The glorious Archangel appears today at the head of the heavenly army: There was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels. (Apocalypse 12:7) In the sixth century, the dedication of the churches of St. Michael on Monte Gargano and in the Roman Circus increased the celebrity of this day, which had however been long before consecrated by Rome to the memory of all the heavenly Virtues.
The east commemorates on the sixth of September an apparition of the victorious Prince at Chone (ancient Collossæ) in Phrygia; while the eighth of November is the solemnity of the angels, corresponding to our feast of today, and bearing the title: “Synaxis of Saint Michael prince of the heavenly host, and of the other spiritual Powers.” Although the term synaxis is usually applied only to religious assemblies here…
This is the true story of a Marine wounded in Korea in 1950. Writing to his mother, he told her of a fascinating encounter he experienced in the war. Father Walter Muldy, a U.S. Navy chaplain who spoke to the young Marine and his mother as well as to the outfit commander, always affirmed the veracity of this narrative.
We heard it from someone who read the original letter and retell the story here in all its details and in the first person to better convey some of the impact it must have had when first told by the son to his mother.
I am writing to you from a hospital bed. Don’t worry, Mom, I am okay. I was wounded, but the doctor says that I will be up in no time.
But that’s not what I have to tell you, Mom. Something happened to me that I don’t dare tell anyone else for fear of their disbelief. But I have to tell you, the one person I can confide in, though even you may find it hard to believe.
You remember the prayer to Saint Michael that you taught me to pray when I was little: “Michael, Michael of the morning,…” Before I left home for Korea, you urged me to remember this prayer before any confrontation with the enemy. But you really didn’t have to remind me, Mom. I have always prayed it, and when I got to Korea, I sometimes said it a couple of times a day while marching or
Well, one day, we were told to move forward to scout for Commies. It was a really cold day. As I was walking along, I perceived another fellow walking beside me, and I looked to see who it was.
He was a big fellow, a Marine about 6’4” and built proportionally. Funny, but I didn’t know him, and I thought I knew everyone in my unit. I was glad to have the company and broke the silence between us:
“Chilly today, isn’t it?” Then I chuckled because suddenly it seemed absurd to talk about the weather when we were advancing to meet the enemy.He chuckled too, softly.
“I thought I knew everyone in my outfit,” I continued, “ but I have never seen you before.”
“No,” he agreed, “I have just joined. The name is Michael.”
“Really?! That’s mine, too.”
“I know,” the Marine said, “Michael, Michael of the morning….”
Mom, I was really surprised that he knew about my prayer, but I had taught it to many of the other guys, so I supposed that the newcomer must have picked it up from someone else. As a matter of fact, it had gotten around to the extent that some of the fellows were calling me “Saint Michael.”
Then, out of the blue, Michael said, “There’s going to be trouble ahead.”
I wondered how he could know that. I was breathing hard from the march, and my breath hit the cold air like dense clouds of fog. Michael seemed to be in top shape because I couldn’t see his breath at all. Just then, it started to snow heavily, and soon it was so dense I could no longer hear or see the rest of my outfit. I got a little scared and yelled, “Michael!” Then I felt his strong hand on my shoulder and heard his voice in my ear, “It’s going to clear up soon.”
It did clear up, suddenly. And then, just a short distance ahead of us, like so many dreadful realities, were seven Commies, looking rather comical in their funny hats. But there was nothing funny about them now; their guns were steady and pointed straight in our direction.
“Down, Michael!!” I yelled as I dove for cover. Even as I was hitting the ground, I looked up and saw Michael still standing, as if paralyzed by fear, or so I thought at the time. Bullets were spurting all over the place, and Mom, there was no way those Commies could have missed at that short distance. I jumped up to pull him down, and then I was hit. The pain was like a hot fire in my chest, and as I fell, my head swooned and I remember thinking, “I must be dying…” Someone was laying me down, strong arms were holding me and laying me gently on the snow. Through the daze, I opened my eyes, and the sun seemed to blaze in my eyes. Michael was standing still, and there was a terrible splendor in his face. Suddenly, he seemed to grow, like the sun, the splendor increasing intensely around him like the wings of an angel. As I slipped into unconsciousness, I saw that Michael held a sword in his hand, and it flashed like a million lights.
Later on, when I woke up, the rest of the guys came to see me with the sergeant.
“How did you do it, son?” he asked me.
“Where’s Michael?” I asked in reply.
“Michael who?” The sergeant seemed puzzled.
“Michael, the big Marine walking with me, right up to the last moment. I saw him there as I fell.”
“Son,” the sergeant said gravely, “you’re the only Michael in my unit. I hand-picked all you fellows, and there’s only one Michael. You. And son, you weren’t walking with anyone. I was watching you because you were too far off from us, and I was worried.
Now tell me, son,” he repeated, “how did you do it?”
It was the second time he had asked me that, and I found it irritating.“
How did I do what?”
“How did you kill those seven Commies? There wasn’t a single bullet fired from your rifle.”
“Come on, son. They were strewn all around you, each one killed by a swordstroke.”
And that, Mom, is the end of my story. It may have been the pain, or the blazing sun, or the chilling cold. I don’t know, Mom, but there is one thing I am sure about. It happened.
Wenceslas recalls to us the entrance into the Church of a warlike nation, the Czechs, the most indomitable of the Slavonic tribes, which had penetrated into the very midst of Germany. It is well known with what bitterness and active energy this nation upholds its social claims, as though its struggle for existence in the early days of its history had made it proof against every trial. The faith of its apostles and martyrs, the Roman faith, will be the safeguard as it is the bond of union of the countries subject to the crown of St. Wenceslas. Heresy, whether it be the native Hussite or the Reform, imported from Germany can but lead the people to eternal ruin; may they never yield to the advances and seductions of schism! Wenceslas, the martyr grandson of the holy martyr Ludmilla, and great uncle of the monk bishop and martyr Adalbert, invites…
The Office of the Time gives us, at the close of September, the Books of Judith and Esther. These heroic women were figures of Mary, whose birthday is the honor of this month, and who comes at once to bring assistance to the world.
“Adonai, Lord God, great and admirable, who hast wrought salvation by the hand of a woman:” the Church thus introduces the history of the heroine who delivered Bethulia by the sword, whereas Mardochai’s niece rescued her people from death by her winsomeness and her intercession. The Queen of heaven, in her peerless perfection, outshines them both, in gentleness, in valor, and in beauty. Today’s feast is a memorial of the strength she puts forth for the deliverance of her people.
Finding their power crushed in Spain and in the East, checked by the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, the Saracens, in the twelfth century, became wholesale pirates…
In 1517 a cruel blow fell upon the great Augustinian family; Luther, one of its members, raised the cry of revolt which was to be echoed for centuries by every passion. But the illustrious Order, which had unwittingly nurtured this child of evil, was none the less acceptable to God; and He deigned, before long, to demonstrate this, for the consolation of institutes whose very excellence exposes unworthy subjects to more dangerous falls. It was at the First Vespers of All Saints that Luther broached, at Wittenburg, his famous theses against indulgences and the authority of the Roman Pontiff; within a month, on November 25 of the same year, Thomas of Villanova pronounced his vows at Salamanca, and filled up the place left vacant by the heresiarch. Amid the storms of social disorder, and the noise of the world’s disturbances, the glory rendered by one saint to the ever-tranquil Trinity…
The twentieth of September marks one of the saddest events in history. At the height of her power, in the glorious days of Pepin and Charlemagne, the eldest daughter of the Church had crowned her mother; and the Church, in the person of her Head, reigned in reality, as well as by right until, a thousand years later, Satan took advantage of the fallen state of France, to despoil Peter of the patrimony which ensured his independence. The holy Cross is still shedding its rays upon us!
Today a group of martyrs, and this time a whole family—father, mother, and sons—take up their position around the standard of salvation. While the antiquity of their cultus in both East and West rests on the best authority, the details of their life are extremely vague. Could Placid the tribune, whose exploits are recorded by Josephus in his Wars of the Jews, (Josephus, 3:3,
For the third time this year, Holy Church comes claiming from her children the tribute of Penance, which, from the earliest ages of Christianity, was looked upon as a solemn consecration of the Seasons. The historical details relative to the institution of the Ember Days will be found on the Wednesdays of the third week of Advent and of the first week of Lent; and on those same two days, we have spoken of the intentions which Christians should have in the fulfilment of the demand made upon their yearly service.
The beginnings of the Winter, Spring, and Autumn quarters were sanctified by abstinence and fasting, and each of them, in turn, has witnessed heaven’s blessing falling upon their respective three months; and now, Autumn is harvesting the fruits, which divine mercy, appeased by the satisfactions made by sinful man, has vouchsafed to bring forth from the bosom of the…
While, in France, the rising spirit of Jansenism was driving God from the hearts of the people, a humble son of St. Francis, in Southern Italy, was showing how easily love may span the distance between earth and heaven. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself, said Our Lord (John 12:32); and time has proved it to be the most universal of his prophecies. On the feast of the holy Cross, we witnessed its truth, even in the domain of social and political claims. We shall experience it in our very bodies on the great day, when we shall be taken up in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:16) But Joseph of Cupertino had experience of it without waiting for the resurrection: innumerable witnesses have borne testimony to his life of continual ecstasies, wherein he…
The great Patriarch of Assisi will soon appear a second time in the holy Liturgy, and we shall praise God for the marvels wrought in him by divine grace. The subject of today’s feast, while a personal glory to St. Francis, is of greater importance for its mystical signification.
The Man-God still lives in the Church by the continual reproduction of his mysteries in this his Bride, making her a faithful copy of himself. In the thirteenth century, while the charity of the many had grown cold (Collect of the feast), the divine fire burned with redoubled ardor in the hearts of a chosen few. It was the hour of the Church’s passion; the beginning of that series of social defections, with their train of denials, treasons and derisions, which ended in the proscription we now witness. The Cross had been exalted before the eyes of the world: the Bride…
O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow! Is this, then, the first cry of that sweet babe whose coming brought such pure joy to our earth? Is the standard of suffering to be so soon unfurled over the cradle of such lovely innocence? Yet the heart of mother Church has not deceived her; this feast, coming at such a time, is ever the answer to that question of the expectant human race: What shall this child be?
The Savior to come is not only the reason of Mary’s existence, he is also her exemplar in all things. It is as his Mother that the Blessed Virgin came, and therefore as the Mother of sorrows; for the God, whose future birth was the very cause of her own birth, is to be in this world a Man of…