by Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Confronting Satan With Prayer
At first I thought it was maybe just me.
All summer, with news of the stinging scandals—Theodore McCarrick, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, the controversy caused by Archbishop Vigano’s controversial letter—one right after the other, I began to wonder about the power of Satan, the prince of darkness. While we Catholics were sad, the Devil was laughing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking blame away from predator priests (and Cardinals) or negligent bishops of the past. I’m not claiming, as did the comedian Flip Wilson decades ago, “The devil made me do it!” Deacon, priests, bishops were responsible. All I was wondering was whether or not Satan was as well.
Was it just me?
Apparently not…I just finished listening to Bishop Robert Barron on YouTube, a scholar and a wonderful preacher, say the same thing. Satan has orchestrated all of this, only his most recent attempt to destroy the Church.
Then last Saturday I was at St. Joseph’s Seminary for an enlightening presentation by Dr. Scott Hahn, yet another biblical scholar, who called all of this a “symphony orchestrated by Satan.”
Take note, neither were removing blame from those predator priests or irresponsible bishops, any more than they would from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. All they were claiming was that the Evil One is active and behind all of this, as he was through the snake in Eden.
Pope Francis would hardly disagree. He has constantly warned us of Satan’s existence and power, repeating the caution of Blessed Pope Paul VI, “The most effective tool the Prince of Darkness has is to coax us to think he does not exist.”
Jesus would certainly tell us, “I told you so,” as the Son of God Himself, had to face the might of the Evil One.
St. Paul often warned us that our foe is the “realm of darkness,” the forces of evil, Satan himself, who continues to taunt us and ambush the Church. St. Peter reminds us that Satan “prowls the earth seeking the ruin of souls.”
Now I hear from so many of you, God’s People, that we need again the weapons of prayer, reparation, and penance, ammunition the Devil dreads.
The only protection from Beelzebub is Jesus. Satan is the second most powerful force in creation. We know the first.
And Jesus assured us that He will remain with us until the end of the world. He also was blunt in acknowledging that “the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church,” although, as a wise confessor whispered to me, that does not mean they’ll ever stop trying.
Enough of you have suggested this to me that I’ve concluded it’s from the Lord: that we seek the help of St. Michael the Archangel in fighting Lucifer’s invasion of the Church. Let’s fight fire-with-fire, they recommend, the Good Angel (St. Michael) attacking the Bad Angel (Lucifer).
St. Michael’s feast day is around the corner, September 29. So, beginning Friday, September 21, the Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist, I am asking that every Mass conclude, for nine days—a novena—with the ancient prayer requesting the Archangel’s intercession against our foe, Satan.
Here’s the prayer: please, for the nine days concluding on September 29, his feast day, conclude every Mass with this prayer. If you’re not at daily Mass during the week, say it yourself:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle;
be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits
who prowl about the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.