Tomorrow, March 24, should be the decorated feast of my namesake St. Gabriel the Archangel. After having his feast extended to the universal Church by Pope Benedict XV in 1921, it lasted for a mere four decades; then the liturgical reformers, in their “wisdom,” knocked St. Gabriel’s Day down to a mere commemoration. By the time the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated by Paul VI, he was practically pushed off the calendar altogether, forced to share space with his fellow archangels on the day once known as Michaelmas. Apparently declaring the coming of our Lord and, later, authoring Axion Estin doesn’t cut the mustard anymore in our modern, enlightened, and thoroughly de-mythologized Roman Church. The Christian East, in its actual wisdom, not only retains the Feast of St. Gabriel on November 28, but gives him two additional commemorations on March 26 (for his role in the Annunciation) and July 13 (in honor of his many miracles).
If you get the chance, you might recite this hymn to St. Gabriel from the old Dominican breviary tomorrow. Given the many graces St. Gabriel has bestowed upon the Christians of the East throughout the centuries, perhaps a good intention would be for this Holy Archangel, and all his compatriots in Heaven, to bestow protection on our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been left to suffer unspeakable persecution at the hands of men driven mad by a false religion.
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.
‘Tis 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 fullness 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 newborn 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.