Shortly before his death, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. As he concluded Mass in his Vatican chapel, accompanied by some of the Cardinals, he had a vision that put him into a trance. He heard voices – one gentle and soft, the other harsh and cold. The cold, harsh voice was that of the Devil saying that if he had 75-100 years and more influence he could destroy the Church. God granted him such power. The Pope went back to his private room and composed what is now known as the “Prayer to St. Michael”. He ordered that this prayer be recited after all the Low Masses throughout the Roman Catholic Church. From 1886-1964 this was the common practice of the Church. In September 1964, however, it was suppressed but not forbidden to be prayed. In fact, recent popes – Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis – have been encouraging the return of this practice. Our own Bishop Byrne has also encouraged us to pray this prayer after Mass.
Why pray it? St. Michael is known as the great defender of Heaven. He is the one in the Book of Revelation who leads the charge against the devil and his minions. By reciting this prayer – as often as possible – we are asking that St. Michael come to our aid, to defend us as well in the assaults of the evil one so that we may not lost and destroyed by his influence. Praying this prayer reminds us who the real enemy is and that he has no power over us unless we give it to him. Therefore, we pray:
St. 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 oh heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
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