jeudi, octobre 02, 2008

Saint Michael and the spiritual warfare

Notes for the lecture given Saturday Sept. 27th during our annual pilgrimage in honor of St Michael.


Introduction

The City of God, written by Saint Augustine in the early V century is one of the major works that has affected Christendom for centuries and can be considered as one of the stones that has edified our Christian civilization. I wish it could still be the case today, since the principles given by the Doctor of the Grace are still current. At least it can help the faithful of Christ who are today fighting for the glory of God and working for their salvation. Our conditions of life as disciples of Christ today are hardly better than our ancestors at the time of Saint Augustine. The rationalism of the last two centuries along with the renewal of paganism and atheism challenges us seriously.
Two weeks ago, Pope Benedict the XVI gave a powerful speech at the Collège des Bernardins, in Paris. To the dignitaries of the world of culture, the Holy Father explains how the monks had established Europe. The reason is: Quaerere Deum. They were looking for God. And because the desire of God included the love of the Word, it created a true culture and even more, a civilization.
Today this civilization no longer exists. It has many vestiges, but it is over. The old edifice has been deeply attacked by the so-called Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution and then rationalism that led to the collapse of Christendom. In a certain way, we are back to the first centuries of the Church, at a time when Christians lived in a hostile, or at least indifferent society. The final words of the Pope’s speech are an invitation to thought and also a serious warning:
Our present situation differs in many respects from the one that Paul encountered in Athens, yet despite the difference, the two situations also have much in common. Our cities are no longer filled with altars and with images of multiple deities. God has truly become for many the great unknown. But just as in the past, when behind the many images of God the question concerning the unknown God was hidden and present, so too the present absence of God is silently besieged by the question concerning him. Quaerere Deum – to seek God and to let oneself be found by Him, that is today no less necessary than in former times. A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences. What gave Europe’s culture its foundation – the search for God and the readiness to listen to Him – remains today the basis of any genuine culture.


The Pope speaks about the present absence of God. God has been banned out of the society of men and when I speak about God I mean the true and only One God who revealed Himself, the One that we confess in the Creed. There is another city that has been fighting against the City of God from the beginning. This hostile city shouts: Regnare Christum nolumus! - We don‘t want Christ to reign. ( Vespers of Christ the King)



Origin of the Two cities
Both cities have their origin in love, but one is good and just, while the other is bad and condemnable.
Saint Augustine: Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.


The original sin of the angels:
The first act of self-love that we know, which is contempt to God, is the rebellion of Lucifer: Non serviam! We know from the Scriptures that some angels revolted against their Creator and were chastised for their sin.
- 2 Peter 2,4: For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them, drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment.
- Is 14,12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? How art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations?
About the name “Lucifer”: This name is probably not the proper name of the chief of the fallen angels. In this passage from Isaiah, it is spoken of the King of Babylon according to the letter. The tradition has applied this name to the prince of devils who used to be light-bearer. So the name “Lucifer” denotes the state from which he has fallen. In other passages from the Scripture, Lucifer is applied to Our Lord Jesus-Christ.

Nature of the first sin
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing (CCC 391, quote from Lateran Council IV). The origin of evil is not in nature but in the will of the creatures.

It was a sin of pride. The tradition applies the verses of Isaiah to the sin of Lucifer: And thou saidst in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the most High.
St Augustine says that the devil inflated with pride, wished to be called God.
This sin was first the sin of the highest of the angels and was the cause of the others sinning.

Ap 12,4: And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.
It could have been worst if one angel did not stand in front of the rebellious angel. Quis ut Deus? By stopping Lucifer, Saint Michael became the champion and the hero of faith. He gained his title of commander-in-chief of the army of God.
Quis ut Deus? Who is like God? This is an act of humility that has defeated the proud angels. Humility if the invincible weapon against evil. And it is the expression of the truth: no one can be like God. In other words, everyone depend on God. We have to admit this. And Michael the Archangel reminds us of this truth.
Now, since this original sin, two cities are in war against each other. This war will end at the end of time. We know that this war will end with a terrible and final persecution, before the Antichrist will come. Christ Himself will stop it.
Saint Paul tells us about this time: And then that wicked one shall be revealed: whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: him Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power and signs and lying wonders: And in all seduction of iniquity to them that perish: because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2 Thes 2.8-10)
Christ the Kind will lead the battle himself, but near Him, His faithful general will stand as the Prophet Daniel has revealed it: At that time shall Michael rise up, the great Prince, who standeth for the children of thy people and a time shall come, such as never was from the time that nations began, even until that time. (Dn 12,1)

Saint Michael protector of the Church and of the faithful



In 1868, Pius IX said that the impious people, sons and imitators of the prince of darkness dared to honor him. On the other hand, the faithful have renewed their veneration and confidence that the Catholic church always had toward the Archangel Saint Michael.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great: Every time that an act of valiance is performed in the Church, we attribute it to Saint Michael.
Saint Michael is considered to be the guardian of the Popes. Saint Peter was freed from his prison by an angel. Even though the Scriptures do not mention his, the tradition recognized in him Saint Michael. The sucessor of Peter is the head of the visible Church on earth, and as such has the mission to lead the army of God into the war against the evil spirits. Saint Basil says that God has established Saint Michael the Guardian Angel of the visible Chief of the Church. Attila saw a warrior with a sword when Pope Leo the Great asked him to move away.
Later, it is Pope Leo IV who attributed the victory of Christians over the Arabs who invaded Italy to Saint Michael.
Throughout the centuries, the Popes have recognized the powerful help of St Michael and have granted indulgences for prayers to St Michale or churches dedicated to him.
But St Michael is also the protector of all the faithful. He helps us in our spiritual battle and fight for us. As he was the champion of the Jewish people, he is now the champion of Christians.
Many Doctors of the Church, like St Bonaventure of Saint Alphosus Liguori, have written the role of St Michael for the conversion of sinners. He leads souls to penance and contrition and is the chief of our guardian angels. We confess our sins to him when we say the Confiteor. He casts away the evil spirits when people are in agony. He is present at the hour of our death and of our judgment.
Story told by St Anselm: a monk was in agony and Satan tormented him when St Michael appeared to him and comforted him. Then he said to the devil: know that you will never have any power on those who have recourse to me and who are under my protection.

Saint Michael and France



Forgive me if I speak about St Michael and France, but I wanted to consecrate a part of my speech to the relation between Saint Michael and France. I think it may have its importance, especially at the time of the final battle.
The Nation have their angels and Saint Michael has been given to France. The Frank people is considered to be the successor of the Hebrews in order to defend the glory of the name of God and to carry the shield and the sword of the Church. The Roman Empire was about to end and heresy - Aryanism - was spread. So God has chosen a pagan people that He would bring to the Catholic faith. Some say that Saint Michael appeared to Clovis after the battle of Tolbiac. Then Clovis received baptism with his soldiers. Pope Anastasius wrote a letter to the new Catholic King and mentioned Saint Michael, who is your prince and has been established for the children of your people in order to keep you in the ways of God and to give you victory over your enemies.
The rest of the history of France is marked by the figure of the Prince of the Angels. The Mont-Saint-Michel, that stand on the granite rock might be the strongest sign of the works of St. Michael in France and all over Christendom. The Knights and the Kings came to kneel there (Charlemagne, Saint Louis, Charles VII). Mont-Saint-Michel is the emblem and the rampart of the true Catholic faith: strong, firm, never captured.
It is again St Michael, who, at one of the darkest period of the history of the country, told a young shepherdess that there is great pity in the Kingdom of France. Then he turned this young girl into a great heroine: rise up, fight, avenge. God will it! The role of St Michael in the mission of St Joan of Arc was great importance.
Later, King Louis XI established the order of the Knight of St Michael in gratitude to the angel for his protection over the Kingdom.
We can understand the mission of St Michael and his role in the History of France if we remember what is precisely the mission of France. St Remigius, said to Clovis, the day of his baptism that the Kingdom of France is predestined by God for the defense of the Catholic Church. The Revolution put an end to this mission, and there is no doubt about its satanic origin. France is today unfaithful but it does not means that she has no more mission from God.
Many Prophecies of the Great Monarchsince the V century. If they are true and if the Great Monarchreally is the King of France, then the Eldest Daughter of Church will certainly have an important role to play at the end of time. No doubt that Saint Michael will be present at this time as he was in many crucial times of France’s History.


Conclusion

Spiritual considerations for ourselves

2 commentaires:

Benedicta a dit…

Thank you for educating a very uneducated mind. Esp. liked the relationship between St Michael and France (but then I am partial).

Christine a dit…

Très intéressant!