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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Michael the Archangel, NonPerson

I have quite few questions waiting to be answered, but this more recent question has sparked quite a bit of righteous indignation from the Peanut Gallery, so I thought we'd better get on it.

Thanks, by the way, to the Peanut Gallery, for pointing out my monstrous error yesterday by typing the word monstrous when I meant to type "Monstrance". There's a mistake you don't want to make! I am a terrible typist and an even worse proof reader, so thank you all so much for bringing my attention to that glaring whopper.

Hello Sister,

I just found your posts and am
thouroughly enjoying them!!

With regard to saints, I would like to know the church's teaching regarding the information I am sharing below.

My son's religion teacher (Catholic) won't allow him to choose Saint Michael the Archangel for his confirmation name. My oldest son chose this saint when he was confirmed in 2007, with no concerns, at the same church through a different teacher. In fact, our oldest son had to write a report on St. Michael the Archangel, as his confirmation choice, and had to get approval from our parish priest. We presently have the same priest. The teacher's reasoning for not allowing this confirmation name is that Saint Michael the Archangel is/was an angel not a person.

I am frustrated with her
insistance that this saint is not acceptable as a confirmation name choice. After hours of searching the internet I have been unable to find any catholic website or information suggesting that this name is not appropriate for confirmation. In fact, I have read many church approved web-sites that recommend this saint's name as a confirmation choice.

Any information you have to share regarding this concern will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance for your help, and may God continue to bless you as you share with countless others!!!


What I'd like to say is, "What is wrong with this woman?! Is she crazy?!?!?! Is her own Confirmation name 'Dymphna'? Has she not noticed that there are churches named St. Micheal the Archangel? Did she have someone in her life named Micheal who wasn't so nice and therefore wants to put a clamp on any further people having Michael in their name?"

But, of course, in the interest of Christian Charity, we will simply say she in incorrect. St. Michael the Archangel is a wonderful choice for a confirmation name.

She's not entirely one hundred per cent wrong, though---not about that being an appropriate name---but about Michael not being a person.

Angels are not people. They are not dead people who now reside in heaven. As much as we love to refer to our dear departed loved ones behind the Pearly Gates as angels, they are not angels and they never will be angels. Anyone who is dead and in heaven is a saint. Mary is a saint.

Michael is an angel. He is God's favorite angel, if indeed God has any favorites. He is God's 'go to' guy. Angels are a different type of entity altogether. They don't have bodies, although they sometimes manifest bodies. They are pure spirit.

But the Catholic church has no problem with St. Michael as a patron saint, confirmation name, pray for the intercession of, treat him like a saint thinking. What part of SAINT Michael the Archangel is she missing?

Why is Michael called a saint when he is an angel? It's really not rocket science. The word saint is from the Latin "sancta" which means "holy". Is Michael holy? Yes, everyone in heaven is holy. We could just as easily call everyone in heaven Holy George, Holy Joseph, Holy Mary, Holy Peter. In fact, we often do just that.

We don't know the names of that many angels, so through the history of the Church, only three angels have been known as saints: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. And, as such, they have been assigned patronages. Gabriel, for example, is the patron saint of telecommunications. Raphael is the patron saint of young lovers and people leaving home for the first time.

That ought to seal the deal right there. If the Catholic Church is willing to call Michael the patron saint of something, why couldn't he be the patron saint of some one? We're done here aren't we?

Michael has quite a long list, among his areas of interest: grocers, the military, and anything like the military--police, firemen, etc. He was the patron saint of chivalry before it died.

I'm not sure what you can do about this poor lady. Be kind. Print out some articles, show her the other kid and his report who had the bishop give him a little slap while dubbing the boy with a new middle name, enlist the help of the priest who approved the whole thing before. Show her pictures of churches named after St. Michael. Bring in his list of patronages. Purchase a St. Michael medal for her.

And above all, ask her to explain why this great angel is always referred to as SAINT Michael the Archangel and not just Michael the Archangel.

You may just have to ignore her, or go over her head. You'll know who to ask for intercession.


Curtis said...

According to the definition of the word "person", an angel is indeed a person, as is God (three, in fact).

The teacher obviously meant "human" but even then... I don't see a reason why I can't take Guinefort as a confirmation name. (And it's a doggone good one, if you ask me)

Sue said...

My Confirmation class (in 1997 or so) didn't deal with Confirmation Names. I don't know why we skipped them. My younger siblings' classes didn't use them either. But now, people from that church are the only people I know who were confirmed without a confirmation name.

Am I missing out? Is it kind of like finding your own patron saint, who you then have a special relationship with? Am I too late? I mean, obviously I'm too late to have a real confirmation name at this point. But I could still talk to a Saint about being extra good friends, couldn't I?


June said...

I'm so glad you answered this question because I've had it in the back of my mind for some time.

Anonymous said...

Curtis, I heartily agree. You surely deserve to have Guinefort as your confirmation name. It speaks volumes about your lack of sincerity toward the sacrament. And, while I heartily agree that you deserve the name, I take no pleasure in that. I pray that you will have a deep and sincere conversion and take another name. Please, stop chasing after something that has been officially condemned by the Church. There are not that many practices that are condemned, so it is not taken lightly. I fear you are barking up the wrong tree.

A Catholic teacher

berenike said...

As Curtis said, angels are persons (though not people).

berenike said...

Catholic Teacher - chill.

Poops said...

Sister, is there a patron Saint for Catholics with no sense of humor?

Anonymous said...

Sue, I'm in the same boat. About 90 or so of us confirmed in my parish in 1996 were told not to bother with names.

slimsdotter said...

I thought I would study up on a lot of saints, and chose one for a patron/confirmation saint. But before I had a chance to study up, it seems like maybe I have been "assigned" one already. Perpetua. Guess I better stay away from coliseums.

paramedicgirl said...

I was glad to read your response to this question, Sister. My son chose Saint Michael the Archangel for his patron saint at Confirmation - when I saw the title of your post, I was a little worried. It never occurred to me that this great heavenly warrior couldn't be the protector and patron of a young man.

He is also the patron of paramedics; I pray to Saint Michael every day!

Jennifer said...

I haven't had a chance to check Sister's blogs for over a week. I truly appreciate everything you've shared regarding St. Michael as a confirmation name!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for all of the information and advice you have provided! May God continue to bless you as you share your wisdom with others!

Bridget of Lone Tree said...

I came upon this posting in my search for others who have chosen St. Michael the Archangel as their confirmation saint. Choosing Michael was an easy and immediate decision. And as a woman of fairly weak constitution (read: spine) I wanted nothing more than to attach myself to him. I'm 42 and was confirmed in 2009 as a revert. Very happy with my decision. For anyone who is getting pushback, I second Sister, it's time to go over some heads!