A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of January 7-13, 2015
ANGELS, GUARDIAN ANGELS, ARCHANGELS – OH MY!
Angels are widely known as messengers of God across many religious traditions, notably in the big three: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. While earlier depictions of these heavenly beings show them without wings, by the 3rd or 4th century CE, artworks and sculptures began to portray them as having as many as nine pairs of wings. According to St. John Chrysostom, this just represents the sublime nature of these beings. Truly, we tend to regard angels with awe, especially the way we see them in films, games, and other media nowadays: imposing, towering presences with stern visages and martial raiment, ready to fight for the side of good – or evil.
My personal journey with angelology began by frequenting the Angelissimo Store in Robinson’s Galleria and The Angel Store in SM Megamall a long, long time ago. Everything about the topic resonated with me. I began to memorize the names for the Guardian Angels for each day of the week and I was never without a perpetual calendar, eager to tell my family members and friends who their guardian angel is based on the complete date of their birth. For example, I was born on April 4, 1970. Look it up on your perpetual calendar and it’s a Saturday; ergo, my guardian angel is Saint Barachiel, variously known as the Archangel of God’s Blessings or Divine Providence. (See how apt my given name is: Blesilda, without my parents knowing the significance of my Saturday birth being ruled by St. Barachiel at all. God works in mysterious ways indeed.)
Here is the way I made sense of the seven guardian angels: Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts (Sunday-born) carries a sword and pins down the devil with his foot; Gabriel, the Special Messenger of God (Monday-born) carries a scroll or an olive branch; Raphael, Healer and Guide for the Christian Pilgrim (Tuesday-born), carries several fish; Uriel, the Archangel of Justice (Wednesday-born), carries a pair of weighing scales; Sealtiel/Zadkiel, the Archangel of Worship and Contemplation (Thursday-born), carries an incenser or thurible; Judiel/Jophiel, the Archangel of Divine Mercy (Friday-born), carries the flaming crown of salvation; and Barachiel, the Archangel of God’s Blessings/Divine Providence (Saturday-born), carries a basket almost overflowing with bread. (www.7archangels.info via Goodsearch.com)
All was well and good until I started researching about archangels and guardian angels recently. During my visits to the Angel Light Books and Gifts in Berkeley, I noticed that they followed a different system of angel-to-day correspondences. Michael rules Wednesday, not Sunday; Chamuel/Camael (“He who sees God”) instead of Raphael rules Tuesday, and Raphael in turn rules Sunday; Haniel (“the grace of God”) instead of Jophiel rules Friday; and Cassiel (“the angel of temperance”) instead of Barachiel rules Saturday. I have a book by British angel expert Angela McGerr that follows a similar list. I think that their source is a book written by Francis Barrett in the year 1801 called “The Magus” (London: Lackington, Allen, & Co.) In it, Barrett separates the Archangels and Angels of the seven days of the week and I counted 11 unique names. Furthermore, a table showing the names of the angels governing the days of the week, along with their sigils (a seal/image/sign), zodiacal signs, and the heavens ruled by these angels may add to the confusion. Which system is right?
As for the original system I learned when I was still in the Philippines, which is followed by the contemporary Catholic Church, I found out that its historical basis is already around 250 years old. The three main Archangels referred to by name in Catholic Scriptures are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Uriel, Sealtiel, Jegudiel/Judiel/Jofiel, and Barachiel were oftentimes associated with early Gnostics. According to the “Encyclopedia of Angels” by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1996), “Gnosticism is a popular cult of beliefs and practices more or less contemporary with early Christianity but with roots far older, traceable in Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Greek philosophy, and Semitic mythology.” The Greek word “gnosis” means knowledge, and the connotation here is that the truth of humanity’s situation is being restored to a favored few. An older reference, Gustav Davidson’s “A Dictionary of Angels-Including the Fallen Angels” (NY: The Free Press, 1967) which is also one of Guiley’s sources, lists the Seven Archangels according to various sources and authorities. We can see the name changes throughout the centuries – as if these angels are now in vogue and others have fallen into disfavor, depending on who’s in power or what religion is calling the shots. Definitely, we see the influence of the Christian Gnostics in the Michael=Sunday list (the very first one I presented in this article).
However, there was this anonymous early Greek writer who went by the name of Pseudo-Dionysius who wrote extensively about Christian mysticism and on the hierarchies of angels. He had a profound influence in the writings of medieval Christian thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross, as well as writers like Dante (“The Divine Comedy”) and John Milton (“Paradise Lost”). From his writings dated 5th or 6th centuries CE, like “The Celestial Hierarchy,” “The Mystical Theology,” “The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy,” and “The Divine Names,” we can see the connection with Barrett’s “The Magus” and hence a more mystical lineup of archangels and angels (followed by the West, cf. Angel Light Books, Angela McGerr, Doreen Virtue). Basically this means their lineup is: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Chamuel/Camael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel.
In defense of the Seven Archangels that I have learned from the Philippines, I found out from http://www.7archangels.info that Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Sealtiel/Zadkiel, Judiel/Jophiel, and Barachiel were actually researched by St. Celias in the year 1050 from the writings of the Early Church Fathers until the 4th century. By October 18, 1720, the Catholic Church in Mettenheim, Bavaria was dedicated and named for the Seven Great Archangels, each of whom has an altar within. Each of the seven names was spoken in the consecration prayer by the Bishop of Salzberg, Rev. Franz Wagensberg. This consecration by a legitimate bishop of the Church was taken to establish the correctness of the names and a further invitation to the faithful to perform devotions on these archangels.
For those of you who would like to explore who your Guardian Angel is, based on the day of your birth, I highly recommend the Filipino website http://www.viloria.com where you can learn about Filipino culture. Scroll down until you see the link for “Guardian Angels” on the left column. Follow the directions on how to input your birthdate and discover a world of wonders about your specific guardian angel, including a prayer to your specific angel that you can copy, download, or print out. Please be sure to credit that website if you plan to share the information with your family and friends. May our Archangels and Guardian Angels guide us in the year 2015! Isang masagana at pinagpalang Bagong Taon po sa ating lahat! Blessings and light!