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                                   September 29, 2005

What A Trip!

by Thomas A. Droleskey

Each life is supposed to be a journey in cooperation with the graces won for us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the perfect offering of the Co-Eternal Son made Flesh to His Father in Spirit and in Truth to atone for human sins and to make it possible for men to have access to the bliss of an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise. That is, each of us is on an earthly pilgrimage, the final destination of which is meant to be Heaven itself if we die in a state of sanctifying grace. Saint Michael the Archangel, whose feast we celebrate today, stands ready to assist us to do battle with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil as we make our pilgrimage every day in this mortal vale of tears to the moment of our Particular Judgment, which can come at any time and without the least bit of warning.

Saint Michael, who did battle with Lucifer in Heaven and does battle with him and his minions here on earth, appeared with Our Lady to Saint Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. It was fitting that the one who defeated Lucifer and his minions in Heavenly battle should have appeared with the woman whose heel has crushed the head of the serpent. And it was truly an inspired vision given to Pope Leo XIII that caused him to write both the long and the short versions of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer that he mandated to be said after Low Mass. Pope Leo was given to see in his vision, which he had during the offering of Holy Mass, that the devil was going to have his way in the human elements of the Church for "about a hundred years." Who better to assist Our Lady to repel the attacks of the adversary than Saint Michael himself?

We must call upon Saint Michael frequently during the course of the day. The demons are terrified by the mere invocation of his blessed name and by the might of the power given him by God. Indeed, demons flee at the mention of his name and during the recitation of the prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII. An indispensable part of fortifying ourselves as we make our earthly pilgrimage each day is to rely upon the patronage of the "one who is like unto God," Saint Michael the Archangel.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., commented in The Liturgical Year on the perfection of angels, who are non corporeal beings created by God to minister unto Him in Heaven and to help us to know, to love, and to serve Him as He has revealed Himself through His true Church:

Who, then, are these heavenly Powers, whose mysterious combat heads the first page of history? Their existence is attested by the traditions of all nations as well as by the authority of holy Scripture. If we consult the Church, she teaches us that in the beginning God created simultaneously two natures, the spiritual and corporal, and afterwards man who is composed of both. The scale of nature descends by gradation from beings made to the likeness of God, to the very confines of nothingness; and by the same degrees the creature mounts upwards to his Creator. God is infinite being, infinite intelligence, infinite love. The creature is for ever finite: but man, endowed with a reasoning intellect, and the angel, with an intuitive grasp of truth, are ever, by a continual process of purification, widening the bounds of their imperfect nature, in order to reach, by increase of light, the perfection of greater love.

God alone is simple with that unchangeable productive simplicity, which is absolute perfection excluding the possibility of progress; He is pure Act, in whom substance, power, and operation are one thing. The angel, though entirely independent of matter, is yet subject to the natural weakness necessary to a created being; he is not absolutely simple, for in him action is distinct from power, and power from essence. How much greater is the weakness of man's composite nature, unable to carry on operations of the intellect without the aid of the senses!

"Compared with ours," says one of the most enlightened brethren of the angelic doctor, "how calm and how luminous is the knowledge of pure spirits! they are not doomed to the intricate discoverings of our reason, which runs after the truth, composes and analyzes, and laboriously draws conclusions from premises. They instantaneously apprehend the whole compass of primary truths. Their intuition is so prompt, so lively, so penetrating, that it is impossible for them to be surprised, as we are, into error. If they deceive themselves, it must be of their own will. The perfection of their will is equal to the perfection of their intellect. They know not what it is to be disturbed by the violence of appetites. Their love is without emotion; and their hatred of evil is as calm and as wisely tempered as their love. A will so free can know no perplexity as to its aims, no inconstancy in its resolutions. Whereas with us long and anxious meditation is necessary before we make a decision, it is the property of the angels to determine by a single act the object of their choice. God proposed to them, as He does to us, infinite beatitude in the vision of His own Essence; and to fit them for so great an end, He endowed them with grace at the same time as He gave them being. In one instant they said Yes or No; in one instant they freely and deliberately decided their own fate.

Let us not be envious. By nature the angel is superior to us but to which of the angels hath He said at any time, "Thou art My Son?" The only-begotten Son of God did not take to Himself the angelic nature. When on earth, He acknowledged the temporary subordination of humanity to those pure spirits, and deigned to receive from them, even as do His brethren in the flesh, the announcements of the divine will, and help and strength. But "God hat not subjected unto angels the world to come," says the Apostle. How can we understand this attraction of God toward what is feeblest? We can only worship in humble, loving faith. It was Lucifer's stumbling-block on the day of the great battle in heaven. But the faithful angels prostrated themselves in joyous adoration at the feet of the Infant-God foreshown to them enthroned on Mary's knee, and then rose up to sing: "Glory ot God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.

The angels are here to assist us, in other words, as we call upon them to help us scale the heights of sanctity. They help to prepare us to receive That which they cannot receive: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man Himself in Holy Communion. Unable to receive the One they serve and adore, the angels take delight in the fact that they help us to be prepared for receiving Him worthily each time we kneel at the altar rail and have placed on our tongues the Most Blessed Sacrament. They take delight in helping us to more and more devoted to the Queen of the Angels, Our Blessed Mother, and in imitating the virtues and the Catholic witness of the other saints. They plead for us to cooperate with both sanctifying and actual graces to bear whatever crosses come our way in this vale of tears so that we can, as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, prosper under them unto eternal happiness in Heaven.

The angels are pleased when we meditated upon the truths of the Faith, poring through the pages of Holy Writ to mine the treasures that prompted Saint Jerome to spend most of his life in the work of preparing a proper and accurate translation of the Bible from the Hebrew and the Greek into the Latin Vulgate, which was then, by the way, the language of the people (a fact that is essential to point out to Protestants: Saint Jerome, a Catholic priest and theologian, wanted to make the entirety of the Bible accessible to the people in the lingua franca of his day, Latin). The angels are pleased when we read about the lives of the saints, especially those like Saint Jerome who did battle for Our Lord against his enemies within the Church. Father John Laux wrote of Saint Jerome, "He was always in controversy with some one, and in the heat of the fight his quick temper only too often got the better of him. . . . His Dialogue on Pelagianism, one of the finest of his controversial writings, cost him dear" (Father John Laux, Church History, p. 138). Yes, the angels are pleased when we respond to their promptings to spend our time immersed in the things of Heaven, which is the destination to which they have been charged by God to lead us as we make our pilgrimage here on earth.

We must keep in mind and invoke the help of Saint Michael and all of the angels, especially our own Guardian Angels, as we journey in the direction of the moment of our Particular Judgments every day of our lives. I can tell you that we were doing so as we encountered all of the obstacles that were placed in the path of our journey from Texas to the Washington, D.C., area. Even the last bit of our journey, which ended this morning at a body shop in Vienna, Virginia, was not without difficulties: two wreckers had to be called to find a way to get our Trail Blazer off of our flatbed trailer without seeing the car collapse through the rotted wood to the ground. We just prayed to Saint Michael and to our own Guardian Angels, as well as those of the men trying to figure out how to deal with this most unusual situation, that no further damage would be done to the car and that the long delay we had to endure at the body shop after Holy Mass this morning would end sooner rather than later. All to you Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.

Yes, we had quite a trip from Dickinson, Texas, to the Washington, D.C., area. The little trips we make in this life, however, are but a simile of the continuous journey we make each day to the moment when Our Lord's final and irrevocable Judgment will be pronounced on our immortal souls. May all of the Angels and Archangels and Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Principalities and Virtues and Cherubim and Seraphim be able to rejoice at that moment as to how our assiduous pleas for help from them--and from their Heavenly Queen--made possible the happy completion of our earthly journey as Catholics who persisted by the graces won for us on Calvary in states of sanctifying grace until we breathed our last.

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.

Saint Michael, pray for us.

Saint Jerome, pray for us.


The Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel (Latin and English)

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio. Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur. Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

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 other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.






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