We must welcome our neighbor as a “guest” of our inner self. Hospitality means precisely to allow others to be part of our lives. After the sacrifice of one’s life, hospitality is the greatest sacrifice, so much so that we find it difficult to be true hosts, we cannot even welcome our self. A true imitation of Christ consists in making others part of our life, just like Christ made us so much a part of his that we have become the limbs of his very Body. The mystery of the Body of Christ lies also in the fact that he welcomes our lives into his own.
In this possibility that Christ gives us of welcoming others into our lives (because it is Christ who unites us: Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor, “the love of Christ has gathered us into a unity,” as a Gregorian antiphon reminds us), a different brand of humanity becomes visible, where men and women can finally breathe to their fullest extent. This beginning of a different “space” is part of the Body of Christ, and truly all of life’s passions—all that we do, from hammering a nail into a wall to the greatest task—are directed to expanding this new world.
It must be realized that the word ‘angel’ is the name of an office, and not of a nature. For these holy spirits of our homeland in heaven are always spirits, but in no way can they always be called ‘angels’ or ‘messengers’ since they are angels only when something is announced through them. Those who make minor announcements are called angels, those who make important ones are called archangels.
Hence it is that not just any angel was sent to the Virgin Mary but that Gabriel the archangel was sent: it was right that the proper one for this role should be of the highest rank of angels since he was to announce the greatest news of all.
Angels are known by proper names as well, to indicate their powers and their work. In that holy city where perfect knowledge is derived from the vision of Almighty God, if proper names are assigned to them, it is not that their persons could not be identified without names. But when angels come to minister to us, even the names by which we know them are taken from their ministry. Michael means ‘Who is like God’, Gabriel ‘Strength of God’, Raphael ‘Healing of God.’
Whenever a mighty deed is in question, Michael is assigned, so that by his actions and name it may be made known that no one can do what God can do. So in the case of our ancient enemy, who in his pride wanted to be like God when he said: ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will make myself like the Most High’: when he is shown to be condemned to eternal punishment at the end of the world, he is described as about to do battle with Michael, as Saint John says: ‘War broke out with Michael the archangel.’
Gabriel was sent to Mary, for Gabriel means ‘Strength of God’. He came to announce him who deigned to be lowly so as to wage war on the spiritual powers of the air. He who came as God of power and as one strong in battle was to be announced by Gabriel, the strength of God.
Finally Raphael is interpreted, as we have said, as ‘Healing of God’, since he wiped away the shadows of blindness from Tobias when he touched his eyes to cure him. The one who is sent to cure, was indeed worthy of the name ‘Healing of God’.
The stained glass half-dome over the altar at St. Patrick’s portray the angels as Cherubim, Seraphim, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Potestates, along with Archangels Gabriel, with the inscription, “Maria Gratia Plena”; Michael, with shield marked QUIS UT DEUS; and Raphael.
This beautiful dome is now illuminated with electric lights and a skylight. The stained glass was given to the church, after the original diamond-patterned glass of the dome was destroyed in the hurricane of 1915, in memory of Joseph Lenes who for many years was president of the New Orleans & Carrollton Railway Company. The rail line that the NO&CRR built is known today as the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.