Some have asked ‘Why do we pray the Prayer to St. Michal before Sunday Mass?’ Pope Francis has suggested Parishes around the world pray this very powerful prayer together for good reason. We live in a time of abundant confusion and controversy. Politics, the Church, society (in general), all seem to be taking sides and settling into one camp or another. Is this just a matter of changing times or is there something greater behind it all? Something cosmic perhaps? As we see obvious manifestations of heroic good and extreme evil in the world, do we wonder about an ultimate cause or origin of it all?
If God’s essence is love and goodness, then where does evil come from and why is it permitted to exist? These are questions that have undoubtedly plagued every person or society willing to be reflective and to search for truth.
Coming from a Catholic background, I can sum up the basic perspective of traditional Christianity regarding these matters. God, a Trinity of Persons who existed for all eternity, created everything out of nothing. The hierarchy of God’s creation exists at various levels: the purely spiritual beings (angels), those with body and spirit (humans), other living, moving creatures (animals), other living, growing things (plants) and non-living material (minerals). Some of God’s creation received both intelligence and free will (angels and humans), attributes elevating them to resemble God.
The angels were tested first to ascertain their complete loyalty to God. Some angels passed the test while others, including Lucifer (Satan), rebelled against God. One interpretation of the angels’ test tells of God’s revealing His plan for humanity to the angels: Jesus was to become a human being (the Incarnation). The insubordinate response of some angels then followed: Non serviam! “I will not serve [God]! —especially if He were to lower Himself to become a mere man. Lucifer and his followers, because of their unbridled pride, were banished (yet not obliterated) from God’s presence for all eternity. This place of banishment from God’s presence is hell. There is no God, no love there.
Humans were also tested to see if we will respond to God and His love for us. The first human beings also failed with the evil influence (a temptation) from Satan. Thus, sin entered the world by an act of the will of the first humans. However, out of love for humanity, redemption for mankind was to follow through Jesus and his salvific death on the crossFrom the very beginning, however, Satan has tried to coerce humanity to rebel, to disobey and to reject their dependence on God as he did. Ultimately, he seeks the destruction of all humanity. He and his followers hate us, despise us.
The root of the word diabolical (from the Greek) is to “cast apart”—implying that confusion or division is caused. Do we live in a time of confusion? “My truth is not your truth”—an expression illustrating Modernism in all its glory. In society and in the Church there are concerted efforts to redefine family and marriage. The integrity, motivation and honesty of people is questioned. Politics is bitterly divided. The Church is embattled as well plagued with clergy sex-abuse scandals. The moral credibility of the Church hierarchy is severely undermined. Confusion? Division? Diabolical? You betcha!
I also contend that we live in a time of tragic (silent) apostasy. Should we not worry when many or most baptized Catholics in this country (and others) no longer practice their faith regularly, see themselves as spiritual but not religious, list their religious practice as none, or are indifferent or apathetic towards all things sacred. Others outright deny the existence of God or are agnostic.
My assertion is that the devil and his demons are cleverly, wickedly, hatefully acting and influencing all matters human, very much behind the chaos that we are experiencing today. Yes, humans absolutely retain their free will. However, through the various decisions that we make against the will of God (sin), which assuredly damage our spiritual well-being and imperil our eternal salvation, the world is in grave danger spiritually. Evil can and does penetrate through any chink in our armor, any vulnerable area in which it is permitted to enter. When a person, a society, a world no longer pursues the one, true God or truth or goodness, and embraces one of the lies spewed out from the Father of Lies, chaos is bound to occur.
Many good people suggest that something notable is happening supernaturally/spiritually at this point in history. They can sense it. I am not quite sure on the specifics. However, I am quite certain of the final outcome: Jesus Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. (Nicene Creed)
In the meantime, a battle for our souls is still going on daily. Some words from a former pope and a current saint might be worth considering: “This battle against the devil which characterizes the Archangel Michael is still going on, because the devil is still alive and at work in the world. In fact, the evil that is in it, the disorder we see in society, the infidelity of man, the interior fragmentation of which he is a victim, are not merely the consequences of original sin, but also the effect of the dark and infesting activity of Satan, of this saboteur of man's moral equilibrium.” (St. John Paul II, May 24, 1987, Monte Sant’ Angelo)
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!
Be assured of my prayers,