Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"St. Michael: Defend us in battle..."

"Yeah, that's what I thought!"
Today is the Feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael, the holy archangels. For those of you not familiar with the three, here's a synopsis: Michael's the one who led the angelic war against Satan and cast him out of heaven; Gabriel's the one who appeared to Mary at the Annunciation; and Raphael heals Tobit's blindness in the OT book of the same name.

Out of the three, St. Michael is doubtlessly the most well-known and he's recognized as the greatest of the archangels and the prince of heaven. This feast day was traditionally known as Michaelmas and was a holy day of obligation for Catholics in past centuries.

In art, St. Michael is often depicted wielding a sword and holding a shield with the Latin motto "Quis ut Deus", or "Who is like God?" (something of a taunt to the devil, who wanted to be God's equal), with a foot firmly crushing the neck of Satan. Yep, pretty awesome! Nothing appeals to that peculiarly Southern sense of manliness, bravery and duty quite like that image.

Today's a great day to add a new prayer to your daily routine. It's the Prayer to St. Michael, and Catholics used to pray it after Mass on most Sundays. Here it is:

Saint 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 Divine Power of God -cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

For more reading on angels and their place in our faith (and in our churches), check out this great piece at Father Mark's blog. And have a great Michaelmas!