On this feast day of the Archangels - specifically the warrior Saint Michael, it's important to realize the semantics of the word "Militant Church" as an intricate component of the Communion of Saints. We know that the Church Triumphant is made up of all those who have reached the promised land - the celestial regions where they will live out eternity in the presence of the Beatific Vision. Then there is the Church Suffering which composes the poor souls in Purgatory who are on the "waiting list" to be included someday in the roll call of the Heavenly ones. The good news is that they are guaranteed salvation, the bad is that they don't know when. And we don't know when we will be taken from the ranks of the Militant Church and either kicked upstairs to the highest promotion possible or wait in line ad nauseum to atone for what we didn't do here on earth. The other alternative is the nether regions of hell and that is something no one wants to contemplate. That's bad news! But there is more good news and that is we still have a chance as long as we live and breathe thanks to the Almighty.
The horrific hurricane that struck Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba last week and has just ravaged the Gulf Coast is aptly named "Georges" patterned after another warrior saint who died in 303 A.D. - Saint George who is best known for slaying the dragons. That legend was in the early fourth century, the legend of Hurricane Georges is late in the twentieth century but both slayed dragons. In the case of the former, a humble but brave Christian Knight was called on to rescue the people who were offering the dragon a daily sacrifice of one person a day to appease the beast. In the case of the latter, concerned faithful have called upon God to enlighten the populace that Hurricane Georges is a wake-up call to stop our senseless sacrifice of human sacrifice through abortion and euthanasia. You might think that is stretching it but when you consider the passages in Matthew and the Apocalypse/Revelations and then study the words of the Blessed Mother to visionaries and messengers over the past five hundred years we can see Hurricane Georges is definitely a warning sign. Our Lady specifically foretold of these times in her apparitions at La Salette in the Alps Mountains in Southern France in 1846 when she said: "Nature is asking for vengeance because of man, and she trembles with dread at what must happen to the earth stained with crime." She also prophesied, "The seasons will be altered, the earth will produce nothing but bad fruit, the stars will lose their regular motion, the moon will only reflect a faint reddish glow. Water and fire will give the earth's globe convulsions and terrible earthquakes which will swallow up mountains and cities." El Nino and now La Nina are evidence of this and over this past decade the weather patterns have grown increasingly worse, specifically the last two years in which almost every account of storms, blizzards, and the like are of epic or biblical proportions. Are these not signs? The Blessed Mother went on to tell Melanie Mathieu, the primary visionary at La Salette, that "All the universe will be struck with terror and many will let themselves be led astray because they have not worshipped the true Christ Who lives among them. It is time; the sun is darkening; only faith will survive. Now is the time; the abyss is opening. Here is the king of kings of darkness, here is the beast with his subjects, calling himself the Savior of the world. He will rise proudly into the air to go to Heaven. He will be smothered by the breath of the Archangel Saint Michael. He will fall, and the earth, which will have been in a continuous series of evolutions for three days, will open up its fiery bowels; and he will have plunged for eternity with all his followers into the everlasting chasms of hell. And then water and fire will purge the earth and consume all the works of men's pride and all will be renewed. God will be served and glorified."
That is the key: God will be served and glorified. We are talking about all His children serving Him and glorifying Him and the only way to accomplish this is living in the Divine Will. That means abandoning our sinful ways, giving up the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil - things that pull us down and penetrate our shield of protective grace. Without grace we are more than vulnerable to the weapons of satan and he has been pelting us plenty these days. How, then, do we fight the dragons of dismay and destruction? Through the simple weapon known as "Prayer." The trouble is we overcomplicate things when Our Lady lays it out so simply - "Pray! Pray!
Pray!" Return to her Divine Son, sacrifice and do penance for the atonement of sins. We can do this only through the grace of the Sacraments which mandate total adherence to God's Laws. Anything that goes against that is anathema to the Triune Divinity. Only by doing what Jesus asks through His Word in Scripture, through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and through His Own Blessed Mother's messages can we hope to slay these dragons that drag us down.
That brings us back to the devastation being visited on the Gulf Coast where we have many close friends who we pray dearly for and ask God to spare from any serious damage. We call on His Mercy to save those and at the same time to wake up the multitudes to why He allows this to happen: To alert us that the only calm seas, the only safe harbor is with Him. Hurricane Georges is His calling card to warn us that this is only an inkling of the Divine Justice. It is a warning. For the most part God has spared lives during this devastating whirlwind of destruction in which floods and winds have wiped out fortunes but few heartbeats. This has been the pattern for almost every natural disaster this decade, at least in the United States: plenty of damage but few loss of lives. But, as we know, the Age of Mercy is running out and His Justice is about ready to take over. We had better wake up now and right the wrongs or countless citizens will wind up on a wrong-way road that leads straight to hell. Think about the current atmosphere in Washington, the stubbornness and selfishness of pro-abortionists, the greed and lust of big business and Hollywood, the disobedience within our own Church and we can see it is truly evident the words Our Lady has spoken often, "I can no longer hold the Father's hand back. The cup was filling up. Now it is overflowing!"
But we have an ally not just in Jesus and His Blessed Mother, but also in the saints, specifically St. Michael who Pope Leo XIII gave special prominence to his key role in these times by penning the powerful Prayer to Saint Michael which can be found in our PRAYERS & DEVOTION SECTION in today's issue. Let us take those words to heart - "Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle." We are truly in a fierce battle, being assaulted on all fronts from natural disasters to unnatural disasters like abortion and immoralities that are abnormal. We cannot lay down our arms but must take up our weapons and fight for we are Soldiers of Christ, Crusaders for the cause, front-liners in the Church Militant. We ask St. Michael to "Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil." Unless we follow-up that plea by doing our part we are prey to the evil one. Even though Vatican II eliminated this powerful prayer from the end of the Masses, it is important to continue praying it not only after every Mass, but often throughout the day. The power of this prayer is potent in keeping lucifer at bay and fulfilling the prophecy contained at the end of this prayer - "...by the power of God, cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls." We know they are prowling and we know their time is growing shorter and shorter. As the Archmandrate Father Stephen Barham, who likens himself as the Catholics' Rush Limbaugh but has a sense of humor and resembles Jonathan Winters, always says: "How can we lose? We cheated and read the ending of the book. Guess what? We win!!!" But we can't be overconfident for nothing in this world or the next is gained easily without hard work and suffering. One look at our crucified Lord should affirm that. So until we are all happily united forever in the peaceful harmony of Heaven, we have no choice but to fight on and to slay all the dragons we can. Don't ever forget the words of Saint Peter in 1 Peter 5: 8-9, "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, knowing that the same suffering befalls your brethren all over the world." God's children are a close-knit family that should be concerned for each and every one of his children, especially those who are suffering at this time from the natural disasters of Hurricane Georges. Maybe you cannot help physically because of logistics or funds, but you can help immensely through prayer. We feel very strongly that many disasters have been mitigated and lessened because of prayer. On this day the feast of the archangels, with all the flooding in the southern United States, let's hope an ark doesn't have to be built. Then again, Noah could teach us all a thing or two about faith.