July 5, 2013, was a busy day at the Vatican. Not only did Pope Francis release his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), Pope Emeritus Benedict joined our Holy Father in the Vatican gardens for a blessing of a new St. Michael the Archangel statue. At the same time of the blessing, Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection, saying:
“We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him.” (Read full text here.)
St. Michael the Archangel appears in the book of Revelation where he leads the armies of God in battle against the forces of evil. Hebrew for “Who is like unto God,” Michael is typically depicted with a sword, scales, banner, and an incumbent dragon. He is a symbol of victory over evil; a reminder that we Christians will always struggle with the forces of evil in the world.
To combat these forces, many pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel daily. The history of the prayer is a compelling call to action. After having a frightening vision of attacks on the Church, Pope Leo XIII wrote the prayer, calling upon the intercession of the Archangel to protect the Church. Prior to Vatican II, the prayer was commonly said at the conclusion of all daily Masses but it fell out of favor after. In fact, I don’t recall learning it until well into my adult years. In 1994, Blessed John Paul II recommended we bring the prayer back into regular practice to strengthen the Church. And while I pray it often, given Pope Francis’s actions last Friday, I pondered if I could do, should do, more.
If Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection, should Joel and I do the same for our home and family, our domestic church?
After Joel entered diaconate formation three years ago, a priest cautioned us that the Devil would pull out all stops to thwart Joel from being ordained a deacon. And sure enough, spiritual warfare has occupied a place in our home for some time. Not to go all apocalyptic here, but I know that as we continue to grow closer to Christ and His Church, we will be tested and tempted by evil with greater intensity and regularity.
It’s time to tell Satan to go back to Hell where he belongs.
I asked one of my favorite apologists if there was such a thing as consecrating a family, the domestic church, to St. Michael the Archangel’s protection just as Pope Francis did for the Vatican. He put me in touch with the folks at Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, the Work of the Holy Angels. The director, Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, shared a traditional consecration linked to St. Michael the Archangel’s ancient shrine at Monte Gargano in Italy. It’s the oldest shrine in Western Europe, dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, and has been an important pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages.
Well, here goes. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us from evil …
Traditional Consecration Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
Oh most noble Prince of the Angelic Hierarchies, valorous warrior of Almighty God and zealous lover of His glory, terror of the rebellious angels, and love and delight of all the just angels, my beloved Archangel Saint Michael, desiring to be numbered among your devoted servants, I, today offer and consecrate myself to you, and place myself, my family, and all I possess under your most powerful protection.
I entreat you not to look at how little, I, as your servant have to offer, being only a wretched sinner, but to gaze, rather, with favorable eye at the heartfelt affection with which this offering is made, and remember that if from this day onward I am under your patronage, you must during all my life assist me, and procure for me the pardon of my many grievous offenses, and sins, the grace to love with all my heart my God, my dear Savior Jesus, and my Sweet Mother Mary, and to obtain for me all the help necessary to arrive to my crown of glory.
Defend me always from my spiritual enemies, particularly in the last moments of my life.
Come then, oh Glorious Prince, and succor me in my last struggle, and with your powerful weapon cast far from me into the infernal abysses that prevaricator and proud angel that one day you prostrated in the celestial battle. Amen.
As Joel says, “That’s one helluva prayer!” Join us?