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Speaking to the Soul: Michaelmas

Speaking to the Soul: Michaelmas

by Laurie Gudim

 

It seems like everybody is afraid, these days.  I know I am – afraid of the polarization in this country, of the escalating racism that is leading us to commit untold atrocities and of the ignorance worn like a badge of courage on the breasts of decent people.

To reach for assistance with the roiling anxiety that freezes me and makes me want to bar my doors and windows, I’ve stepped up my prayer life.  Both intercessory prayer and contemplative prayer help me sink into that place where God dwells and where we all belong together, no matter our differences.  It helps me remember that, no matter what, we are linked through that “room” in our souls where we are one with The Holy One.

One of my spiritual disciplines is praying with icons.  I have a mystical family of saints, the icons who are windows to the realm of heaven.  Gazing at them, I find a deep equilibrium.  They teach me, beckon me and heal me.

But lately I’ve been feeling the need for a little more muscle.  I’ve found myself reaching beyond the simple, prayerful folk who usually receive my veneration to a fierce and mighty presence.  I’ve needed a messenger.  I’ve needed a being whose incisive vision and vigilant steadfastness can confront the spirits whispering diabolic nonsense into our ears.  So I have been praying to the Archangel Michael.

St. Michael is a dragon-killer, the agent responsible for ousting Lucifer from heaven.  Fiercely protective of the innocent, he is a no-nonsense adversary of evil in all its forms.  I imagine him teasing out the evil spirits – creatures I imagine to be like C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape – who whisper in our ears and lead us into combative distrust.  “Come with your mighty, flaming sword,” I pray.  And by that I mean that I hope the light as well as the cutting edge of that blade can dispatch the demons who plague us.

(How did they get such a strong hold on us?  What do we most need?)

It is especially appropriate to pray to St. Michael today, as it is Michaelmas, the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels.  Today is one of the Quarter Days in the Anglican tradition.  Near the fall equinox (in the Northern Hemisphere), it marks that moment before the plunge into the short hours of daylight and long night hours of winter.  It is the end of the harvest season and the beginning of a more introverted time.

In the days ahead may we continue to witness as we are called to in these dangerous and frightening times.  And may St. Michael guard us, keep us safe, and scatter the devils who surround us, whispering in our ears.

 


 

Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO.  You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.

 

 

Image: St Michael’s Victory over the devil by Jacob Epstein at Coventry Cathedral

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Father Ron Smith

As a former citizen of Coventry, U.K., I recognize the lovely sculpture of St. Michael on the wall of my home Cathedral. A wonderful testimony to God's power at work in Creation.

Tonight, as Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Christchurch, New Zealand, we concelebrated the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels with great solemnity, in common with the saints and angels of the Church on earth and in heaven. We are conscious of our bonds of fellowship with our sisters and brothers in Christ around the world.

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Laurie Gudim

I'm so delighted you posted! I love to imagine all of us, globe-wide, stepping into our relationship with the Angels in prayer and celebration.

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Gregory Orloff

Laurie, thanks for touching on the fact that we Christians live in fellowship with angels and saints before us as well as fellow believers here and now. As the author of Hebrews reminds us:

"You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel."

(Hebrews 12:22-24)

The Bible bears witness to that living, inspiring fellowship, spanning heaven and earth, which the "Just me and Jesus" crowd too often overlooks.

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Leslie Marshall

Laurie, take heart, Jesus the Good Shepherd is the one who hears our prayers, which are worship to Him.

Angels are servants of God, not to be worshipped or bowed down to, or prayed to, or feared.

"Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his un-spiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.' [col2.18-19.]

'I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" [rev22.8-9.]

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