St. Michael’s Lent

Are you looking to grow in holiness? Are you tired? run down? No zing in your prayer life? Well, here’s an ever ancient spiritual practice which is growing ever new as people rediscover it – and it might be just for you.

St. Francis of Assisi, wonderful saint that he was in his exemplary life here on Earth, had a devotion to St. Michael. So much so that he decided to observe a separate period of Lent leading up to St. Michael’s Feastday which is September 27th.

It just so happens that 40 days before this is the Feast of the Assumption, which happily coincided with his great devotion to the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ who, being the Mother of God, also led an exemplary life here on Earth.

Br. Bugnolo, over at the Franciscan archives, has a lot to say about this devotion. See, we’re all called to live the ‘evangelical counsels’, which are the counsels that come to us from the Gospels – the life of Christ.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (§207 # 2) and the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church (§873) “remind us that within both the clergy and the laity ‘there exist Christian faithful who are consecrated to God in their own special manner and serve the salvific mission of the Church through the profession of the evangelical counsels.’”

If it helps, think of poverty as “blessed poverty”, as referred to by St. Clare, spiritual sister of St. Francis. Poverty does not mean squalor and/or sleeping on cardboard (unless you’re out to live a remarkably ascetic life.)

Via Brother Bugnolo:

SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, the humble and devout founder of the Order of Friars Minor, is known for many of hisvirtues and for his great and ardent love for Christ Crucified. However, St. Francis’ devotion to St. Michael the Archangel is scarcely known. Even among many books written by his sons, it is usually only a footnote, as it were, in the history of the events leading to his reception of the stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the morning of September 14, 1224 A. D..
You can read more about St. Francis’ stigmata in the wonderfully inspiring book, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, also known by its Italian title, The Fioretti of St. Francis.

This “footnote” regarding St. Francis’ devotion to St. Michael consists in this: that St. Francis received the stigmata while making a 40 day fast, or Lent, in honor of the noble Archangel, and that, in the hermitage of Mt. La Verna, north of
Arezzo, in the province of Tuscany, Italy.

Other that this note, little is said about why that great founder and saint was making such a long fast in honor of St. Michael, and why on Mt. La Verna.

Mindful of my duty as a son of St. Francis, I consider it a duty to tell one and all something about in what consists devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, and why this is so important to the life of every Catholic.

First, we must understand that in the Christian life, there are two fundamental aspects: that is the Christian life, considered simply, and the Christian life considered as the way of perfection. Considered simply, the Christian life is a life which begins with faith, that is, with believing all that the Holy Roman Catholic Church believes and professes, according to the infallible, authentic magisterium; and continues with the observance of all the Commandments, the keeping of the Precepts of the Church, and the regular and devout reception of the Sacraments. With the assistance of daily prayer, the good offices of devout priests and religious, and the practices of certain simple devotions, such a Christian life, with God’s assistance leads to eternal life.

However, Christian life, in the more stricter sense of the pursuit of the way of perfection, is a life-long exercise requiring from each Catholic something more: that is a habitual attention and a quest for greater understanding, for the sake of a more devout and faithful service of God Almighty.

The way of perfection is not something merely for religious, or for those who consider themselves apt for it; because the way of perfection is that form of Christian life which greatly increases the spiritual safety of the one who practices it; greatly increases growth in grace and all virtue; greatly promotes the sanctification of the soul and body; greatly defends against the wiles of all the enemies of God, demons and men.

For this reason, the Christian life, understood simply, cannot be lived in every circumstance by one who ignores the Christian life, understood as the way of perfection.

For this reason, those err greatly, who believe that they can be faithful Catholics without putting into practice in some manner, suitable to their own state in life, the evangelical counsels which Our Lord Jesus Christ gave for the sanctification of each and every Catholic: the counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, which are the fundaments of the vows of religion taken by nearly all monks and religious and hermits.

This is because the Christian Life, in any sense of the word, must be something living, because there is no life, without growth and development.”

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us. +

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