SAINT MICHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL, DEFEND US IN BATTLE…
These words are deeply ingrained in the Catholic psyche and have been upon the lips of faithful Catholics for over 130 years, since they were mandated by Pope Leo XIII in 1884 as part of a series of prayers (the “Leonine Prayers”) for recitation after Low Mass. The liturgical changes made after the Second Vatican Council, through the promulgation of Inter Oecumenici in 1965, “suppressed” them (OE 48j), essentially removing the mandate for their inclusion in Mass, but by no means eliminating them from our devotional use.
In fact, the “St. Michael Prayer” has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, in particular as a prayer of protection for active duty military and police officers, for whom St. Michael is their patron. Current events have always inspired the recitation of the “St. Michael Prayer.” In the 1880s, the Pope desired that the faithful pray for the protection of the Holy See against temporal political powers that threatened the independence of the Church. In the late 1920s, Pope Pius XI encouraged their recitation for the return of Russia (then an atheist communist dictatorship) to a place of religious flourishing (which we are seeing in our own time).
As we know all too well, our own society is plagued with evil and violence against the innocent, from the threat of global nuclear war and the rise of Islamic terrorism, to the heinous acts of individual gunmen against concert-goers. Perhaps at no other time in human history has it seemed so necessary to so many to invoke the power of the Archangel Michael, who in the Bible is clearly depicted as achieving victory over Satan and the powers of darkness (Daniel 10 and 12, Thessalonians 4:16, Jude 1:9, and Revelation 12:7-9).
Through the incredible generosity of a St. Mark family, and the wisdom of our pastor, we now have a life-size statue of St. Michael in our newly-remodeled Prayer Garden (also featuring beautiful marble plaques dedicated to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The Garden and the St. Michael statue were blessed and dedicated on Friday, September 29th, the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. That same weekend we began singing the “St. Michael Prayer” after Communion, during the same contemplative prayer time when we often sing the prayer “Anima Christi.”
The text of the “St. Michael Prayer” can be found on page 1085 of the red Lumen Christi Missal. The melody is a simple chant formula, easily learned by all. We’ll continue singing the “St. Michael Prayer” together during these last few weeks of the liturgical year, as our liturgies begin to focus on the “Last Things” (Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell) leading up to the triumphant celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Of course, you can pray the “St. Michael Prayer” anytime, privately and with a group. God has called each of us to wage spiritual battle against the forces of evil. We definitely want Saint Michael in our camp.
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 cast into Hell Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.