Presentation Page 1
St. Michael, Strength of God
Published by Divine Word Publications
Written by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.
IMPRIMI POTEST, NIHIL OBSTAT, IMPRIMATUR: 1957
The Nature of the Angels in General
The Angels are created spirits, without bodies, having understanding and free will. When we speak of spirit, we mean something that in itself is not matter and is independent of matter. We speak of Angels as pure spirits. There is no question here of moral purity. The human soul is not a pure spirit, but is, by nature, wedded to the body. The Council of Lateran defines that God, "by His almighty power brought both creations out of nothing, that of spirit, and that of bodies; that is to say, that of Angels and that of the world, and then that of man, as akin to both, being composed of spirit and of body." As pure spirits, there can be no question of their being subject to infirmities,retaining at all times an ever vigorous youth.
As spiritual beings, the Angels are all endowed with understanding and free will. They are highly intelligent beings. They were endowed with freedom of will at their creation; therefore, they were capable of sin. Their will was free either to embrace or to reject God, the highest good.
The most perfect knowledge or wisdom which the Angels have comes from their vision of God. They see God face to face in Beatific Vision, and this is the source of all their blessedness. They gaze enraptured on the infinite beauties of the Godhead, where they see reflected the whole world of creatures as they really are, and as it pleases God to manifest them. They also have a less perfect knowledge through the play of their natural faculties.
The beauty of the Angels is of the spiritual order. Since they are of a higher order than ourselves and more closely fashioned after the pattern of all beauty and perfection, which is God, they must be of a beauty far surpassing that of men. In our representations of Angels we attribute to them all those things which go to make up the most perfect human form----refinement of features, grace of form, health, vigor, youth, brightness, agility. They do not fill space as bodies do. They can move through the boundless realms of space with a speed far exceeding that of light.
God bestowed on the Angels great power, and yet they are creatures, and as such are limited in their being and operation. Angels cannot of themselves work miracles, whatever they may do as instruments of Almighty God. Nor can they act directly upon the human soul, but only through the body.
God bestowed great holiness on the Angels. Though the Angels are also employed as guardians to our human race, this occupation in no way interferes with their most important business----the blissful contemplation of God, called the Beatific Vision. They behold God face to face in all His glory. They know and love God and sing unceasingly the song of love. Their will is ever one with God's will.
There are degrees of glory and differences of rank among the Angels. They are all alike only as children of God and members of the Mystical Body of Christ and the great family of God. As various functions are discharged by various parts of the human body, so in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Angels have their own separate place, with their own particular function to fulfill. Although all are truly great, since all are sons of the most High God and princes of His Heavenly kingdom, not all are equally high, not all are equally honored, but one differs from another, both in the gifts of nature and in those of grace.
Theologians teach that the holy Angels are divided into three sacred realms, called hierarchies, according to their nearness to God and the fullness of the light flowing in upon their minds from God, the infinite Source of life and light and love. The hierarchies are divided into nine Choirs---three Choirs for each hierarchy. The names of these are mentioned in holy Scripture.
The multitude of those whose privilege it is to stand
before God is very great, and the glory of their gifts and endowments
is such as to fit them to be ministers and messengers of the King of
kings . . . Thousands of thousands ministered to him," says the Prophet
Daniel, "and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him"
[The nine Choirs mentioned in Scripture constitute the
form for the Chaplet of St. Michael: From highest to lowest they are:
Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Denominations, Powers, Virtues,
Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.----The Web Master.]
Devotion to St. Michael grew great in the early Middle Ages, especially at the mountain sanctuary, Mont St. Michel, off the coast of Normandy. The apparitions there were not responsible for the beginnings of devotion in his honor. Great devotion to him arose because of St. Michael's excellence and his power of intercession and protection in favor of the faithful, already indicated in the Scriptures. This accounts for the fact that St. Michael was the only Angel in whose honor liturgical feasts were observed in the Church before the ninth century.
St. Michael the Archangel also spoke to the simple
peasant girl, Joan of Arc, when she was but a child of thirteen years.
His voice called her from her flock of sheep to the command of armies.
She heard his voice and the "voices" of many Angels who accompanied
him. She saw them, as she told her judges, as plainly as her eyes then
beheld her hearers. At first she feared, but later, as often as her
Heavenly visitors departed from her, she used to weep and pray that
they might carry her away with them. When called on one occasion to an
examination before judges regarding her associations with the
Archangel, St. Joan replied,
"As for St. Michael who appeared to me, I believe his
words and actions as firmly as I believe that our Lord suffered His
death and passion for us.
"Another reason which moves me to believe that it was really St. Michael appearing to me is the good counsel, the comfort, the sound doctrine he never ceased to give me. He told me of the desperate state of the kingdom of France."
The universal character of the devotion to St. Michael is further shown by the feasts, calendars and martyrologies, Masses and prayers, patronages and societies, all of which were connected with veneration of St. Michael in the Church.
There are two feasts of St. Michael: The Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel, May 8, and the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29.
In the Holy Roman [Traditional Latin] Mass, the Church urges us to pray to St. Michael that we may obtain his protection in life, and especially in death, ''Defend us in the conflict, that we may not perish in the awful judgment."
And as the soul is about to leave the body and the crisis
in the combat draws near, she prays that "St. Michael, the Archangel of
God who has deserved to be the Prince of the Heavenly host, may admit
her child to the kingdom of Heaven, and that all the holy Angels of God
may come to meet him, and conduct him to the Heavenly city, Jerusalem."
After the death of her children, holy Mother Church again asks St. Michael to help them, in the beautiful Offertory of the Mass for the Dead: "O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the Souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of Hell and from the deep pit; Deliver them from the lion's mouth; let not tartarus swallow them up; let them not fall into the darkness, but let St. Michael, the standard-bearer, lead them into the holy light, which Thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his posterity."
Every time the Tradeitional Roman Mass [removed in the Novus Ordo---Web Master]
is offered, the priest in the Confiteor
which he makes at the foot of the altar, and the people after him,
twice invoke the intercession of the great Archangel Michael, and the
people do the same once more before Holy Communion. In the solemn Mass,
when the incense is blessed at the Offertory, the celebrant prays that
"through the intercession of Blessed Michael the Archangel, standing at
the right of the altar of incense, the Lord may deign to bless the
incense, and receive it in an odor of sweetness." After low Mass a
special prayer to St. Michael is offered for his powerful assistance
against the enemy of our souls. [Still maintained in the Roman Mass but
removed from the Novus Ordo, a most
curious thing because Russia is not converted but is ever more
decadent, see reference for the conversion of Russia below---Web
Pope Pius IX, called the "Pope of St. Michael," approved and indulgenced the Chaplet of St. Michael and the Archconfraternity of St. Michael. Pope Leo XIII approved the Scapular of St. Michael and instituted the prayer to St. Michael which is said after each low Mass. St. Pius X enriched the Archconfraternity with indulgences. Pope Pius XI ordered the prayer to St. Michael, said after the low Mass, to be offered for the conversion of Russia.
Pope Pius XII frequently has urged the faithful to place themselves under the protection of St. Michael. He has exhorted bishops, priests, religious, parents, children, members of Catholic Action, public police, and others. to seek his patronage. He declared St. Michael the patron of public discipline and security in all Italy [September 29, 1949] and the patron and protector of radiologists and radium therapists [January 15, 1941].
Thus the liturgy of the Church, the voice of the
Pontiffs, the many churches dedicated to St. Michael, the exercise of
faith in his intercession on the part of the faithful are all
indications of the outstanding position he holds in the kingdom of
Heaven and in the Church on earth. Even while celebrating a feast in
honor of all the holy Angels, the Church calls him "Prince of the
Heavenly army," thus indicating that she regards him as the first and
foremost of the Angels.
The history of the former feast of the Apparition of St. Michael is very remarkable. In the year 404, a wealthy man had a large herd of cattle grazing on Monte Gargano in Italy, not far from the once famous city of Siponto. One day a steer went astray from the herd and did not return with the rest of the cattle at the usual time. The owner and his hired men went in search of the steer, and finally found him on the summit of the mountain, lying at the entrance of a cave. The animal refused to leave the spot. At length the owner, exasperated by its stubbornness, took up his bow and sent an arrow toward it. However, the arrow whirled about in the air, and, coming directly toward the archer, wounded him.
All were frightened at this strange incident, and no one ventured to approach the place. They went directly to the Bishop of Siponto and related the incident to him. The holy prelate, after serious reflection, decided that there must be some mystery connected with it. He therefore prayed fervently that God's holy will might be revealed. Thereupon St. Michael appeared to him in great splendor and said: I am Michael, the Archangel, who ever stand before the Lord. I am keeping this place under my special protection. By this strange occurrence, I wish to remind men to celebrate the Divine service in my honor and that of all the Angels."
After this revelation, the Bishop and all the inhabitants of the place went up the mountain in solemn procession, and prayed to the Lord through the intercession of St. Michael. When they arrived at the cave, they found an entrance which led down a stairway. No one, however, ventured to enter, and they performed their devotions at the opening. After that many pilgrimages were made to this spot.
Meantime, the Neapolitans decided to make war upon the inhabitants of Siponto and Benevento. The latter, at the advice of their Bishop, kept a three days' fast and called upon the assistance of the holy Archangel. During the night preceding the attack, the Archangel again appeared to the Bishop and told him that God had listened to their petitions, that in the fourth hour of the day they should courageously meet the enemy, and they would gain the victory.
As soon as the attack began, all Monte Gargano was violently shaken. The entire summit was enveloped in dark clouds, from which flashes of lightning, like fiery arrows, flew toward the enemy, who, in consequence, took to flight. In joy and gratitude, and amid devout prayer, the conquerors entered the sacred spot. They found the cavern to be perfectly formed for a church, which could hold about five hundred persons.
This cave had evidently been a place of refuge in which the early Christians had secretly held their services during times of persecution. From a crevice in the rock, which formed the ceiling of this sanctuary, water dripped down upon the rocks. This water was very refreshing and most pleasant to the taste, and possessed healing properties. Many sick persons were instantly cured after drinking this water; others found health through the intercession of St. Michael. Many other miracles proved this place to be under the special protection of Heaven. Besides this subterranean church the Bishop erected another, in which the services were conducted by Canons Regular. This church still exists.
On September 29, it is not certain just what parish church is commemorated as having been dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel on this day. Yet the pious belief has gained favor that the entire Catholic Church is here indicated. For, by casting the rebel spirits into the abyss, St. Michael dedicated the Church Triumphant in Heaven as the peaceful abode of the Angels, and as he wards off the devil and his colleagues from the Church upon earth, he has dedicated the Church Militant as the secure dwelling place of the faithful upon earth. Finally, as helper and consoler of the Souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering is placed under his care. The liturgy for the present feast is not confined to the veneration of St. Michael alone, but includes the Archangel Gabriel and the Archangel Raphael.
Try to cultivate a personal devotion to St. Michael in your daily life. St. Michael was created to glorify God. He does so personally, but he also helps others to know, love, and serve God through his patronage. Angels are given you by Divine Providence to help you, especially spiritually, but you must be willing to let them work their good in you.
You constantly need Heavenly assistance to grow in spiritual life, in grace, in the love of God, and your neighbor. Invoke the Archangel Michael as your Patron. Let him be the guardian of your soul and body. Call upon him especially when the temptations of the world. the flesh, and the devil trouble you. He will protect you from danger and obtain the grace of God for you through his prayers, that your mind may be enlightened and your will strengthened to do good and to avoid evil.
St. Michael is invoked for growth in virtue, especially the virtues of obedience, charity, and humility, for he shows an excellence in practicing these virtues. St. Michael is obedient to Jesus Christ, the Word, Who was obedient to His Father, even to the death of the Cross. The fact that he is mentioned as a Guardian Angel of the Eucharist indicates that he possesses qualities----sanctifying grace, virtues, and powers----to exercise guardianship over this Sacrament.
Those who stand closest to God in love and perfection, stand very near also to Mary, the Mother of God. St. Michael must exert great influence upon Mary, the Queen of Angels, through his prayers, since he is one of the most excellent of Angelic spirits who occupy a place near the Throne of God. You may go to Mary through St. Michael, and through Mary to Jesus. He is Mary's loyal subject.
You may confidently appeal to St. Michael in your own personal struggles with the powers of evil, and still more in behalf of the Church in that bitter warfare which the spirits of darkness continually waged against her.
St. Michael wants to be your friend during your lifetime. He understands your needs and problems and those of your dear ones. Entrust yourself and your family to his care, and invoke his help frequently. Especially at the hour of death you will find him your support and consolation and your defense against the enemies of your soul. If you are devoted to him in life, he will come to receive your soul in death and admit you to your Heavenly home, for God has delivered to him the Souls of all the faithful that he may conduct them to Heaven. He is God's Ambassador for the Souls of the just, as the Church prays: "Michael, Ambassador of paradise, whom the fellow citizens of the Angels honor." Or as Pope Pius XII exhorted us [Feb. 11, 1949]: "If God is with us, who is there that could overcome us? In the final hour we shall stand victorious with St. Michael, the Archangel, and share in the triumph of the Heavenly Jerusalem!"
VIEW TWO IMAGES OF THE ARCHANGEL:
MADONNA OF VICTORY
MADONNA AND SAINTS