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The Feast of Holy Michael and All Angels



Blackberry Hand Pies on a Cream Platter

The Church celebrates the Feast of Holy Michael and All Angels on September 29th! We also know this feast as Michaelmas (pronounced mik-uhl-mus), a shortening of “Michael’s mass.” It is the special day set aside by the church to celebrate Michael, the captain of the heavenly host, and all other angels.

Why do we sometimes refer to Michael as “Saint Michael”? This can be weird for some people, but it need not be. A saint is simply someone set apart for God’s purposes. That’s why, as Christians, we are all considered saints.



Why Celebrate Angels?

So why, exactly, do we celebrate angels? The Church celebrates the Feast of Holy Michael and All Angels because we are thankful for everything that God has created, including angels. Angels are extremely important beings; they give us messages from God and provide guidance, they fight against the forces of evil, they protect us, they enact God’s judgments, and they continually worship God in the heavenly realm, joining in the eternal praise of God. 


Angels in the Bible


Maybe celebrating the angels of the Bible is weird to us because they are some of the most misunderstood and misrepresented beings from the Bible. The secular world depicts them as chubby, nude children floating around, shooting arrows. But in the Bible, they are powerful, awe-inspiring creatures. They usually incite fear when humans see them! The descriptions of angels in the Bible are entirely different than what the secular world depicts. Angels can have the appearance of men, they often have swords, they can move without humans seeing them, or they can look rather bizarre as in Ezekiel 10:12, where it says their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands, and their wings, are completely full of eyes, as are their four wheels.


Types of Angels


In the Bible, there are different types of angels:


ARCHANGELS

These are chief or principal angels. Michael is the only angel explicitly described as an archangel in the Bible (1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jude 1:9), although Gabriel is often assumed to be one due to his important roles.


CHERUBIM

Genesis tells of cherubim guarding the way to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). They also appear in Ezekiel’s visions (Ezekiel 10:3-20). Cherubim are often associated with the presence and holiness of God.


SERAPHIM

Described in Isaiah’s vision, these angels have six wings and are involved in the worship of God (Isaiah 6:2,6).


THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

This is a unique angelic figure that appears in the Old Testament, sometimes understood to be a manifestation of God himself, while other times considered a separate angelic being (Genesis 16:7–11).


UNNAMED OR COMMON ANGELS

These are the angels most frequently mentioned in the Bible, usually appearing as messengers or agents carrying out God’s will. They are not specified as belonging to a particular category.


FALLEN ANGELS

The angels who rebelled against God.


Why Celebrate Michael?


Now that we’ve looked at the biblical role of angels, let’s look at why the Church celebrates the Archangel Michael. Michael is considered to be the captain of the heavenly host. Not only is he an archangel who is an angel of the highest rank, but he is also a chief messenger of God and the chief leader of God’s battles in the war against Satan. He cast Lucifer and all of the fallen angels out of heaven, he was the one who stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, and he fought Satan for the body of Moses. We know from the Book of Revelation that Michael leads the heavenly host against the dragon, identified as Satan, and that the dragon was thrown down to earth as a result (Revelation 12:7–9).


Ways to Celebrate The Feast of Holy Michael and All Angels


  • Read about the different angels in the Bible (Revelation 12, Ezekiel 10, Revelation 8, Luke 2:13-15, Genesis 19:1, Psalm 91:11, Matthew 24:31).

  • Light fireworks. In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a huge festival is held called La Alborada. There are various activities like processions, dances, music, and fireworks. It’s known for its early morning start, often kicking off around 4 a.m. with a burst of fireworks and music, waking up the whole town.

  • Make roast goose. In Ireland and Great Britain, the traditional dinner is one with roast goose. If finding a goose in your area is difficult, make a roast chicken instead. 

  • Make something with carrots or blackberries. Carrots and blackberries are in season in the British Isles during this time so they are traditional foods to be eaten on this day. According to an Irish legend, when Michael cast Lucifer out of Heaven, he fell on a blackberry bush and cursed and spat on the blackberries, making them sour after September 29 so all blackberries must be eaten up. In honor of this fantastic legend, we are making blackberry hand pies for tonight’s dessert! Sharing the recipe below.

  • Make bannocks. In Scotland, it is traditional to eat bannocks on Michaelmas. Bannocks are like pancakes but made of oat or barley flour.

  • Make angel food cake. Since we are celebrating angels, this is a fitting dessert for the day!

  • Fight a dragon. In the book of Revelation, Michael and his angels fought the dragon (Satan) and cast the dragon down to earth. Make or buy a dragon pinata and “slay” it with a baseball bat.

  • Sing the hymn, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.” This hymn is a celebration of the angelic host, including archangels like Michael. The themes of divine protection, heavenly praise, and the role of angels as messengers and warriors are perfect for the day.



Blackberry Hand Pies


Ingredients:


DOUGH

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • Pinch of salt

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and cold

  • 3/4 cup sour cream


FILLING

  • 3 cups of blackberries

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


TOPPING

  • Egg wash (1 egg and 1 teaspoon water)

  • Granulated sugar


Directions:


FOR THE DOUGH:

Blend the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add sour cream and pulse until the dough starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangle. Divide the dough in half, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.


TO MAKE THE FILLING:

Combine the blackberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until they start to break down slightly. Cook until the blackberries are tender and have released their juices, about 5 minutes.


Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then add to the blackberries. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken and turns translucent. Remove from heat and allow to cool.


TO BAKE THE HAND PIES:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

When you are ready to prepare the hand pies, roll one of the chilled doughs out on a floured surface. As you are rolling, you can straighten out the edges with your hands to create a 10 x 15-inch rectangle. Using a pastry wheel, cut the dough into 12 equal squares by cutting 4 strips along the length and 3 strips along the short side. Put about 2 tablespoons filling in each center of half the squares.


TO PREPARE THE TOPPING:

Lightly brush the edges of the filled squares with egg wash. Cover with the remaining squares. Press the dough together then use a fork to gently adhere the hand pies around the edges. Cut a cross on each top. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baking both baking sheets at once, rotate top to bottom after 15 minutes.


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