Heavenly Choirs – The Third Hierarchy.

Heavenly Choirs – The Third Hierarchy.


My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

Heavenly Choirs – The Third Hierarchy.

Question.—Which are the choirs of the third hierarchy?

Answer.—The remaining ones—namely, Virtues, Archangels, Angels.

Question.—What is meant by the term “Virtues,” or why are those angels so called?

Answer.—By the word “Virtue” is meant innate power or efficacy. It is thus that this third hierarchy of angels represents the acts of God towards individuals. Those works of God which surpass the power of man, as miracles or inward movements of grace, we say are done by Virtue of the Most High. With a certain appropriateness, then, comes up the statement of St. Thomas, who attributes to the Virtues the motion of the heavenly bodies and their order; these being so indefinitely beyond man’s power, and thus forming, moreover, a connecting link between the duties of the other heavenly choirs which have preceded, and those two that are to follow—namely, Archangels and Angels, whose special mission lies with man on earth. The Virtues then hold an intermediate station between heaven and earth. They immediately succeed the Powers who typify the majestic judicial power of God taken universally. This third hierarchy represents that power as embodied in individual acts, and to the first choir in the hierarchy is assigned the heavenly bodies of the visible creation. “Sun, stand thou still on Gideon, and thou, moon, in the valley of Azalon.” The duty of the Virtues, then, is to praise God because of His ineffable condescension in regard of each heavenly body, and to reveal that condescension to the inferior ranks of angels.

Question.—What is meant by the term “Archangel,” and what by “Angel”?

Answer.—The word “Archangel” means “great” or “high angel,” and the word “Angel,” the generic name for those glorious inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem, means a “messenger”. This name is given them because of their being employed by their Most High Lord and ours to bring messages from heaven to earth, and to carry the prayers of the faithful on earth and lay them before God’s throne in heaven; and because also they are “sent” (this is a theological word) to conduct human souls to the portals of heaven. “The title ‘Angel’, inasmuch as it is the name of an office, is common to all, but is appropriated to the lower order, because it is these that are generally sent” (Bonaventure). To archangels is assigned the special protection of the Church and its several subdivisions into national churches, countries, and communities. Thus again and again in the old Bible we read about the angel of the Jewish nation—“I will send my angel before thee, and he will precede thee, and prepare thy way”. And hence popes and prelates and those in authority are said to be under the guidance of archangels. In this manner the higher grade of archangels represents the higher degrees of providence shown by God towards individuals, whether these individuals be men (as a bishop, cardinal, pope), or countries, or churches. And thus also, as men in authority on the earth come next to the celestial bodies, so the order of archangels, coming next to the virtues of heaven, follow immediately and are in due order subordinate to them. Their office is to praise Almighty God for the vouchsafing of special providences, and to reveal these to the other angels. With the angels, as being (if so it might be said) the lowest grade in heaven, lies the intercourse with human souls.
Thus all the heavenly bodies are images of the divine attributes; more closely resembling and more especially representing some, but yet beautifully shadowing forth, as far as creatures can, all the limitless perfections and the unspeakable excellencies of the inconceivably One God. How appropriately after this we read in Genesis (i. 26), “Let us make man to our own image and likeness”. As the triple hierarchies of angels were like to Him, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so should man be like to the Triune God. “And God created man to His own image,” and “dominion,” and “ruling,” and “power” He gave him; “increase and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it, and be master over bird and beast”.

“It was one of the points of ancient belief that God governed the world, even the material world, through the agency of spirits, to each of whom He was pleased to depute certain offices. He made use of the good angels to maintain order in general, to watch over empires, to protect men, and bear down to them His blessings. He permitted the evil to prove men, as appears in the history of Job, and to be the executors of His justice. Everywhere Scripture recalls this wonderful ministry of the angels, and there is not an epoch of time at which such a tradition did not exist. The Gospel shows us the Saviour Himself tempted by Satan, and narrates many of the wonderful cures of possessed persons. Our Blessed Lord teaches us that little children, dearer to him than even to their own mother’s bosom, have angels appointed them as their guardians (Matt, xxviii. 10). Such and so great is a human soul in the eyes of God! All the heavenly spirits are ministers, according to St. Paul, and God sends them to aid us in securing our salvation (Heb. i. 14); to defend us against him who has been a murderer from the beginning (John viii. 44), and who wanders about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us (i Peter v. 8). We have to struggle not alone against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against those who have dominion in this world of darkness, against evil spirits scattered in the air (Ephes. vi. 12).

“Faithful depositaries of ancient tradition, confirmed by the teaching of Jesus Christ, the Fathers of the Church, with an unanimous voice, tell us that the providence of the Most High is extended to all things that exist, and that it makes use of the ministry of angels for the carrying out its designs. They govern the universe and preserve it. They preside over all the elements; the stars in the heaven; the productions of the earth—fire, winds, seas, rivers, lakes—as well as over living beings. They present to God the prayers of men. Associated with the Most High in His vast administration, they contemn not any of the duties He entrusts to their charge, and each one confines himself to his own duty alone. Thus speak Justin, Athenagoras, Theodoret, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzen, Origen, Euzebius of Cæserea, Jerome, Augustin, Hilary, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Cyril, and the angelic Doctor Thomas.”—Bergier.

Bossuet says: “We see before all things in this divine book (the Apocalypse) the ministry of angels. We see them coming incessantly from heaven to earth and returning again. They bring down, interpret, and execute God’s orders—orders for salvation as well as for punishment. That is what is meant by the saying: The angels are ministering spirits sent for the ministry of our salvation. From the very earliest ages, the ancients believed that angels interposed in all the actions of the Church. They recognise an angel who intervened in the oblation and bore it to the sublime altar of Jesus Christ an angel whom they call the angel of prayer, and who presented before God the petitions of the faithful (Tertul., de Orat.) The ancients were so touched by the ministry of angels, that Origen, who ranks justly among the sublimest of theologians, publicly and directly invokes the angel of baptism, and recommends to him an old man who was going to become an infant in Jesus Christ. There can be no hesitation in looking on St. Michael as defender of the Church, as he was formerly of the Jewish people, once we read St. John (Apoc. xii.), which in this case is conformable to that of Daniel (x.-xiii., xxi., xxii.). . . Daniel speaks of the Prince of the Greeks and of the Prince of the Persians—that is to say (without any difficulty), the angels who by God’s orders preside over these nations and that St. Michael is called, in the same sense, the Prince of the Synagogue, or, as the Archangel Gabriel explains it to Daniel, Michael your Prince, and elsewhere more expressly still, Michael a great Prince who is established for the children of your people. When I see in the Prophets and the Apocalypse, and even in the Gospel itself, this angel of the Persians, this angel of the Greeks, this angel of the Jews, the angel of little children who advocates their cause before God against those who scandalise them, the angel of fire, of water, and even of the stars; and when I see among these one who lays on the altar the celestial incense of prayer, I recognise here a species of mediation on the part of the angels.”

“The existence of good and evil spirits, who concur in carrying out the designs of God, though in an opposite and contradictory manner, and who are, as it were, the instruments of providence in the government of the universe, even in the material world; the immortality of the soul and the state of happiness hereafter—all these beliefs, as ancient as the human race, belong to the universal tradition of man.”—Cicero, de Nat. Deor.


My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.


October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer


Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon


The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer


Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.


The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.



O GOD, Who by the preaching and the blood of Thy Blessed Martyrs, John and Isaac and their Companions, didst consecrate the first fruits of the faith in the vast regions of North America, graciously grant that by their intercession the flourishing harvest of Christians may be everywhere and always increased. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son Who liveth and reigneth in union with the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.


O GOD, Who didst inflame the hearts of Thy Blessed Martyrs with an admirable zeal for the salvation of souls, grant me, I beseech Thee (here make your request), so that the favors obtained through their intercession may make manifest before men the power and the glory of Thy Name. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary. Glory be to the Father.


Act of Perfect Contrition
Oh my God! I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee and
I detest all my sins because
I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell;
But most of all because I have offended Thee, My God,
Who art all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
To confess my sins, to do penance,
And to amend my life. Amen.


Prayers in Time of Calamity

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