Writing as I am on the feast of the Archangels and as the month of October is upon us, I am thinking of the words of Pope Francis on “Ha-Satan” — the Great Accuser — who “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” You may recognize this reference to the one of the so-called Leonine prayers, once said at the end of Mass.

Pope Leo XIII composed and incorporated a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the rubrics of the Low Mass from 1886 until its suppression in 1964. It was originally destined as a prayer for the independence of the Holy See and the pope’s temporal sovereignty.

After the signing of the Lateran treaties in 1929, which led to the creation of the Vatican City State, the prayer remained in the Roman Missal but was offered instead “to permit tranquility and freedom to profess the faith to be restored to the afflicted people of Russia.”

Pope John Paul II encouraged the faithful not to forget it. St Michael is a great protector, and we need such protection in these turbulent times.

Pope Francis has just encouraged us to say the prayer of St. Michael and to pray the Rosary every day during the Marian month of October. Mary herself is a powerful protector against Satan, who hates her. Images of Mary Immaculate often portray her standing victorious over the ancient foe, depicted as a serpent, and crushing his head with her foot (cf. Gn 3:15).

Jesus is the ultimate victor over Satan and the powers of evil. Mary is honored, however, as the “co-redemptrix,” for it is through her that salvation entered the world. It comes to each of us through her heart, pierced by the sword that opened up the side of her Son, from whom pour the graces of the sacramental life of the Church.

Many parishes throughout our Diocese have a practice of reciting the Rosary before or after Mass. I have often observed that, upon entering a church or chapel, hearing a Rosary in progress has an instantly calming effect. Mary, the “Untier of Knots,” has a way of doing that. She inspires reverence for God and respect for persons, something the Great Accuser always seeks to demean.

The devil delights in put-downs, in seeing things destroyed. We cannot deny the reality of sin and evil, and the absolute necessity of identifying it, in our past and present, and allowing the Lord to root it out. The God of mercy calls us all to repentance for our sins, past and present, which is the first step toward forgiveness and reconciliation.

The goal is always to expose the evil to the light and to heal the wounds it has wrought, for Christ came not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved (Jn 3:16).

I would invite all families and parishes to adopt the practice already being observed by many of saying the Rosary and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel every day and at every gathering, especially for Mass. Any inquiries about appropriate times and occasions may be directed to our diocesan Office of Prayer and Worship (518-453-6645).

I can think of no better practice than for every family to recite the Rosary together each day, followed by the Prayer to St. Michael. I often pray while driving or waiting on lines — or after waking up in the middle of the night — even if the prayer is interrupted by some unavoidable distraction.

Sometimes, just a simple phrase like, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you” or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” can direct our focus to God and reset our entire mood (or anger or anxiety attack), reminding us that we are never alone and outside the protection of the loving presence of Jesus.

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