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Thursday, August 11, 2016

St. Michael, Guardian of the Blessed Sacrament

St. Michael, Guardian of the Blessed Sacrament

Knights of the Holy Eucharist 

On Mount Gargano, St. Michael appeared with a censer in his hand, on the spot where a church was to be built; hence it is said of him in the Office of the Church: "The angel stood before the altar of the temple, having a golden censer in his hand;" an unmistakable allusion is here made to the vision of the heavenly altar which St. John saw (Apoc. 8, 3-4).

Looking deeper for material on this oldest of Christian pilgrimages to St. Michael, I discovered this beautiful summary on The Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals of the importance of St. Michael in our salvation history.
St. Michael, prince of the celestial army, patron of knights, and guardian angel of the Blessed Sacrament -- intercede for us!

Dedication of St. Michael 01The Feast of the Dedication of the Archangel St. Michael
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

Today's festival is called in the breviary of the Church, the Dedication of the Holy Archangel St. Michael. To understand this, it is necessary to know an event which took place at the time of Pope Gelasius I. in the latter part of the fifth Century. In Apulia, there is a mountain formerly called Gargano, now Monte St. Angelo, or Angel's mountain. Near this mountain, a herdsman was keeping his cattle. A steer strayed away from his herd and went into the woods on the mountain, to the entrance of a cave which was concealed by bushes. The herdsman, to drive the animal out of the cave back to the herd, shot an arrow at it. The arrow, however, turned and flew with great force back to him. The herdsman and those who were present were terrified at this and none dared to go nearer to the cave. They went to the bishop, who was at Siponto, a neighboring city, and informed him of what had occurred. The bishop, not doubting that a divine mystery was concealed under it, ordered his congregation to fast and pray three days, in order that God might graciously reveal it to them. At the expiration of the three days, St. Michael, the Archangel, appeared to the bishop and announced to him that the place whither the steer had fled was under his especial protection, and that he desired that they should dedicate the spot to the honor of God, and to the memory of St. Michael and all the Angels.
The bishop, greatly rejoiced, called the clergy and the people together, and having informed them of the revelation, formed a large procession and ascended the mountain. They found a large cave which was like a Church hewn out of the rock. Above the entrance was an opening by which the whole interior received light.
To offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass in it, only the altar was wanting; but it was speedily erected by the pious bishop. The Church itself was soon after dedicated with great solemnity to St. Michael and all holy Angels. The fame of this event spread in a short time all around and drew a great many pilgrims to the Church, while the many miracles that took place there, were a visible sign that the veneration and invocation of St. Michael and the other holy angels must be very agreeable to the Most High. Today's festival was instituted to commemorate the dedication of the Church on Mount Gargano, hence it is called the dedication of St. Michael, as he is especially venerated in that Church. The commemoration of the apparition of this holy Archangel on Mount Gargano is celebrated on May 8th.450px-Puglia MonteSAngelo3 tango7174
Besides this, other apparitions of St. Michael are recorded, which gave occasion, at different times, to the erection of splendid Churches in his honor, at Constantinople, at Rome and in France, as is to be read in the history of the Church. Experience has taught that this considerably increased the veneration of this great prince of heaven, and in truth we have most important reasons to show him especial honor; for, he is the head, or, as the Church expresses it, the prince of the heavenly legions. He is the first of those happy spirits who are continually in the presence of God, standing before His throne. It was he who, at the first moment of his existence, turned to the Almighty and submitted to Him in perfect obedience. It was he, who, so to say, first took up arms against the proud Lucifer, who would not be subject, but equal to the Most High. His humility, obedience and zeal for the honor of God raised him above all in heaven; as pride, disobedience and perfidy abased the proud Lucifer and precipitated him into hell.
St. Michael has been chosen by the Almighty as the protector of the Church of Christ, as in the old Covenant he was the protector of the Synagogue. He was, in olden times, solicitous for the welfare of the true believers in the Synagogue, as is evident from the words spoken by the holy Archangel, St. Gabriel, to the prophet Daniel: "Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me" (Daniel, x.). The angel, under whose protection the Persians were placed, desired that the Israelites should remain longer in Persia, as many Persians came to the knowledge of the true God by associating with the chosen people. The holy Archangel Gabriel, however, desired that the Israelites should be released out of Persia, because he feared that too great intimacy with the Persians might induce them to become faithless to the true God. St. Michael united his prayers with those of St. Gabriel, and thus evinced his care for the true believers.
Not less watchful is he now for the faithful of the New Testament and for the entire Church. He comes to help her, prays for her and protects her against her enemies. At the end of the world, he will manifest his protection of her, especially against the Antichrist, the greatest enemy of the Christians, as St. Gabriel revealed to the holy prophet Daniel, saying: "But at that time, Michael shall rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people" (Daniel, xii.). This holy Archangel is also appointed to bring the souls of men to the throne of the Most High, that they may receive their judgment; and that their sentence may be favorable, he strongly assists them in the last combat, which, at the end of their days, they have usually to fight with the Evil one. The devil, at that moment, uses all his powers to overcome man and make him unhappy for all eternity. St. Michael, appointed by God to assist and to strengthen our souls in this dangerous combat, helps us to conquer, Hence the holy Church addresses him in the name of all the faithful in the prayers for the dying, as follows: "Holy Archangel Michael, protect us in our fight, that we may not go to perdition on the day of Judgment." She teaches us also to invoke this holy Archangel before all other heavenly spirits, in the litany of all Saints.
But if we desire to secure his intercession, and enjoy his assistance in our last combat, it is necessary that we endeavor to imitate his example and fight bravely against the evil spirit, whom, at the end of our lives, we desire to conquer with St. Michael's assistance. Among different representations of St. Michael there is one in which he has a shield in his hand, upon which are the words: "Who is like unto God?" The word " Michael " means in Hebrew, " Who is like God?" St. Michael used this as a weapon, so to say, against the proud Lucifer who desired to be equal to the Lord. "Who is like God?" "Who is equal to God?" With these words, he conquered and precipitated Lucifer and his followers into hell. The same weapons, the same shield we also should use in all temptations. "Who is like God?" Who is so mighty, so wise, so beautiful, so amiable as God." Who is so much to be feared as God? Who can recompense my service as God? Who can do so much good or so much harm to me as God? Whom have I reason to serve and obey as God? Whose grace have I to seek more than the grace of God? Whose disfavor have I to fear more than the disfavor of God?
Whosoever uses these and other wholesome thoughts as spiritual weapons against the spirit of hell, fights after the example of St. Michael, and will always conquer Satan. And those who accustom themselves now to combat thus, have reason to hope that they will vanquish Satan in the last fight, and that the holy Archangel will surely assist them at that important moment.
Arch Michael in Kiev-small
In conclusion, I will add the beautiful words of St. Lawrence Justinian, by which he admonishes all Christians to venerate the holy Archangel. "It is our duty," says he, "to give honor to the prince of the heavenly legions. We ought to praise him especially on account of the elevated state of grace in which he is; and because God has distinguished him by bestowing so high a dignity upon him; for his invincible strength, for the Almighty's favor to him and his heroic constancy in combats; but in all these, we must honor him only in God, who has created him and us, He is very powerful with the Most High. The glorious victory is well known to us, which he won in heaven, soon after the Creation, over the rebellious angels. Not without reason does our Mother, the holy Church, endeavor to honor him especially, because she knows that the divine Majesty has given him to her as protector, mediator and receiver of all elect souls. Hence all should recognize St. Michael as their protector, and duly praising him, honor him with devout prayers, commend their cares to him and rejoice him by reforming their lives, as his love is so great, that he cannot refuse our prayers, nor reject our confidence, nor disregard our love; as he protects the humble, loves the chaste, guides the innocent, guards the pious in this temporal life, and leads them to their heavenly home."

I. St. Michael remained true to God when thousands of other angels became faithless to Him. He followed not their example. You also should not follow the bad example of others, but fulfil God's commandments. Remain faithful to the Lord though thousands of others leave Him. St. Michael was zealous in honoring God and opposed those who would not be obedient to the Creator. You can also do this. When others speak against the true faith in your presence, against the ceremonies and commandments of the true Church, against purity, against the honor of your neighbor; when you see that they transgress the laws of God and of the Church, you should defend the honor of the Almighty and prevent all the evil you can. If you are so situated that you cannot say or do much, show, by your silence, by your seriousness, that you are displeased by such offences against the Majesty of the Most High. St. Michael fought valiantly against Lucifer and his adherents. Therefore God placed him above all the heavenly spirits. Lucifer, with his adherents, endeavors to induce you to leave God, to become faithless to Him. Fight bravely against him and you, too, will be exalted. Say to him: "Who is like God? Who is so kind, so mighty, so amiable as God?" And that you may fight vigorously, as well in life as in death, call often and fervently on St. Michael: "Help us here to fight and to conquer the enemy, O St. Michael!"
II. St. Michael is exalted for his fidelity and for defending the honor of the Almighty. But what was the fate of Lucifer and his adherents? They were precipitated into hell, which God had created for the rebels, and for all those who would follow them in disobedience. Behold, this is the end of those who are disobedient to the Creator, and offend Him. Consider this point carefully. Lucifer and almost numberless heavenly spirits have been cast into everlasting fire on account of sin, of only one and the first sin. God spared not one of so many noble spirits, nor gave them one single moment to repent; but cast them all immediately into hell. A single sin is punished with eternal damnation, and this a sin only in thought. Do you then at last comprehend how great the wickedness of one single sin must be? Can you still flatter yourself that thoughts are free, or that you cannot commit great sin with them? Can you still believe those who say to you that God does not much regard sins; that He pardons them very easily? Truly you must either say that God is unjust, or that the wickedness of sin is very great. The first you dare not say, because it would be blasphemy; hence you say the second: the just God punishes a single sin with hell; but He punishes it not more severely than it deserves. Thus, a single mortal sin deserves to be punished during all eternity in hell; hence the wickedness of a mortal sin must be exceedingly great. What have you to object to it? Certainly if the example of Lucifer and the just punishment which God made him and his adherents suffer, have not opened your eyes to recognize the wickedness of sin, and if this is not sufficient to induce you to avoid all sin, you are lost. Consider further, the words of St. Peter, who said, that God, by chastising the sinful angels, shows all sinners how He will punish them. If God did not spare such noble spirits, how can you imagine that He will spare you? Make then this day, the resolution to fear sin, to fear it more than all the evils on earth, more even than hell itself ; for, it is truely a greater evil than hell itself. "Many consider hell the greatest evil," says St. Chrysostom; "I think that sin is a greater evil."

Invocation of St. Michael, the Chief of the Angelic Hosts
"And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the Dragon . . . and that Great Dragon, the Old Serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, was cast unto the earth, and h1s angels were thrown down with him."--Apoc. xii. 7:
Thou Prince of the angelic Hosts,
I lift my heart to thee.
And call to mind with grateful soul
Thy wondrous victory.
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.
For when dark Satan and his hosts
Rebelled against our Lord,
Thy mighty war-cry pierced the dark:
Who is like God adored?
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.
In that great day of battle fierce,
When Satan lost his crown,
Thou with thy faithful Hosts of light
Didst drive the rebels down.
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.
Down from the gleaming Paradise,
Gate of the sinless world.
Down to the gloomy prison-house,
In dim confusion hurled.
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.
The splendour of thy flaming sword
Flashed through the wondering night;
Thy golden armour's lightning-gleam
Burned like a sea of light.
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.
Now in thy peerless majesty,
Where warfare is not known.
Thou reignest in eternal rest
Before the sapphire throne.
Chorus: Oh first of all the mighty Seven,
Before thy throne we bow,
And worship thee amidst the light
That streameth from thy brow.

Praise to St. Michael, the Prince of the Celestial Army
"At that time shall Michacl rise up, the great prince,
who standeth for the children of thy people."--Dan. xii. i
Hail, bright Archangel!
Prince of Spirit divinely strong!
To whose rare merit hath been given heaven!
To head the angelic throng!
Thine the first worship was, when gloom
Through heaven's thinned ranks did move,
Thus giving unto God the bloom
Of young creation's love.
O trumpet-tongued! O beautiful!
O force of the Most High!
The blessed of the earth look dull
Beside thy majesty.
First servant of the Ineffable!
The first created eye
That ever, proved and perfect, fell
On the dread Trinity!
O Michael! worship Him this night,
The Father, Word, and Dove,
Renewing with strong act the might
Of thy first marvellous love.

Saint Michael, the Guardian Angel of the Blessed Sacrament
Fr. Francis Xavier Lasance, 1913
"Michael," or "Who is like to God?" Such was the cry of the great archangel when he smote the rebel Lucifer in the conflict of the heavenly hosts, and from that hour he has been known as "Michael," the captain of the armies of God, the type of of divine fortitude, the champion of every faithful soul in strife with the powers of evil. Thus he appears in Holy Scripture as the guardian of the children of Israel, their comfort and protector in times of sorrow or conflict. He it is who prepares for their return from the Persian captivity, who leads the valiant Machabees to victory, and who rescues the body of Moses from the envious grasp of the Evil One. And since Christ's coming the Church has ever venerated St. Michael as her special patron and protector. She styles him "the chief of the angelic hosts set over paradise, whom the citizens of heaven delight to honor; the messenger of God to the souls of the just." She invokes him by name in her confession of sin, summons him to the side of her children in the agony of death, and chooses him as their escort from the chastening flames of purgatory to the realms of holy light. Lastly, when Antichrist shall have set up his kingdom on earth, it is Michael who will unfurl once more the standard of the cross, sound the last trump, and binding together the false prophet and the beast hurl them for all eternity into the burning pool.--Bowden.
Although the Blessed Sacrament is the property of the souls of men, and belongs to them in a way and with an intimacy which the spirits of the angels cannot share, there is nevertheless a great connection between the angels and the Blessed Sacrament. It is the especial mystery of that human nature in which Jesus is head of the angels. It is one of the mysteries they adore and humbly desire to look into. They admire it with a special admiration, and follow it all over the world--in the priests' hands, on the throne, in the tabernacle, round the church, on its obscure visits to the sick--as if they were attracted by it, which they are. It is called angels' food and the bread of angels; and although they cannot enjoy the proper sacramental union with the flesh of our dearest Lord, they doubtless feed on it in their intelligences by a kind of spiritual communion. St. Thomas says that the angels see Christ in clear vision and enjoy Him in His own proper species, and this is their spiritual communion, which precludes their receiving by a spiritual communion this sacrament, where He is seen only by faith and enjoyed only under the sacramental species. "They feed not on the sacrament, but on Him Who is in the Sacrament."--Summa. p. iii., q. 80, art. 2, c.
It is said that St. Michael revealed to St. Eutropius, the hermit, that he had been chosen to be the guardian angel of the Blessed Sacrament . . . and there are also on record several revelations of his to various saints concerning the worship of the Blessed Sacrament. Some have supposed him to be the angel of the Mass referred to in the Canon; he is spoken of at the beginning of the Mass in the Confiteor, and again in the second incensing at the High Mass; and also in the Offertory of Masses of Requiem.--Father Faber.

Antiphone, Versicle, Response, and Prayer to St. Michael
Ant. Most glorious prince, Michael the archangel, be mindful of us; pray for us always both here and everywhere to the Son of God.
V. In the sight of the angels, I will sing praise to Thee, O my God.
R. I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and give glory to Thy name.
Let us Pray:
O God, Who in a wonderful order hast established the ministry of angels and of men: mercifully grant that even as Thy holy angels ever do Thee service in heaven, so at all times they may succor us upon earth. Amen

archmichaelOn St. Michael the Archangel
by St. Alphonsus De Liguori
Among the angels in heaven none surpasses St. Michael in glory; and according to St. Basil and others, there is none that equals him: and with good reason, because St. Michael was chosen to subdue the pride of Lucifer and of all the rebel angels, and to expel them from heaven. Christian, if thou lovest this archangel, who has such great love for men, rejoice at the glory which he enjoys in heaven; and beseech him, that, as he is the protector of the whole Church and of all the faithful, he will be thy special protector with God, who loves him so much, and who rejoices in beholding one who is so faithful to him and so zealous for His honour, so much glorified by all.
In the Mass for the dead, the Church prays: "Let the standard bearer, St. Michael, bring them into the holy light." The learned explain this prayer, and say that St. Michael has the honourable office of presenting to Jesus Christ the Judge, all the souls that depart out of this world in the grace of God. Protect me, therefore, O holy archangel, and by your protection enable my soul to become worthy of being presented by your hands on the day of my death, ornamented with divine grace, before my Judge Jesus Christ.
Again, the Holy Church prays to St. Michael in the name of all the faithful, to defend us from the assaults of the wicked enemy at the hour of our death, that we may not be conquered and lose our souls: "Holy St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgment." O holy archangel, the devil has many weapons to employ against me at the hour of my death; these weapons are my sins, by which he will then endeavour to throw me into despair; he is also preparing furious assaults of temptations to cause me then to fall again into sin. You, who conquered him and expelled him from heaven, conquer him again for me, and drive him far away from me at the hour of my death; I beseech you to grant this my prayer for the love of that God who so much loves you, and whom you so much love. O Mary, Queen of heaven, procure for me the assistance of St. Michael at the hour of my death. Amen

Prayer to St.Michael as your Patron Saint
Saint Michael, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.
Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.
Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel for the Dying
Hail, most glorious Saint Michael! hail most merciful leader of the Heavenly host! hail, honour and glory of the Angelic hierarchy! O most illustrious Prince, O sublime hero, ornament of Paradise, brilliant jewel of the Celestial Palace; full of wisdom, perfect in beauty, thou art the impress of the Divine likeness; gold and precious stones increase thy splendour; thou dost walk in the fulness of joy through Paradise; thou dost proceed to the mount of God, through the midst of shining fires; thou hast been appointed by God, the Prince of souls, thou dost raise them up, and bring them into the dwelling of eternal joy. I venture, blessed Prince, to remind thee of all the graces, which the infinite bounty of God has bestowed upon thee, above all orders of Angels; and I pray thee, by the mutual love of the three Divine Persons, deign to receive my soul at my last hour, and to gain favour for me from the Divine Judge, by the power of thy intercession. Grant the same protection to all the dying, for whom I now intercede, and obtain for them the grace of a holy death. Amen.

Prayer to All Angels
Ye Angels, so holy and so pure, spirits truly blessed, who stand before your Lord, and contemplate with such exceeding joy the Divine Countenance of that Heavenly Solomon, who hath enlightened you with a wisdom so excellent, who hath ennobled you with so many prerogatives, and hath made you worthy of so eminent a glory--you, I say, who are those brilliant stars which shine with so much luster in the empyreal Heaven, pour into my soul, I beseech you, your blessed influences, preserve my faith in its purity, my hope in its firmness, my virtue in its integrity, and make me to advance ever in the love of God and of my neighbor. I beseech you also, O ye blessed Angels, that you will be pleased by your heavenly guidance, to lead me along the path of humility, of which you gave us the example in your own blessed beginnings, that after this life I may merit with you to contemplate the sovereign beauty of the Heavenly Father, and to occupy the place of some one of those stars which through their pride have fallen from Heaven. Amen