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 the 9th and last day of our Novena to St Michael. We are praying for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
For this last meditation of our Novena, let’s look at what it all means.
What does it mean to be Christ crucified in the world today?
It means that you are the living representation of that day long ago on Calvary when Our Lord, who was without sin, became sin itself for our sakes. It means that, just as satan poured out his rage against God onto Jesus by acting through other people, he is now pouring out his rage against Jesus on you, and he is doing it once again through his actors in this world; other people.
Demonic possession is not just the stuff of movies. It happens in real life, all the time, everyday. However, it doesn’t usually manifest itself in spinning heads, flying objects and spitting pea soup.
When the devil walks in this world, he almost always does it on two feet. When he acts out his hatred and destructive desires, he almost always uses human hands and speaks with a human voice.
There is no bottom to his hatred, and there is no limit to the cruelty and depravity of his followers. Whatever bad thing they do today, they will do worse tomorrow.
Christ is crucified in the world today in places where satan’s disciples are freed by circumstance to act out his hatred of Father, Son and Holy Ghost by attacking the living representation of them: Christians. There is no nation or community on this earth that is exempt from becoming satan’s active disciple by virtue of their virtue or their wisdom or their knowledge.
Germany and the Soviet Union had many of the greatest scientists, most subtle and acute artists and philosophers the world has ever known. And yet they fell prey to satan’s leadership. Rwandans slaughtered with clubs and machetes, but it was fealty to the same satan that drove them to do it.
Only fealty to the Risen Christ can save us from following the darkness away from the Light. The miracle is that by fealty to Christ, we not only save ourselves from falling into the darkness, we become the Light in this world.
Satan is a ravening hunger that craves annihilation. His followers, many of whom do not believe he exists, are shades of him in both those things. They hunger with a hunger for they know not what and crave annihilation with a compulsive drive. That is why everything they do turns in the end to death.
It is also why they attack and try to darken the Light of Christian witness wherever they find it.
The millions of Christians who suffer constant fear, dread of violence and the degradation of second-class citizenship in the world today are, wherever they are, the Light of Christ. When they are reviled, falsely arrested, attacked, beaten, raped, kidnapped, tortured and murdered, they become Christ before Pilate, Christ scourged, Christ mocked, reviled and hung up naked to die in front of a mocking, jeering crowd.
He Who had no sin became sin for us. He suffers again in His followers who are His living martyrs today.
If that was the end of the story, it would just be another holocaust in a devil-besotted world that plays host to a genocide glut. But it is not the end. In fact, it is the beginning.
Jesus died on Calvary. He was buried and left to rot in His tomb. But on the third day, He rose from that grave. Not, notice that He was raised, as He Himself had raised Lazarus. He rose. He is God and He arose from the dead on the third day.
He became what St Paul calls “the first fruits” of the resurrection that awaits us all.
There is no death.
Not for those who follow Christ.
Nor for their persecutors.
The difference lies in what waits for them on the other side.
Those who follow Our Lord to the death are assured of their place in heaven. Those who are reviled, shunned and attacked for Him are also blessed. Rejoice and be glad, Jesus said of people who are slandered for Him, for great is your reward in heaven.
These people who are Christ crucified in our world today are not victims. They are victors. They are guaranteed eternal life in heaven.
Ironically, it is the ones who persecute them who are in the most peril. They are laying up an eternity in hell for themselves where they will be the only thing their master the devil has left to torment and hurt.
It is a scalding thing to look into the eyes of another person and see satan looking back at you. It must be unimaginable suffering to look for eternity into the cold, pitiless, eyes of satan himself.
We must pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will walk with them through their passion in Our Lord’s name. Pray that the same Holy Spirit will lift them and their sacrifice for Him up high, where all the world can see it. Pray that He will show us all what we can do to help them and to end this persecution.
Pray, finally, that we will not fail when our time of persecution comes, no matter how small it may be. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guard us from denying Him, even in the small social ways of going along with the larger culture. Pray that we will follow Him, as our brothers and sisters are doing, and that He, not the pleasures of this world, will be the Lord of our lives.
All Christians who follow Christ will suffer for Him in this world. There are no exceptions. Some Christians have the privilege of suffering extreme persecution for Him. Others, He does not trust so much. But there can be no peace between the gods of this world and the Kingdom. Not for any of us.
Here is the Novena to St Michael for the Persecuted Church, Day 9. 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.