Dancing on the Head of a Pin

There is a legend of St Thomas Aquinas asking "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" At this blog we ask all questions dealing with our faith and spirituality. Some are down to earth, rubber meets the road questions, while others are more lofty...like, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Feast of St Michael and All Angels

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels and is the patronal feast of St Michael's Episcopal Church in Waynesboro. In the earliest days of the church, the congregation needed a patron (usually wealthy widows) to provide a place to worship and to support them financially. Before Emperor Constantine converted the Empire to Christianity, the churches met in homes and were protected by their citizen patrons. As churches were able to exist on their own, patronage continued but more in the spiritual sense. Churches were founded and named under the patronage of a saint or Christ. These churches no longer needed citizen patrons to protect and support them, but they continued with spiritual patrons to spiritually protect and support. Churches have special celebrations on the Feast day of their patron. St Michael's celebrates on Sept. 29, King of Peace in Kingsland, GA celebrates their patronal feast on Christ the King Sunday, and the Church of the Holy Comforter (Holy Spirit) celebrates their patronal feast on Pentecost, to name some examples.

We even have patronage in our names. Long ago, a person was named according the date they were born. If I were born on December 26 (which I wasn't), my parents would naturally name me Stephen, for Dec. 26 is his feast day. If I was a girl and born on August 15, my parents might have named me Mary. This is where "patron" saints come in. What is your name? What is the name of your church? Who are your patrons? Even if your name is not of a common "saint," many traditions encourage the taking of a name and putting oneself under the patronage of a saint. Whose life would you like to emulate?


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