HOW TO HONOR HOLY MICHAEL FROM THE WOMB TO THE TOMB
I used feel guilty that “Michael” is my favorite name. After all, ought I not have the Holy Name of God as my favorite? It dawned on me that the Holy Name is contained within Michael because it means, “Who is like unto God?” I grappled with this when I was doing pro-life work because I often encouraged a mother in great trouble to call her baby, Michael, because I saw that the demonic energy driving the child’s demise often dispersed when the baby was named after the vanquisher of satan. I made an enemy of a pro-abortion midwife who found it troubling that she had more mothers calling their sons after the Archangel. But her efforts to sway the mothers towards abortion were blocked, almost as though a shield was over the babies.
As preparation for his feast day on September 29th, I’d like to put him forth as the grandest angelic warrior in the pro-life battle, because the fight against abortion is always a struggle against satan and his satellites and we’d do well to make this better known. Holy cards with a picture of St Michael and the prayer to him could be handed out at abortion clinics. Might we get called freaks because we give others a picture of the Archangel skewering satan? Yes, but alerting people as to the reality of spiritual warfare is more important than protecting ourselves against insults and we are also showing a benevolent and supremely powerful Archangel who wishes to wage war on their behalf.
Might we also encourage more children to be named after him? Not just women in crisis pregnancies, but might you think of suggesting to a pregnant friend that they name the baby after the Prince of the Heavenly Hosts? My native Ireland once had the highest rate of men called Michael in the whole world, this has dipped unfortunately, in accordance with the decline in Mass attendance. Is it mere coincidence that the New Mass usually does not conclude with the prayer to St Michael and that the name has been given to fewer children?
As for a noble way to honor St Michael in the highest prayer, we may do as St Gertrude the Great did. Once on his feast day, she was at Mass and she offered the Body and Blood of Jesus in honor of the Archangels. When Our Lord had accepted her offering, Gertrude saw every angelic choir lean towards her and promise, “We will guard thee with special care.” Then Michael came surrounded by the other Archangels and they said, “We will discover to you the Divine secrets.” Were we to offer Communion in honor of the Archangels, we may be rewarded with every angelic choir promising to guard us and then have the Archangels pledge to reveal Divine secrets to us, albeit we won’t see them as Gertrude did, but Holy Michael is leader of all the angels and when the entire nine choirs and the other six archangels gave Gertrude these pledges they were acting under Michael’s command.
On her deathbed, Gertrude saw Michael as chief of all angels when he came to tackle the demons that presented themselves to her. This is perhaps Michael’s most urgent role – safeguarding the souls of the dying. St Anselm, the 11th century Archbishop of Canterbury saw St Michael fight off attacks made by the devil on a dying monk who was so holy that he was terrified of his own sins. The devil provoked this monk by using his same fear of sin against him, he goaded him that he had sinned before his baptism, but St Michael swiftly assured him that these sins had been washed away by baptism. Then the evil one tried to sow despair when he stirred up in the man a sense memory of the his sins after baptism but again St Michael appeared and reminded him that he had confessed them, so the devil could not take him to hell because of transgressions which were unknown to the devil anyway. The devil knew the monk was a sinner, but he did not know his sins after he had been absolved. Lastly, the devil came at the monk with a huge book in which he claimed was written every detail of his mistakes as a religious. St Michael assuaged the dying monk’s fears that his minor infractions had been forgiven through his many penances.
My next idea is so somber that seldom is it suggested, but you may wish to tell dying loved ones that they can call on Holy Michael and perhaps ask them to recite the prayer to St Michael as often as they have strength. Anyone who has assisted the dying knows that their last energies are so fleeting that they need to be encouraged to use their last gasps to enlist the aid of Michael against the foe malign. It may be more difficult to tell friends who have dying relatives that they may invite their family to ask Michael’s intercession, but if you do so, they may well thank you because they will see firsthand that their loved one gets special assistance.
And maybe it’s best to lead by example, you may like to share this prayer with friends and family, “St Michael, when the hour of my death comes, assist me in my agony, defend me in the last fight, so that my soul may not perish in the judgment which I dread.” When you evince that you take the last agony and the final combat for the soul seriously, this may strongly influence the people surrounding you. Also, St Michael has a history of warning his followers of the date of their deaths – he appeared to St Wilfrid and informed him that he had exactly four years left. This may well be a grace you wish to pray for, it certainly helps to know the date of the most important battle of your life.
How encouraging to contemplate that the lives of the unborn may be saved and the dying may have their eternal souls protected, if we place them neath Michael’s shield.
This column was written for The Mass of Ages, you may read the entire magazine here.
and was informed by The Grandeurs of St Michael which is available at the Spirit Daily bookstore.
You may like to offer a most amazing prayer, The Chaplet of St Michael.