21 April 2011

Bishop Paprocki authorizes St. Michael Prayer after Masses

His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, has authorized the public recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel - originally composed by the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII in 1886 - following the dismissal at the end of Mass and before the recession.

He announced this authorization to the priests of the Diocese at a dinner preceding the Chrism Mass Tuesday evening and to the people of the Diocese at the conclusion of the Chrism Mass.

Prayer cards with the text of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel were distributed after every Mass with the newly blessed and consecrated oils to be place in the pews of the parish churches throughout the Diocese.

In a letter to parish leaders accompanying the cards, Bishop Paprocki explained the reason he has authorized this practice.  He wrote:
One of Satan’s greatest assets is his camouflage, the belief that he doesn’t exist. Disbelief in Satan and the forces of evil leave us unable to resist them. That is why it is good to remember the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. We need to remember that each time we pray we work to defeat our real enemies, not each other, but rather the devil and his evil spirits...

In recent years, a number of parishes have begun reciting the prayer once more, and many individual Catholics have kept up the practice. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have urged the faithful to pray it daily, and especially after Mass.
On the back of the prayer cards to be placed in the pews, Bishop Paprocki explains his vision for the Diocese, using some of the homily he preached at the Masses of Welcome celebrated in each of the Diocese's seven deaneries:
I envision a local Church where Catholics seek to grow in holiness, attend Mass every Sunday and participate regularly in the sacramental life of the Church.  I see Catholics, who love God with all their heart, mind and soul and love their neighbors as themselves.  I see the faithful who bear witness to Jesus Christ in their daily lives and promote respect for all human life from conception to natural death.

I envision an abundance of vocations with priests sufficient to staff and serve our parishes with virtuous commitment.  I see dedicated deacons, nuns, brothers and lay people teaching the faith, caring for the sick, reaching out to the poor and dying.  I see communities where family life is valued, homes where mothers and fathers love their children and whose children love them.  In short, I envision God's kingdom already foreshadowed in the life of the Church and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in the Eucharistic feast.
Everything that I have described is attainable.  The only real obstacle in our lives is sin.  Original sin is our inherited condition.  The spiritual treasures of paradise were forfeited by our human ancestors.  While Jesus Christ's death and resurrection have restored the gifts of heavenly treasures for us, we also have to recognize that the devil, Satan, is real, and he will do everything in his power to deflect us from our goal, which is eternal life with Christ in His kingdom.  This reality should not frighten us nor lead us to despair, for Christ is more powerful than Satan.
Prayer and the sacraments are an essential part of what Saint Paul called the "armor of God" in his letter to the Ephesians.  The Saint Michael prayer can help us "stand against the deceits of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11) by "taking the shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16).  God permits us to be tempted by the devil but gives us the grace to resist him through prayer in our daily lives.  We can and should say the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel at church with the assembly or on our own during the day for spiritual protection for ourselves and for others.
May God bless our diocese and our mission with every grace we need to grow in faith, hope and love.  May Saint Michael the Archangel protect us from all evil, harm and temptation.