Our “Glorious Prince” and Defender
Saint Michael’s Church was a Redemptorist stronghold in Baltimore, MD for more than 150 years. It welcomed immigrants and set them on a course toward God and the fulfillment of their American dream. As sadly happens in some city churches, the parish closed seven years ago, and the property was sold.
Eventually, displaced parishioners and works of art find new homes, like Sacred Heart of Jesus, my current parish, also in Baltimore. Here stands a large marble statue of St. Michael the Archangel. At one time, it was perched high above the magnificent altar at St. Michael’s Church. Now the statue stands guard day and night in our adoration chapel. And not a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention him.
I used to get annoyed when members of the parish charismatic prayer group would suddenly blurt out, “St. Michael the Archangel.…” Of course, everyone in the group would respond with the rest of the well-known prayer: “Defend us in battle.…” At any moment it could happen, like a fire alarm going off. I think it’s the term “battle” that I found most off-putting. Where’s the battle? Who’s battling? Why battle?
Last year, I was drowning in a sea of city bureaucracy trying to get permits OK’d for our church carnival. One awful day, I traveled from office to office, clerk to clerk, getting refusal after refusal. In the elevator, on my way to the next city office, I felt angry, hopeless, and alone.
One other man joined me in the elevator. He said, “Hello,
Father,” and asked me if I needed help. I said I did. He reached to pull something out of his pocket, then opened his hand to reveal a round silver medal about the size of a silver dollar. “It’s St. Michael the Archangel,” the man explained. “Help is on the way.” When we reached my floor and I turned to exit, he reiterated his belief in St. Michael by assuring me everything would be fine.
And it was. I was reminded to pray, to reset my attitude, and to place my trust in God. Eventually everything came together that day, better than I had hoped.
We fight our own battles and at times can feel very much isolated: illness, a broken marriage, or trouble at work. You name it. Someone is battling something somewhere at any given moment. There is consolation in knowing that we aren’t battling alone. In St. Michael, we have someone who is at our side and battling with us and for us. He takes on our battles as his own.
The Morning Prayer in the Redemptorist prayer manual that we use daily calls on St. Michael in this way.
St. Michael, glorious prince, be mindful of us and pray always for us to the Son of God.
In the great and small battles of life, we are never abandoned.
Fr. Bruce Lewandowski
Where’s the battle? Who’s battling? Why battle?