Saturday, September 29, 2007

St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle

Michael, from Hebrew means "Who is like God." St. Michael is said to be the angel guardian of Persia (cf. Dan 10:13). Often depicted as battling Satan, Scripture states,"There is none who contends by my side against these except Michael" (Dan 10:21). Because of this, he is also said to be the general guardian of the Church. Scripture speaks of the hope of deliverance for the Church Militant from tribulation under the charge of St. Michael.

Daniel 12:1: "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people, shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book."

Revelation 12:7-9 also states, "War rose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) struggled with obtaining complete sovereignty for the Holy See from the Kingdom of Italy. Possessions of the Church were being taken by the Italian monarch. Leo XIII courageously fought against the influence of the secular powers and modernism of his day, praying that it be defeated. After a frightful vision he received of our Lord and Satan disputing about Satan's contention that he could destroy the Church, he composed the following prayer (long version):
"O glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of our Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels.

Behold this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the Name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition, souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. That wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on Her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck the sheep may be scattered. Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
    V: Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
    R: The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has conquered the root of David.
    V: Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
    R: As we have hoped in Thee.
    V: O Lord hear my prayer.
    R: And let my cry come unto Thee.

    V: Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as suppliants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of our souls. Amen."

A shorter version of this prayer to St. Michael became part of the Leonine Prayers after the low Latin Mass:
"Saint 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, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."
[cf. The Raccolta, twelfth edition, published by Burnes, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., publishers to the Holy See, London, 1935, originally published in the Roman Raccolta of July 23, 1898, and a supplement approved July 31, 1902].

In 1994, John Paul II, Servant of God, encouraged the recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael to obtain help in battle against the forces of darkness:
"May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, "Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power" (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church. "St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil." Although today 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." [Pope John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994]
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

God bless,


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Apostolate Specific to the Lay Faithful, Cardinal Francis Arinze

"The Apostolate Specific to the Lay Faithful"
by His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and The Discipline of the Sacraments.

Given September 19th, 2007 at Holy Apostles Church, Colorado Springs, CO.

Hosted by the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Video recording presented by Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), St. John the Baptist Chapter, Colorado Springs, CO,

If you would like to download this video (.mp4 format), go here and click on "download."

God bless,


Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Unjust Steward

The following sermon was written as a letter from St. Gaudentius in reply to a request made to him by Serminium, regarding the proper understanding of Luke 16:1-13.

First, here's what Luke's Gospel states:

Luke 16:1-13:
1 He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2 And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' 3 And the steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' 5 So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6 He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' 7 Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' 8 The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. 10 "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

The Unjust Steward [1]

By St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia (d. AD 410)
Patroligia Latina, J.P. Migne, ed. (Paris, 1841-1855), 20, col. 971, Sermo 18

… I come now to what you so earnestly asked of me; and what I believe in this matter I shall tell you as briefly as I can; and without criticism of how any one else may interpret it, provided his explanation does not lessen in any way the tradition of the Apostolic Faith. I am of opinion that the Unjust Steward stands for the devil, who was sent into this world for the correction of mankind, so that we, flying from the malignant cruelty of this so evil steward might run together towards the compassion of God, through Whose power and mercy we can be delivered from every assault: and seeing that the steward is also subject to the power of the Lord God, Who as the Apostle teaches us, is rich unto all that call upon him. For Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved (Rom. X. 12).

And the devil wasted the substance of his Lord when he sought the ruin of mankind; that is, our death, who are the possession of God, as the Son of God bears witness, repeating by the mouth of the prophet the words of His Father; Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession (Ps. ii. 8). And again: For the Lord had chose Jacob unto himself: Israel for his own possession (Ps. cxxxiv. 4). God seeing the insolence of the devil had become so great, that those he had been permitted to try, and solely for their correction, he had taken as his own, and put to death, now threatens him with expulsion so that his cruelty is broken through fear of unending punishment. And this most wicked one, reckoning the death of man as his profit, is consumed with anxiety because the Lord is about to take away his power over others. And since he is unable to will what is good and is ashamed to seek mercy through repentance, he thinks within himself how he may still have power over the debtors of his Lord (that is over those involved in the debt of sin), not alone by open persecution, but also, under the pretext of benevolence, by deceiving them with smooth words, so that seduced by his false kindness they may more readily receive him into their houses since together with him they must be judged for ever.

The devil believes that this would be a great alleviation of his torments, to secure many sharers of the penalties inflicted on himself. For the enemy, full of guile, and troubled by the Coming, and by the threat of Christ, thought within his one poisonous mind how even those who fled from him when he was persecuting them, may yet follow him should he give up something to them. He hastens to try these new schemes, and with different kinds of temptations he tries to undo men; power over whom he well knows will be wholly taken from him at the end of the world. For after the coming of Christ the devil was inflamed with redoubled fury against mankind; knowing that he hath but a short time (Apoc. Xii. 12), as was written of him. The debts of his fellow servants, which belong to his Lord he promises falsely to remit himself, when he offers an empty forgiveness to those who sin either in belief or in work; when he persuades them that the sins which they who commit them know are grievous sins will not be regarded as sins. For they confess the amount of their debt, since they know in their hearts they cannot deny their debt to God; for their contempt of His faith, and for the good they have failed to do. For they who render to God what is God’s are not God’s debtors. And do not be surprised that he lies about the forgiveness of their debts to men whom he is trying even more cunningly to destroy by this very deceit, since he dared to promise Christ, the Creator of all things, the kingdoms of this world, imprudently pretending they were his. All these are mind he says, and to whom I will I give them. If thou therefore will adore before me, all shall be thine (Lk. iv. 6, 7).

O the indescribable patience of Christ, Who suffered the tempter to speak in this way, that He might show us, whose humanity He has taken upon Himself the manner of fighting him and of defeating him! O the unbridled insolence of this liar the devil! He thinks Jesus is God, and yet tempts Him. He had reason to think that He was the Lord of all creation to Whom he lies that the kingdoms of the earth are his; and he promises that he will give possession of created things to Him by Whom he knew all things were made! For, as it was written: He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth, because the truth is not in him. (Jn viii. 44).

And now we come to the kinds of things of which there is question. The wheat as we said before, is the Faith of Christ; the beginning of life for man. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world (Jn. vi. 33). And again He says: He that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live (Jn. xi. 25). Oil stands for good works, and because the foolish virgins did not have any, the lamps of their souls were extinguished and they remained shut out in the darkness from the Chamber of the Bridegroom (heaven.) For our souls must not alone be virgin and untarnished; they must also ever carry in their vessels the oil of every good work; lest the lamp of faith go out for want of the oil of good works (Mt. xxv). For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without good works is dead (Jas. ii. 26).

The light of faith will then be steady and everlasting if it is nourished abundantly by the oil of good works. The devil therefore cheated mankind with false promises, so that they may disown their debt of faith and good works, until such time as they shall be thrust by the sentence of the Just judge into the prison of hell requiring of them that through torments they shall repay the last fathering (Mt. v. 25).

That he persuades them in place of a hundred barrels of oil, that is, of good works, to write fifty, and forces them to alter the debt of a hundred quarters of wheat to eighty, is more a veiled deception, a far more subtle snare of the enemy; which is when he involves those now withdrawn from the worship of idols in the various errors of heretical teachings, lessening the sum of their saving faith, and when he trips up those now turned away from evil practices, and eager to walk in the way of good works, by the eager desire to make known their good works. For he tries to pervert both our faith and our good works from the centenary number, that is from the number that stands for perfection, and which stands at the right-hand side: perverting the Apostolic Faith by the sinister interpretations of heretical teaching, and perverting the merit of our good works, of things done on the right-hand side, by leading us to a sinister way of life.

For how many has the devil not softened by his evil counsel, from the discipline of the right hand to the looseness of bodily pleasures? How many who were devout and eager in paying by good works the spiritual debts of religion has he not cheated of their heavenly reward, by infecting them with the desire of human glory, so that they may not receive the rewards promised to those on the right hand: for in their good works they now seek the good opinion of men rather than the praise and glory of God. And for this reason the Lord Christ the Son of God, warning His Disciples to be careful not to make known to men their uprightness, their alms, their fasting and praying, lest through the vain glory of the left-hand side they may not have the reward of the right hand, says to them: Let not they left hand know what thy right hand doth (Mt. vi. 3).

It is very plain to us then with what poisonous prudence this unjust steward alters the due debts of religion, transferring them from the right to the left hand side of the account. And it was not without prupose that the Lord, to Whom we ar indebted, suffered greater losses in His oil, by which our good works are signified, than in His wheat, placed before us as a figure of the Life-giving Faith. For he is less corrupted by the deceit of the devil who is led away from the true faith, than he who is led away from the practice of good works, as the Saviour bears witness: And why do you call me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? (Lk. vi. 46).

The Lord does not however praise him for goodness, nor for piety, nor for justice, but he praises the cunning, the artful prudence of the unjust steward; He praised him because he had prepared his fraud with such subtle evil. He praises him menacingly, and at the same praises him for acting prudently. Menacing, for by the very word unjust He condemns this most wicked prudence of the devil; He praises him as having acted prudently, while at the same time He prepares the minds of His listening Disciples against he subtle skill of his schemes, so that they may with all care, with all prudence, oppose those so cunning, this so evilly wise enemy. For the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth (Gen. iii. 1), and he slew the men who were first made by the poisoned bite of his seduction. The bless Apostle making reference to the torturous character of the serpent says: We are not ignorant of his devices (II Cor. ii. 11). And for the same reason the Saviour also says: Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves (Mt. x. 16). And the Apostle Paul conveyed the same to us in different words when he said In malice be children, and in sense be perfect (I Cor. xiv, 20).

Christ bids us be prudent, but not venomous; wise, but not evil; and that putting off, like the snake, our old garment of sin, we are to be formed into a new man; protecting our Head, Which is Christ with ever care, and surrendering our members to be torn by the persecutors, that the Faith of Christ the Head of our salvation and of our Life, may remain sound and unwounded.

Accordingly, Beloved, let us imitate the prudence of this unjust steward, but not his perfidy. Let us imitate his cunning, but not his wickedness. As he was skilled in injuring others by his evil deeds, so must we be prepared in salutary knowledge, instructed and armed with all prudence; having on us the breastplate of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and the impregnable shield of justice, by means of which we can, as the Apostle exhorts us, extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one (Eph. vi. 16, 17); lest while we are unawares he may pierce us with the darts of his evil prompting; lest being unarmed he may overcome us; lest being asleep he should slay us; lest though armed and watching he should still defeat us, because we are not accustomed to fighting him. For the unclean spirits, whom the Lord calls the children of this world, that is the children of darkness are oftentimes more prudent than the children of light, whom God, Who is Light, has deigned to call to be His children by adoption, being born again through the mysteries of the heavenly Baptism. Farewell, Beloved in Christ. Amen.

[1] The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Volume III, M.F. Toal, Ed. and translation, originally published by Preservation Press, Inc. Swedesboro, NJ, 1996, new edition published by Ignatius Press, San Francisco CA, 2000,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Keep Sunday Holy

Pope Benedict exhorts Christians to keep Sunday holy

Vienna, September 9 (CNA).-As Pope Benedict XVI bid farewell to Austria today, he called on everyone to live Sunday's in a Christian manner. Quoting a 20th century German bishop, Benedict exhorted people to "Give the soul its Sunday and give Sunday its soul."

Speaking during his homily at St. Stephen's cathedral in the heart of Vienna, the Holy Father's encouraged the faithful to enjoy true leisure. He also noted that while leisure is a good thing amid the mad rush of the modern world, it can also be a danger if it becomes just wasted time.

Instead, the Pope urged Christians to set aside Sundays to devote themselves to Christ's teachings and "create oases of selfless love in a world where so often only power and wealth seem to count for anything."

Rapping up his trip as both a pilgrim, and in some senses, as a missionary, the Pope called on Austrians to continue to build up their faith. "We need a relationship that sustains us, that gives direction and content to our lives."...

God bless,