"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Reverence and Respect of The Blessed Sacrament

Bishop Thomas G. Doran, Diocese of Rockford, May 27, 2011

From time to time people make inquiries of the Bishop’s office that demand more than a private answer. One of the things that disturbs practicing Catholics more and more is the seeming lack of reverence and respect for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in our liturgy and in our devotions.
As I go about in the various parishes and observe people, a surprising number of people do not genuflect toward the Tabernacle on entering or leaving church and many more do not know how to do it (it is the right knee, not the left that touches the ground when genuflecting). Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament has almost completely disappeared because neither clergy nor laity know how to perform it, and the beautiful hymns that we used to sing on that occasion, all of them replete with deep meaning about the Holy Eucharist, are largely forgotten.

One lady recently wrote me that she had just been informed by a deacon that to receive the Holy Eucharist while kneeling was in disobedience to the Bishops’ Conference and to me as bishop directly. I am grateful for this reminder that this is a subject that we all should take to heart.

First of all, bear in mind that many people have difficulty genuflecting and would have difficulty kneeling for Holy Communion. Obviously, if doing so imperils health or wellbeing, one is not obliged to do it. Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament starts in the heart. Whether it is reflected in our posture depends on many things.

One thing that matters much to me is the practice of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, when he gives Holy Communion. His practice is to distribute Holy Communion on the tongue of recipients who kneel as they receive communion. That should say something to all of us. I would make this personal observation that I usually do not distribute Holy Communion when I say Mass in the parishes because every parish has its own peculiar way of ordering Holy Communion and I am confused by such a variety of practices, and so since discretion is the better part of valor, I do not get involved in it.

Then there is the fact that many of us identify unity with uniformity. The two are distinct. We are bound to unity in faith, not necessarily to uniformity and how we receive Holy Communion. Now, the Third General Instruction of the Roman Missal now in force, at n. 160, permits receiving Holy Communion kneeling or standing, on the tongue or in the hand. That same instruction allows the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to establish norms for this practice. This was done by Archbishop Wilton Gregory when he was President of the Conference in 2002. The bishops decided that standing was the normative posture.

It is, therefore, permitted to Catholics to receive Holy Communion standing, receiving the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue or in the hand, depending on their choice, and this is the usual way in which Holy Communion is to be distributed in our churches. Cardinal George asked about this in 2003 and the Holy See responded that posture at Holy Communion is not to be so rigidly regulated as to interfere with the freedom of people receiving Holy Communion. If you have to read this two or three times to understand what is being said, that is alright. The whole matter is somewhat confusing.

I am old enough to remember when, in a flurry of “me-too-ism,” communion rails were ripped out of our churches, something that was never advised, commanded or imposed. Most churches had suitable communion rails with padded cushions upon which communicants could kneel. And it seems to me looking back on the early days of my priesthood, that communion was distributed more reverently and was received more reverently when people knelt for Holy Communion. A few found it difficult and even then those who had difficulty kneeling could stand. Few did, but it was allowed. It would seem that if anyone who wanted to go back to this method of receiving Holy Communion, they would find that communion would be received more reverently, in a more orderly fashion and in less time than it now takes. But time is not the most important thing and order is not a virtue, but rather a convenience.

One thing that should be clear is that at present, to receive Holy Communion kneeling is not a sign of disrespect to all the bishops or to anyone. I would add, however, that practicing Catholics generally like to follow the reasonable requests of their pastors so that Holy Communion may be distributed reverently and in a dignified fashion. It is also true that among those in Holy Orders, bishops and priests are our teachers.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

A most important historical document:
the 1969 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (the original GIRM)

7. Cena dominica sive Missa est sacra synaxis seu congregatio populi Dei in unum convenientis, sacerdote praeside, ad memoriale Domini celebrandum. Quare de sanctae Ecclesiae locali congregatione eminenter valet promissio Christi: "Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, ibi sum in medio eorum" (Mt. 18, 20).

"7. The Lord's Supper or Mass is the sacred meeting or congregation of the people of God assembled, the priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. For this reason, Christ's promise applies eminently to such a local gathering of the Church: 'Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst' (Mt. 18:20)."

This is the original complete definition of the Mass according to the 1969 Novus Ordo Missae: they are arguably the most influential liturgical words written in the 20th century and signaled a watershed moment - in a sense, closing the book written since late antiquity and the chapter begun in Sessions XIII and XXII of the Council of Trent.

Number 7 of the first edition of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (the General Instruction of the Roman Missal - GIRM) is the end moment of the original liturgical movement. Its writers also thought they would have the final say in the history of the Traditional Mass - within a few months, the storm started by these words on the edge of acceptability would spark the Brief Critical Study of the New Order of the Mass, presented to the Pope and to the Catholic world under the auspices of Cardinals Ottaviani, first Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Bacci.

The waves set by that text have not subsided. That famous number 7 and other highly problematic words of the original 1969 IGMR and Ordo Missae would be amended in 1970, 1975, and 2001. While much was vindicated by the proclamation by Pope Benedict XVI that the traditional Roman Liturgy was "never abrogated", can it be denied that the spirit of the 1969 IGMR lives on in the New Mass, or "Ordinary Form"?

While the texts of the 1970, 1975, and 2001 IGMR are widely available, it had been impossible up to now to find online the original source of the controversy. Thanks to the generous effort of a priestly source, RORATE can now present to our readers the original 1969 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (only the first pages of the original complete 1969 publication of the 1969 Ordo Missae, promulgated on April 4, 1969, by the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, of Pope Paul VI.)

Change is church’s saviour

Change is church’s saviour

CATHOLICS: A report finds only 14% in the London diocese attend weekend mass
Last Updated: September 16, 2011 7:19am
Bishop Ronald Fabbro said a report released Thursday shows the church must change in response to declining attendance and fewer priests. (JOHN MINER, The London Free Press)
Bishop Ronald Fabbro said a report released Thursday shows the church must change in response to declining attendance and fewer priests. (JOHN MINER, The London Free Press)
London-region Catholic churches must change in the face of dropping weekly attendance, fewer priests and the new ways people communicate, the head of the London diocese warns.

"We cannot continue operating as we are now -- we must make strategic changes," Bishop Ronald Fabbro said Thursday.

The diocese released a 65-page report that found only 14% of the 450,000 Roman Catholics in the diocese attend weekend mass, down 3.5% in the last three years.

Other report highlights, and Fabbro's reaction:

Downward trends: Marriages, baptisms, first communions and confirmations are down, marriages the most. They fell to 967 in 2009, from 2,800 in 1975, down 65.5% .

Fabro on the overall report: "What I found hard was when you looked at all the graphs, they are all going down."

"Things that we thought would never change -- attitudes about marriage and funerals. We have lost something and I found that hard," Fabro said.

--- --- ---
On new Catholics
The church was bolstered in the past decades by immigration from largely Catholic countries, but that's changed. Most immigrants now come from non-Catholic countries.
--- --- ---
On social media
He said the church must reach out and use social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
"Things that I have to learn about. The bishop has to change, too."
--- --- ---
On faith and falling attendance
Fabbro said he recognizes people still have faith. "They do have a spiritual life even if they don't have a connection to traditional religions as we've had in the past. How do we connect with that? I think that is the question for us -- how do we reach out to them?"
--- --- ---
On declining numbers of priests
The report projects the number in the diocese will decline from 100 now to 73 by 2025, a major challenge.
"What we are going to look at are the different models of ministry, the different possibilities of leadership in our church," Fabbro said.
--- --- ---
On ordination of women priests
That's one thing that won't be looked at. "Not in the Catholic church. That is not an open question for us," Fabbro said.
--- --- ---
On parish closings/mergers
An exercise the diocese completed five years ago, it's not considering more.
"The intention . . . is to build up parishes and help them reach out to our people," Fabbro said.

The Roman Catholic church in Southwestern Ontario isn't alone in facing changes. Attendance at many Protestant churches has fallen as well. The United Church, the largest Protestant denomination, has closed on average one church a week in Canada.



Reduce bureaucracy. Fight culture war.By Ian Hunter
Issue: November 2011
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The diocese of London, Ontario, Canada, has issued a report which registers a decline in all areas of Church activity. A well-qualified layman sends his comments not by Twitter or Facebook as the Bishop thinks he should, but by old-fashioned print.
Author: Ian Hunter

In an unusually frank letter to churches and parishioners of London Diocese, Roman Catholic Bishop Ronald Fabbro has described the parlous condition of the Church. The Bishop’s letter summarizes findings in a Diocesan Report dealing with attendance at Mass, financial and personnel issues, and demographic projections. Herewith, a brief summary.

Mass Attendance: In decline. Of the 450,000 Catholics registered in the London Diocese, less than 14% regularly attend Mass. In 1975, there were 171 parishes to attend; today there are 120.

Priests: In 1991, 178 priests served the Diocese; today about 100. By 2025, a projected 73, many of them “missionary priests” from abroad.

Sacramental Participation: Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation – all down. Church marriages way down. Church funerals declining. Personal confession, almost non-existent.

Finance: Parish donations up 15% since 1994 (less than the rate of inflation), but the trendline is down.

Ecclesiastical bureaucracy: Up. In 1995 parish support service staff numbered 462; today 513. In numbers the apparatchiks multiply while the worshippers dwindle.

What is to be done? In the local paper London Free Press, Bishop Fabbro called the Church to an agenda of “change”, and he mentioned specifically mastery of Twitter, Facebook and the new social media. His letter to the parishes promised a seemingly endless round of consultations and “strategy planning” with “…Episcopal Vicars and Directors, Deanery Chairs, Diocesan leaders…” and others.

Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath; the Bishop is consulting precisely the kind of people who have reduced the Church to its present morass and I anticipate no eruptions of Solomonic wisdom from such quarters. Whom should he consult? Young families, particularly home schoolers; recent converts who come to Rome, despite the times, because they perceive her to be Peter’s rock. Consult with Opus Dei. Will this happen? Not on your life.

The basic truth is that the Roman Catholic Church is, or should be, at war with almost everything that passes for contemporary “culture”. The Church has nothing to learn from current mores; it need not embrace modern technologies. Modernity is an abomination, a daily disgrace to a Judeo-Christian heritage whose legatees we are, and the Church needs to challenge our culture at every turn. This is a truth which, it seems to me, Pope Benedict XVl understands well, and his Canadian Bishops, for the most part, do not.

I do not claim to have answers, but I am fairly confident that I know what does not work. Don’t invite the leading Catholic-basher, Stephen Lewis, to tell Catholics how to live out the Gospel. Don’t allow ostensibly Catholic Colleges, like King’s College in London, to participate in UWO’s shameful decision to honour Henry Morgentaler. It does not require Twitter to tell the good news of Jesus Christ; it does require courage to proclaim the truth fearlessly to a relentlessly secular and hostile culture. Do not cozy up to Dalton McGuinty to create gay/straight alliances in Catholic schools; do conduct a rigorous pruning of what is taught in Catholic schools, and by whom, and see if you can discern anything that is recognizably Catholic and worth preserving. The fastest growing, and most promising, education initiative is home schooling; get behind home-schoolers in every possible way you can. Priests need not be retrained in new social media; they must be challenged to live up to their vows. My observation in London diocese is that the more orthodox and effective priests tend to be marginalized, sent off to the boondocks, while timeservers are often rewarded.

One more thing: when Catholic Bishops choose to sound off in public, let it be on Christian, not social, issues. When the Canadian bishops speak why is there always a faint echo of an NDP policy forum? The very same issue of our Parish Bulletin that contained Bishop Fabbro’s letter urged us: “Let’s vote for a poverty free Ontario.” It does not take the recently departed Saint Jack to interpret this particular plea in the context of the October 6 election.

Bishop Fabbro’s letter concluded: “I am interested in your thoughts about the Report and our plans …contact me through the different social media, including Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.”

Sorry, Bishop, but I am of the Gutenberg generation, you remember those antediluvians who actually read books and communicate in print, so please accept this column as my response.

Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law at Western University.


An index of Catholicism's decline

A review by Pat Buchanan

As the Watergate scandal of 1973-1974 diverted attention from the far greater tragedy unfolding in Southeast Asia, so, too, the scandal of predator-priests now afflicting the Catholic Church may be covering up a far greater calamity.

Thirty-seven years after the end of the only church council of the 20th century, the jury has come in with its verdict: Vatican II appears to have been an unrelieved disaster for Roman Catholicism. Liars may figure, but figures do not lie. Kenneth C. Jones of St. Louis has pulled together a slim volume of statistics he has titled Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II. His findings make prophets of Catholic traditionalists who warned that Vatican II would prove a blunder of historic dimensions, and those same findings expose as foolish and naive those who believed a council could reconcile Catholicism and modernity. When Pope John XXIII threw open the windows of the church, all the poisonous vapors of modernity entered, along with the Devil himself. Here are Jones's grim statistics of Catholicism's decline:

Priests. While the number of priests in the United States more than doubled to 58,000, between 1930 and 1965, since then that number has fallen to 45,000. By 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left, and more than half of these priests will be over 70.

Ordinations. In 1965, 1,575 new priests were ordained in the United States. In 2002, the number was 450. In 1965, only 1 percent of U.S. parishes were without a priest. Today, there are 3,000 priestless parishes, 15 percent of all U.S. parishes.

Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700, a decline of over 90 percent. Two-thirds of the 600 seminaries that were operating in 1965 have now closed.

Sisters. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns. By 2002, that had fallen to 75,000 and the average age of a Catholic nun is today 68. In 1965, there were 104,000 teaching nuns. Today, there are 8,200, a decline of 94 percent since the end of Vatican II.

Religious Orders. For religious orders in America, the end is in sight. In 1965, 3,559 young men were studying to become Jesuit priests. In 2000, the figure was 389. With the Christian Brothers, the situation is even more dire. Their number has shrunk by two-thirds, with the number of seminarians falling 99 percent. In 1965, there were 912 seminarians in the Christian Brothers. In 2000, there were only seven.

The number of young men studying to become Franciscan and Redemptorist priests fell from 3,379 in 1965 to 84 in 2000.

Catholic schools. Almost half of all Catholic high schools in the United States have closed since 1965. The student population has fallen from 700,000 to 386,000. Parochial schools suffered an even greater decline. Some 4,000 have disappeared, and the number of pupils attending has fallen below 2 million -- from 4.5 million.

Though the number of U.S. Catholics has risen by 20 million since 1965, Jones' statistics show that the power of Catholic belief and devotion to the Faith are not nearly what they were.

Catholic Marriage. Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments has soared from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002.

Attendance at Mass. A 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended church on Sundays. A recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend.
Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus.

At the opening of Vatican II, reformers were all the rage. They were going to lead us out of our Catholic ghettos by altering the liturgy, rewriting the Bible and missals, abandoning the old traditions, making us more ecumenical, and engaging the world. And their legacy?

Four decades of devastation wrought upon the church, and the final disgrace of a hierarchy that lacked the moral courage of the Boy Scouts to keep the perverts out of the seminaries, and throw them out of the rectories and schools of Holy Mother Church.

Through the papacy of Pius XII, the church resisted the clamor to accommodate itself to the world and remained a moral beacon to mankind. Since Vatican II, the church has sought to meet the world halfway.

Jones' statistics tell us the price of appeasement.

This article is taken from http://www.townhall.com/columnists/patbuchanan/pb20021211.shtml

"Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church since Vatican II" (113 pages) by Kenneth C. Jones is available at many bookstores.

Prayers to St. Michael the Archangel

True story of a Soldier and the Intervention of St. Michael

What follows is a letter written by a young Marine to his mother while he was hospitalized after being wounded on a Korean battlefield in 1950. It came into the hands of a Navy Chaplain who read the letter before 5,000 Marines at a San Diego Naval Base in 1951.

The Navy Chaplain had talked to the young man, to his mother, and to the Sergeant in charge of the patrol. This Navy Chaplain, Father Walter Muldy, assured anyone who asked, that this was a true story. This letter was read once a year in the 1960's over a mid-western radio station at Christmas time. We present the letter and let it stand on its own merits.


Dear Mom,

I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, you hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I'm okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I have always prayed to St. Michael. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? "Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh corps of Heaven adorning…" You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day, sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting, but always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold; my breath was like cigar smoke. I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been over 6 feet 4 inches and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near me.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather!

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly.

I looked at him, "I've never seen you before. I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute," he replied, "the name is Michael."

"Is that so," I said surprised, "that's my name too."

"I know," he said, and then went on saying the prayer, "Michael, Michael of the morning..."

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen? Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time, and then he broke the silence.

"We're going to have some trouble up ahead." He must have been in fine physical shape for he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself; well with the commies all around us, that's no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in thick great globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out, and I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael!" I shouted in sudden alarm. I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in the heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise. Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them, seven commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

"Down Michael!" I screamed, and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing.

Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits, but there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least that's what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I thought I was dying. Maybe I was even dead. I remember thinking, “Well, this is not so bad.”

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock, but it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again, only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that's the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me; I don't know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where's Michael?" I asked. I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one.

"Michael, that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid," said the sergeant, "you weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in, when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it, kid?"

"How did I do what?" I asked half angry, despite my wound. "This Marine named Michael and I were just..." "Son," said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute. "Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots, yet there hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle, and there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything; what could I say? I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then, the sergeant spoke again. "Kid," he said gently, "every one of those seven commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you, Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain, but that is what happened.

Love, Michael

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.
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
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.


Prayer to Saint Michael

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Michael the Archangel by Guido Reni, Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome, 1636
The Prayer to Saint Michael is a prayer, used mainly by Catholics, which is addressed to Michael the archangel.

Pope Leo XIII added it in 1886[1] to the Leonine Prayers, which he had directed to be said after Low Mass two years earlier.[2] The practice of reciting these prayers after Mass was suppressed in 1964. However, Pope John Paul II referred to the St Michael prayer in his Regina Coeli address of 24 April 1994 as follows:

"May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle that the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of: 'Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might' (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had this picture in mind when, at the end of the last century, he brought in, throughout the Church, a special prayer to St Michael: 'Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil...' Although 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."[3]




[edit] The Prayer

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
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.
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.
The English translations used in various countries differ slightly.

[edit] History

This prayer, whose opening words are similar to the Alleluia verse for Saint Michael’s feasts on 8 May and 29 September in the Roman Missal of the time (which ran, "Sancte Michael, defende nos in proelio ut non pereamus in tremendo iudicio"), was added in 1886 to the Leonine Prayers that in 1884 Pope Leo XIII ordered to be said after Low Mass, for the intention of obtaining a satisfactory solution to the problem that the loss of the Pope's temporal sovereignty caused in depriving him of the evident independence required for effective use of his spiritual authority.[2]

This problem was resolved in 1929 by the creation of the State of Vatican City, and in the following year, Pope Pius XI ordered that the intention for which these prayers should from then on be offered was "to permit tranquillity and freedom to profess the faith to be restored to the afflicted people of Russia".[9]

The Leonine Prayers were officially suppressed by the 26 September 1964 Instruction Inter Oecumenici, 48 j which came into effect on 7 March 1965.[10]

The opening words of the prayer ("St. Michael, defend us in battle") are sometimes used as an independent prayer, a short invocation, not as a fragment of the longer prayer.

[edit] Another prayer to St. Michael

On 18 May 1890, twenty years after the Capture of Rome had deprived the Pope of the last vestige of his temporal sovereignty, and the papal residence at the Quirinal Palace had been converted into that of the King of Italy, a much longer prayer to St. Michael, quite distinct from that in the Leonine Prayers, was approved for use:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places (Eph 6:12). Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (Wis 2:23-24, 1 Cor 6:20).

Fight this day the battle of the 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. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels (Rev 12:7-9).
Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man 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. This 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 (Lam 3:15).
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 bring them the victory.

The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and 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.

This prayer was replaced in 1902, a year and a half before the death of Pope Leo XIII, by a much shortened prayer:

O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places (Eph 6:12). Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (Wis 2:23-24, 1 Cor 6:20).

The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; 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.

In 1890, the longer form of this prayer was included as a sort of preface to a series of prayers of exorcism that was included in the Roman Ritual.[11]

[edit] Speculation about the origin of the prayers

Statue of Archangel Michael, University of Bonn, slaying Satan represented as a dragon. Quis ut Deus is inscribed on his shield.

An article in the Roman journal Ephemerides Liturgicae (V. LXIX, pages 54–60) in 1955 gave an account in Latin and Italian of how the St. Michael prayer developed. Footnote nine of this account quotes an article in another Italian journal called La Settimana del Clero in 1947 by Fr. Domenico Pechenino who worked at the Vatican during the time of Leo XIII, in which he stated:
"I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant's head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.
"Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: 'Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?' He answered: 'Nothing, nothing.' About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell."
According to the same article in Ephemerides Liturgicae,[12] Cardinal Giovanni Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano wrote in his Litteris Pastoralibus pro Quadragesima (Pastoral Letters for Lent) that "the sentence 'The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls' has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day."[13]

In the late twentieth century, more vivid stories circulated among traditionalist Catholics, according to which in that century Satan would be particularly powerful. They recounted that Pope Leo XIII was climbing the steps to the altar when he suddenly stopped, stared fixedly at something in the air and with a terrible look on his face, collapsed to the floor (some accounts say he fell shrieking). The Pope was carried off by those around him to another room where he came around. As one rendition of the story tells it:

"When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices - two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: "I can destroy your Church."
The gentle voice of Our Lord: "You can? Then go ahead and do so."
Satan: "To do so, I need more time and more power."
Our Lord: "How much time? How much power?"
Satan: "75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service."
Our Lord: "You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will."[14][15][16]
A variant of the story of the vision of Leo XIII was given by Father William Saunders in the Arlington Catholic Herald of 2 October 2003: "Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) had a prophetic vision of the coming century of sorrow and war. After celebrating Mass, the Holy Father was conferring with his cardinals. Suddenly, he fell to the floor. The cardinals immediately called for a doctor. No pulse was detected, and the Holy Father was feared dead. Just as suddenly, Pope Leo awoke and said, 'What a horrible picture I was permitted to see!' In this vision, God gave Satan the choice of one century in which to do his worst work against the Church. The devil chose the 20th century. So moved was the Holy Father from this vision that he composed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.[17]

The first variant of the story to appear in print was that in a 1933 German Sunday newspaper article, which stated that, as a result of the vision, Leo XIII, shortly after 1880, ordered the prayer to Saint Michael to be recited. In reality, it was only in 1884 that the Pope instituted the Leonine Prayers, still at that time without the prayer to Saint Michael.[18]

In 1934, a year after the appearance of the earliest printed version of the story, a German writer, Father Bers, tried to trace the origin of the story and declared that, though the story was widespread, nowhere could he find a trace of proof. Sources close to the institution of the prayer in 1886, including an account of a conversation with Pope Leo XIII about his decision, say nothing of the alleged vision. Father Bers concluded that the story was a later invention that was spreading like a virus.[19]

The story is also found in Carl Vogl's 1935 Begone Satan: A Soul-Stirring Account of Diabolical Possession in Iowa[20]

In a later version the vision is said to have occurred on 13 October 1884,[21] the year in which the Leonine Prayers were instituted without the prayer to Saint Michael. And yet another date, 25 September 1888, two years after Pope Leo XIII had added the prayer to the Leonine Prayers, was given in a 1991 version.[22]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Irish Ecclesiastical Review 7 (1886),1050
  2. ^ a b Decree Iam inde ab anno of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 6 January 1884, published in Acta Sanctae Sedis 16 (1884), pages 249–250
  3. ^ Regina Coeli address; cf. Prayer to St Michael; Mary Serves Cause of Life
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Raccolta Manual of Indulgences Published by St Athanasius Press, 2003 ISBN 0-9706526-6-6 page 340
  6. ^ Prayer to Holy Michael the Archangel
  7. ^ Common Catholic Prayers
  8. ^ Rev. Alfred Boeddekker, Our Guardian Angels
  9. ^ Allocution Indictam ante of 30 June 1930, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 22 (1930), page 301
  10. ^ Inter Oecumenici, 48 j
  11. ^ Rituale Romanum, 6th ed. post typicam, (Ratisbon: Pustet 1898), 163*ff.
  12. ^ p.58-59, footnote nine
  13. ^ This account, which speaks not of the prayer but of the exorcisms for which the prayer served as a sort of preface, claims that the Pope recommended bishops and priests to perform exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes, and that he himself acted as exorcist often throughout the day.
  14. ^ The Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen
  15. ^ Knights of La Salette
  16. ^ Our Lady of the Roses
  17. ^ Arlington Catholic Herald
  18. ^ "Nachdem Leo XIII. eines Morgens die heilige Messe zelebriert hatte, begab er sich zu einer Besprechung mit den Kardinälen. Aber plötzlich sank er in Ohnmacht zusammen. Die herbeigeeilten Arzte fanden keinen Grund zu dieser Ohnmacht, obwohl der Pulsschlag fast aufhörte. Plötzlich erwachte er wieder und war frisch wie zuvor. Er erzählte dann, er hätte ein furchtbares Bild gesehen. Er durfte die Verführungskünste und das Wüten der Teufel der kommenden Zeiten in allen Ländern sehen. In dieser Not erschien St. Michael, der Erzengel, und warf den Satan mit allen seinen Teufeln in den höllischen Abgrund zurück. Daraufhin ordnete Leo XIII. kurz nach 1880 das allgemeine Gebet zum heiligen Michael an." Hg. Schnell in the Konnersreuther Sonntagsblattes (1933), no. 39, quoted in Bers “Die Gebete nach der hl. Messe”, Theol-Prakt. Quartalschrift 87 (1934), 161.
  19. ^ "Like a perpetual sickness" – "Die Gebete nach der hl. Messe", Theol-Prakt. Quartalschrift 87 (1934), 162-163
  20. ^ Reprinted by TAN Books (Rockford IL) in 1973, the year in which the film The Exorcist (film) appeared.
  21. ^ Arthur H. Durand, "Satan's Hundred Year War", The Remnant (15 January 1984), 9–10
  22. ^ Gary Giuffré, "Exile of the Pope-Elect, Part VII: Warnings from Heaven Suppressed", Sangre de Cristo Newsnotes 69–70 (1991), 4

[edit] External links

Happy Michaelmas

Collect of the Day: Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael and the Devil by Raffaello Sanzio, 1518

The Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel

Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders.(From the introit of the day's Mass, Ps. 102, 20)

Collect of the day

Deus, qui, miro órdine, Angelórum ministéria hominúmque dispénsas : concéde propítius ; ut, a quibus tibi ministrántibus in cælo semper assístitur, ab his in terra vita nostra muniátur. Per Dóminum...

O God, who hast constituted the services of Angels and of men in a wonderful order, mercifully grant, that they who ever stand before Thy face to do Thee service in heaven, may also defend our life upon earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity...

Lesson - Apocalypse of St. John, 1. 1-5 / Gospel - St. Matthew, 18. 1-10

September 29.—ST. MICHAEL, Archangel.

"MI-CA-EL," 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 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 Maccabees 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 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 trumpet, and binding together the false prophet and the beast, hurl them for all eternity into the burning pool.
Reflection.—"Whenever," says St. Bernard, "any grievous temptation or vehement sorrow oppresses thee, invoke thy guardian, thy leader; cry out to him, and say, 'Lord, save us, lest we perish!'"

See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their Angels in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.