‘Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might’
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, recently called for all of us to make a point of praying for the Church; all of us are aware that the Church is presently in need of renewal and conversion, in the midst of the trials besetting her in these days.
Pope Francis was specific in the prayers he requested us to pray for the sake of the Church – the holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by the ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’ and the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. The Sub Tuum is the oldest written prayer in honour of the Mother of God, dating back to the second century; it is very short and direct and is as follows –
“We fly to Thy protection, O holy Mother of God.
Despise not our prayers in our necessities
But ever deliver us from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.”
The Holy Father is very clear about the nature of the attacks upon the Church, which was explicit in the communiqué he issued –
“The Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.”
The various forms of attack which are occurring have, ultimately, their origin in the Deceiver, working in many different ways but always with the same aim – to separate us from the good God and to cause division amongst the faithful. Where the faithful are divided, the evil one has greater reign; and when the sheep are separated from the Shepherd, they are in greatest danger.
And it is because this is a spiritual attack, regardless of the specific forms it may take, that the Pope calls for this particular spiritual response – an appeal to the motherly intercession of the Blessed Virgin, who is the Mother of the Church and who appears in the Protoevangelium as Woman who crushes the head of the Serpent; and to Saint Michael, whose victory is decisive in the great battle of Revelation. The Holy Father writes –
“With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attachks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.”
Mindful of the great work of the Church for souls and for the world, let all of us respond generously to the request of the Holy Father for prayer.