Recently both Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican to the care and protection of St. Michael, known as the angel who defeated Satan, and aids us in our spiritual battles against the evil one. St. Michael is able to defend us in spiritual warfare because he is an instrument of God, who enables God to work through him.
Within the name, we see very clearly why St. Michael is a great intercessor for us. “Who is like God” is literally what Michael means. This is a rhetorical question – revealing the wit and wisdom of those who are holy. To Satan, this is the very measure by how he is defeated; the humble recognition that no one can climb the ontological latter to finally be equivalent to God. Adam and Eve attempted this when they reached out to consume the fruit of the tree of Knowledge between God and Evil. That is, they attempted to make truth subject to their own will, their own preference, and therefore fostered the illusion that the prerogative that belongs to God alone, also belonged to them.
Satan being the author of this temptation was defeated by St. Michael, simply by being asked: “Who is like God,” the answer clearly being: no one. Satan in contrast to the power of God is a speck of dust. And yet before the evil one we are entirely powerless if left to our own devices. St. Augustine stated that if Satan had not been bound up by Christ, if he had merely one hand free, the whole world would be destroyed in one fell swoop.
However, through our own free will, we can approach Satan, like a dog chained, and get so close to this deceptively sleeping dog, that we are eventually no longer safe. The dog snaps at us, and we are subdued. Without the protection and mercy of God, we are food for Satan.
The mere recognition that the Vatican itself needs to be consecrated to St. Michael implies that there is a spiritual warfare occurring in the premises. This should not be a surprise. Satan normally does not attack where the least damage to God’s people is bound to take place. Rather Satan attacks the head, he attacks Christ himself.
We must not forget that the Church and Christ are one. When Saul persecuted the Christians prior to his conversion and “name-change,” Christ created the link himself by asking, “Why do you persecute me.” When the Church is persecuted, Christ is persecuted. The two are one fundamental reality, and this is revealed all throughout scripture. So that when we treat any of God’s people with disrespect, even the least of our brothers, we do it to Christ as well.
Pope Paul VI stated that “the smoke of Satan has entered into the sanctuary,” and these famous words have been quoted by many over the last several years. We know with the sexual abuse scandal, with the homosexual lobbying, the financial scandals, and perhaps any number of other sins remaining in the dark, that the evil one has a plan and has been carrying it out.
But it is altogether dangerous to become cynical about the evil one’s efforts. In fact many times Christians can develop an unhealthy obsession with the sins of the Church altogether losing a trust in Christ’s own words: that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. We must admit that it is a real temptation to become cynical, and if we can admit this, we are probably more safe to avoid it. Some might retort: but resting on that claim of faith that the Church will be safe from the gates of hell, leads to complacency. And this is also a fair criticism. One must strike the balance, especially as a Catholic, between the reality of cooperating with God’s will (as St. Michael did) and trusting in the unfathomable power of God to overcome evil. Satan may know he has lost the battle, but he seeks to drag as many souls to hell as possible on his “way out.”
There is a frustration with many in the Church, and rightfully so, that we tend to claim everything is going along just fine. In Jeremiah 6 we see the recapitulation of this attitude where priest and prophets are liars and great sinners and yet they all cry “peace, peace” when there is “no peace.” The illusion of peace in the world is precisely why Christ has not come to bring that sort of peace, but rather warfare. That is, he has come to bring the peace that can only be found when our wills are aligned with His.
Parishioners are “thanked” for the bare-minimum of the Christian life, and affirmed often times in their own waywardness. Silence on the part of leaders (both in the domestic Church, and in the priesthood) about various particular doctrines leads children of faith into dangerous dark places. Avoiding the challenge of the gospel leads ultimately to a faith of false consolation that avoids the cross at all costs. That cross which is our salvation.
We must trust in God’s prophetic words, but what they teach us is that ultimately the saints will shine forth and will cooperate, like St. Michael, to defeat the author of lies and malice, and evil. And all of us who are called to be saints, must take up arms to participate in that spiritual battle. To be indifferent is to be like King David who stayed home during battle and fell into Lust and temptation. Our avoidance or indifferences guised as “positive thinking,” leads to an undefended soul, under the power of the Evil one. If we are people of hope rather than an illusive “positive thinking” then we will be driven to fight the battle against evil all the more since no enemy can ever stand against the will of God and live. If our faith is truly in Christ, the battle will be fought with joy and peace, because nothing can defeat the Glory of God.
Yet we must never be confused, if the Church is to be protected from evil, it will rest on our cooperation and yet totally by the power of God. That wedding between us and God is ultimately that union which protects the Woman spoken of in Revelation who flees into the wilderness from the evil one. We must never be blinded by evil to forget that Christ amidst all the evil that exists within our Church remains all the more present to us, as a saviour seeking the lost sheep. We must always realize that the goodness of Christ’s handiwork still shine forth in the Church today, and building from these sparks of the saintly lives of a few, transformation is all the more possible.
St. Michael therefore is not attacking the sinners living in the Vatican, but rather the evil one who has latched onto these leaders whose fruit is to destroy the trust and faith of the children of God. Rather, St. Michael purifies and brings light to sanctify and purify both the sinner and the Church as a whole, driving out the darkness of ambiguity and division, and bringing genuine union through surrender and humility. All of us have been a mouth-piece for the Evil one, because all of us have sinned. We all know how easy it is to be convinced that darkness is in fact light, and so our attitude towards these errors and horrors in the Church must be bridled with a sense of humility in our own personal struggle against sin.
Now that the Vatican has been consecrated to St. Michael, I ask the faithful to privately consecrate your priests, your bishops, your churches, your families, your work places, your friends to his care. Lets follow in the footsteps of our two Popes and get to battle.
Please Pray this:
Saint Michael the Archangel, invincible Prince of the Angelic hosts and glorious protector of the universal Church, I greet thee and praise thee for that splendour with which God has adorned thee so richly. I thank God for the great graces He hast bestowed upon thee, especially to remain faithful when Satan and his followers rebelled, and to battle victoriously for the honour of God and the Divinity of the Son of Man.
Saint Michael, I consecrate to thee __________________. I choose thee as our patron and protector and entrust the salvation of my soul to thy care. Be the guardian of my obligation as a child of God and of the Catholic Church as again I renounce Satan, his works and pomps.
Assist me by thy powerful intercession in the fulfilment of these sacred promises, so that imitating thy courage and loyalty to God, and trusting in thy kind help and protection, I may be victorious over the enemies of my soul and be united with God in Heaven forever. Amen.