While walking through the gym at Sacred Heart School 4 years ago, I saw the teacher in the center of the gym surrounded by the Kindergarten class. As they all began to kneel, it was obvious class was beginning with prayer. They prayed the St. Michael Prayer from memory – a prayer I learned a long time ago but forgot the words. The children taught me the prayer that day and now I pray it often. Many parishes recite this prayer together either before Mass begins or immediately after the closing song. So, what is the St. Michael prayer and where did it come from?
On Oct. 1, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a deeply disturbing mystical experience after celebrating Mass. While in his private chapel, the staff saw him suddenly stand in front of the altar for about 10 minutes as if in a trance, his face drained of color. Afterwards, Pope Leo went to his office and wrote a prayer to St. Michael, then asked it be offered throughout the Church. He told his staff he had heard two voices near the tabernacle and believed they were the voices of God and Satan. Pope Leo heard Satan boast that he could destroy the Church in 75 or 100 years if given the opportunity. Then he heard God give Satan permission to try.
The prayer which Pope Leo XIII composed was used throughout the Church and prayed after Mass until discontinued in 1964. In 1994, Pope John Paul II revived use of the prayer saying, “Although the prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask every one not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of the world.” Pope John Paul clearly intended we pray to St Michael on a regular basis no matter where we are – at Mass, work, school, and in our homes.
Just one look at the headlines each day tells us Satan will never give up trying to destroy us and God’s Church. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Taking a moment and praying to St Michael is one way I find shelter in the chaos around me. This week, while facing the forces of darkness, I invite you to do the same by praying…
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 other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of the souls. Amen