Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev 12: 17 – 18
This is day 3 of the Novena to St Michael. We are praying for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
Meditate today on Our Lord as He prayed and suffered in Gethsemane.
Allow yourself to consider the Alone. By the Alone, I mean the isolation and utter desolation that a person feels when they are at the mercy of satan’s disciples in this world.
Unlike us, Jesus did not have the luxury of fooling Himself into thinking things would be alright. He knew beyond hope the horrors that were coming.
But just like us, he wanted and needed companionship, and witnesses.
Jesus was human at Gethsemane. He didn’t go away to pray alone. Instead, he took Peter, John and James with Him. My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, He told them. Stay here and keep watch with me.
Jesus was human that night. He saw with His God eyes what was coming, the “cup” he would have to drink for us, and He recoiled with human horror.
He prayed that God would spare Him the agonies ahead. He sweated blood in His distress.
And, His human self longed for the comfort of other people. Keep watch with me, He asked.
And, like we fail Him when He is crucified again today in His Persecuted Church, the disciples failed Him then.
Keep watch with me, was all He asked of them. Stay awake. Pray. Be my friends and give me the comfort of your active presence in my agony.
But every time He paused in His prayers to go to them, He found them asleep. Can you not watch with me for one hour? He asked them.
The forsaken aloneness of that question echoes down the centuries to us today. Jesus was standing on the edge of the abyss. He was looking forward into that time when He would be at the mercy of satan; completely, utterly and absolutely. Unto death.
He was looking into the Alone.
It is a terrible thing to look into another person’s eyes and see satan looking back at you. It is a depth of horror that only those who have been there can understand to be helpless and utterly alone in that moment, to know that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. That is the Alone. And it is what Jesus was facing.
It was His Passion.
And it is the Passion of persecuted Christians, everywhere.
The persecutors of Christians are satan’s disciples in this world. As such, they are capable of descending into ever deeper pits of depravity. There is no bottom for those who have given themselves over to satan, whether they know they have given themselves to satan, or not.
They are the apostles of the darkness, and like their master, they hate the light of Christ. Like him, they will not stop until the darkness they crave rules this world in an eternal night.
This is the same satan who tempted Him at Gethsemane. Who came at Him through His wholly human horror of suffering, death, shame and humiliation. This is the same satan Who tried to get Him to turn His back on us and step aside from the oncoming sacrifice at Calvary.
My heart is sorrowful and troubled … My soul is overwhelmed … to the point of death.
That is our Wholly Human Lord facing His hour of greatest temptation. All He asked of His friends was to bear witness; to watch and pray … with me for one hour.
But they could not do even that much.
In the end, He went into the Alone alone. Our Wholly God Lord and Savior allowed Himself to be stripped completely of His Godhead and lead away like a lamb to the slaughter. He endured the deepest pit of taking on our sins so that He could save us from those sins.
He became Wholly Human to save us from our fallen humanity. May your will be done, he prayed.
He was tempted like we are with the recoiling horror of the pit. He was sorrowful and troubled to the point of death. He sweat blood and entreated heaven to spare Him what was coming.
He was human at Gethsemane.
And He was alone in His humanness. He battled satan in that garden and faced down the temptation to turn aside from the agonies ahead.
He is alone again in the hearts of our persecuted brothers and sisters all around the globe. He faces the Alone again with them as they face it.
The question now, as it was then, is can we watch with him one hour?
Here is the Novena to St Michael for the Persecuted Church, Day 3. Please pray it and ask others to join you.
Glorious Saint Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of His followers, against whom the powers of hell are unchained. Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests, all our religious and lay people, and especially the children. Saint Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, and assist us especially at the hour of death. Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen. Saint Michael, intercede for me with God in all my necessities, especially for the conversion of the world,that from pole to pole,dateline to dateline,all will call out Jesus' name. Obtain for me a favourable outcome in the matter I recommend to you. Mighty prince of the heavenly host, and victor over rebellious spirits, remember me for I am weak and sinful and so prone to pride and ambition. Be for me, I pray, my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Amen.