Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Fight

"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." 

Pope Leo XIII composed this prayer to St. Michael in the late 1800s after having a vision of the destruction caused by the devil in the 20th Century. In 1886, he ordered that this prayer be prayed at the conclusion of Mass. This continued for almost 100 years, falling out of practice in 1968. More recently, in the Spring of 1994, St. John Paul II, encouraged the faithful to reinstitute this practice ( Some churches continue to invite congregants to pray this prayer after Mass. 

Both of these popes realized and did not shy away from this fact: we are in a fight. 

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us. 

In today's Gospel, in juxtaposition to yesterday's reassurance of rest, Jesus declares, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force" (Matthew 11:12). Put more simply: we are in a fight. 

We are about two weeks out from Christmas, and lest we get too wrapped up in silent nights and jolly old elves, today's Gospel reminds us that discipleship is hard. Forces of evil are taking the Kingdom of heaven by violence. Our enemy, the devil "is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). 

C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, 1952) posed that Christmas is really about an infiltration: God entered into enemy-occupied territory in the form, not of a warrior or ruler, but as a baby. Meek. Weak. Helpless. Dependent. Disguised: 

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.

Jesus came to show us the way, teach us the truth, and bring us to new life. He conquered sin and death. In this way, He also taught us how to fight. 

So as to ensure that it's clear that I am not glorifying, promoting or condoning violence in any way, Jesus did not fight darkness with darker darkness. 

Only light can win that battle. And, just to be sure that I'm not giving too much credit to our opponent, darkness - no matter how dark - never overcomes the light. 


So, put on the armor of righteousness (Ephesians 6:10-17). Read your Bible as a shield. Wield your Rosary as a sword. Strengthen your spirit with the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. 

Fall down on your knees in prayer, and fight.  

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us