In 1886, concerned about the spread of communism around the world, Pope Leo XIII penned a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. Based on the Book of Revelation’s report of a great heavenly battle (Revelation 12:7), the prayer invokes the assistance of the Archangel Michael to protect us against the evil one. Pope Leo instructed Catholics around the world to recite this prayer after Mass.
The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was commonly recited after Mass from that time until the 1960s. Then, the Second Vatican Council refocused attention on the liturgy and discouraged extra prayers, like the Rosary, being recited during Mass. There was some concern that the St. Michael Prayer and other Leonine prayers, too, might distract from the liturgy; and in 1964, it was suppressed.
In April 1994, Pope John Paul II recalled the Prayer to St. Michael, encouraging Catholics to once again pray this prayer for protection against the work of the devil. The Pope said:
“I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.”
Now, Bishop Daniel Jenky, bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, in a letter on his blog has asked the people of his diocese to again pray the St. Michael Prayer this Sunday. In response to the government’s action against freedom of conscience—as evidenced by this week’s HHS ruling mandating Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization—Bishop Jenky has called on parishes, schools, hospitals, Newman Centers and religious houses to insert the prayer into their intercessions at Sunday Mass.
Bishop Jenky strikes a somber tone in a public letter on his blogsite: “I am honestly horrified,” he writes, “that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance.”
He pledged that the Church will never abandon its commitment to the Gospel of Life and called on the faithful to “vigorously” oppose what he called an “unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our faith.”
In case you’ve forgotten it, here is the Prayer of St. Michael. Print it, cut it out, tape it to your bathroom mirror—and remember that God’s people win in the end.
PRAYER TO ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
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 Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.