The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which Are Here Treated of.

The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of.

“OUR whole life,” says the devout St. Bernard, “is nothing but one long temptation;” and this doctrine he had drawn from Scripture, which teaches us the same truth—temptation without, temptation within, temptation on the part of our fellow-creatures, temptation arising from ourselves. It is a strange thing that we should be dangerous enemies to ourselves, that we should be obliged to be upon our guard and distrust ourselves, seeing that our destruction proceeds from ourselves, who often labour with our whole might to accomplish our own ruin. But we have also other battles to fight against enemies mighty in their strength, cruel in their fury, terrible in their cunning, countless in their multitude, indefatigable in their pursuit. Add to this, that they are pure spirits, who strike without being seen, who penetrate everywhere, who, though invisible, see all we do here below, and who contend with those who are excessively weak, and who walk in the midst of a dark night, on slippery paths, where it is almost impossible to keep from falling, and which are surrounded on all sides with frightful precipices, involving woes endless in their duration, and extreme in their intensity. Oh, if men did but meditate seriously upon these great truths, if they did but afford a little entrance to supernatural light, how thoroughly would they change their lives! Then truly would they serve the Lord with fear, and their flesh would be transfixed with dread of the frightful evils to which we are continually exposed, and to which, alas! we scarcely give a thought.

O you, whoever you may be, who read these things, read them not without giving them the greatest heed. These combats which you are about to witness belong to a war which is not waged only against the kingdom in which you dwell, and the persons whom you love, it is against yourself that it is declared; it is you whom these furious enemies attack; it is with them you must fight; it is over their strength and their cunning that you, who are nothing but sheer weakness and blindness, have to triumph, or you must be lost for ever. Repeat these terrible words: Lost for ever! Lost for ever! But, in good sooth, do we really know what we are saying when we use these words? And if we know, why do we live like those who have never heard them?

Let us, then, place ourselves in presence of the Divine Majesty, and, after a hearty renunciation, for the love of God only, of all our sins, let us enter again into our interior. Having calmed all our passions, let us consider, in the tranquillity of our soul, that the devils are our infuriated enemies, who have all conspired our eternal ruin; for they are so cruel in their rage that they are not only bent, like our earthly foes, on depriving us of our bodily life, which sooner or later we must lose, or on depriving us of our goods, our honour, and our friends, but it is our soul they plot against, to deprive it of an eternal kingdom, to rob it of a perfect joy and glory, and to plunge it into torments which the eye of man hath not seen, nor his ear heard, neither can his mind ever have conceived, and that for an eternity; that we may suffer inconceivable agonies in perpetual rage and despair, as long as God shall be God. This is why, in order to give us some faint notion of them, they are called in Scripture, wolves, lions, and dragons;[1] their cruelty surpassing the power of language to express.

This rage is accompanied with such strength, that we read in Job (xli. 24) that there is no power on earth which can be compared to it, and that the devil fears no one. All mankind united could not resist him without the special assistance of Heaven ; and millions of soldiers in battle array would be to this spirit like a little chaff which is scattered before the wind. Therefore it is that these angels of darkness are called in Scripture (Eph. Vi. 12; ii. 2) “powers,” and that they are styled princes and rulers of this corrupt world, the greater part of men being brought by sin into subjection to their detestable tyranny.

Add to their fury and strength a countless number of malicious artifices which they employ to seduce us, accompanied with such subtle and wicked inventions that the wisest have been deceived by them, and the most enlightened have been struck with blindness. This is why the apostle calls the devil “he that tempteth” (1 Thess. iii. 5); and the name given him in the Gospel (Matt. iv. 3) is that of “the tempter.” Again, he is styled in Scripture sometimes the dragon and the serpent, sometimes the hunter, a liar, and the father of lies, a spirit of error and of confusion.[2] The serpent, whose form he took, is the most subtle of beasts, as we read in Gen. iii. 1; and having deceived our first parents by his cunning, he has continued through the course of ages to tempt men by this means, finding it the best adapted to accomplish his end and to succeed in executing his most cruel designs. The lapse of ages only serves to render him more expert in deceit; hence it is that later heresies are generally the most subtle. The temptations he employs become every day more dangerous; and this it is which may well make us tremble, seeing that while we become more feeble, our enemies become more formidable. “How,” said the great Pachomius one day to him, “can you venture to assert that such and such things shall happen to my religious? Do you not full well know that the future is known to God alone, or to those to whom it pleases Him to reveal it? “True,” answered the devil, “I do not know the future, but the great experience I have of things enables me to form such strong conjectures, that I often easily foresee them before they happen.”

This, then, is an enemy whom men have had from the beginning of the world, and for six or seven thousand years he has never ceased to busy himself day and night in laying ambushes for them everywhere. St. Anthony one day saw the world full of snares,—the air, the earth, the sea, and all the other waters. There are traps set for the eternal loss of souls in deserts and solitudes, in the midst of cities and assemblies, in palaces and castles, in the humblest cottages, alike in high and low estate; in pleasures and in sufferings, in riches and in poverty, in cloisters and in the world, in eating and drinking, in watching and sleeping, and in the holiest exercises. This enemy has darts and arrows ready prepared to let fly in all sorts of places and against all sorts of persons. He insinuates slander into men’s discourse, and suggests impure thoughts in conversation between persons of a different sex; when anything is said which displeases us, he fails not at the moment to urge us to anger or revenge. He assumes every attitude, and takes every species of form. One while, as St. Augustine remarks, he will take the shape of a wolf, and at another that of a lamb. Sometimes he will come and fight with us in the darkness, at others he will attack us at mid-day. There is a devil called in Scripture “the noon-day devil “ (Ps. xc. 6).

He accommodates himself with wonderful tact to all our humours, studying our inclinations from our childhood. He notes the bent of our nature and that which is predominant in us: this is the point at which he especially directs his strongest battery, like the general of an army thoroughly experienced in the affairs of war, who assaults a city in the quarter where it is least defensible. He attacks us through our weakness; he contrives a thousand opportunities of forming intimacies for those who are inclined to love; those who are of a sanguine temperament he excites to impurity and to indulgence in the pleasures of life; the bilious to vengeance; the melancholy to sadness, discouragement, and despair; the choleric to quarrels;the phlegmatic to sloth; the timid to avarice; while lofty natures he prompts to aspire to offices and dignities. He has in his snares baits suited to catch all kinds of persons, varying them according to the inclination of each, and the humour he perceives to be dominant at the moment.

In order the better to succeed, he shows only what is agreeable in honours and pleasures, cunningly hiding the evil in them, as the fisherman hides his hook in the bait he prepares for the fish. He hinders the sensual from reflecting on the shameful diseases, the dishonour and dissipation of substance, which attend upon impurity. He does the same with regard to all the other vices; he fills the imagination only with what pleases the humour, and diverts the eyes from the eternal wretchedness which is the great evil, the sovereign and only evil, lying hidden within this specious and deceitful good.

If he perceives that he gains nothing by one temptation, because at times the soul, by the help of grace, keeps special watch against it, he attacks it with several. He imitates those tyrants who, desiring to pervert Christians, and force them to renounce their holy faith, employed every variety of means to accomplish their purpose; sometimes proposing to them splendid alliances, wealthy marriages, the sweetness of this world’s pleasures; sometimes high offices and an exalted station. And when these generous martyrs were proof against all that could allure the senses, they endeavoured to overcome them by the fear of torments, and of everything most horrible. It is thus the devil makes war against men by all that can charm the senses or gratify the mind, and when he gains nothing in this way, he tries that of sufferings, whether external or internal. He assails us by means of sicknesses, loss of goods or of reputation, the desertion of friends, ill-treatment, contradictions, sadness, weariness, our own ill-humour, interior anguish, repugnances, scruples, and other great sufferings with which he afflicts us in relation both to God and men.

One of his chief objects is to choose his time well. Thus he will tempt a person strongly to impurity at a time when he is most inclined to it, and at the instant he remarks any violent excitement in the senses, or where the time, place, and person lend themselves to it, or on occasions when there is greater difficulty in resisting: as, for example, when a young girl, destitute of all protection, has her chastity assailed by offers of placing her in easy circumstances; or he will incline persons to sin when they are less on their guard, or when they are in some part of the country where they are less provided with spiritual help, or on some day when prayer has been neglected, or other devotional exercises have not been attended to; in a time of lukewarmness, or depression, or uneasiness, or discouragement, when some interval has elapsed since they were at confession and communion, or when they are deprived of sensible sweetness and consolations.

Sometimes these miserable spirits feign to retreat, like those generals who raise the siege of a town in order to retrace their steps, and take it when least expected. They will dissimulate for a length of time in order to make more sure of their blow. For example, you will see persons of a different sex, whether married or not, contract intimate friendships, entertaining at the time no bad intention, and years will sometimes elapse without either the one or the other thinking of evil. The devils do not tempt them, because, being persons who fear God, their intimacy would make them uneasy, if they perceived the danger of it; but when they see hearts deeply engaged, and familiarity established closely and confidently, then it is they put forth their power, and often with too fatal success. Thus they will allow persons to betake themselves to play, amusements, gay company, the reading of romances, good eating and drinking, and such like things, as balls, and parties of pleasure, where too much freedom is permitted; and in all this their object is to prevent souls perceiving that the spirit of devotion is growing slack within them. They will even preserve them from many faults which they might have committed on these occasions, in order that the habit may become so strong in them, that they may find a difficulty in freeing themselves, as they might easily have done at the beginning; and having thus caught them, they then begin to tempt them violently, and make them feel, only too late, the danger to which unknowingly they have exposed themselves.

They amuse with a false peace many who are living in vice or in error, causing them to give large alms, say many prayers, perform many mortifications, and such like works, deluding them with intellectual lights, sensible consolations, and an apparent tranquillity of conscience; and thus they deceive many who are in heresy, and who remain therein captivated by these fair semblances of virtue, which the devils also make use of even to attract those who were far removed from it: this is why heresies which assume the mask of piety are much more dangerous than those which are the offspring of unmixed licentiousness. I once knew a servant of God who was tormented with distressing temptations, and at the same time much inclined to embrace a heretical tenet, but as soon as he began to deliberate about adopting it, all his temptations used to leave him; these spirits of hell employing this stratagem in order to persuade him that he might follow such opinion with a good conscience. It often happens that they have recourse to this artifice to stifle the remorse of those who have abandoned the Catholic faith, lulling their conscience to rest, and prompting them to the practice of many seemingly virtuous actions. They also employ it in the case of certain souls who, fearing to be lost eternally on account of some mortal sin in which they are entangled, try to quiet their self-reproach by good works, and thus to rid themselves, if possible, of their just fear of damnation.

[1] E.g. John x. 12; 1 Pet. v. 8; Ps. xc. 13.
[2] E.g., Apoc. xx. 2; Ps. xc. 3; John viii. 44, 1 John iv. 6.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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October Devotion: The Holy Angels and the Holy Rosary.

Virtues to practice: Confidence.


Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Most glorious prince of the heavenly hosts, Archangel St. Michael, defend us in the battle and in the tremendous struggle we carry on against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of darkness and all evil spirits. Come to the help of man, whom God created immortal, fashioned to His own image and likeness, and rescued at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. With the great army of the holy angels fight to-day the battle of the Lord as thou didst of old fight against Lucifer, the leader of the proud, and his apostate angels, who were powerless against thee, and they had no longer a place in heaven; and that monster, the old serpent who is called the devil and Satan, that seduces the whole world, was cast into hell with his angels. But now that first enemy and homicide has regained his insolent boldness. Taking on the appearance of an angel of light, he has invaded the earth, and, with his whole train of evil spirits, he is prowling about among men, striving to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to capture, to destroy, to drag to eternal perdition the souls destined to the crown of eternal glory. That malignant dragon is pouring abroad, like a foul stream, into the souls of men of ruined intellect and corrupt heart the poison of his wickedness, the spirit of lying, of impiety and blasphemy, the pestilent breath of impurity and of all vice and iniquity. Most cunning enemies have filled with bitterness and drenched with gall the Church, the Spouse of the Lamb without spot, and have lifted impious hands against all that is most sacred in it. Even in the holy place where the See of Blessed Peter and the chair of truth was set up to enlighten the world, they have raised the abominable throne of their impiety with the iniquitous hope that the Shepherd may be stricken and the flock scattered abroad. Arise, then, unconquerable Prince, defend the people of God against the assaults of the reprobate spirits, and give them the victory. Holy Church reveres thee as its guardian and patron; it glories in thee as its defender against the malignant powers of hell; to thee God has committed the souls that are to be conveyed to the seats of the Blessed in eternal happiness. Pray, then, to the God of peace, that He may put Satan under our feet, so completely vanquished that he may no longer be able to hold men in bondage and work harm to the Church. Offer up our prayers before the Most High, so that the mercies of the Lord may prevent us, and lay hold of the dragon, the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and hurl him bound in chains into the abyss where he may no longer seduce the souls of men. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly ye hostile ranks.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has conquered.
V. May Thy mercies, O Lord, be fulfilled in us.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.

O God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name and humbly beseech Thy clemency, that, through the intercession of the ever immaculate Virgin and our Mother Mary, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits that are prowling about the world to the great peril of the human race and the loss of souls. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., Motu Proprio, September 25, 1888, granted to the faithful who recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

ANTIPHON.

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in praelio,
ut non pereamus
in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael,
defend us in battle,
that we may not perish
in the tremendous judgment.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, August 19, 1893, granted to the faithful who recite the above antiphon
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

GABRIEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Gabriel the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.
NOVENA IN HONOR OF S. RAPHAEL, THE ARCHANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 28, 1876, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of S. Raphael the archangel, with any formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority,
AN INDULGENCE OF THREE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day;
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.

PRAYER TO S. RAPHAEL, ARCHANGEL.

Glorious Archangel, S. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, illustrious by thy gifts of wisdom and grace, guide of travellers by land and sea, consoler of the unfortunate and refuge of sinners, I entreat thee to help me in all my needs and in all the trials of this life, as thou didst once assist the young Tobias in his journeying. And since thou art the “physician of God,” I humbly pray thee to heal my soul of its many infirmities and my body of the ills that afflict it, if this favor is for my greater good. I ask, especially, for angelic purity, that I may be made fit to be the living temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

His Holiness, Leo XIII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 21, 1890, granted to the faithful who shall recite the above prayer
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.

THE ANGEL GUARDIAN.
PRAYER
.

Angele Dei,
qui custos es mei,
me tibi commissum pietate superna
illumina, custodi,
rege, et guberna.Amen.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.
Amen.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VI., by a brief, Oct. 2, 1795, granted to all the faithful, every time that, with at least contrite heart and devotion, they shall say this prayer:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, on the feast of the holy guardian angels (Oct. 2), to those who shall have said this prayer, morning and evening, throughout the year, provided that, on the day of the feast, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church or public oratory, and pray for the Sovereign Pontiff.
The same Sovereign Pontiff, by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, June 11, 1796, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, at the hour of death, to all those who, during life, shall have frequently said this prayer, provided they shall have the proper dispositions.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius VII., by a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, May 15, 1821, not only confirmed the above mentioned indulgences, but, moreover, granted:
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, once a month, to all the faithful who shall have said it every day for a month, as above directed, on any day, when, being truly penitent, after confession and communion, they shall visit a church, and pray devoutly for the intention of his Holiness.

NOVENA IN HONOR OF THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IX., by a rescript dated at Gaeta, Jan. 5, 1849, and by another of the S. Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, Jan. 28, 1850, granted to all the faithful who, with contrite hearts, at any time during the year, devoutly make the novena in honor of the Guardian Angel, published by the Rev. Joseph M. Falcone, of the Congregation of the Missions:
AN INDULGENCE OF ONE HUNDRED DAYS, once a day.
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, either during the novena or upon one of the eight days immediately following, if, truly penitent, they confess and communicate, and say some prayers for the holy Church and for the Sovereign Pontiff.
By a rescript of the S. Congr. of Indulgences, Nov. 26, 1876, the same Sovereign Pontiff deigned to approve that these indulgences may be gained by those who make the novena to the Guardian Angel with any other formula of prayer, provided it be approved by competent ecclesiastical authority.

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