“Let Michael be our leader in the battle with the prince of pride,
that the Lamb, enthroned in Heaven,
may reward us with the crown of glory.”
– from Vespers, Feast of St. Michael the Archangel
Dear Friends of Carmel,
Today is the Feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, a heavenly patron we need in these days perhaps as never before!
We should not forget, during these days of struggle, that a deadly enemy is behind and within all the battles we wage in this world. This enemy possesses an intellect, will, and power far greater than our own: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high” (Ephesians 6:12). If we do not acknowledge and recognize this enemy when he is at work, we have little hope of defeating him. We all must heed St. Peter’s warning: “Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (Peter 5:8)
In Our Lord’s own words, the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his very nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Indeed, lying and murder have always been the devil’s hallmark, his own special sins. Where there is murder and deceit, inevitably he is at work to tear apart and destroy, not only people’s lives, but the spiritual, eternal life of their souls. Remember that it was through a lie that Lucifer destroyed sanctifying grace in the souls of Adam and Eve, with the dire consequences we all see and live with until the end of time and the Final Judgement.
If we fight this war with Satan all alone, we shall surely be defeated. But God promises us that we will not be attacked or tempted beyond our strength, if we look to HIM to be our strength and call upon His aid: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. May no temptation take hold of you but such as man is equal to. God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out… ” (1Cor. 10:13). And not only should we call upon God and His Blessed Mother, but also upon those who come from the same ranks as the devils themselves, the Holy Angels who remained faithful.
St. Michael the Archangel is God’s appointed general in the war against Satan. He has always been invoked as a defender of the Church. More than once he has come to her aid. It would be a mistake to think that he, and all the Angels, have no care, interest, or involvement of our lives here on earth. The Angels appear throughout the Old Testament, instructing, guiding and helping, delivering messages from heaven, administering God’s justice, and doing battle (sometimes in dramatic and visible ways) on behalf of the people of God. It was to the Angel Gabriel that was given the mandate of inviting the holy Virgin, in beautiful Hebrew poetry, to be the Mother of God (Luke 1:28-33). The Angels ministered to Our Lord during His life temptations in the desert (Matt.4:11), agony in the garden (Luke 22:43), and came to earth announce the great events in His life: the Nativity (Luke 2:9-14), the Resurrection (Mark 16:4-7), the Ascension (Acts 1:10-11).
The help of the Angels did not cease when Christ left earth. Throughout the centuries, they have been with and among us, praying for us, always guiding souls in the way of salvation. Sometimes they have been involved in great matters of state with Kings, armies, whole countries and peoples. Most often, indeed constantly, whether we believe, realize, notice or not, they involve themselves in the individual lives of every human being, on a very personal level.
- An Angel appeared to the children of Fatima in 1916, a year before Our Lady’s visit, teaching them prayers and the meaning of sacrifice and deepening their spiritual life, all in preparation for the mission that would soon be theirs. He identified himself as the Angel of Portugal.(See remarkable details about this Angel in the book, All About Angels.)
- It was St. Michael (along with St. Catherine and St. Margaret) who appeared to a young French peasant girl, informing her that she had been chosen to save the country of France. Indeed, France would not exist as it does today without St. Joan of Arc (d. 1431), who accomplished great military feats and saw that the king of France was finally crowned…all under the instruction and guidance of her heavenly visitors.
- Padre Pio (d. 1968) spoke to and saw his Guardian Angel so regularly as a child, he was surprised eventually to learn that not everyone had this experience. In later years, he frequently conversed with all of the Angels, telling his spiritual children to send him their worries, troubles, and prayer requests through their Guardian Angels, who are quicker and more reliable than any human means of communication. When these people were finally able to see Padre in person, they found him already well informed about all their troubles, both spiritual and temporal.
- Saint Gemma Galgani (d. 1903) had almost constant sight of her Angel, who instructed her in prayer and the spiritual life, sometimes rebuking her sharply when she committed a fault with a look so severe, she was terrified to look at him.
- If you have not read this letter, written by a Marine in the Korean war and widely publicized in the 1950s, we urge you to do so – very inspiring! The Angels are not so far from us as we, with all our modern sophistication, may think.
- Lastly, near the end of the 6th century, a brutal plague brought Rome to its knees, taking the life even of the Pope, Pelagius II. When Pope Gregory was elected, he ordered incessant prayer with processions for God to have pity on His people with the following result:
St. Gregory the Great (as he would later be known) organized a massive procession around the city, inviting everyone to pray to God that the plague would be lifted… [He]ordered the procession to continue to make the circuit of the city, the marchers chanting the litanies… As the procession continued around the city, St. Gregory reached the Mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian and saw a sight that brought peace to his soul: an Angel of the Lord standing atop the castle of Crescentius, wiping a bloody sword and sheathing it. Gregory understood that this sign put an end to the plague, as, indeed, happened. Thereafter the castle was called the Castle of the Holy Angel.
Eventually a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, sheathing his sword, was put on the top of Castel Sant’Angelo, which remains a constant reminder of the mercy of God and how he responded to the prayers and supplications of the people.
The are so many stories to share, but we will have to contain ourselves with these few. Yes, the Angels will be with us, part of salvation history, until the very end of time. In Holy Scripture we read that St. Michael will also have a key role in the end days:
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. – Daniel 12:1
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. – Apocalypse 12:7-9
How remiss, how unfortunate we are, if we never think of them, thank them, ask them for help, in all spiritual and temporal needs – these holy protectors, of whom God said, “for to His Angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Ps. 90:11-13). By God’s design and will, our angels never leave us and are ever waiting and ready to assist us.
But on the other side of all this good will of Heaven, are the fallen angels, the devils, who in their futile efforts to strike out at God are ever trying to hurt Him through us. If they can lead us away from God, corrupt our souls, or even just hinder our progress in the spiritual life, they work against the Almighty, Who created them and us.
In recent history, on October 13, 1884 (interestingly, the same date Our Lady of Fatima chose for the last and great apparition of the Miracle of the Sun, 33 years later), Pope Leo XIII was attending Mass when suddenly, he turned pale. In the words of a prelate who was present: “We saw him raise his head and stare at something above the Celebrant’s head. He was staring noiselessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the color and look of his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening to him…[and then] coming to his senses …he headed for his private office.”
When questioned, the Pope related that he had had a vision, in which he saw Satan approaching the throne of God, boasting that he could destroy the Church. Our Lord reminded Satan that the Church was imperishable. Satan replied: “Grant me one century and more power over those who will serve me, and I will destroy it.” Our Lord granted him 100 years. The Lord then revealed the events of the 20th century to Leo XIII. The pope beheld wars, immorality, genocide and apostasy on a large scale. In his office, the pope himself composed a prayer to St. Michael, and ordered that it be promulgated immediately. It was to be recited in every Church after every low Mass by all of the faithful, a prayer that is well known by most Catholics: “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil…”
Pope Leo’s vision, reminiscent of the story of Job in the Old Testament, has been seen as something of a prophecy of the trials that would afflict the Church and society and the power that Satan would exercise in the world more powerfully than before. Pope Leo’s immediate successor, Saint Pius X, declared early in the 20th Century, observing the trends of the times and the ideas taking hold in society: “[I]t must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ’s kingdom itself.” Overthrow, indeed, by replacing God with Man, that Mighty Self! Yes, we have enshrined ourselves in God’s place. Science, technology, our mastery of nature, which we feel free to bend and change according to our own designs – all fuel man’s greed, pride and other miserable vices. We take upon ourselves the right to declare what is right and what is wrong, what is moral what is not. Modern man arrogantly presumes to re-write the venerable commandments that have guided souls and society since creation.
But St. Michael witnessed the original rebellion of God’s creatures, Lucifer and his followers, when they refused to submit to God’s authority. And he cried out in loyalty to his Creator, “Who is like God?!” Should we not join his beautiful proclamation, and make a prayer of it when we witness the rebellion of society in our days: “Lord, who is like You? None. You alone do we adore, You alone do we serve. In You alone do we trust!” In this, we will follow the example of the holy man of the Old Testament, Tobias, who refuted those who tempted him to despair of God’s help, “Enough of such talk! We are the children of the saints, and we look forward to that life which God will give to those who never waver in their fidelity to Him (Tobias 2:17-18).” His fidelity and trust merited God’s special protection, and He sent the Archangel Raphael to help, heal, guide and save him.
Truly, we make promise of our fidelity to God in opposition to Satan at the time of our Baptism, renewed each Easter, when the priest asks, “Do you renounce Satan?” and each of us answers, either through our godparents or of ourselves, “I do renounce him.” “And all his works?” “I do renounce them.”
The custom of reciting the prayer to St. Michael after each Mass was abolished mid-way through the 20th century, but is still said at many Masses. Not as well-known is the personal prayer of exorcism, which Pope Leo XIII also composed. The Holy Father exhorted priests to use this prayer as often as possible as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm. The faithful also may say it in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and other various calamities. We have converted this prayer into a .pdf format (both in single page format and as a double sided half-fold pamphlet). We encourage you to print it and use it – to say it for yourselves, your families, our country, and for the whole world, as the battle rages not only for our individual souls and those of our neighbor, but for the very remnants of Christian civilization, which is so vehemently under attack.
You did not think we would neglect to suggest books, did you? The topic of the Angels – both good and evil – offers a wonderful selection of books for our instruction and encouragement. The first “Angel Book” you will want to choose is All About Angels – simply because it is the one most filled with the fascinating and practical doctrine/tradition of the Catholic Church regarding these powerful spiritual beings. The brief remark on the leading pages of the book says it all: “A truly beautiful book – It opens up a new and glorious world to its readers; it gives them a happiness and joy they never had before; it is a book for all, priests, and people, young and old.” We regret, in a way, the book cover, which it seems would tend to direct only to children. Wonderful theology, practical suggestions to sanctity, anecdotes from the lives of the Saints combine to make this book truly for all. Our recommendation comes from our recent experience of our Mother Prioress having this book read in the refectory during our meals. Young and old, all Sisters enjoyed and learned.
Please visit our website to see our entire selection of “angelic” books. Another very popular one (since 1869 to this day) is Devotion to the Nine Choirs of Angels, beautifully written to spread devotion to the holy Angels, especially for defeating the powerful forces at cross-purposes with God, His work, His glory, His Church and the benefit of His children on earth. Saints Who Battled Satan addresses specifically the devil and his hellish cohort. Once again, in addition to Church doctrine about the devil, this book offers detailed stories of saints whose lives were spent battling and defeating him on all levels. It tells about “seventeen holy warriors who can teach you how to fight the good fight and vanquish your ancient enemy.” For we must never forget that Satan is the personal adversary of every one of us, in addition to being the enemy of all good on a worldwide scale. He is the enemy of peace.
Other titles that would offer worthy reading in these troubled days:
Why Does God Permit Evil?
Prophetic Messages for Our Times
The Church Under Attack
The End of the Present World
The Virgin Mary and the Apostles of the Last Times
Joy in Suffering
- Finest Traditional Calendar available today
- Elegant and classic reproductions for each month – depicting the most beloved liturgical scenes
- Includes special guide, summary of truths of the Catholic Faith, Patron Saints and Prayers section – useful to all Catholics
- Sundays and Holydays, fast and abstinence printed in red – ORDER NOW
The 100% beeswax candles we introduced to our site in the last newsletter have been as they say “flying off the shelves”. With joy, our other local artisan has offered us a few more styles for these special candles, and we have added them to our website. One of these is a tall pillar candle with a much longer burn time. The other new style has a honeycomb pattern. As we mentioned last time, we are more than happy to have these candles blessed for you before shipping; please do not forget to mention in the comment section of your order that you would like them blessed. Numerous messages since July have conveyed to us that souls are finding comfort and consolation using these candles at home, especially those who are still prevented from visiting the churches. Also, don’t forget that you are welcome to have a candle lit here at our own Chapel, to “pray in your place” before the Blessed Sacrament if you are not able to visit in person.
Many of you will remember the custom we keep here in our chapel is to place the names of deceased family members and other loved ones on our altars, where our priests faithfully remember these souls at each Mass (as many as four daily) offered during November. We invite you to send us the names of your loved ones who are deceased, and we will be happy to include these souls in this great benefit the Church offers through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We will be accepting names from now until November 1st, and the names will be placed on the altar beginning November 2nd. A small donation, which will serve as a stipend for the Priests celebrating the Masses, is customary. Learn More…
As many of you know, we usually guarantee that any rosary orders placed before December 1st will arrive by the Christmas. This year, we have had an increased demand for our handmade items (rosaries and scapulars and relic badges). With the mail system being somewhat unreliable to deliver on time (since March, international packages have sometimes been taking several months to arrive), we are guessing that this year we will not be able to make that guarantee. If you are planning to order anything we hand-make for Christmas gifts, we encourage you to do it now – or very soon. It seems early to be talking about Christmas, even to us! But we never like to tell people their packages will not arrive in time for Christmas. So we are trying to plan ahead and give plenty of warning that our “guaranteed Christmas delivery” date will most likely be much earlier this year than it has been in the past.
Also, for Churches, schools, small businesses, and anyone else wanting to order Christmas cards in large quantities – we have most of our selection already up on the website. The sooner you order, the more likely it is that we will be able to obtain the quantities you need of the style you want. They sell out quickly when November comes!
Scott, our wonderful local artisan, has been hard at work! We now have a continuous supply of all four styles of the famous St. Benedict crucifix previously manufactured by Bancel in France. Scott has now completed his first set of wood-backed crucifixes. These crucifixes are about 2.5″ long, inlaid with rosewood or ebony, and hand-cast in either nickel silver or brass. They are now available on rosaries and for individual purchase. The long-awaited Profession crucifixes will be coming next!
Our Holy Mother St. Teresa ordained that twice each year the Sisters should solemnly renew their vows. One of the days she chose was the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), the day the Three Kings presented their gifts to the Child Jesus. The other day she chose was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14), the day on which we honor the sublime instrument of our salvation. Both days have a connection to the holy Vows of religion. At Epiphany, we put ourselves in the place of the Wise Men, offering their finest gifts to the Christ Child; this has all the peace and tenderness of Christmas charm as we present our offering, the gift of ourselves, to the newborn Savior. Our September offering on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross highlights the sacrifice of the vows, the sanctifying – and crucifying – power they have, uniting us with Our Savior on the Cross.
The Renewal ceremony is a simple and quiet one with only the Sisters present, early in the morning before Mass. After a brief exhortation from the Prioress, each Sister renews her vows in the hands of the Prioress and venerates our relic of the True Cross. Afterwards, the bells are rung as we chant the solemn Te Deum, the “official thanksgiving song” of the Church. These are special days for us, and this year we were able to take a day of retreat just before September 14th – a day for extra prayer and reflection.
As any local Colorado resident will tell you: “Dress in layers.” Colorado is known for its extremes in weather, from sunshine to snow, from short sleeves to heavy jackets (or even mittens and boots) in the same day! But this year we had a change that was extreme even for us. The National Weather Service reported a high of 95° – with a winter storm advisory at the same time. On Labor Day, in the matter of a few hours, we went from record high temperatures to record lows. In addition, we were under a thick haze from the country’s forest fires. So that Monday evening, a dark, surreal atmosphere blanketed our area, bringing dusk before sunset. There was no sun that evening after 5 o’clock – strange and eerie!
God was kind to our local farmers, who make their livelihood mostly south of our city; they were blessed to have been spared the severe cold and snow that would have destroyed their important harvest. But knowing just 15-20 miles north would be in the storm area, we headed to our vegetable garden to harvest anything that wouldn’t make it through the freeze. However, the rather sad “harvest” that evening boasted a 1.5” carrot, a couple of beets the size of an egg, some little bitty squash and very green tomatoes! Alas, our “veggies” didn’t have long to mature this year – but to the credit of our Sister gardeners, since July, we enjoyed cucumbers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, green beans, kohlrabi, Swiss chard and other greens, a few beets and chili peppers. Growing veggies at 7,000 feet is a challenge! Then there is the rhubarb plant we’ve mentioned in the past. Transplanted probably 20 years ago from the yard of a friend, it didn’t really have a good place in our enclosure until last year. We never could find just the right spot for it. The stubborn thing lived on without thriving, no matter where we temporarily planted it or how much we neglected it. We finally decided that such a tenacious plant should be allowed to live, and gave it a home with two new rhubarb plants, right near the north enclosure wall. Well, they joined forces to produce an abundant crop earlier in the summer – and there are even more stalks now that breezed through the storm and are ready to make a good sauce or pie!
While we were able to have a good laugh at recreation about our poor gardening efforts this year, we were quite surprised when the worst of the storm ended up missing our area. A little snow, a good amount of wind, and it was over. Surprisingly the leaves on our trees, still in their full summer glory, survived the storm and are now doing their best to change to their autumn colors in a hurry. We covered many of the blooming perennials and brought in the flower containers at the shrines of Our Lady to wait out the cold weather. We wanted to be sure they saw the end of Our Lady’s thirty days – September 15th! So we’ve had record hot days again since that first storm that ended our summer, and everything seems – well, just odd! ‘Suppose it just goes with this “odd” year, 2020…
Our daily work has continued to fill up our days. The sewing room is repairing habits and altar cloths, and the embroidery department is experimenting with new embroidery techniques as we set in motion plans for our next project. We continue to make rosaries, scapulars, and relic badges, which are shipped out every day across the country and the world.
We continue to tackle many repair projects for the old portion of the Monastery, fixing the broken wood frame windows, replacing the Monastery entryway porch flooring, changing out old electrical work, and updating pipes and valves in the plumbing. This plumbing “update” was just in time, as we were told by the excellent plumber, who discovered a valve that broke in his hand just as he was in the process of replacing it! Thank you, St. Joseph, for helping us catch it in time and avoid an indoor flood!
We close our letter with assurance of our prayers in the uncertain days ahead. However it may appear in the news reports, human beings are not in charge of events or history. A living faith in God’s protecting love and humble trust in His plan for each of us will draw down His mercy upon all society. Come what may, let us lift our hearts in trustful gratitude for all that He wills to accomplish in us all!
Let this timely prayer from the holy Liturgy be the prayer of all as we face the challenges and anxieties of these extraordinary days:
Grant Your people, Lord,
we beseech You,
to avoid the defilements of the devil,
and with pure minds to follow You, the only God.
And this beautiful prayer, uniting us with our Blessed Mother:
Jesus, living in Mary,
Come and live in Thy servants.
In the spirit of Thy sanctity,
In the fullness of Thy might,
In the perfection of Thy ways,
In the realization of Thy virtues,
In the communication of Thy mysteries,
And subdue, in Thy Spirit, all hostile power,
For the glory of the Father.
Know that you will all be in our prayers as we join the Heavenly choir in today’s Mass, “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.” Since it is God’s own love that has committed each one of us to our Guardian Angels, let us pray confidently that this spirit-friend of ours may “ever this day be at our side to light, to guard, to rule and to guide.” Amen!
Your Carmelite Sisters