Michaelmas Present: Litany of the Holy Archangels

One of the reasons why the second half of September is always so chaotic for me is that, not only is it in the few weeks leading up to my birthday both in flesh and in Santería, but it’s also a cluster of feast days: Our Lady of Mercy and the Days of the Cyprians and the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus are definitely important, but today is yet another feast day I hold dear to my heart: Michaelmas, more properly called the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and All Angels.  Today is the day when we especially revere and honor the bodiless and immaterial Hosts of Heaven, with Saint Michael the Archangel, their divine commander and our divine protector, at the helm and forefront of both God’s armies and our own hearts.  And, of course, to honor the other archangels: Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Sealtiel, Jehudiel, and Barachiel (or whichever set of seven archangels you prefer to use).

I’d also like to share a new(ish) page with you all: a new prayer, the Litany of the Holy Archangels.  This is, for once, not something I wrote, nor could I have written something so beautiful.  Rather, it’s a prayer I’ve been using for years now, courteously and generously shared with me by good colleague and friend Michael Lux of Nigromantic Matters.  Originally written for Johannite Christian spiritual practice, Michael has generously let me share the prayer on my own website for all to use and refer to.  I find it incredibly devout, and can be used in both solitary practice as well as in a community.  I had intended on sharing this page more publicly earlier in the year when I was going to propose a new project and craft for myself, but said project never got off the ground due to logistical issues, so I never really announced the page.  However, today’s a perfect day for just that, so I hope you enjoy and find it a useful blessing in your own practices and prayers!

With that, I hope you all have a blessed end of September, with all the Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Virtues, Powers, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, and the seven commanders of all the hosts of Heaven blessing you and guiding you every moment of every day!

Blessed Angels, watch over us at all times during this perilous life.
Holy Archangels, be our guides on the way to Heaven.
Heavenly Principalities, govern us in soul and body.
Celestial Virtues, preserve us against the wiles of demons.
Mighty Powers, give us strength and courage in the battle of life.
Powerful Dominions, obtain for us domination over the rebellion of our flesh.
Sacred Thrones, grant us peace with God and Man.
Brilliant Cherubim, illuminate our minds with heavenly Knowledge.
Burning Seraphim, enkindle in our hearts the fire of Charity.

Seven angels around my head, guide us safely where we’re led.
Michael, defend us from all our foes; Raphael, heal us from all our woes.
Gabriel, give us peace on wings; Uriel, release us our attachments to worldly things.
Jehudiel, fill our mouths with praise to God; Sealtiel, open our hearts to prayer of God.
Barachiel, bless us in all our ways; Guardians, guide us through all our days.

Amen.

Chaplet of Saint Barachiel the Archangel

Alright, confound Michael Strojan for getting me to do this; this shows that you should never make a joke on the Internet, because someone is eventually going to make that joke a reality.  A while back, I expressed interest in making daily devotionals to the seven archangels, and Rev. Strojan not only encouraged me to do so but helped me along the way.  One of the easiest ways to work with the archangels, or any holy figure in some of the older forms of Christianity, is through the use of chaplets.  I’ve mentioned them before on the blog, especially with my St. Cyprian of Antioch chaplet, and chaplets exist for the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.  However, there are seven archangels, and only these three have chaplets ready to go, which strikes me as annoying, because the set is therefore grossly incomplete, and this ends up with me spending more time with these archangels than the other four.  Granted, these three archangels are ones actually mentioned in the Bible, but the other four are archangels just as much, and I like completion.  Rev. Strojan joked that I should go about making my own, and I conceded that I could, but uuuuugh.  After much Googling around and asking questions, mostly to no avail, I found out that there simply aren’t chaplets available for these archangels, and other people noticed that, too.  Their practice was to essentially use the same chaplet as Raphael, which is arguably the most generic and the shortest, and replace the specific invocations and prayers to Raphael with the other archangels.  I found this unsatisfying, and was left with only one option: writing my own chaplets.  Of course.

So, I’m in the process of thinking about the virtues of each angel, reading up on some Scripture and literature, and figuring out patterns and prayers for these chaplets.  The easiest for me to think about, and the one I did first, was for Saint Barachiel the Archangel.  Given that Barachiel’s name means “Blessing of God”, I thought a bit about references to blessing in the Bible.  What immediately struck me was the Eight Beatitudes given in Matthew 5, where Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount and describes eight groups of blessed men: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  This is especially enumerated in Cornelius Agrippa’s Table of Eight (book II, chapter II), which helped me corroborate it with some other information I had on hand.  I started with this and developed the rest of the chaplet from there.

The chaplet beads themselves are simple in construction.  I found two ways of designing the beads, a simple one and an expanded one.  Both have a lead chain of three beads connected to larger ring of beads.  The simple chaplet has a ring of eight beads; the expanded chaplet has eight groups of four beads.  I prefer the expanded chaplet since my hands are big and an eight-bead chaplet was pretty small for my use, but either way the prayers are the same.  Since I can’t find any Barachiel medallions, I’d substitute this with a decorative, perhaps floral-design, cross (not a crucifix) or a generic representation of angels (such as an enamel medallion of angels generally, or angel wing beads, etc.).

Initial prayers done on the medal/cross:

Saint Barachiel the Archangel, blessing of God, pray for us, now and forever, awake and asleep, in prosperity and in hardship, in joy and in sorrow, in solitude and in communion, when guided or when astray.  Amen.

On each of three lead beads, pray the Ave Maria in honor of Mary, Queen of Heaven and of Angels.

On the first eight beads on the simple ring, or the first bead of each group of eight beads on the expanded chaplet ring , pray:

  1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
  2. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
  4. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be fulfilled.
  5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
  6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
  7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
  8. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

After each of the beatitudes, pray the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), with each blessing followed by a Gloria Patri.  These prayers use up the extra three beads in each group of eight on the expanded chaplet, but are left unbeaded on the simple chaplet.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.  Gloria Patri, etc.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you.  Gloria Patri, etc.
May the Lord lift his countenance upon you, and give you peace.  Gloria Patri, etc.

Concluding prayer:

O powerful Archangel, Saint Barachiel, filled with heaven’s glory and splendor, you are rightly called God’s benediction.  We are God’s children placed under your protection and care.  By the grace and power granted to you by God, please aid us in our lives and grant us blessings throughout our travels in this our exile.  Let us know the blessing of God in our physical existence as well in our spiritual growth that we may lack for nothing and have all we need to proceed upon and progress in our paths.  Grant that through your loving intercession, we may reach our heavenly home one day.  Sustain us and protect us from all harm that we may posses for all eternity the peace and happiness that Jesus has prepared for us in heaven.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.