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St. Michael the Archangel – September 29

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

St. Michael defeating the Devil
The Church considers St. Michael, who stands between mankind and the Divinity, as the mediator of her liturgical prayer. God, who made the visible and invisible hierarchies with an admirable order, makes use of the ministry of the celestial spirits for his glory. The angelical choirs, who contemplate ceaselessly the face of the Father, know, better than men, how to adore and contemplate the beauty of His infinite perfections.

The Church on earth also invites the celestial spirits to praise and glorify the Lord, to worship and ceaselessly adore Him. This contemplative mission of the Angels is a model for us, as St. Leo reminds us in the beautiful preface of his Sacramental:

“It behooves us to render graces to Thee, who teaches us through Thy Apostle that our life is directed toward Heaven; that Thou dost benevolently desire that our spirits are transported to the heavenly region, the home of those whom we venerate, and that especially on this day, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, we ascend to these heights."
Comments of Prof. Plinio:

St. Michael is the chief of the Angels who fought against the Devil and the bad Angels and threw them into Hell. He is the chief of the Guardian Angels of individuals, and also of institutions. He himself is the Guardian Angel of the institution of all institutions, which is the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. He has, therefore, a mission of tutelage. Regarding such mission, we can ask what relation exists between St. Michael’s first mission of defeating the revolted Angels and the protection he gives men in this valley of tears.

The two missions are linked. God wanted St. Michael to be His shield against the Devil in the first celestial fight. He also wants St. Michael to be the shield of men against the Devil, and the shield of the Holy Catholic Church as well. But St. Michael does not limit himself to be a shield of protection. He is also a sword to defeat and hurl the enemy into Hell. It is a double mission that is correlated.

For this reason, in the Middle Ages St. Michael was considered the first knight, the celestial knight: faithful, strong, and pure as a knight should be. He was also victorious, because he put all his trust in God, and after the birth of Our Lady, all his confidence in her.

A painting of knights from the side altar of the Duomo, Italy

A company of knights defend Our Lady and the Church in this painting on a side altar of the Duomo, Italy

It is this admirable figure of St. Michael whom we should consider our natural ally in the fights in which we are called to engage in defense of the honor of God, Our Lady, the Holy Church and Christian Civilization. With St. Michael as our model, we should defend them as a shield, and attack their enemies as a sword in order to destroy the Devil’s empire and establish the Reign of Mary on this earth. St. Michael should be our special patron.

The selection points to a particular aspect of devotion to the Angels that should be stressed. The Angels are inhabitants of the celestial court who continuously see God face-to-face. The apex of angelic and human happiness is to contemplate God, and this is the essence of life in Heaven; it is what makes Heaven the motherland of our souls. God continuously manifests new aspects of Himself that suffuse the Angels with happiness.

In epochs of true faith, something of this heavenly happiness filtrates to earth and is communicated to some pious souls, who, in their turn, express it to the entire Church and incorporate it into her spiritual treasure for us to share. Today we sorely lack this sense of heavenly happiness and, therefore, we have less appetite for Heaven. Many persons only have an appetite for earthly things. If they could understand for only one moment the consolation that comes from the consideration of heavenly things, they would understand how provisory earthly goods are, how worthless they are, how other values far transcend them. If they understood these things, they would be able to remove themselves from their attachment to earthly goods.

But, in our days, people are enthusiastic about money, petty politics, worldly things, the trivial life and its little news. They are no longer elevated souls who are enthused by great doctrinal problems and celestial things.

What we are so greatly lacking today is precisely what the holy Angels can obtain for us. They are inundated with a heavenly happiness, which they can communicate to us. So, let us ask them to give us the desire for celestial things. This is an excellent thing to ask on St. Michael the Archangel’s feast day, that we might model ourselves after him and become the perfect knights of Our Lady on this earth.

Tradition in Action

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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.

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