Never have we needed Saint Michael the Archangel more than we do today. So it’s timely that author James Day, a regular contributor to OC Catholic, tells us more about this saint to whom we fervently pray for protection.
In “Saint Michael the Archangel,” published by OSV, one of the largest Catholic publishers in the world, we “discover the fascinating ‘biography’ of the angel whose mission from God is to do battle against Satan and all the evil spirits.” The publishers website also says, “Weaving together Scripture, history, papal documents, and popular devotion, author James Day fills in the gaps of our knowledge about Saint Michael, revealing the impact the mighty defender has on individuals, the Church, and the world.
The book’s release date is set for Sept. 22.
OUR OWN BISHOP KEVIN VANN WROTE THE BOOK’S FOREWORD. BISHOP VANN WRITES:
“I still recall with great fondness my years as an altar server at my home parish of St. Agnes in Springfield, Illinois, where the priest who trained me, Fr. John Sohm, was a great influence in my hearing the call of the priesthood in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. The way in which Fr. Sohm celebrated the Mass and prayed, made a deep impression on me. I remember especially from those years the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass, which we as a faith community would recite together. It was a simple yet powerful exhortation to God’s fearless protector, Saint Michael, that was promulgated by Pope Leo XIII. It is the communion of saints, but in particular Saint Michael and Our Blessed Mother, to whom the faithful have turned to in the darkest times, that they intercede to God for the mercy, peace, and grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is no less true in our time as we have witnessed a dangerous increase in diabolic movements.
Following Pope Francis’s summons in 2018 to recite the Saint Michael prayer, other bishops and I asked all parishes to pray for Saint Michael the Archangel’s intercession at the conclusion of all Masses for the month of October, during a year that brought devastating and disheartening news that there is much still to be done to cleanse and purify the Church. Here in Orange, we said this prayer beginning September 23, the feast of Saint John of Capistrano, our secondary patron. The great prayer to the prince of the heavenly hosts was recited in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. To this day, I am strengthened in hope that God’s angels will not abandon our prayers, and I pray they faithfully carry all our petitions to our Heavenly Father.
Following the Lord’s call to holiness is not an easy journey, and times of crises certainly test our resolve. I believe it is important at such a time, even if it might be difficult, to remember the words of the psalmist, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps 62:8).
Saint Michael and the presence of whole choirs of angels, who we see frequently appear in pivotal parts of Scripture, remind us that spiritual warfare is indeed a reality and not to be taken lightly. It affects us all, in our own way, and we all know that life’s trials are very real. Every day, indeed every moment, presents a choice for us to do well and avoid evil (see 1 Th 5:22). The Church helps prepare the faithful in spiritual combat beginning with Baptism, particularly with these questions: “Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises?” Many of us have heard them, and have had the chance to renew these promises at the baptisms of family members, and at the Easter Vigil as well.
The light of Christ is far more attractive than any of those empty works and promises from the evil one, and I encourage all to exercise a simple examination of conscience when faced with temptation: Will this bring me closer to God? My parents, especially my father taught us to always do the hard thing, which is usually the right thing, and often the “narrow door.” I remember, as a priest early on in my ministry, being witnessed to by a woman religious to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ep 6:11). Similarly, as St. Paul also says, the word of God is our sword (Ep 6:17). One of the most powerful and moving moments during the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the laying on of hands by the bishop to those being ordained. This significant gesture is echoed as far back as Psalms: “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle” (Ps 144:1).
Saint Michael most certainly hovers near the glory of the Triune God. Saint Michael is venerated first by our Jewish brothers and sisters, and celebrated in our own Church history. Time and again, Saint Michael appears when our forebears in faith needed spiritual reinforcement. The Prayer to Saint Michael, as Pope Saint John Paul II believed and as Pope Francis has reiterated in our time, helps in the battle against the forces of darkness.
Learning more about the great impact of Saint Michael will help strengthen our great resolve and discipline in following Christ. To this end, we can again draw strength from Saint Paul, who urges us, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ep 6:10). May God, through the intercessions of Saint Michael, Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness of the Diocese of Orange, who tells us (as well as her Son), “Do not be afraid!” May all of the holy angels and saints protect us in this spiritual battle here on Earth, so that we may join the Church in eternity giving praise to the Lord, in the everlasting light of his face.”