In his 2009 Inaugural Address, President Obama praised the tremendous sacrifices of our Founding Fathers and our hard won freedoms saying, “Our Founding Fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, they drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.” However, in moving forward aggressively with the HHS Mandate, it has become clear we are witnessing a U.S. President eroding those very freedoms he initially spoke so highly of. In short, under the HHS mandate, the faithful must either follow the letter of the law in violation of their religious beliefs or face crippling financial consequences that could force them to close down or dramatically decrease their operations.
Under the mandate, Catholic institutions, along with countless faithful private employers and non-profits, will be required to offer employee health plans that include free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients regardless of religious objections. Not only is the mandate a direct assault on our cherished First Amendment Rights, it is also in direct opposition to Catholic teachings which uphold the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Sadly, instead of a mobilized vote in favor of religious freedom this past November – Obama again won the Catholic majority. Faced with an additional four years under a President determined to gain nationwide HHS Mandate compliance, it is imperative that we, as Catholics, use every means at our disposal to defend our religious freedoms.
As the Church faces this unprecedented barrage of intolerance on American soil, I found a recent letter from the Reverend Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois particularly emboldening. In a letter to all parishioners in his diocese, Bishop Jenky asked that the powerful St. Michael’s prayer be included in all General Intercessions during each Sunday Mass. In his letter he writes, “The HHS Mandate is a bigoted and blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of every believing Catholic. I ask that every parish, school, hospital, Newman Center, and religious house in this Diocese insert the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the Sunday General Intercessions just before their concluding prayer. It is God’s invincible Archangel who commands the heavenly hosts, and it is the enemies of God who will ultimately be defeated. This prayer should be announced as: A Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel for the Freedom of the Catholic Church in America.”
This got me thinking. What if we reinstated this powerful prayer in every Catholic parish across America for this specific intention? To what great effect might it have if prayed fervently at every Mass? If we are truly going to step up and fight for religious freedom, then we must step up our prayer!
While the St. Michael’s prayer has been maintained in some US Catholic churches, it was widely discontinued in late 1960’s. Yet, one only has to read the headlines to see that Satan certainly did not stop his doings in the 60’s!
The Saint Michael’s prayer, originally composed by Pope Leo XIII in 1884, was in response to a vision the Pope had in which he was shown an image of evil spirits trying to fulfill Satan’s boast of destroying our Lord’s Church within a certain century as they waged an attack against it. Amid the tribulation, there appeared in the vision Saint Michael the Archangel, who cast Satan and all the evil spirits back into hell. The Pope was so horrified by what he had seen, he felt compelled to help defend our faith in this world by composing the prayer to Saint Michael. Pope Leo saw to it that the Saint Michael’s prayer was recited after every low Mass throughout the world. In 1994, Blessed Pope John Paul II again urged the faithful to continue reciting the prayer specifically for the Church when he said, “although 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 forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”
It is my hope that Bishops across America will prayerfully consider joining Bishop Jenky in reinstating this short but powerful prayer to St. Michael in each of their diocese. As the Catholic Church faces attacks on our religious freedoms, would it not be wise and particularly efficacious to restore, on a national level, this mighty clarion call to the Prince of Heavenly Hosts to defend us in battle?
Surely, as the assigned defender of Christians, he will not fail to come to the aid of Holy Church as he has done in the past. While we also know that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, for Christ promised to be with her until the end of time, we are still required to do our part in defending the faith. Religious liberty is one of our most precious gifts. Therefore, let us again widely call upon Saint Michael and ask for his powerful help in defending it.
Prior to the 1900’s, Swiss Cardinal Gaspard Mermillod was quoted as saying, “when the very foundation of society is shaken in consequence of having denied the rights of God, we must revive the veneration of St. Michael and with him raise the victorious cry: ‘Who is like unto God?’” Similarly, Saint Francis de Sales wrote, “Veneration of St. Michael is the greatest remedy against despising the rights of God, against insubordination, skepticism, and infidelity” – vices which are perhaps more prevalent now than in any previous period of history. St. Michael proved his great strength and prowess when he won the heavenly battle against the devil, showing his profound loyalty to God. As the assigned Guardian of the Church, would he do any less for us?
Time and again throughout history, this princely seraph and mighty spiritual warrior has provided powerful aid during wars and persecutions which threatened to destroy Christianity. Therefore, may we earnestly seek to implore Saint Michael in all of our churches and in our own hearts to put an end to all that is currently assailing the church, not only here in America, but across the world.
PRAYER TO SAINT MICHAEL
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense 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 prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.