Friday, August 24, 2007

Speaking of rallying prayers....

This morning at Mass, we said the St. Michael the Archangel prayer in quiet unison as a sort of recessional:

St. 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 power of God,
thrust into Hell
Satan and all his evil spirits who wander the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

And suddenly, I was struck by the tone of it. If we could have gotten into a football huddle and piled up hands to say it, it would strike just the right note! Especially if you built the volume and fervor and came down hard on some of the words - "rebuke" and "thrust" and "evil" and then said "Amen" instead of "Break!"

I like this practice, which only one of our priests permits. First, it takes the place of a sung or chanted recessional (I do wish we could alternate it with the Regina Caeli, for which I would volunteer to teach the right chant tone, but one thing at a time, we just got this going two years ago.) We don't have to get distracted by listening to the priest's shoes squeak as he pads off to the left. Second, it points us out the door towards the big bad wonderful world out there, since the majority of the attendees at my early Mass are commuters, with a few retired golfers like pastel sprinkles through the group. We're going to face our own imperfections as well as the fallenness of the world, and it doesn't hurt to ask for help against the Father of Evil, since we DO have help! Third, it reminds me of the Communion of Saints. If I keep mindful of the bigger church I am part of, I am more likely to try and be a good member instead of comparing myself to myself.

Memorized prayers can be very dear, or very dull, or very meaningless. But they're awfully handy to get our hearts calmed down and our minds lifted up. Then we can talk to the Lord and consult with the saints in Heaven and ponder the Scripture we ideally just read or heard.

Now, Roz, shall we take on the sing-song "Angel of God?"


Roz said...

Hmm, not sure that one has the potential.

I heard that the prayer to St. Michael started being said at the close of Mass in Europe during the Black Plague. Our parish began the practice in response to a local rash of teen suicides several years ago.

It's nice to have someone doing battle for you, isn't it?



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