In the 1880s, Pope Leo XIII had just finished celebrating Mass when he stopped dead in his tracks and saw something that shook him to the core: A vision of demonic spirits, gathering on Rome, came alive before him. A further account says the pope also heard two voices, that of God and of Satan. Satan boasted to God that he could “destroy the church” but asked God for 100 years and more power to do so. God responded, permitting it. After this vision, with a pale and fearful look, Pope Leo XIII immediately composed the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and decreed that it be said after Masses throughout the world.
Some say the century Satan was allowed to unleash evil and “destroy the church” was 1900-2000. While evil has been prevalent in every century in human history, the evidence it was those 100 years is profound: two world wars, the holocaust, terrorism, the rise of communism, the legalization of abortion, the destruction of the traditional family, higher divorce, more and more people rejecting the faith, new technology driving wedges and promoting immortality, the rise of contraception, the sexual revolution and the sex abuse scandal inside the church, and the list goes on.
St. Michael is a protector, a defender, and through the power of God, can give us the armor needed to defend ourselves from evil. It’s why we ask in the prayer for him to “defend us in battle and be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”
During a time where right has become wrong and wrong has become right and our culture is more and more consumed with itself, money, fame and popularity, it can be difficult to stay on the path of holiness and righteousness. It’s why Bishop Thomas John Paprocki encourages parishes across the diocese to recite the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after Mass, something that dates to the welcoming Masses the bishop celebrated in each of the deaneries of our diocese in September 2010.
“Original sin is our inherited condition not as some sort of communicable disease, but it affects us more like beneficiaries of an estate whose ancestors squandered a fortune,”
Bishop Paprocki said. “We have to live with the fact that the spiritual treasures of paradise were forfeited by our human ancestors. While Christ’s death and resurrection have restored the gifts of heavenly treasures for us, we also have to recognize that the devil, Satan, is real, and he will do everything in his power to deflect us from our goal, which is eternal life on high with Christ in his kingdom. This reality should neither frighten us nor lead us to despair, for Christ is more powerful than Satan. Christ indeed has conquered sin and death. That is why it is good to remember the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, which used to be prayed after every Mass and which we could still pray beneficially for our spiritual well-being.”
The prayer is powerful. It’s needed. It’s militant. Battling evil is a daily war. Praying to St. Michael for his intercession and protection can beef up our shield now so we can one day be with God and all the other angels and saints in heaven for eternity.
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
St. 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 hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who wander about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.