V:Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Well, now that all is well with the world and I have my freshly-blessed Saint Michael medal, I may as well share this with you. I did promise that I would so I’ll do it while I still remember.
I have always had a love for good Saint Michael, ever since I was a young Church nerd in grade school eating up books of saints’ lives like nothing else (I still love reading saints’ lives). However, it was in college that I truly realized the great power he has as our defender against evil.
One of my favorite prayers is Pope Leo XIII’s prayer to Saint Michael that used to be said after every Low Mass along with three Ave’s, a Salve Regina, and another prayer until it got abolished in about 1970ish (talk about a mistake). They were called the Leonine Prayers (I wonder why?) If you don’t know the story behind the prayer:
One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!”
He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed the prayer to Saint Michael.
I first learned the Saint Michael prayer watching Mass on EWTN. They always recite it after Mass and I was curious to learn more about it. I eventually memorized it in English. Now, not a Mass goes by that I do not recite it quietly in Latin after the priest gives the blessing/dismissal at the end of the Concluding Rite. I try to pray it at least at the end of the day but I should get in the habit of praying it as soon as I get out of bed.
Here is the Latin:
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.
Cor Jesu sacratissimum, Miserere nobis. (thrice repeated)
And the English:
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 do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. (thrice repeated)
There is also a longer prayer to Saint Michael that was written by Pope Leo. You can find the Latin and English here.
Along with my love of the prayer, anytime I find a Saint Michael holy card, I add it to my collection of holy cards. One even has the novena prayer to Saint Michael:
Glorious Saint Michael,
guardian and defender
of the Church of Jesus Christ,
come to the assistance of His followers,
against whom the powers of hell are unchained.
Guard with special care our Holy Father,
the Pope, and our bishops, priests,
all our religious and lay people,
and especially the children.
watch over us during life,
defend us against the assaults of the demon,
and assist us especially at the hour of death.
Help us achieve the happiness
of beholding God face to face
for all eternity. Amen.
intercede for me with God
in all my necessities,
especially…. “the intention is stated here”
Obtain for me a favorable outcome
in the matter I recommend to you.
Mighty prince of the heavenly host,
and victor over rebellious spirits,
remember me for I am weak and sinful
and so prone to pride and ambition.
Be for me, I pray,
my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty,
and above all do not forsake me
in my last struggle with the powers of evil.
My devotion to Saint Michael is no secret. In fact, when I was in the convent, word got around to one of the sisters at the central convent in Chicago that I loved Saint Michael. One day, the door bell rings, she had sent me a little statue of Saint Michael because she had heard of my devotion to him and figured she would share him with me. I have him on my dresser and it always makes me smile. That was very kind of that sister to think of me, little pestulant that I was.
Anywho, I went on a bit of a related tangent there. Let me tell you the story of what fostered my even deeper devotion to good Saint Michael.
My last two years of college (junior and senior year, no victory lap for me, thankyouverymuch), I lived in the former nursing home of the sisters who founded my alma mater. Being a congregation of religious women, they had a chapel attached. I was thrilled because then I could pray my Office in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Always a plus.
Well, I should have known better considering the practices of the congregation liturgically, spiritually, and their stances theologically and morally. Let’s just say that my friends and I would ne’er attend “Mass” there because the validity of the sacraments confected there were in serious question. We already knew it was going to be “Illicit City” and to a point, we could deal with that but you DO NOT touch validity. Not with a ten lightyear long pole. Never mess with the validity of sacraments. Souls are at stake.
Nonetheless, I trusted (naively) that if they said He was in the tabernacle, He was in the tabernacle. So I prayed there all the time without issue. Don’t get me started on the antique chalices left to gather dust and the antique tabernacle that I found under the sink. Or the ton of FIRST CLASS relics I found just collecting dust (like many things there) in a cabinet (Saint Aloysius was one of them). I kept that in my room just to give them a place where they would be honored and wiped off every once in a while. I lived with Saint Aloysius!
Everything was fine and dandy until one night things changed dramatically.
I would pray Vespers and Compline one after the other after I had made a dent in the night’s homework and reading. I would make my way into the chapel, put on my veil, sit in my usual seat, and begin to pray.
This night there was something wrong. Something very very wrong.
My guardian angel and I are pretty close. When there is something present that should not be there, he lets me know. I had such a sense of absolute dread that it absorbed me completely. It was like I could feel the hatred surrounding me. I began to feel very very afraid because though there was no one else in the chapel, I knew I was not alone.
To fight it off, I began to pray my Office more fervently. I prayed every word. Still it was there.
I sat in silence for a bit.
Then it happened.
I kid you not, the hood of my hoodie began to get pulled. I could feel the neckline as it was pulled against my throat. It was trying to get me to turn around and get out. Or at least to frighten me.
Obviously, he doesn’t know Sicilians. We’re a stubborn lot.
This kept happening as I continued to pray. This thing isn’t going to keep me from praying my Office. Ha!
As I progressed in prayer, I felt things moving around me. You know like when people or things move and you can feel the displaced air move? Yeah. It felt like there was something/s walking around me and it was cold.
I got to the end of Compline to the Marian antiphon.
Now I was more annoyed than scared.
I called on Saint Michael to help me and then I began to verbally recite the Salve Regina (in Latin, of course).
I had my eyes closed as I prayed those words and mentally called for Saint Michael. My head was bowed down hoping that Our Lady and Michael would help rid me of this thing/these things that surrounded me.
Then it happened.
I felt an overwhelming peace come over me. Then I felt the air move around me again but this time it did not fill me with fear. It filled me with hope. I tell you at one point, I felt like something was covering me. I think it was Our Lady’s mantle. The other movement that swept the stuff away had to have been Saint Michael because one second they were there and the next they were gone.
The whole feeling of the place had changed dramatically.
I sat there and contemplated what had just happened.
Was I crazy?
Was I suffering from the college malady known as sleep deprivation?
Was it because it was 11 o’clock at night and it was deserted (was it nerves?)?
I am convinced that whatever was assailing me that night was nothing good and nothing to mess with. All the more powerful were the persons who cleared them away and protected me.
I joke about a lot of things. I don’t joke about that stuff. I seriously believe that.
After sitting for a bit, I went back to my room. The whole feeling of the place had changed. The hallway was peaceful as I made my way down to my room and opened the door.
I walked in and my eyes immediately fell on my Saint Michael icon over my bed. It was him. I knew it. And Our Lady had done it too. She always does. And you always know it’s her because she surrounds you with her mantle of love and protection.
From that day forward, I resolved that I would always be a faithful client of good Saint Michael. That I would form a relationship with him of regular prayer. Yes, I talk to Saint Michael. Just like I talk to my guardian angel and Aloysius. Michael is one of my protectors. I know I can always call on him whenever I am in trouble, in doubt, or being tempted. When I was discerning leaving the convent, I asked him using that novena prayer I shared. By the end, the vast majority of the questions went away and I knew what I had to do. I credit him, Our Lady, and the Divine Child with helping me through that. It wasn’t easy.
Well, I have to go do some stuff around the house. I am flipping through the alumni magazine of my alma mater and I think I just read a subtle nod to womyn’s ordynaytion. It was written by a student (whom I know to be completely ignorant of Catholicism if not ambivalent to the Church) and he was talking about what a religious sister had said in a speech but still … srsly … did she/he have to go there? Srsly? Some things never change. The sad thing is that that is an improvement over some of the stuff I had the pleasure of offering for the Poor Souls during my four years there as a Theology major (don’t worry, the department is very solid … I gave up a full ride to UDM for it … my parentals were less than thrilled with that part).
Have a blessed Feast of the Visitation!