The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of.-continued 3.

St. Teresa of Avila, ora pro nobis.

The Protection of the Holy Angels against the Devils, with Particular Reference to their Different Temptations, which are here Treated of.-continued 3.


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.-continued 3.

In fine, the great havoc which these accursed spirits make is by the establishment of heresy. For this end they have recourse to all their artifices; beginning with things which at first are not calculated to excite so much alarm. They instigated Luther to cry out against Indulgences; but they made him commence by declaiming against the abuse of Indulgences and of ceremonies, and then by degrees they got at the faith.

St. Teresa taught that great courage is required in spiritual warfare; and this is very true, since our enemies are not only terrible in their strength, cruel in their rage, and inconceivably formidable in their stratagems, but they are indefatigable in pursuit; they are ever lying in wait to surprise us; they watch for our destruction while we sleep. “Our enemies,” says St. Augustine, “are ever on the alert to work our ruin, and we are ever forgetful of our salvation.” They watch without ceasing to make us die an eternal death, and we are ever slumbering when our very salvation is at stake. The necessities of eating and sleeping, and other bodily cares with which we are burdened, never diminish their activity, seeing that they share them not. They are always under arms day and night, and during the whole course of our life, never laying them down. If they appear occasionally to leave us at peace, or to grant a short truce, it is only that they may fight against us at more advantage, and renew the combat with greater violence and more success.

Moreover, they are pure spirits, as swift as thought, penetrating everywhere, pursuing us everywhere; nothing remains closed against them. In vain may you shut and bar your doors, and lock your rooms and your closets, ingress is still as free to them; and as they are invisible, they assail you unperceived; they strike, and you behold no one; they are beside you meditating your ruin, and you know it not; their weapons are invisible: hence you may judge how difficult it is to defend ourselves against them. All this time they tempt us; and Cassian tells us that the Fathers of the Desert knew by experience that they were most strongly tempted at the most holy times, as, for example, during the holy season of Lent.

These attacks become more violent in proportion as our love of God increases. From the moment we begin to serve Him, we must prepare for temptation. Nor ought this to astonish us, for now it is that war is openly declared; hitherto they had given themselves little trouble, for the soul was already their slave. The saints often find themselves on the very edge of the precipice, through the violence of their temptations. It is the saints, says Cassian, who are often the most tempted by the desires of the flesh. That infernal Pharao loads with burdens those who endeavour to escape from his cruel thraldom. There is no spot on earth where we are exempt from this warfare. Our very churches, and the most holy places, do not preserve us from it; they insinuate themselves everywhere. In solitude they caused poor Loth to fall into impurity, who had preserved himself chaste in the midst of a town wholly filled with monstrous licentiousness. There is no period of life which protects us from their assaults. An eminent and holy solitary, who resisted their temptations in his youth, choosing rather to allow his body to be burned in material fire than to abandon his soul to the fire of impurity, and thus had successfully withstood the shameless assault of a woman who laid snares for his virtue, allowed himself, at the age of sixty, to be vanquished by his tempters, through the instrumentality of a woman possessed by them. Let us pause briefly to consider this example, and let us tremble as we do so. A young man, who in the flower of his age had won such glorious triumphs, permits himself to be conquered, and that in old age, after so much fasting and mortification, with a body consumed by great austerities: after so many victories achieved during a long course of years, after a heavenly life, so many extraordinary gifts, so many miraculous graces, he allows himself to be overcome by a woman who was possessed, which in itself should have filled him with horror; and that, too, after having expelled the devil out of her body.

One of their endeavours is to weary us by the length of the contest; and experience sufficiently attests that men will give way at last, after having resisted a long time. A soul will persevere faithfully in its exercises, in spite of all the disgust and repugnance with which it may perform them, although it experiences no sensible feeling of devotion, and goes through them laboriously and painfully; and at last it will suddenly be overcome with weariness, and will yield to the temptation. It will submit itself to the good advice given to it, and will observe with inviolable fidelity the commands laid upon it; yet in the end it will follow its own devices, and give itself up to its own notions and inclinations. When these wretched spirits perceive that they can obtain no advantage, they go for reinforcements; they take with them other demons, still more powerful and malicious, and, returning to the charge, often succeed in vanquishing those who had previously triumphed over them.

Besides all this, their number is beyond conception. St. Bernard says that the devils, who are the apes of the Divinity, make a division of their forces, so that every man may have a bad angel, even as he has a good one. St. Gregory of Nyssa is of the same opinion. St. Anthony often said that millions of devils roamed over the earth. St. Hilarion, his disciple, asserted the same thing, and referred, in confirmation of it, to the Gospel history, whence we learn that one single man was possessed by a “legion” of them, that is to say, by six thousand six hundred and sixty-six. The glorious St. Dominic delivered an unhappy man from fifteen thousand devils, who had entered his body in punishment for the scoffs he had uttered against the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. This is well worthy of the consideration of those who sneer at associations established by lawful authority; but anyhow let us reflect what a host of enemies are banded together for the ruin of one single man. St. Jerome, commenting on the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, declares that it is the general opinion of theologians that the air is filled with these invisible enemies.

Now if this be so, let us consider with a little attention the dangers to which we are exposed, having such enemies to contend with; and let us at the same time reflect what we ourselves are, who have to fight against such forces. We live in the midst of darkness, and even in the full daylight of grace we fail to see, being blinded by our passions. We walk in places where eternal precipices abound, and upon paths so slippery, that the holiest find it a hard matter to keep from falling; we are ignorant of the road we should take, and, as St. Bernard says, we readily choose that which leads to hell; they whom we meet are as blind and ignorant as we are, and, instead of aiding to bring us out of our false ways, serve only to lead us on therein to our ruin. In ourselves we are weakness itself, pierced on all sides with mortal wounds. O my God! O my God! in such a deplorable condition, who shall escape? Alas! O men, what are we thinking of when we live in forgetfulness of these frightful perils? Is it, then, possible that these truths should be indubitable, and yet that we should give them so little serious reflection? Surely a spell must be upon us, that, having eyes, we see not, having ears, we hear not, and having feet, we yet remain motionless, when Eternity is at stake: we see, we hear, we move only for this present life.

It is because of this blindness and insensibility that the greater part of men become the prey of devils. If we would but let ourselves be guided by the light and movements of grace, unable as we are to do anything of ourselves, we could do all things in Him who is our strength.[1] It is in His might that we must courageously resist the power of the devils, who, like to crocodiles, fly from those who pursue them, and pursue those who fly from them. “Resist the devil,” so teaches the Divine Word (Jas. iv. 7), “and he will fly from you.” It is true that our strength is altogether unevenly matched with his, but the power of Jesus Christ supplies for our weakness. The great St. Anthony affirmed, that since the coming of Christ we may vanquish the devil as we would a sparrow, and break his power as if it were so much straw.

We must place all our confidence, then, in Jesus Christ and His holy Cross, and in the protection of His Blessed Mother, who has crushed the head of this wretched serpent; and we must make use of the sacraments, of holy water, of holy images, to bring to nought all his efforts, keeping ourselves always, on the other hand, in the practice of humility, a virtue which is all-powerful to frustrate the temptations of hell, but without which all the other virtues will avail but little against its assaults. St. Anthony, of whom I have just spoken, when he had a vision of the world filled with snares, and saw a devil, whose head touched the stars, carrying off the greater part of souls as his prey, was penetrated with grief, and, crying out aloud, the holy man exclaimed, “Who, then, shall be able to escape these traps, and from the hands of this infernal monster?” To which a voice from heaven replied, “Anthony, humility shall do this.” This virtue must be accompanied with an entire distrust of ourselves. If we put any confidence in our own strength, in our experience, our discretion, our resolutions, we are lost; sooner or later we shall infallibly perish: and we must be greatly on our guard against a secret self-reliance, which is sometimes imperceptible to ourselves; it appears to us that when we have gone through certain devotional exercises the victory is gained, and then our Lord permits us to fall grievously.

There are some souls who see clearly enough certain imperfections, which they detest; they groan, they strive, and yet they cannot conquer them: this is, said that holy man, Father de Condren, because these souls have not as yet thoroughly learned their weakness, their insufficiency, their helplessness. Mistrust in ourselves ought to be followed by fear. “Fear the Lord,” it is written (Ps. xxxiii. 10), “all ye His saints.” If the saints must work out their salvation with trembling, what ought sinners to do? One thief near the Cross is saved; another equally near is lost. God pardons one of His disciples who denied Him; He condemns another who betrayed Him. There is a Heaven, but there is also a Hell. Some have truly repented at the hour of death; thousands and thousands have died in sin. In fine, the most brilliant lights of the Church have been seen to suffer an eclipse; men who were as angels upon earth have, at the last moment of their life, precipitated themselves into hell by a movement of pride; pillars of the Church have been shaken and overthrown; they who had brought to others the pure light of faith have fallen into heresy; saints have become devils.

For this cause we should stand strictly on our guard, and give no place to temptation, by avoiding all those occasions which might lead us into it. “Watch and pray,” says the Divine Word (Matt. xxvi. 41), “lest you enter into temptation.” It does not say lest temptation enter into you, but lest you enter into temptation. When it is by God’s dispensation that we find ourselves in peril, we shall, by the help of His divine assistance, escape; but if it is of our own seeking that we are involved in it, we shall perish. Joseph’s temptation was far stronger than that of David: Joseph was young, David was old; Joseph was pursued by the caresses and threats of a woman who importuned him incessantly, David was pursued by no one. The chastity of Joseph was assaulted by a woman who was his mistress; by resisting her he ran the risk of his life; by giving the reins to passion he might attain to a great temporal fortune. David was a king; he had nothing to fear and nothing to expect, save the remorses of his conscience. David was more advanced in the spiritual life, and he was the man according to God’s own heart. Nevertheless, David was vanquished by temptation, and Joseph resisted; and this was because David exposed himself to the temptation, while Joseph met with the danger while acquitting himself of his duty in the order of God’s providence. The Three Children were delivered from the furnace of Babylon, and Peter from the peril of the waters; but should you throw yourself into fire or into water, you would be burned or drowned. If you are of a bilious temperament, why do you not shun the occasions of anger? If you feel disposed to love, why do you not discreetly avoid the company of women? You lose your temper at play, why then do you not renounce gaming? You are full of distractions when you pray in places not sufficiently retired, why then do you not choose such as are more appropriate? St. Ignatius, the founder of the Company of Jesus, was favoured with the privilege of suffering no distractions in time of prayer; but it behoved him, on his part, to do what in him lay. When he failed to withdraw himself far enough from the world and from its noise, he no longer enjoyed this grace.

Be prompt also in resisting temptation. The same saint said that the serpent easily draws in his body where he has insinuated his head. The negligence with which you resist temptation gives great hold to your enemies. They greatly fear those souls who resist their attacks from the very first, because they perceive that these attacks serve but to win crowns for them. If a burning coal were to fall on your dress, would you not instantaneously, and with the greatest expedition possible, shake it off on the ground? and however short a time yon might allow it to rest on your clothes, would they not be injured by it? Although the negligence may not be fully voluntary, from the advertence of the mind not being entire, it is still a venial sin; and one single venial sin gives a strange power to the devil to tempt us. When the exorcists of the possessed at Marseilles had committed the most trifling little fault, they were powerless against the devils for some time. On the other hand, when we have promptly repulsed temptation the devils are afraid of returning, and their strength is weakened. We must never deliberate: a town which parleys is all but taken. The very moment we perceive the sin, or the occasion of sin, we must break off, we must go away; we must suffer anything rather than dwell upon it.

[1] Phil. iv. 13.


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.


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


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


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,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


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,
A PLENARY INDULGENCE, during the novena, if, truly penitent, having confessed and communicated, they pray for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.


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


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.

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:
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.


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:
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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