It was the end of July in 2014, and a cold front had blown in, making the morning delightfully crisp. I had been reading a book that a priest loaned to me on the sacraments, and I found myself with fewer and fewer arguments against our family going over to Rome. I decided that morning to mull over my thoughts and pray while taking the baby for a walk.
Not long after we moved to Boise in 2012, I bought The Catholic Home by Meredith Gould, a PhD who converted to Catholicism from Judaism. My hopes had been to adapt ideas from the book to make our Anglican home more liturgical, but my plan backfired, albeit in a slow, steady burn.
The kids and I had been praying in front of Planned Parenthood with our Catholic friends, which is where we learned to pray the rosary. Our peaceful pro-life group also prayed the Prayer of St. Michael. I used Gould's book to help me pray the rosary at home on my own, but I had trouble justifying praying to St. Michael by myself.
This is not because I didn't think St. Michael was important! One of my favorite feast days was Michaelmas (September 29, which also celebrates all three Archangels); I celebrated it with the kids from the time they were toddlers. It just seemed strange to me to ask an angel to defend me when Jesus could defend me Himself. But the more I thought of the saints and angels as friends, the easier it was to ask for their help, as I would any friend on earth.
Although the book from the priest was on the sacraments, it encouraged me in my love of the communion of saints . . . and the angels. So that morning, I brought The Catholic Home with me on my walk, deciding that I would go to a park bench and pray.
As I walked to our neighborhood park, which is acres of rolling hills and soccer fields, I told the Lord that if He didn't want me to pray to St. Michael, to please stop me or show me how I was wrong. My baby fell asleep on the way, and I settled on a bench atop a hill under a shade tree.
I prayed the Prayer of St. Michael, and no lightning bolts descended to show God's displeasure. I then prayed the rosary. Then I sat in blissful peace, until my baby woke up.
As we walked down the hill to the path through the park, I felt such a joy looking out across the empty fields. Then I spotted what looked like a small deer coming over a distant hill. My excitement over the deer turned to fear, because as it came closer it was obviously some sort of large dog. It was still far away, but it was aiming for us! Then I realized it was a coyote.
Coyotes had been found in our neighborhood a few weeks before, but I was told they would leave people alone. I kept thinking that this coyote would change course as I walked forward on the path, but he kept coming toward us. I prayed so hard, as I tried not to panic and keep a steady pace on the path. I looked around for help, but still, no one was in sight.
The coyote kept charging after us, and I began to wonder if it was time to stop and throw myself over my baby to protect her. I asked St. Michael to protect us, in a last desperate prayer, and the coyote suddenly jerked to an angle away from us. I wanted to break down in tears from relief, but I kept walking, not knowing if the coyote would try and come back for us. As we were leaving, groundskeepers finally came over the hill.
So with that, my friendship with St. Michael deepened. I began praying not only the St. Michael Prayer, but also the prayers to St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, each night over my family. One day, I decided to pray the prayers over my brother and his wife. The next day, when I told my brother, he asked me to keep doing that because they had had the most amazing day! Then I started praying the prayers nightly over others who were laid on my heart. Now, I pray the prayers over groups of family, friends, our bishop, priests, deacons, seminarians, and my co-workers.
I loved the angels when I was a child; so praying to them as an adult has been like finding old friends after a long time of being apart.
I ask St. Gabriel to help me when I need some extra strength for all kinds of things, from opening jars to lifting heavy boxes. I ask St. Raphael for healing and when extra comfort or direction is needed. I ask St. Michael's help for protection and also for healing--which is what his intercessions were known for in the ancient Church.
My copy of The Catholic Home became well-worn and eventually fell apart. These are the prayers as I pray them for memory. I'm sure you can look them up somewhere to get a more official translation of the Latin. When I pray them over a person or group of people, I substitute "us" for their names, and switch out the pronouns accordingly:
Prayer to St. Michael
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil,
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into Hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Prayer to St. Gabriel
Blessed St. Gabriel the Archangel
we ask that you intercede for us
at the throne of Divine Mercy.
As you announced the mystery of the Incarnation to Mary,
so through your prayers,
may we receive faith and courage, find favor with God,
and redemption through Christ our Lord.
May we sing the praises of God, our Savior,
with all angels and saints in heaven
forever and ever.
Prayer to St. Raphael
Blessed St. Raphael the Archangel
we ask that you help us
in all our needs and through life's trials.
As you through the power of God,
restored sight and gave guidance to Tobit,
we humbly seek your help and intercessions for us,
that our souls may be healed,
our bodies protected from all sickness,
and that through divine grace,
we may become fit to dwell
in the eternal glory of God in Heaven.
©2019 Emily Woodham