Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Lectionary: 647

War broke out in heaven; 
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

Each day and many times a day, when we recite “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”, we recall this passage from Revelation. Saint Michael purged the sky of Satan and his minions... 
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.”
but the diabolical army still roams the earth and torments the blessed. Fortunately we have Saint Michael and his angels at our side. 

As he prepared to capture Jericho Joshua was surprised to find an ally:

While Joshua was near Jericho, he raised his eyes and saw one who stood facing him, drawn sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you one of us or one of our enemies?” He replied, “Neither. I am the commander of the army of the LORD: now I have come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in worship, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The commander of the army of the LORD replied to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Nothing more is said of that "commander of the army of the LORD" in the account of battle. Joshua marched his ragtag army of men and women and children in procession around the town for seven days, with the Ark of the Covenant leading. Then the walls collapsed and he captured it. Given the divine assistance there was hardly any surprise. 

In the closing days of the 19th century, according to legend, Pope Leo XIII had a dreadful vision about the coming twentieth century. He had bad feelings about an era that is remembered for two world wars and the beginning of the atomic age. The new doctrine of total war, developed in Germany and tested in the American Civil War, called for the annihilation of entire cities and all their inhabitants. War was no longer a contest among combatants; it had become a struggle of nation against nation, each attempting to terrorize the enemy populace into submission. 

Afflicted by this dread, Pope Leo commanded that every Mass should conclude with his Prayer to Saint Michael: 
Saint Michael 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 evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
The prayer fit the times, an "end time" when the "world as we know it" was ending. During the twentieth century kings were unseated, war was transformed, ten thousand years of stable global temperatures began to disintegrate, and a global economy appeared. 

A global Roman Catholic Church also appeared with cardinals named from Asia, Africa and Micronesia. The rift between the eastern and western churches became less wide, and Christians of every sort began to discuss reconciliation. 

Ironically, during the so-called end time, the institution which is by nature conservative and traditional -- that is, religion -- began to dream hopefully and prophetically of moving forward into an unimaginable future. 

True, many religious people would prefer a return to the monarchical papacy with its triple crown. Everybody always knows what that pope will do and say. They call themselves sedevacantist

But God in his mercy has given his Church a new generation of popes who teach us confidence as we look to the future. Pope John Paul II urged us to set out for the deep! And Pope Francis reminds us that God wants mercy, not sacrifice. 

We should still pray to Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel to guide us during these confusing times, but we can do so with great confidence. Our God is with us, and where we're standing -- this world between worlds -- is holy ground. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.