Presentation Page 3
St. Michael, Strength of God
Published by Divine Word Publications
Written by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.
IMPRIMI POTEST, NIHIL OBSTAT, IMPRIMATUR: 1957
'Neath St. Michael's Shield
No Author, Pamphlet Published by Pauline Books and Media, available for $1.50
St. Michael has always been considered by the Church of God as its special Protector. Cardinal Newman hails him thus:
"Thou Champion high
Spiritual writers assure us that, ''as the chosen people of the Old Law were marvelously protected by St. Michael, so we may not doubt that this great Prince of Heaven protects the Church of God in a still more signal manner. Under the New Law as under the Old, St. Michael is the 'Vicar of the Most High and the Prince of His people,' ever prepared to render assistance. With one accord the holy Fathers of the Church teach that St. Michael is the Guardian Angel and the protector of the Catholic Church.
Time and again, in centuries past, St. Michael came to the rescue when dreadful wars and persecutions threatened to destroy Christianity. He it was who, at the command of Mary, Queen of Angels, came to the assistance of Constantine the Great in the fourth century and helped his forces to gain a brilliant victory over the pagan Emperor Maxentius. The Archangel himself revealed his identity in this instance. Appearing to Constantine after the completion of a beautiful church which the latter had erected to his honor in gratitude, he said: I am Michael, the chief of the Angelic legions of the Lord of hosts, the protector of the Christian religion, who whilst thou wast battling against godless tyrants, placed the weapons in thy hands. This noble edifice, generally known as the Michaelion, became the scene of many miracles wrought through the power of the great Archangel.
St. Michael has ever proved himself a valiant warrior for the honor of God both in Heaven and on earth. By his power he wages incessant war with the archfiend, Satan, in the great kingdom of God upon earth, the Church. Glowing zeal for the honor of God in his distinctive trait and virtue.
The Venerable Anna Catherine Emmerich was frequently granted visions of the past and future combats of the Church. Repeatedly she saw St. Michael, in the form of a warrior, standing with blood-stained sword above the Church, replacing the sword in his scabbard as a sign of victory. She was also shown how, in the present-day struggles of the Church, St. Michael would bring about a most glorious victory. This thought should be consoling to all the faithful Christians who view with alarm the many shafts of persecution now being directed against the Church." ['Neath St. Michael's Shield] His assistance is needed by us, especially in these troublesome times when the legions of evil are almost visibly abroad over all the earth exciting the minds of men. We behold their activities, not merely in the world-wide Communist propaganda against morality and religion everywhere, but in other manifestations as well. Truly then, may we call on St. Michael to defend us in the tremendous day of battle, and to make strong our hearts that we may fight not merely a defensive warfare, but an aggressive spiritual campaign against evil under every shape. Beneath his mighty leadership and with the aid of his own unvanquishable legions of light, we shall not fail.
Pope Leo XIII, realizing by Divine enlightenment the present and future struggles of the Church against the powers of Hell, felt convinced that through the intervention of St. Michael, Hell would be conquered and the Church restored to peace and liberty. He, therefore, composed a prayer in honor of the warrior-Archangel and ordered it to be recited daily after low Mass in all the churches throughout the Christian world, which practice has been kept to this day in the Roman or Tridentine Rite Mass. [This prayer will be found in this directory.] The circumstances which led to this course of action on the part of the saintly Pontiff are said to be as follows: One day, after having celebrated the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the aged Pontiff was in conference with the Cardinals. Suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side feared that he had already expired, for they could find no trace of his pulse. However, after a short interval the Holy Father rallied, and coming to himself, exclaimed with great emotion: "Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!" He had been shown in spirit the tremendous activities of the evil spirits and their efforts against the Church. But in the midst of this vision of horror he had beheld the consoling vision of the glorious Archangel Michael, who had appeared and cast Satan and his legions back into the abyss of Hell. Soon afterwards he composed the well-known prayer: St. Michael, the Archangel defend us in the battle. Be our safeguard against the malice and snares of the devil. . . , etc. Daily this powerful petition rises heavenward from thousands of Catholic sanctuaries throughout the world and we may believe that in answer to this fervent plea the great Archangel hastens to the aid of the Bride of Christ, the Church, in her many afflictions."
Commenting on the grandeurs of our holy Mother the Church, Father Walz has this beautiful passage:
"The Church of God has taken up her Bridegrooms' emblems of victory from Calvary's heights and has carried them throughout the world; for thus do I see the Church going forth over the earth, a valiant woman-----in her left hand holding high the Cross and in her right devoutly carrying the Chalice, the two symbols of redemption, of truth and of grace. Her face is that of a victor who can speak of great triumphs, but the image of her Bridegroom, with whom she was espoused on the Cross, is ever reflected on her countenance . . . Beautiful as are the mysteries which she carries in her heart, they are contained in the Cross and in the Chalice of Blood, and by this is meant that all these mysteries have been bought at a great price, the price of the Precious Blood. 'He hath purchased the Church with His own Blood.' " [Acts 20: 28]
As already mentioned, the Church has more than ever special need of the powerful protection of St. Michael in our perilous times. On all sides she is being assailed by strong and bitter enemies. In one country after another we behold the sad spectacle of religious persecution rising to an ever higher pitch of hatred and insolence. Surely the terrible crimes which have been committed in recent times and are still being committed against the Church, both in her sanctuaries and her members, are instigated by the devil, for no human mind could be base enough to conceive and put into execution such hideous outrages. The Church looks to St. Michael for aid that she may triumph over her persecutors and that the gates of Hell may not prevail against her.
Assuredly, St. Michael will not fail to come to the aid of Holy Church in our days as he did in days of old, if we fervently and confidently implore him to do so. We know indeed that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against the Church for Christ our Lord has promised to be with her till the end of time.
Nevertheless, God wills that we do our part in defending her cause . . . He could confound the enemies of the Church by merely willing to do so. But He wills, rather, that we should co-operate in her defense, under the leadership of the great Captain of the Heavenly hosts. Let us, therefore, most earnestly implore St. Michael to put an end to the persecutions which are assailing the Church in so many lands and to the activities of the evil spirits which are ruining so many souls.
The Church visible is the monument of the Precious Blood against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail. Let us then love the Church, the greatest gift of the Precious Blood, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it . . . that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. [Eph. 5: 25-27]
St. Michael has appeared at different times to those who needed help and invoked his aid. A well authenticated example is his assisting St. Joan of Arc in the extraordinary Divine mission, given her to aid the French king restore peace and prosperity to his kingdom and expel his enemies from its shores. Again, in France, he appeared on Mont Michel, where there still exists a famous Sanctuary consecrated to the Archangel.
In Italy it is related that the holy Archangel showed himself to the Bishop of Siponto, on Monte Gargano in the kingdom of Naples where a beautiful church was dedicated to him. In this apparition, "St. Michael intimated to the Bishop that the place was under his protection and that it was his will that God should be worshipped there, in honor of himself and the angels." This became a place of great devotion and attracted many pilgrims.
But apart from the extraordinary cases in which the great Archangel deemed it necessary to appear visibly to the eyes of men, he is ever invisibly active in helping every individual Christian and all Christian nations. We are indeed fortunate in having so powerful an advocate! God gave him a compassionate love for men, and there is not a single soul that escapes his notice. More than ever in our present age, do Catholics need the aid of St. Michael in order to remain steadfast in the Faith. Unbelief has carried its insolence to the very limit and boldly proclaims that there is no God. It is our duty to be faithful Catholics, to confess our Faith openly and energetically and to preserve a glowing, invincible love for Jesus Christ.
Let us never forget that Satan does his utmost to destroy mankind. In a thousand ways he plots and wars against God and tries to usurp His throne. On this subject, the following instruction given by Our Blessed Mother to Venerable Mary d' Agreda, is worth quoting: "My daughter," she says, "by no power of human words wilt thou in this mortal life ever succeed in describing the evil of Lucifer and his demons against men, or the malice, astuteness, deceits and ruses, with which, in his wrath, he seeks to bring them into sin and later on to eternal torments. He tries to hinder all good works . . . All the malice of which his own mind is capable, he attempts to inject into souls. Against these attacks, God provides admirable protection if men will only co-operate and correspond on their part."
Among the means provided by God for our protection, is the ready recourse we may have at all times to the strengthening Blood of Christ. "This Blood," declares St. John Chrysostom, "has the power to drive away the evil spirits and to draw to our side the good angels, aye, the King of Angels, and to blazen the way to Heaven." Fortified by the Precious Blood, let us place ourselves under the leadership of St. Michael and unfurl everywhere the banner of our Faith, without fear of godlessness. If Satan tries to induce us to sin, and promises honors, riches, happiness on conditions that we omit a good work, or commit an evil deed, let us ever oppose the tempter with the energetic words: Who is like unto God? God is my only treasure, my highest Good, His Blood is upon me, and "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. .." If in time of temptation, we have the courage to rebuke the evil one and call upon the assistance of our leader, St. Michael, the enemy will surely be put to flight. But if we wish to enjoy the great Archangel's protection, we must also imitate his virtues, particularly his humility and his zeal for God's glory."O great St. Michael, take us 'neath thy shield,
Thy mighty power in our favor wield!"
There is a popular conception which connects St. Michael with the judgment of men. "He is shown with the Book of Life, or holding in his hands a pair of scales wherewith to weigh the souls of men. These are figurative expressions of the part popular devotion assigned to him in the great assize. It was this conception which inspired James Russell Lowell to write his poem, 'St. Michael the Weigher.' Standing in dazzling armor, the great Archangel is pictured by him uplifting the balance in his hand and weighing:
"All mans dreaming, doing, saying,
Not merely is he now the protecting Angel of a single people, nor even of all the faithful, but his office as here presented, would extend to all mankind. The idea is in a way suggested by the Church herself insofar as she refers to him as bringing souls from earth to the Throne of God. The priest prays at the Offertory of the Mass for the dead: 'May the standard bearer, St. Michael, lead them into the holy light.'
But the poet sees him as the artist of the past had represented him, weighing all the thoughts and words and deeds of all mankind, since the day when Adam cast his last fond backward glance on the lost Paradise, and instead beheld the Cherubim and the inexorable blade of fire. And so, in stately words, the bard continues:
"In a dream I marked him there,
In the other scale he threw
In her beautiful prayers in the Mass of the dead, the Church with maternal solicitude places the souls of her departed children in the hands of St. Michael, that he may lead them into the kingdom of everlasting light. If St. Michael is so solicitous for the welfare of souls during their lifetime and at the hour of death, we may be certain that he will also befriend them during their stay in Purgatory, and will hasten to bring them consolation. "Michael, my Archangel," sings the Church, "I have established thee Prince over all souls that are to be received into My Kingdom." "Bowing down with his hands joined and placed upon the altar shortly after the elevation, the Celebrant of the Mass says: 'We most humbly beseech Thee, Almighty God, to command these things to be carried by the hands of thy holy Angel to the Altar on high, in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty, that as many as shall partake of the most sacred Body and Blood of Thy Son at this altar may be filled with every heavenly grace and blessing.'
"It is estimated that there are thousands of Masses said daily and at every Mass there are Angels present. Now, let us imitate the priest and invite these Angels the world over to take all these chalices with the Sacred Blood from the altar and bring them to St. Michael, the guardian of Purgatory, that he may present this priceless treasure to the heavenly Father for the relief and release of the suffering Souls. These then when liberated from their prison, will represent us in Heaven to perform there the great work of loving, praising and glorifying the 'Lamb that was slain,' and to greet for us our heavenly Mother, who is in a particular manner the Queen of the holy Souls in Purgatory. What a grand procession of Angels with the Holy Grail hastening at our command from earth to Purgatory, to succor the poor Souls, while our Redeemer is offering Himself on the altar! What acclamations of delight when this tide of Divine Blood overflows the earth and the refreshing flood reaches the flames of the truly banished children of Eve! What a grand array of purified souls leaving the land of woe and in company with their guardian Angels flying to the realms of eternal bliss!" [Father Walz, C.PP.S.]
It is piously asserted that a Cistercian monk, after his death, appeared to one of his friends, a priest, and told him he would be delivered from Purgatory if during holy Mass the priest would invoke the intercession of St. Michael. The priest complied with this desire, and he, together with others who were present, had the consolation of seeing the soul of his friend taken up to Heaven by the Archangel.
It is also related that a certain priest, whilst one day offering the Holy Sacrifice for the dead, recommended some Souls in a particular manner by the words: "May the Prince of the Angels, St. Michael, lead them into the glory of Heaven." At the same instant he saw the glorious Archangel descend from Heaven into Purgatory to deliver those Souls and to conduct them into Paradise.Let us be encouraged by these examples frequently to invoke the assistance of St. Michael in behalf of our departed loved ones and in particular to recommend them to his powerful intercession during the celebration of Holy Mass.
If St. Michael is so solicitous for the welfare of souls during their lifetime and at the hour of death, we may be certain that he will also befriend them during their stay in Purgatory, and will hasten to bring them consolation.
A Cistercian monk appeared to a priest-friend soon after his death and told him he would be delivered from purgatory if during Holy Mass the priest would recommend his soul to St. Michael. The priest complied with this desire, and he, together with others who were present, had the consolation of seeing the soul of his friend taken to Heaven by the Archangel.
Let us be encouraged to invoke St. Michael frequently in behalf of our departed loved ones, and in particular to recommend them to his powerful intercession during the celebration of Holy Mass.
"The Prince of the Heavenly militia," says St. Anselm, "is all-powerful in Purgatory, and he can assist the poor souls whom the justice and sanctity of the Almighty retain in this place of punishment."
"It is incontestably recognized since the foundation of Christianity," St. Robert Bellarmine declares, "that the souls of the faithful departed are delivered from Purgatory through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel."
Let us add to these authorities the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori: "St. Michael has received the care of consoling and helping the Souls in Purgatory."
St. Michael and the Final Triumph
And thou at last,
Reference has already been made to the terrible struggle predicted for the last days. "We can realize the bitterness of the leader of the hosts of evil and the fierceness of the combats through which the Christians themselves will pass. Satan shall be loosed from prison, we are told. This is interpreted to mean that during the short time before the end there will be a lessening of that measure of restraint which had been placed upon him with the advent of Christ. 'And he shall come forth to lead astray the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.' [Apoc. 20: 7, 8] The number of his followers will be as the sands of the sea, and St. John beheld them in vision going up over the breadth of the earth and encompassing 'the camp of the Saints and the beloved city.' Then it is that God's moment shall have arrived." [The Spirit World]
The thought of the day of Judgment justly fills every
thinking soul with a wholesome fear. "God has mercifully concealed from
us the day and the hour when this dread event shall occur. Our Lord
Himself after describing the terrors of the end of the world said to
his disciples: 'But that day and hour no one knoweth, no, not even the
Angels in Heaven, but the Father only." [Matt. 24: 36] Nevertheless,
our Lord foretold certain signs which would precede the consummation of
the world and which would serve as a warning to mankind of its
approach. These signs are described in the Gospel of St. Mathew, as
follows: "For many will come in My Name, saying, I am the Christ, and
they will lead men astray. For you shall hear of wars and rumors of
wars. Take care that you do not be alarmed, for these things must come
to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation
and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be pestilences and famines
and earthquakes in various places . . . And then many will fall away
and will betray one another and will hate one another. And many false
prophets will arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity
will abound the charity of many will grow cold."
"Although we can see in our own times conditions such as are here described, this does not necessarily imply that the end of the world is near at hand. Nevertheless, we ought to take seriously to heart the critical condition of our present age and daily implore the mercy and the help of God. And since God Himself has appointed St. Michael as the special defender and advocate of the Christians against the Satanic powers, we ought to place ourselves with all confidence under his protection and daily invoke his aid for the Church and for immortal souls." ['Neath St. Michael's Shield]
When the end of the world draws near, St. Michael will wage a final battle against the Antichrist, who by false miracles will endeavor to seduce even the elect of God. St. Michael will then defend the Church against frightful persecutions. In all quarters of the earth that last onset against the Church will break out under Satan's instigation. The entire struggle is summed up by St. John under one powerful picture in which we see the children of light making their brave and final stand for the Church of God and their Christian rights against the children of darkness who have been seduced by Satan. Then it is God's time to act and to end the role of Satan. He will be cast into Hell forever.
After this most valiant Archangel has once more conquered the prince of darkness and has cast him into the abyss of Hell, he will sound the dread trumpet whose resonance will call the dead to life and summon all men to appear before the Eternal Judge to receive their final sentence of reward or punishment. It is the General Judgment, and it is here that St. Michael will have to fulfill a ministry of awful import in the name of the Sovereign Judge. He with the rest of the Angels will have to separate the good from the bad, all of whom will then have resumed their bodies in the general resurrection. It will be their duty to separate the cockle from the wheat; "the wicked they shall cast into the furnace of fire, but the just shall shine as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."
"The day of Judgment," writes Father Walz, "will see the
rich harvest of the Blood of Calvary. Our Savior will appear with His
radiant Five Wounds, and the bodies of the just will reflect the glory
of their Redeemer. The transfiguring of all glorified bodies into the
likeness of the Body of Jesus is due to the merits of the Precious
Blood. Oh, what honor, what glory, what ecstasy of joy to belong to
that interminable array, that countless phalanx of the Patriarchs and
Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, Virgins and Confessors, of holy souls
and glorified bodies, after the final Judgment leaving this earth
forever, the place of their trials and struggles, singing songs of
praise and following Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and the Angels
into everlasting happiness! St. John saw this final triumph of the
Precious Blood when he wrote: 'Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, in Thy
Blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and Thou
hast made us to become a kingdom unto our God'."
Happy shall we be, if in that final hour we find an advocate in the glorious Archangel Michael! If we would insure for ourselves the intercession of this powerful champion before the Judgment seat of God, let us be faithful in invoking him often during life. Then will he be able to speak in our behalf these consoling words: "These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and have made them white in the Blood of the lamb." [Apoc. 7: 14]Excerpts from
'Neath St. Michael's Shield
No Author, Pamphlet Published by Pauline Books and Media, available for $1.50
Devotion to St. Michael Most Suitable for Our Times
Lucifer has placed his stamp upon tl present age. Open and secret revolt against God and His Church, the spirit of criticism, unbelief and immorality are spreading. The arrogant boast of Lucifer, "I will be like the Most High!" re-echoes everywhere. Puffed up with the discoveries and the progress in material science, men loudly proclaim their self-sufficiency and deny the existence of a Supreme Being. Governments and secret societies, plotting against God and striving to blot out from homes and school from offices and factories, all traces of Christianity, show plainly whose standard they follow.
These frightful evils must convince us that we must turn to St. Michael, the Archangel, the glorious Prince of Heaven who rendered all glory to God, conquering Lucifer and casting him into the abyss.
Already three centuries ago, St. Francis de Sales wrote: "Veneration of St. Michael is the great remedy against despising the rights of God against insubordination, skepticism and infidelity"----vices which are perhaps more prevalent now than ever before.
Surely, it is time for Christians to "rise from sleep," and to offer vigorous resistance to the enemies of salvation. The weapons in this conflict are not the arms of civil warfare, but the spiritual weapons of prayer and penance, increased fidelity to the Commandments of God, and frequent reception of the Sacraments. And surely we can choose no better leader in this conflict than the powerful captain who led the faithful Angels to victory.
Let us, then, with confident trust, invoke the aid and the protection of this mighty Archangel whose shield bears the inscription: "Michael----Quis ut Deus----Who is like unto God?"