steps, O Prince of the heavenly court, as thou camest down to this our humble sphere! How tender and fraternal is thy love of man, whose nature, though so inferior to thine own, was to be raised, by the mystery of the Incarnation, to union with God Himself! With what respectful awe didst thou not approach the Virgin, who surpassed all the Angels in holiness!

Blessed Messenger of our Redemption! whom God selects as his Minister when He would show His power, we beseech thee, offer the homage of our gratitude to Him that thus sent thee. Help us to pay the immense debt we owe to the Father, Who so loved the world, as to give it his Only Begotten Son (St. John, iii. 16.); to the Son, Who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant; and to the Holy Ghost, who rested on the Flower that sprang up out of the root of Jesse (Is. xi. 1).

'Twas thou, O Gabriel! that taughtest us the salutation wherewith we should greet Mary full of grace. Thou wast the first to pronounce these sublime words, which thou broughtest from heaven. The children of the Church are now, day and night, repeating these words of thine; pray for us that we may say them in such a manner, as that our Blessed Mother may find them worthy of her acceptance.

Angel of Strength, Friend of Mankind! relent not in thy ministry of aiding us. We are surrounded by terrible enemies; our weakness makes them bold: come to our assistance, get us courage. Pray for us during these days of conversion and penance. Obtain for us the knowledge of all we owe to God in consequence of that ineffable mystery of the Incarnation, of which thou wast the first witness. We have forgotten our duties to the Man-God, and we have offended Him: enlighten us, that so, henceforth, we may be faithful to His teachings and examples. Raise up our thoughts to the happy abode where thou dwellest; assist us to merit the places left vacant by the fallen Angels, for God has reserved them for his elect among men.

Pray, O Gabriel, for the Church Militant, and defend her against the attacks of hell. The times are evil; the spirits of malice are let loose, nor can we make stand against them, unless with God's help. It is by His Holy Angels that he give victory to His Spouse. Be thou, O Strength of God! foremost in the ranks. Drive heresy back, keep schism down, foil the false wisdom of men, frustrate the policy of the world, arouse the well-minded from apathy; that thus, the Christ Whom thou didst announce, may reign over the earth He has redeemed, and that we may sing together with Thee and the whole angelic choir: Glory be to God! Peace to men!










Homily of St. Bernard. Taken from the Roman Beviary

I do not think that this Angel was one of inferior rank, who on one account or another are often sent on embassies to this earth. This may well be understood in view of his name, which being interpreted signifies: Strength of God; and because he was sent, not by some spirit perhaps more excellent than he (as is usual), but from God Himself. And so for this reason it is said: From God. Or, on this account it is said: From God; lest it should be thought that God had revealed his counsel to any of the blessed spirits before the Virgin, except only the Archangel Gabriel, who alone was found so eminent among his compeers as to be held worthy both of his name and his message.

Neither do his and his message disagree. For who should announce Christ, the power of God, more than he who is honored by a like name? For what else is power than strength? Neither does it appear to be unbecoming or unseemly that the Lord and his messenger should be known by a like title. Christ is called the power or strength of God in a very different sense to that, in which this title is given to the Angel; for in the Angel it is but a name; but in the case of Christ, it is also an essential attribute.

Christ is called, and truly is, the power of God. When the strong man armed was accustomed to keep his house in peace, a stronger came upon him, and overcame him by the strength of his arm; and forcibly deprived him of all his spoils. But the Angel is called the strength of God, either because this title was his right, as herald of the power of God; or because it was his duty to comfort the Virgin who was naturally timid, simple, and bashful, lest she should be frightened at the novelty of the miracle; this he certainly did by saying: Do not be afraid, Mary, thou has found grace with God. And so Gabriel was fitly chosen for this work; yes, because he was entrusted with so great a mission, properly was so great a name assigned to him.





Prayer by St. Aloysius Gonzaga:

O Angel truly strong, strengthen, guide and protect us, thou who by thy embassy didst usher even God Himself to earth; most strong of all, who, having carried off the spoils and having routed that strongly armed one that for so long a time had exercised his destructive tyranny over us, didst rescue us from slavery and restore us to the liberty of the sons of God!



Novena in Honor of St. Gabriel the Archangel

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority, an Indulgence Of Three Hundred Days, once a day; a Plenary Indulgence, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

The New Raccolta 1903



Prayer to the Archangel Gabriel

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy in our present necessities, that, as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation so through thy prayers and Patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.



St. Gabriel from Devotions to the Holy Angels

This blessed Spirit was the ambassador of the Most High when about to work the greatest of all His mysteries, the Incarnation of his Son; and He it was that revealed it to Daniel many ages before. He is supposed to have been the tutelary of the Holy Family--the Angel who invited the shepherds to the manger---who warned St. Joseph to flee to Egypt--and, in fine, he who consoled Jesus in His agony. His name, Gabriel, signifies "power of God." His peculiar grace is to imprint in hearts the knowledge and love of Jesus and Mary. Let us be devout to him, and he will render us this service so desirable.

Practice--Say, in honor of this blessed Angel, seven times his own words to the Blessed Virgin--Hail Mary, etc.

Aspiration--O "Angel of the Lord!", extend in all hearts the empire of Jesus and Mary.



Prayer to St. Gabriel as your Patron Saint

Saint Gabriel, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.

Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.

Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen







The Angelus:


V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.

R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. Hail, Mary etc.

V. And the Word was made Flesh.

R. And dwelt among us. Hail, Mary etc.

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us pray:


Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen







St. Gabriel, Archangel
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

That bright spirit, whom the Almighty charged with the saving message of the Incarnation of the Son of God, is called the Archangel Gabriel. His first embassy was to the prophet, Daniel. Whilst this Saint was communing with God in prayer the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him, and announced to him the epoch in which the long-expected Messiah would come into the world. These are the words of the Heavenly Spirit: "From the beginning of thy prayers, the word came forth: and I am come to show it to thee, because thou art a man of desires: therefore do thou mark the word, and understand the vision. Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgressions may be finished, and sins may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished, and everlasting justice may be brought, and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled, and the Saint of saints may be anointed. Know thou, therefore, and take notice, that, from the going forth of the word to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ, the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and the street shall be built again, and the walls in straitness of times. And after sixty-two weeks, Christ shall be slain ; and the people, that shall deny him, shall not be His. And a people with their leader that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation. And he shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week; and in the half of the week the victim and the sacrifice shall fail: and there shall be in the temple the abomination of desolation; and the desolation shall continue even to the consummation of the end " (Dan. ix.). These are the words of the Archangel; recorded by the prophet. In this vision, Gabriel not only predicted the time of the advent of the Messiah, but also prophesied the circumstances attending His coming, and the fate of the temple and of the Jewish people.

The second message entrusted to the Angel Gabriel, was to the priest Zachary, father of St. John the Baptist. While he was offering up the evening sacrifice in the temple, the angel of the Lord stood on the right of the altar, and said to him: "Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: and thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord: and shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, and prepare unto the Lord a perfect people" (Luke i.). Such was the second message of the Archangel, in which he clearly points out the precursor of the Messiah.

The third message, the grandest and most consoling with which the angel was charged, led him to Nazareth to the most Blessed Virgin Mary. He saluted her with these words; "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women" (Luke i.). But observing that the Virgin was troubled at his words, he said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His Father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i.). Gabriel announced to the Immaculate Virgin that the Holy Ghost would descend upon her, and overshadow her, and he referred to the Omnipotence of God to whom everything is possible. When the Virgin gave her consent with these well known and solemn words: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word," the angel departed to stand again before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity.

From the fact that the Archangel Gabriel was chosen for so sublime a mission, the Holy Fathers infer that he was one of the highest and greatest of the heavenly spirits. For, as earthly sovereigns do not entrust the settlement of important affairs to inferior servants, but the more weighty the matters, the more distinguished are the personages chosen to conduct them; so the Doctors of the Church do not hesitate to affirm, that the Almighty also selected one of the most exalted of the heavenly spirits to announce this greatest of all mysteries! St. Bernard remarks, that the name Gabriel, which signifies in Hebrew, "Strength of God," "Divine strength," coincides well with the mission of the angel. He announces Christ, the Son of God, the true Messiah, who is the strength of God, who so wonderfully unites His Divine strength with human weakness. Now, the whole world having had reason to rejoice in the message of the Archangel, it is only meet for us to return thanks to this welcome messenger, and beseech him to obtain for us of the Lord, who entrusted him with this noble and consoling embassy, the grace of fully participating in the fruits of this mystery.


Practical Consideration

The Angel Gabriel is sent by the Almighty to Babylon, Jerusalem, and Nazareth, and he is most docile in his obedience. If you desire to be in the eternal company of this Archangel and the other heavenly Spirits, apply yourself earnestly to obey the Lord in everything. The Archangel appears to Daniel whilst occupied with prayer, to Zachary, whilst engaged in the Divine service: he comes to the Blessed Virgin, whilst she is praying, and contemplating the Divine mysteries. If you are anxious that the angels should visit you, be fervent in prayers and in the service of God. The Archangel Gabriel addresses our Blessed Lady with these words: "Hail full of grace." Often repeat this salutation. Many have it on their lips every hour of the day; others repeat it daily in reciting the beads or in passing by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin. Undoubtedly you do not neglect this pious practice. But pay attention that you salute Mary with a pure heart and with reverence. The Archangel says to the holy Virgin: "Fear not, for thou hast found grace with God." Learn from this, that if you are in the state of grace, you need fear nothing; for the Almighty is your friend. But if you lose sanctifying grace by a mortal sin, you have everything to fear; for you are in the enmity of God. If, therefore, you have reason to suppose yourself in the favor of God, strive to retain it; but if you have lost this infinite treasure, immediately exert every effort for its recovery by true penance. The Blessed Mother can be of immense service in this, if you only invoke her. St. Bernard exhorts us with these words: "Let us seek grace, but let it be through Mary; for what she seeks, she finds; she can always find grace, and it is grace alone that we need." The mother of God he addresses thus: "Thou hast no aversion for the sinner, however guilty he may be; when he sighs to thee, and invokes thy assistance with a contrite heart." St. Bonaventure likewise writes: "If you wish to obtain grace from God, turn with confidence to Mary, for, being the Mother of Mercy, she cannot refuse your request."



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