Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saint Michael and Me

Many years ago, when I was preparing for Confirmation, we were encouraged to be confirmed under a saint’s name. In doing so, we would establish a kind of patronage, a special relationship with that saint. I don’t remember much from that eighth-grade year, but I remember reading the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (“defend us in battle ... O prince of the heavenly hosts ...”) and seeing a depiction of St. Michael wearing a breastplate, wielding a sword, and standing over a defeated devil. That warrior spirit appealed to me, and so I was confirmed under the name Michael.

I haven’t done much to live up to that warrior ideal. Too often, it seems as though I don’t even do enough to defend my own family against the assaults of a decadent culture. We keep the worst of it out, but some of the subtle stuff gets in by flying under the radar. I justify it to myself by arguing that exposure to the minor stuff (along with some contextualization) will allow my young charges develop the necessary antibodies (metaphorically speaking) to avoid a full-blown infection when they are finally exposed, as adults, to the really nasty stuff.

As for St. Michael, the Church’s liturgical calendar ensures that once a year (today, September 29!), we celebrate the feast of the Archangels. Therefore, once a year, I am reminded that I chose St. Michael as my patron and am called to imitate his example. It matters not how well I have followed his example in the past, what matters is how well I follow his example here and now. On that day approximately 25 years ago, when I was anointed with the sacred chrism, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit and commissioned into the service of the Lord, and I effectively promised in a particular way to imitate St. Michael the Archangel. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel any different the day after my Confirmation than I did the day before. Yet our faith teaches us that I was marked with a seal that day. St. Michael continues (and will continue) to have a special significance for me.

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 hosts,
By the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
Who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You threw me there when you said, "many years ago..." I thought 5 years or so. But no, you're talking about 3 decades ago---see how I said ABOUT, your not in your 40's yet but quickly getting there, faster than I am anyway!