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September 24, 2017

JMJ

This Friday is the feast day of the Holy Archangels. Although there are many angelic traditions coming from many different faiths throughout history, we will limit our comments to our own Catholic tradition. It comes from Scripture, both Old and New Testament, and is supplemented by various angel stories that have come down to us through the years.

We typically refer to the big three: Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael. Sometimes, a fourth archangel, Uriel, gets mentioned. He’s in the Old Testament book of Ezra. In the Book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael introduces himself and says he is one of seven. Gabriel and Michael get mentioned in Daniel but also make appearances in the New Testament. Gabriel, of course, is the one who visited with Mary to give her a message, the good news of her being chosen to be the mother of God. I think it’s also Gabriel that visits with Joseph in a dream and with John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, to give him the bad news that he would be struck dumb for not believing the angelic message.

Michael, in the Hebrew language means “Who is like God?” or “Who is equal to God?”. St. Michael has been depicted from earliest Christian times as a commander who holds in his right hand a spear with which he attacks Lucifer/Satan, and in his left hand a green palm branch. At the top of the spear is a linen ribbon with a red cross. The Archangel Michael is especially considered to be the Guardian of Christians and a fighter against heresies. The most famous mention of him is in the Book of Revelation, chapter 12, where he is depicted as being in battle with the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil and Satan. There are many artistic depictions of him defeating the devil, including the one here in our church. There are also many churches and shrines dedicated to him, perhaps the most famous being Mont-Saint-Michel off the coast of France.

The prayer we pray to St. Michael after Mass came to us from Pope Leo XIII in the late 19th century after he was granted a terrifying vision of Satan being given power to tempt the world for a period of 100 years. The Pope ordered that the prayer be prayed after every Mass throughout the world, and it was. I remember it from childhood. But, after some time it got put on the back shelf. In recent times, however it has reappeared; I think, in many cases, beginning with 9/11, 2001. It was already in place when I arrived here at Holy Spirit 10 years ago.

As we reflect upon this past century, more significantly in recent days, it becomes ever more apparent of the need to pray for protection by the Angels, and as the St. Michael prayer says, he is “The Prince of the Heavenly Host”.

Beginning next week, I’ve decided we will say the prayer to St. Michael at the beginning of Mass; we are already doing it at the weekday school Masses. The reasoning behind this is to, hopefully, thwart off any evil doers (like what happened last year to Fr. Jacques Hamel in France), particularly during the Holy Mass.

O, BTW, there is another great story involving the Prince of Angels that came out of the Korean War. Check it out. It’s sure to bring a tear to your eye. You can Google it. The story is titled, “Incredible Miracle: U.S. Marine Saved by Saint Michael”.

The prayer from that story is the one that follows. You can add this to your repertoire of angel prayers.

Michael, Michael of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today,
And in time of temptation
Drive the devil away.

Amen.

Next week will celebrate our guardian angels  and,  of course,  many  of  us grew up reciting this prayer:

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

 At some point in my adult life I was given this addendum to the angel prayer from my friend Fr. James Downey, a Benedictine monk.

“Oh holy patron pray for me, teach me ever to follow thee.”

Amen

~Fr. John

Addenda: 

Prayers to the archangels are certainly a big part of our Sts. Simon and Jude Healing/Deliverance Ministry, particularly the prayer to St. Michael. A reminder that we now have a number of prayer cards at the back of the church that are there for your use. It is a “Customized” prayer to St. Michael to be prayed by parents over their family for deliverance from demonic influence. I’m hearing good reports about the success of this prayer.

Did you know that we have pillowcases in our bookstore / gift shop, one of which is Saint Michael the Archangel?  I personally think this would be a great gift idea for our teens, reminding them to pray it before they go to bed.

And on the feast of the Archangels (September 29), my dad would have been 100 years old. He was born during the time of the Bolshevik revolution which began Communism, World War I was winding down, and the Miracle at Fatima was only two weeks away. Fr. J

 

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