My father’s family came from the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. So, the name of St. Michael the Archangel has always held special meaning for me. In 2003, my wife and I visited Sao Miguel and found this statue of St. Michael in the town square of Ponta Delgada.
St. Michael is the protector of the island and he is fittingly depicted as strong and vigilant. He points the way to Heaven and acknowledges his Master, the Lord of All. The importance of St. Michael, however, extends well beyond Sao Miguel and the Azores. But, I will not go into all that because there is neither time nor space for this post to cover the numerous references to him in the Bible and describe the place he holds in the context of the Church Militant.
Instead, I would like to point out something that Fr. Grinnell related to me on July 25 during a meeting I described in an earlier post. He told me that he was aware that several people would pray the prayer of St. Michael after the conclusion of Mass. He stated that he had no objection to the practice, but he also indicated that he would not initiate or lead the prayer himself.
Let’s consider that point. First, Father was absolutely correct. Many people at the 8:30 AM Mass on Sunday do recite the prayer. Some have tried at the 5 PM at the Saturday Vigil, but they have not had much success getting others to join them. I have no idea what is happening at the later Sunday Mass. People at the weekday Masses have taken up the practice.
So, why would anybody say the prayer? – Perhaps this quote from the article Prayer to St. Michael on the EWTN Website might begin to provide some explanation.
“In 1994 Pope John Paul II requested the faithful to take up again the praying of the Prayer to St. Michael in the battle of our times “against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”
“May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power” (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church. “St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. [Pope John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994]”
In addition to authoring the St. Michael Prayer, Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae which dealt with the heresy of Americanism. Although some would link Pope Leo’s encyclical with Pope St. Pius X encyclical on Modernism, this is not my area of competence. I would only say that Pope Leo XIII saw bad things coming and some of the bad things were coming from America. Therefore, he sought spiritual aid for the coming battles – he asked all of us, at the end of Mass, to call on St. Michael for that assistance.
St. John-Paul the Great asked us not to forget and to recite the St. Michael Prayer “…to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.” So, since Fr. Grinnell indicated to me that he has no objection, let us take the time at the end of every Mass to call upon St. Michael. Your intention might be to vanquish Modernism or Americanism, or it might be some other “force of darkness” that needs to be countered. Whatever your intention might be, take the time to ask St. Michael to stand with us and to protect us the Church Militant.