Prayer to St. Michael sees resurgence in response to abuse crisis

by Carol Zimmermann

Catholic News Service

10/5/2018

A statue of St. Michael the Archangel is seen at the Church of St. Michael in New York City. In response to the church's abuse crisis, some pastors have asked their parishioners to say the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel at the end of Mass and some bishops have urged that all diocesan parishes recite the prayer. (CNS Photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) 


WASHINGTON (CNS) — In response to the Church abuse crisis, many parishes around the country have been bringing out the big guns in a spiritual sense — calling on St. Michael the Archangel to help the Church.

Some pastors have asked their parishioners to say the prayer at the end of Masses and some bishops have urged all diocesan parishes to recite it. Pope Francis also recently urged Catholics worldwide to recite it after praying the rosary during the month of October.

But for some parishes, saying this prayer at the end of Mass is nothing new.

In 2015, when Father Jose Manuel Campos Garcia was assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Roseburg, Oregon, he started praying the prayer to St. Michael after daily Mass not long after a shooting occurred at the nearby Umpqua Community College that left 10 students dead.

After he began leading the parish in this prayer after daily Mass, he said he saw a change.

"For us, it's been a journey of healing relationships and healing the community," he told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.

And now this parish will be joined by other parishes in the archdiocese in reciting the prayer which calls on the saint to "defend us in battle" and to "be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil."

The prayer reads in full: "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 heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls."

In a Sept. 14 letter to priests, Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample urged them to pray the St. Michael Prayer after each Mass and to encourage parishioners to say this prayer daily.

In his letter, he said the church is in "distressing times with continued revelations about the failures of our brother priests and bishops" and he also said "the evil one has intensified his war" against the Church.

The archbishop said there are many things to do to purify the Church at this time but that "prayer will also be the foremost and most appropriate response, on which all other efforts will build."

Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS he did not know how prevalent this current practice was in the United States.

He said the history of saying this prayer at the end of Mass goes back to Pope Leo XIII in late 1800s. The prayer was recited at the end of low Masses, or Masses without singing, during the time when the Papal States were being confiscated by the Italians and later as an intention for the conversion of Russia.

The priest said in a Sept. 18 email that the prayer was "suppressed as a part of the Mass not long before the post-Vatican II revisions to the Mass were instituted. When the prayer is said today, it would be considered a devotion that technically takes place outside of Mass, after the final blessing has been given."

James Hetzel, president and CEO of The Catholic Company, an online store based in Charlotte, North Carolina, said many parishes in the Diocese of Charlotte have "been praying the St. Michael prayer after Mass for as long as I can remember."

He said he was glad to see the practice catching on around the country.

In an email to CNS, he said his company had not had a recent increase in sales of St. Michael prayer cards, but he said St. Michael-related products "have been strong sellers for us for years."

Hetzel said he has seen "an uptick in products related to spiritual warfare," though, and he thinks those types of books "go hand in hand with the role St. Michael the Archangel plays in our lives."

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Contributing to this story was Sarah Wolf, reporter for the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In response to the Church abuse crisis, many parishes around the country have been bringing out the big guns in a spiritual sense — calling on St. Michael the Archangel to help the Church.

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