Presentation Page 2

Excerpts from
St. Michael, Strength of God
Published by Divine Word Publications
Written by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik,  S.V.D.

St. Michael: God's Marshall

"Hail, bright Archangel, Prince of Heaven!
Spirit Divinely strong!
To whose rare merit hath been given
To head the Angelic throng."

Now, we shall meditate on this most beautiful Prince of Heaven, consider his special duties towards men, and the assistance he gives us at all times.

Holy Church gives to St. Michael the highest place among the Angels, for she refers to him as "Prince of the Heavenly hosts." She tells of the glories of this great Archangel in several portions of her Liturgy and keeps two feasts in his honor. One of the inspiring antiphons for his festival points out: "The Archangel Michael is set over Paradise, and is honored by the citizens of Heaven. He repays with blessings the honor shown him by the faithful and his prayer leads us to the kingdom of Heaven." St. Michael appears chiefly as the Head of God's armies, champion of the people of God in the Old Testament, and mighty guardian of God's chosen flock under the New. Fittingly he is represented in art as the Angel warrior, the conqueror of Lucifer, setting his heel upon the head of the infernal foe, threatening him with his sword, transpiercing him with his lance, or prepared to chain him down in the nethermost abyss whence he shall nevermore issue after the last day.

The war carried on against the Woman and her Child by the Dragon and his Angels is described in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse. By that Woman is meant in the first place the Church of God, but in a symbolic sense Mary, too, is signified who bore Christ, and whose children are all the faithful begotten by her and Christ in them. All these the Dragon would wish to destroy. In his persecution of the Church, Satan can know of neither rest nor surcease. It is carried on by him and his followers, now in one part of the world and now in another. It is constantly active round about us. It is waged with diabolic cunning and fury. Science, literature, art, and every human achievement are impressed into its service.

All this would be inexplicable, did we not know its history and its instigator, the devil, who was a liar and a murderer from the first, Satan, the old serpent.

"In the midst of that chapter of the Apocalypse, to which we have referred above, Michael and his Angels are suddenly introduced in a great battle fought by them against the Dragon and his Angels. 'And there was a great battle in Heaven' [12: 7]. This event with all its mysterious significance, will most probably take place toward the end of the world. 'And that great dragon,' says St. John, 'was cast out, that old serpent who is called the devil and Satan'." [The Spirit World]

St. Michael never ceases to wage war against his enemy and ours. Lucifer, whom he once vanquished in the dim and distant ages, and the verdict of that battle will never be reversed. No harm can come to the children of God, who place their trust in the Precious Blood, and in St. Michael, the "standard-bearer of salvation," who ever stands as a firm and impregnable wall against the fiercest attacks of the evil one. There is happiness also for us in the thought that the most exalted among the bright spit its of Heaven owes all his gifts and glorious prerogatives to the same Divine Mercy to which we are indebted for our salvation. Let us praise the Sacred Price of our Redemption for all Its magnificent graces, and congratulate St. Michael on the glory that is his. "How beautiful are thou, O Michael, in thy Heavenly armor, giving glory to the God Whose enemy thou overcamest!"

St. Michael's Loyalty to God

"The very name of Michael urges us to honor this glorious spirit; it is a cry of enthusiasm and fidelity, for it signifies: 'Who is like unto God?' Satan trembles at hearing this name, for it reminds him of the noble protest wherewith the bright Archangel answered the call of the rebel Angels. Michael proved his strength and prowess when he fought the great battle in Heaven." From that hour he has been known as "Michael, the captain of the armies of God, first Prince of the holy city, to whom the other Angels yield ready obedience. They most willingly and gratefully recognize his supremacy, for after God, they owe to him their perseverance in grace and their eternal happiness. With loving submission they receive from him their various offices. They are attentive to his slightest wish, because they recognize in his commands and regulations the will of God, their sovereign Lord and King.

Thus does God honor and reward in Heaven him whose zeal saved the greater portion of the Heavenly court from destruction. Next, we hear his praise from no less an authority than his brother Angel, St. Gabriel, who speaking to the Prophet Daniel says: "Michael, who is your Prince," and "Michael, who is one of the first among Princes." Let us look upon this blessed Prince of Heaven with holy joy, for he deserves our highest veneration. As St. Gabriel, God's Ambassador, was the first to adore the Precious Blood in the Incarnate Word, upon earth, so was St. Michael Its first adorer in Heaven. St. Michael humbly submitted to the trial given the Angels and manifested his allegiance to his Divine Master, by an act of profound adoration and fidelity. His fearlessness and fortitude aroused the courage of the faithful Angels who rallied to his standard, repeating with one accord his noble cry: "Who is like unto God?" St. Michael and his faithful followers won a glorious victory.

A like triumph will St. Michael win in behalf of all those who place their confidence in him. More than ever in this present age do we need his assistance. "Open and secret revolt against God and His Church, the spirit of criticism, unbelief and immorality are rampant. The haughty and insolent boast of Lucifer, 'I will be like the Most High!' is re-echoed today throughout the world. Puffed up with their discoveries and their progress in material science, men are loudly proclaiming their self-sufficiency and denying the existence of a Supreme Being. Governments and secret societies plotting against God and striving to blot out from homes and schools, from offices and factories, all traces of Christianity, show plainly under whose standard they are assembled. Never before in the history of the world were the rights of God so blasphemously mocked and denied, or the rights of men so arrogantly asserted, as they are today.

"As a remedy against these frightful evils, we are urged to invoke the aid of that glorious Prince of Heaven who rendered all glory to God by conquering Lucifer and casting him into the abyss. 'In our times,' writes Cardinal Mermillod, 'when the very foundation of society is shaken in consequence of having denied the rights of God, we must revive the veneration of St. Michael and with him raise the victorious cry: 'Who is like unto God'?"

Three centuries ago St. Francis de Sales wrote: "Veneration of St. Michael is the greatest remedy against despising the rights of God, against insubordination, skepticism and infidelity," vices which are perhaps more prevalent now than in any previous period of history. Let us then with confident trust, invoke the aid and the protection of this mighty Archangel whose shield bears the inscription: "Who is like unto God."

O holy Archangel, may we be ever faithful to God as thou wast.

Pray to Him that we, too, may love Him, our common Lord and Master; then shall we be invincible. Be our shield and armour that at all times and in all places we may always defend the honor of the Most High.

The Veneration of St. Michael

Holy Church recognizes the exalted dignity and power of St. Michael by the veneration she pays to him. He has moreover, been honored from the earliest times and in many countries, as is evidenced from the writings of the Fathers. Under the Old Law, the Archangel was the Guardian of the Hebrew Nation, as the following words found in the Book of Daniel indicate: "Michael, the great Prince who standeth for the children of Thy people," now, the Prophet's people, were, of course, the Jews. And again, "it is accepted as without doubt, that the Angel of the Lord who was assigned the Israelites in the days of Moses, to guide them through the desert and bring them in to the idolatrous nations whom it was God's will to destroy through them, was the same great Michael. 'Behold I will send My Angel, who shall go before thee,' the Lord said to Israel." [Ex. 23: 20]

After the death of Moses, according to an ancient Jewish tradition, referred to in the Epistle of St. Jude [1: 9], St. Michael contended with Satan over the body of the Prophet. In obedience to the command of God, St. Michael concealed the tomb of Moses from the people and also from Satan who wished to disclose it to the Israelites in order to seduce them to the sin of idolatry.

St. Michael was God's confidant in His designs of mercy and justice towards His chosen Nation. "Finally, it was this great Prince who came to the aid of the Israelites and rendered the army of Judas Macchabeus victorious over his enemies. Even to this day, the Jews invoke the holy Archangel Michael as the principal defender of the Synagogue and their protector against their enemies. On the Feast of the Atonement they conclude their prayers with this beautiful invocation: 'Michael, Prince of mercy, pray for Israel, that it may reign in Heaven, in that light which streams forth from the Face of the King Who sits upon the throne of mercy'."

Under the New Dispensation, the position of St. Michael, "was to be enlarged and glorified. He is today Champion of the entire Catholic people." From the earliest Christian ages, the practical devotion of the people has attributed to him numberless spiritual and temporal blessings. The Emperor Constantine, grateful for the victories gained over his enemies which he attributed to the protection of St. Michael, built a magnificent church near Constantinople in honor of the Archangel, which he called Michaelion. It became a place of pilgrimage and many sick and infirm were cured in it by the intercession of St. Michael.

It is related that in Rome also, churches were built dedicated to St. Michael as far back as 494. During the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great, a terrible pestilence depopulated the city of Rome. The Sovereign Pontiff ordered a penitential procession during which he himself carried a statute of the Blessed Virgin. Eighty persons died in the ranks of the procession itself. Still the Pontiff continued the prayers. When they arrived at the bridge crossing the Tiber, they heard the songs of Angels in the skies. Suddenly above the castle of San Angelo, St. Michael appeared in gigantic size. In his right hand, he held a sword which he thrust into the scabbard. At the same moment the pestilence ceased.

"In other parts of Christendom, this devotion took root only by degrees, and it was by the holy Archangel's appearing to men that the Faithful were prompted to have recourse to him. These apparitions were local and for reasons which to us may seem of secondary importance, but God Who from little causes produces great effects, made use of them whereby to excite Christians to have confidence in their Heavenly Protector."

O holy Archangel, protect us and obtain for us in virtue of the Divine Blood, that we may be victorious over the enemies of our souls and enjoy with thee the happiness of Heaven.