Friday, September 29, 2017

Michael the Defender; Satan the Accuser
Today's Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (the only three angels given personal names in the Bible) brings the optional first reading from Revelation 12: the story of the fall of the angels, led by "huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world."

It doesn't take much to imagine this mortal enemy of ours "prowling through the world, seeking the ruin of souls" in particular through ill-conceived media productions that continue to mislead, deceive and entrap the unwary or the careless. But there is another way that the enemy entraps us, and it is very, very clever.

Satan gets us to do his own work. He, "the accuser of the brethren," foments judgment, blame, accusation. This ploy works especially well with people who are concerned about doing good. It makes their own lives the measure of righteousness, so that whatever seems to diverge from that norm comes under suspicion. 

That "hermeneutic of suspicion" produces a trail of unlovely thoughts and resentful feelings. It may express itself in cool and cutting commentary or in sincere but ill-begotten fraternal correction. It doesn't matter where the truth lies: for Satan, what counts is keeping his victims looking outward, accusing one another. If this is done by means of social media with its capacity for exponential diffusion, all the better.

I assume that today many people will encounter the traditional Prayer to St Michael ("defend us in battle!"). Here's a prayer you may not have encountered before, to St Gabriel, the patron of audio-visual media. (It is, you may have guessed, by Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family!):

To St. Gabriel the Archangel

         Father in heaven, I thank you for having chosen St. Gabriel from among the angels to bear the message of the Incarnation and Redemption of humanity. Mary accepted the tidings with faith, and your Son became incarnate and, by dying on the cross, redeemed all people.
         But the majority of people still have not received the message of salvation.
         St. Gabriel, patron of audio-visual media, implore Jesus Master that the Church may use these powerful means to preach the divine truth to be believed, to indicate the way to be followed.
         May these gifts of God serve to uplift and save everyone.
         May they never be employed for the spread or error or the ruin of anyone!
         May everyone openly receive the message of Jesus Christ.
         St. Gabriel, pray for us and for the apostolate of communications. Amen.

1 comment:

Rae Stabosz said...

Bravo! Excellent post for today's feast. And how true is your description of the hermeneutic of suspicion. Our Church is infected with it, like a cancer.