The Lord is a Warrior; Feast of St. Michael

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Today is the feast day of the three archangels named in the canon of Scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. While I love all three, I’m partial to one.

When I was confirmed by Bishop Patrick Zurek, he anointed me saying, “Archangel Michael, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I chose this name because I knew that the anointing at Confirmation has its roots in the ancient anointing of warriors before battle, and Confirmation would launch me into spiritual warfare with Michael’s name on my forehead.

His name means “Who is like unto God?” for this was his battle cry at the dawn of creation. God had created the angels and given them an eternal choice: loving Him or rejecting Him. Lucifer was the angel who championed the cause against God, and in response, Michael shouted his battle cry. The Book of Revelation recalls:

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. (12:7)

Michael’s battle cry echoes through eternity as the polar opposite to Satan’s prideful rejection of God. In his humility, Michael proclaims that no one is just like God—no one is greater, more beautiful, or more true. In his name, we also see that Michael’s role as a mighty warrior indeed is ‘like God’—a reflection of His might:

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. (Ex. 15:3)

Revelation also describes Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as a warrior riding on a white horse, leading “the armies of heaven” (19:14). Scripture tells us that Michael is a prince (Daniel 10:13, 21) of the King and continues to rebuke Satan (Jude 1:9).

Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII (one of my favorite popes) wrote a prayer in honor of St. Michael, which I pray often. Pope Leo was compelled to write this prayer after experiencing a sudden vision—in the middle of a meeting with the conference of Cardinals—during which he saw Satan and his legion of demons trying to destroy the Church. But, in the midst of the battle, Archangel Michael came and cast Satan and the demons into hell.

At one time, the short version of Leo’s composition was prayed after Mass. This has lost popularity in recent decades, but I would encourage you to pray it yourself. In 1994, Blessed Pope John Paul II requested the faithful to again pray the Prayer to St. Michael in the battle of our times “against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”

May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power” (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church. […] Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. [Bl. P. John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994]

Short Form of the Prayer: 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 Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. (To read Leo’s complete prayer, click here.)

Exorcists always note that Satan has no power on his own; all power and might come from the Creator. This is what Michael reminds us: in order to possess true might, we must reflect the humility of God.

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