September 29, is the feast day of the Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. Did you know that the Archangels are not the highest choir of angels? There are nine choirs of angels. The Archangels are the 7th choir. Let me explain the nine choirs.
The first is the Seraphim. These are the highest order or choir of angels. They are the angels who are attendants or guardians before God’s throne. They praise God, calling, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. the only Bible reference is Isaiah 6:1-7. One of them touched Isaiah’s lips with a live coal from the altar, cleansing him from sin.
The next choir is the Cherubim. In the New Testament, they are alluded to as celestial attendants in the Apocalypse (Rv 4-6). Catholic tradition describes them as angels who have an intimate knowledge of God and continually praise Him.
The third choir is the Thrones. Thrones are the angels of pure Humility, Peace and Submission. They reside in the area of the cosmos where material form begins to take shape. The lower choir of angels need the Thrones to access God.
The fourth choir is Dominions. Dominions are angels of leadership. They regulate the duties of the angels, making known the commands of God.
The fifth choir is Virtues. Virtues are known as the spirits of motion and control the elements. They are sometimes referred to as “the shining ones.” They govern all nature. They have control over seasons, stars, moon; even the sun is subject to their command. They are also in charge of miracles and provide courage, grace, and valor.
The sixth choir is Powers. Powers are warrior angels against evil defending the cosmos and humans. They are known as potentates. They fight against evil spirits who attempt to wreak chaos through human beings.
The Archangels are generally taken to mean “chief or leading angel” ( Jude 9; 1 Thes 4:16). They are the most frequently mentioned throughout the Bible. They may be of this or other hierarchies as St. Michael Archangel, who is a princely Seraph. The Archangels have a unique role as God’s messenger to the people at critical times in history and salvation (Tb 12:6, 15; Jn 5:4; Rv 12:7-9) as in The Annunciation and Apocalypse. Of special significance is St. Michael as he has been invoked as patron and protector by the Church from the time of the Apostles. The Eastern Rite and many others place him over all the angels, as Prince of the Seraphim. He is described as the “chief of princes” and as the leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over satan and his followers. The angel Gabriel first appeared in the Old Testament in the prophesies of Daniel, he announced the prophecy of 70 weeks (Dn 9:21-27). He appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of St. John the Baptist (Lk 1:11). It was also Gabriel which proclaimed the Annunciation of Mary to be the mother of our Lord. (Lk 1:26) The angel Raphael first appeared in the book of Tobit (Tobias)Tb 3:25, 5:5-28, 6-12). He announces “I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven who stand before the throne of God.” (Tb 12:15)
The 8th choir is Principalities. In the New Testament Principalities refers to one type of spiritual (metaphysical) being which are now quite hostile to God and human beings. (Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15) Along with the principalities are the powers (Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 1 Pt 3:22; 2 Thes 1:7); and cosmological powers (1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; Col 2:15); Dominions (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16) and thrones (Col1:16).
The 9th choir is Angels. These angels are closest to the material world and human beings. They deliver the prayers to God and God’s answers and other messages to humans. Angels have the capacity to access any and all other Angels at any time. They are the most caring and social to assist those who ask for help. This is the choir where our guardian angels come from. ‘He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways’ (see Ps 91:11).
Select this link to see a video teaching by Dr. Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville on the Nine Choirs of Angels.