The parish my family and I attend recently welcomed a new pastor. We love our parish, and it has been a tremendous refuge and blessing to us in these crazy times. Our new pastor has fit in seamlessly but has, of course, his own way of doing things. My boys tell me that serving Mass with him is very different from serving with his predecessor: “Nothing big,” they say, “just different.” One change that I have loved is the addition of the ‘St Michael Prayer’ at the end of the Mass. The change also inspired our family to be sure to say it at least once every day as well, and every time we say it, I find new hope and peace in the words.
First of all, it acknowledges that we are in a battle.
Every day, as we commit our actions to the Lord, we are reminded that the battle between good and evil is always raging. Some may worry that this is too much for children, that perhaps we should not talk to them about the devil. I think it is imperative we speak to our children about this battle. Obviously, we must phrase it in such a way as never to sow fear, but always hope. We never talk about the battle without highlighting who the inevitable winner is. My kids hear me say all the time, “But who wins?” and they say back, “God always wins,” (sometimes with enthusiasm, and sometimes with the monotone expression of a child who knows what they are supposed to say). But they know, and hopefully, when the battle feels overwhelming one day, they will know who to call on.
Secondly, it reminds us that we are never alone.
Not only is the Holy Spirit with us, emboldening and allowing us to overcome the enemy, but we also have St. Michael, and all the saints in heaven praying for us, defending us in battle. It is never too early to encourage our children to find friendship among the saints.
Thirdly, it does not mince words about who the devil is and what he is about.
We live in a world that avoids speaking in absolute truth, a world that wants our children to believe the devil is not real, and yet St. Peter tells us in I Peter 5:8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. We must know who the enemy is in order to invoke the power of God to defeat him.
In Ephesians we are told to put on the whole armor of God, something that would not be necessary if God wasn’t asking us to step into battle.
The world is crying out in pain, there is chaos, and fear, and hate all around us. But we need not be dismayed; in fact, we can be hopeful for we are the light of the world. We know the serpent will be crushed; we know that Christ has already won.
We can trust our children with the truth of the battle, and the hope of God’s perfect will being fulfilled. We were all born at this time in history on purpose. God knew the battle would be raging, and he chose us and our children to be in his victorious army now. We can marvel at his kindness in trusting us to be salt and light to the world for such a time as this.