The power of Satan is real, and we must pray to overcome it, writes Fr Pat Collins CM
According to Pope Leo XIII’s private secretary, when the Pontiff had a vision of demonic spirits about to mount an attack on the city of Rome he wrote the prayer to St Michael the Archangel. It reads: “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, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
In 1886, Leo instructed that the prayer was to be said after every low Mass. However, when the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) were introduced in 1967 the prayer was no longer said after the Celebration of the Eucharist.
In retrospect, perhaps that was a mistake. In recent decades it sometimes seems as if all the powers of hell are attacking the Church both from within and from without. Many people feel that Pope St Paul VI was correct when he said in 1972 “from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God”.
When I spoke about my book Freedom from Evil Spirits on the Late Late Show in February, I said to Ryan Tubridy that there are reasons in contemporary Ireland to think that a tsunami of evil is threatening to overwhelm us.
Aware that this is so, it is not surprising that recent Popes have encouraged Catholics to recite the prayer to St Michael in private. In 1994 St John Paul II said: “May prayer to St Michael strengthen us for the spiritual battle that the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of: ‘be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might’.” (Eph. 6:10)
Leo XIII certainly had this picture in mind when, at the end of the last century, he brought in throughout the Church a special prayer to St Michael. 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 the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.
In 2018, Pope Francis echoed those sentiments when he asked Catholics everywhere to pray the Rosary each day during the month of October and to conclude it with the prayer to St Michael to preserve the Church from the attacks of the devil – the great accuser – while at the same time not only making the Church more aware of and resistant to the faults, errors and the abuses committed in the past, so that evil may not prevail.
Earlier this year I had occasion to conduct two parish missions in Michigan in the US. While there, I found that the prayer to St Michael was being recited after every Mass. When I enquired about it, I was told that bishops in more than a dozen American dioceses have recommended that the prayer should be recited after every Mass.
One way of responding to St John Paul’s request…is to say the prayer to St Michael the Archangel at the end of each Mass:
That got me thinking. When St John Paul II was in Ireland in 1979 he said in a prophetic way at Limerick: “Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the ‘kingdoms of the world and their splendour’ to the kingdom of God. Satan, the tempter, the adversary of Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world…dear sons and daughters of Ireland, pray, pray not to be led into temptation…I ask you today for a great, intense and growing prayer for all the people of Ireland, for the Church in Ireland, for all the Church which owes so much to Ireland. Pray that Ireland may not fail in the test.”
Surely, one way of responding to St John Paul’s request, which is as relevant today as the time when he made it, is to say the prayer to St Michael the Archangel at the end of each Mass. Perhaps some of our bishops, like their counterparts in the US, will recommend this practice in their dioceses. It is sure to call down great blessing on the Church in our beloved country.
Fr Pat Collins CM is a Vincentian missionary, exorcist and author of Freedom from Evil Spirits: Released from Fear, Addiction & the Devil, published by Columba Books www.columbabooks.com