Satan, Our Churches, And The Battle To Come

St Michael the Archangel

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, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”

If you are of a certain age, and Catholic, you have heard this prayer, perhaps many times. it was said at the end of every low mass until Vatican II changed the liturgy. But why was it included that much? There is a story behind it, and I think, hope for the future. But first, some background.

I know many of you are saying I’m a protestant what does a Catholic prayer directed to St. Michael have to do with me, or since the Church dropped it, it doesn’t matter. But it does, and here’s why.

The Current Pope, Benedict XVI, has done a very great deal to build bridges with us, probably more than any pope since the Reformation itself, and this is true, whether you are a Lutheran like me, or Episcopalian like Jess, or an Orthodox Christian, a Baptist, an evangelical, or even a Coptic Christian. He has striven quite hard to help us as the small ‘c’ catholic church. And indeed, as Jess said yesterday on her blog.

[…]which is that the way we present ourselves to the world is almost as unhelpful as it could be. We can’t expect the world to love Christ’s Church, but when we seem so full of disdain and even hatred for each other, and for the world, then it is little wonder that we fail to make converts.

I couldn’t agree with her more, and we need to remember that we (all of us) are the church of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, whatever our church, we are united in that. I’ve often said that the foot of the cross is a junction, where many roads meet, and it’s not for any human to say, which are valid. We all have our beliefs, and as we have seen, they are really quite close to each other.

In the Albigensian Crusade at the siege of Béziers, in southern France, a crusader reportedly asked the Papal Legate and inquisitor Arnaud Amalric how to distinguish the Cathars from the Catholics. He was reported to have replied.

Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His. 

Which may or may not have been appropriate. But understand this: That is exactly what the enemies of Christianity believe.

If you belong to one of the churches founded in the Reformation, like my Lutheran church you know that our history until the Reformation is also the history of the Catholic Church, those of you who belong to churches that split off from the various branches of the tree, it’s true for you as well. Yes, we base our belief on Scripture but we look to the scholars of the early church just as our Catholic brethren do. As a Lutheran, I know that the founder of my church, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther was both a monk and a priest, and I further know that he was a member of the Augustinian order, and spent a great amount of time studying the work of St. Augustine.

And so did Pope Benedict XVI.

There is much more to this in this link which is quite interesting, and highly recommended. Benedict XVI, the Great Augustinian

I think that’s at least part of the reason that he has reached out to us during his pontificate. It is well if we reciprocate, not necessarily to reunite with Rome. I happen to think that our variety makes us stronger, as long as we adhere to correct doctrine, and not fall into the trap of heresy. It is wrong to let the enemies of Christianity divide and conquer us, whether we are speaking of radical Islam or the secular humanists.

I think we all know and are very troubled that we seem to be in a world that is repaganizing, with humanists uniting with radical Islam, a marriage made in Hell. The only cause for such an alliance could be the work of Satan. I know many of my coreligionists no longer believe in Satan but we have plentiful testimony from Genesis on down of his existence. And while the secular humanists want power for themselves, does anybody really think they have much of anything in common with those working for the Caliphate? They would find Islam, particularly fundamentalist Islam even more oppressive than their supposed problems with Christianity. They fulfill only the role of useful idiot, no matter what they think.

Many of our Evangelical and Fundamentalist brothers and sisters believe we are living in the “End Times”. My view and the view of most of our churches is that we are not given to know that, we are to live every day as if it was the last. And that brings us to the heart of this story.

Yesterday I reblogged a post of Chalcedon’s from Jess’s site. it is here. I strongly recommend it, and further I completely agree with him.

Now we come to the meat of the matter, yesterday Chalcedon published another article, this one entitled Satan, the Church and the Worldin it he tells us some Catholic history, which I had never heard. Specifically, he tells us thatPope Paul VI in a homily on 29 June 1972 said this:

Referring to the situation of the Church today, the Holy Father says he has the feeling that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

He went on to say:

“We believe … that something preternatural has come into the world specifically to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to prevent the Church from breaking out in a hymn of joy for having recovered in fullness the awareness of herself”

 That’s all well and good (or not), but what does that have to do with the subject at hand?


He was referring to an even tin the Pontificate of Leo XIII, when on 13 October 1884 Pope Leo XIII collapsed after saying Mass.


He received a vision of a conversation between Jesus and Satan, which would certainly cause any of us to collapse in awe, if for no other reason. This is the most common account.

On October 13, 1884, after Pope Leo XIII had finished celebrating Mass in the Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. 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, boasting 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.”
The article is fascinating and it is here.
After this experience the Pope went immediately to his office and wrote the prayer that leads this article and ordered that it be used at the end of every low mass, everywhere.
You remember that I found cause for optimism in the story? How is that possible? if you’ve followed the links I’ve given you, you already know the answer. It’s entirely possible that the time of tribulations is ending. Do I know this? No, but I do know this: If we are the Christians we say we are, we have nothing to fear for the Lord Himself is in the house, and against Him the gates of Hell itself will not stand.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mathew 20
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18 replies

  1. Just FYI: there’s a much longer and involved version of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel that invokes a lot of exorcism language written at the same time.

    • I didn’t know that, so thanks, given the context, it doesn’t surprise me either.

      • Yes, and interestingly enough, the little exorcism was removed from the Baptism rite AND the exorcism rite was the last one rewritten and according to the exorcists, it doesn’t work. Fortunately,the bishops can allow the old rite to be used, and several have.

        It’s all part of Satan making himself disappear. In the last 35 years, we changed biblical translations and the new ones are nowhere close to as stringent. Even then, many verses with Satan and evil. with the exception of the temptation in the desert, are excised out of the readings.

      • That I’ve noticed as well, since our Bibles are similar to yours. Satan has done a very good job of camouflaging himself even within our churches, which was certainly my point and I thin Chalcedon’s as well.

      • I wish we would go back to the Douay-Rhiems. It makes more sense. But, because it’s a late 16th century translation, and probably because it was done by a group of strict Jesuits before they invited wackiness in, a lot of people don’t care for it. BTW, the entire translation is online, free, and there is a free iPhone app. It’s worth having, IMO.

      • Thanks for that, I’ll look at it. I grew up with and never changed from the King James Version for much the reasons you’ve outlined but have always been at least curious about the Apocrypha.

      • You mean the Deuterocanonical Helenistic Canon? ;) In most translations (New American, Jersusalem, etc.) those are Wisdom, Baruch, Judith, Sirach, Tobit, 1&2 Maccabees and parts of Daniel and one other book I don’t remember off the top of my head. In the Douay-Rhiems Sirach is Ecclesiasticus (my ABSOLUTE favorite book in the Bible) and Tobit is Tobias. Tobias is a beautiful story of marriage where we meet Raphael the Archangel. Wisdom is the other great gem of the seven, IMO. 1&2 Maccabees has great stuff as well. It should not be any great surprise that St. Augustine of Hippo insisted on their inclusion.

      • No that doesn’t surprise me at all. And I stand corrected (you know how us protestants are ) ;-)

        And you have really whetted my appetite as well, and so I will be following up. You make me wonder why we dropped them, something else to research, I guess. :-)

      • Why Luther took the Deuterocanonicals out is actually pretty easy. Because they were contested and not part of the Jerusalem Hebrew Canon. “Deuterocanonical” means having been contested as not being Canon. Sts. Augustine and Jerome got into a pretty nasty argument over the inclusion of not just the Helenistic Canon (St. Jerome was working in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Jews had his ear), but from the New Testament Hebrews, James, The Apocolypse (Revelation), and two of the books of Peter and one of John and don’t remember which ones. So, originally, Luther pulled those out also. Why they were put back in, I don’t know.

        For a more complete history, I would look up the Council of Carthage. Catholic Encyclopedia would have a pretty good write up about it. Another good source on history is a book titled “Triumph” and the author is Crocker. It’s kind of dense, but there’s some great info there.

        Remember, this was all a very long time ago and that council was called to close the Canon because there were so many books out there and many of them were not really at the level of Scripture. In what we Catholics would call “apocrypha” there’s even gospels which didn’t make the cut. All the books had to be written within the first 100 years after the Crucifixion and Resurrection, too.

        Church history is one of those topics everyone should know, IMO. I probably should get Triumph off the shelf and reread it.

      • Yep, thanks. I strongly agree on the church history, I’m playing catch-up but get a grounding-fascinating stuff.

        One of the thinks that’s interesting is how soon the contents were settled. even to the names-not much room for doubt of authorship, no matter what anyone says. I’ll see if I can stumble across a copy of triumph out this way. Thanks, again.

      • Um, well, see there’s also four Deutero-Pauline books in the New Testament (Hebrews, Timothy 1, Timothy 2 and Titus) where the authorship is questioned, according to my junior year religion teacher, Fr. S. who’s Bible was written Greek.

        Please,understand, not everyone is this interested in all things Scripture and such. I had to learn to defend myself. :)

      • The Deutero-Pauline Books I am familiar with, never had much doubt in my mind on authorship, but what do I know.

        You know a lot more than me, certainly, it’s interesting though. :-)

  2. An informative as well as interesting conversation. I’m reminded again of the ancient statement: “See how these Christians love one another.” Perhaps the new persecutions will amplify Benedicts’ and his recent predecessor’s work, restoring charity to all who profess the Christian faith. There can be only one Christian church, but we are long informed that the House of God has many mansions…

    And wasn’t it Franklin who said something along the lines of: “If we don’t hang together, we’ll certainly hang separately?:

    • Many mansions, indeed, Jack, but they’re all in the same neighborhood.

      It was indeed Dr. Franklin, and his remark while well suited to that occasion is equally well suited to our situation now.

  3. It pleases me to no end that Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox are finally waking up and finding common ground.

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