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EPISODE#215
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: A NEW BOOK ABOUT ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Host Rick Howick welcomes back a good friend to the program: James Day. James is, among other things, the Operations Manager for the EWTN west coast studios on the campus of Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. He is also quite the prolific author; and, he has recently written a fascinating book about St. Michael the Archangel.

Give us a listen.. you will be fascinated by the discussion that takes place. You will no doubt want to SHARE this podcast!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 11/14/20

THE ROLE OF ST. MICHAEL IN THE WAKE OF TODAY’S CRISIS

On the one hand, St. Michael the Archangel’s everlasting mission never changes, no matter the tragedy occurring this side of heaven: this great angel exists to help bring souls to heaven. At the offertory in the High Mass of the Extraordinary Form, the priest blesses the incense saying, in Latin, “By the intercession of blessed Michael the Archangel, who standeth at the right hand of the Altar of incense, and of all His Elect, may the Lord deign to bless this incense, and to accept its fragrant sweetness.”

In this way, St. Michael is not some remote, mystic being, but hovering in eager service to God at each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in order to protect the souls of His people from ruin and into glory.

As the warrior angel and leader of God’s army in the cosmologic battle with Satan, St. Michael is called upon to “be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” And remember, too, St. Michael in the final moments of earthly life: in addition to invoking both Our Lady to “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death,” and St. Joseph for a happy death, it is said there is St. Michael again, accompanying the soul on its final journey.

On the other hand, as it is becoming increasingly clear in our current crisis, we see the supernatural battle between good and evil spilling into the visible realm. St. Michael’s role becomes ever more urgent for those in this present storm clinging to the barque of Peter, praying for the Lord to calm the waters.

 

St. Michael—Protector of Vatican City

There is a little remembered event from July 2013: the blessing of a St. Michael statue in the Vatican Gardens, attended by both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Pope Francis spoke to those gathered, acknowledging this monument project of St. Michael was begun under Benedict’s pontificate:

Even if the devil is always trying to scratch the face of the Archangel and the face of man, God is stronger; his is the victory and his salvation is offered to every human being. On the journey and in the trials of life we are not alone, we are accompanied and sustained by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome the many dangers, to be able to fly above those realities that can make our lives difficult or drag us down. In consecrating the Vatican City State to St Michael the Archangel, let us ask him to defend us from the Evil One and cast him out.

Across the Tiber from St. Peter’s looms the giant statue of St. Michael above the parapet of the imposing, ancient Castel Sant’Angelo, preparing to sheathe his sword in victory, a striking visual emphasizing St. Michael’s role in our mortal lives and immortal souls.

With such spiritual protection over Rome, how has such moral depravity and corruption wrought by some members of the Mystical Body of Christ, which has caused such devastation for victims and the Church itself, been even allowed to happen?

In his homily at a Mass celebrated for the Gendarmerie Corps, the police force for Vatican City, Pope Francis explained that the war between the angels of God and Satan is a war that “has been waged every day, every day: it is waged in the heart of men and women…It is the war between good and evil.” Later, he encourages Gendarmerie Corps members to:

Pray often so that, with the intercession of St Michael the Archangel, the Lord may safeguard you from giving in to every temptation, from every temptation to corruption for money, for riches, from vanity and arrogance. 

 

St. Michael and the Vision of a Pope

Perhaps to help better understand the present catastrophe engulfing the Church, we can look to an incident from1884, on October 13 in fact, 33 years to the date before the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Pope Leo XIII, six years into his pontificate and at the age of 74, was just finishing celebrating Mass in his private chapel in the Vatican when he was befallen at the foot of the altar in a trance-like state, frozen, unmoving, his face terrified. Aides thought he was encountering some kind of paralytic seizure, fearing the pontiff was suffering from epilepsy, the disorder that had taken the life of Leo’s predecessor, Pius IX.

Ten minutes later Leo recovered, but was no less relaxed. It was as if something was bottled inside him and he needed to expunge it. What resulted that night was the composition of the Prayer to St. Michael. The intercession was given such importance it was among the rare non-liturgical elements added to the Mass. Catholics around the world recited the prayer after Mass until the 1960s.

Saint Michael, the Archangel,

Defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him we humbly pray,

And to Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts,

By the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

Leo’s private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli, later claimed Leo foresaw demonic forces descending upon Rome. But what transfixed Leo at the foot of the altar? He later described hearing two voices, one guttural and one gentle, emanate from the tabernacle area, which he deemed to be one of Satan, and one of Our Lord.

The guttural voice, the voice of Satan, boasting: “I can destroy your Church.”

The gentle voice of Our Lord: “You can? Then go ahead and do so.” 

Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.” 

Our Lord: “How much time? How much power?” 

Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.” 

Our Lord: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”

While it may be interesting to try to calculate the timeframe bequeathed Satan for his feckless goal, the ensuing battle between good and evil, the siege on the city of the spirit in this present war for souls, as Pope Francis reminds us, occurs each day. From the tsunami of horrific reports of demonic crimes against the innocent and against Holy Mother Church herself, Satan is acting like one knowing the clock is running out and he is on the losing side. When faced with such a position, one resorts to desperate measures. In this case, Satan is using every trick to drag as many souls into the netherworld as he can.

 

Penance! Penance! Penance!

On July 13, 1917, an apparition of Our Lady revealed three “secrets” to the three Portuguese children at the Cova da Iria in Fatima. The eldest child and lone survivor of the Fatima seers, Sr. Lucia, later wrote down the secrets, introducing the third secret this way:

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. 

It is not stated the identity of the angel with the flaming sword. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, postulated in his theological commentary, “The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgement which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword.”

There is one angel mentioned by name in the Book of Revelation, that
of St. Michael the Archangel (cf. Rev. 12:7-9).

Often forgotten are the three apparitions of an angel to the children before the more famous appearances at Fatima. In the first apparition, Sr. Lucia’s account identifies the angel as a “he” and records his first words to the children: “Do not be afraid. I am the angel of peace. Pray with me.” Might God’s warrior angel who vanquished Lucifer, who participates in each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and strives to safeguard the souls of the faithful also be the angel of peace? That the Fatima apparitions occurred during the turbulence and cataclysmic World War I is not without coincidence—and neither is it that the pope during that time, Benedict XV, vigorously sought a way to negotiate peace among the warring nations.

Almost 90 years later, the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI said, “The very name Benedict, which I chose on the day of my election to the Chair of Peter, is a sign of my personal commitment to peace.”

These are the days of “prayer and penance.” These are the days when we are glimpsing the cosmic battle breaking through into our visible world. Peace can only come from authentic penance. May St. Michael at last slay the snares of the devil plaguing our time, and in turn crush mankind’s own destructive capacity to inflict senseless evil on the good and innocent.

PRAYER TO ST. MICHAEL SEES RESURGENCE IN RESPONSE TO ABUSE CRISIS

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In response to the church abuse crisis, many parishes around the country have been bringing out the big guns in a spiritual sense — calling on St. Michael the Archangel to help the church.

Some pastors have asked their parishioners to say the prayer at the end of Masses and some bishops have urged all diocesan parishes to recite it. Pope Francis also recently urged Catholics worldwide to recite it after praying the rosary during the month of October.

But for some parishes, saying this prayer at the end of Mass is nothing new.

In 2015, when Father Jose Manuel Campos Garcia was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Roseburg, Oregon, he started praying the prayer to St. Michael after daily Mass not long after a shooting occurred at the nearby Umpqua Community College that left 10 students dead.

After he began leading the parish in this prayer after daily Mass, he said he saw a change.

“For us, it’s been a journey of healing relationships and healing the community,” he told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.

And now this parish will be joined by other parishes in the archdiocese in reciting the prayer which calls on the saint to “defend us in battle” and to “be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”

The prayer reads in full: “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

In a Sept. 14 letter to priests, Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample urged them to pray the St. Michael Prayer after each Mass and to encourage parishioners to say this prayer daily.

In his letter, he said the church is in “distressing times with continued revelations about the failures of our brother priests and bishops” and he also said “the evil one has intensified his war” against the church.

The archbishop said there are many things to do to purify the church at this time but that “prayer will also be the foremost and most appropriate response, on which all other efforts will build.”

Father Anthony Ahamefule, administrator of Holy Trinity Parish in Bandon, Oregon, began saying the prayer after Masses in September. He described it as a good spiritual resource.

The priest, who knew the prayer as a child from saying it with his family, feels it will now “bring a sense of healing” by helping Catholics to look to Jesus in trying moments.

“The prayer of St. Michael ties into our eucharistic nature that God is always with us to protect us in challenging times,” he said.

Father Sam Kachuba, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Fairfield, Connecticut, has been leading parishioners in the prayer since Sept. 15, as requested by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport.

He said many parishioners remember the words fondly from when they were young and others are learning the prayer, following along with printed versions of it in stickers on the back of church hymnals.

The priest told Catholic News Service that parishioners see the prayer as “one part in a multi-part response to the crisis in the church” — the spiritual dimension.

One parishioner who served in the Marine Corps, told the priest he said that prayer every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, during active duty and that saying it now reminds him of what spiritual life requires.

Father Kachuba said he has known the prayer a long time and he thinks saying it together is a beautiful practice. “It never hurts to remind ourselves what is at stake: the devil is seeking our souls every day and God gives us the defense and protection we need if we just avail ourselves of it.”

Bishop Caggiano announced the plan to say this prayer via the modern method of social media. He announced on Twitter Aug. 24 that the prayer would be recited at the end of all Masses in the diocese starting Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. He also asked that Catholics pray this individually.

Other bishops who have called on Catholics to pray to the intercession of St. Michael at this time of church crisis include: New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan; Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Kansas City, Kansas; Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee; and Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California. Some bishops were encouraging this practice for the month of October, some suggested it as part of a nine-day novena and others did not give the practice a suggested end.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, called on Catholics in his diocese to say this prayer at Masses beginning last Dec. 31 as a way to pray for “the triumph of good in our world and the overcoming of evil.”

Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS he did not know how prevalent this current practice was in the United States.

He said the history of saying this prayer at the end of Mass goes back to Pope Leo XIII in late 1800s. The prayer was recited at the end of low Masses, or Masses without singing, during the time when the Papal States were being confiscated by the Italians and later as an intention for the conversion of Russia.

The priest said in a Sept. 18 email that the prayer was “suppressed as a part of the Mass not long before the post-Vatican II revisions to the Mass were instituted. When the prayer is said today, it would be considered a devotion that technically takes place outside of Mass, after the final blessing has been given.”

James Hetzel, president and CEO of The Catholic Company, an online store based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said many parishes in the Diocese of Charlotte have “been praying the St. Michael prayer after Mass for as long as I can remember.”

He said he was glad to see the practice catching on around the country.

In an email to CNS, he said his company had not had a recent increase in sales of St. Michael prayer cards, but he said St. Michael-related products “have been strong sellers for us for years.”

Hetzel said he has seen “an uptick in products related to spiritual warfare,” though, and he thinks those types of books “go hand in hand with the role St. Michael the Archangel plays in our lives.”