This is a sneak preview of the app reflection for Day One of St. Michael’s Lent from Exodus. Join the waitlist now by downloading the Exodus app.
Welcome to Day 1 of Saint Michael’s Lent.
If this is your first Exodus Spiritual Exercise, welcome–we’re thrilled that you would choose to join our brotherhood. Jesus calls us to live an uncommon freedom so that we might become who we truly are. And it’s our prayer that over the next 40 days of Saint Michael’s Lent, together we might be able to enjoy the fruits of that freedom through prayer, self-denial, and fraternity.
The tradition of Saint Michael’s Lent began in the Middle Ages, and grew in popularity especially through the influence of Saint Francis of Assisi. We’re all familiar with the 40-day period of penance leading up to Easter Sunday; Saint Michael’s Lent is a summertime Lent where we prepare our hearts for the Feast of Saint Michael, or Michaelmas Day, on September 29th.
Saint Michael has long been a special patron of Exodus and Exodus Men. In fact, Exodus was originally founded on Michaelmas Day in 2015, and we’re delighted to honor him through the revival of this spiritual practice. As we shall learn in the coming weeks, Saint Michael is the special guardian angel of all God’s people and is our ultimate wing man in slaying the dragons of sin in our lives and in our world.
For the next 40 days, we will be transported with Saint John to take a glimpse behind the veil as we follow his visions in the Book of Revelation. We will see the glory of heaven, the evil of the dragon, and to us many wonders will be revealed. This is a time to commit to fighting the battle of faith in the face of the enemy.
Saint Michael’s Lent begins each year on August 15th, the celebration of the Assumption of Mary. On this day, we honor the mystery of Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven. Jesus’s mother shares in his victory over death and this is a reality that we encounter in the book of Revelation when John is dazzled by a woman with the moon under her feet and clothed with the sun in chapter 12. Mary’s Assumption strengthens our own hope in the resurrection as we follow John’s journey beyond the confines of this world. We know that through Jesus’s victory, we too will share his resurrection.
We begin in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Let us remember that we are in the presence of a Holy God.
Be attentive the spiritual world that surrounds you; be attentive to God and the whole company of angels around his throne.
Take one minute of silence now, praying for God’s blessing on you, your family, fraternity, and all Exodus Men.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.
A Reading from the Book of Revelation
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Like Saint John, we are called to look beyond the material world. Through the Book of Revelation, God has pulled back the veil to teach us the true nature of reality. The spiritual world is much more real than the material, even though we are caught up in all the distractions of this passing world. Revelation tells us what will “soon” happen, but in a way that helps us to see the past, present, and future all at once. Some elements of the revelation to the churches have already happened, linked to the persecution of the early Christians. Other revelations speak to the nature of the life of the Church in the world, which is persecuted in every age and must battle to remain faithful to the Lord. Lastly, Revelation speaks about the future and the end of the world, when the perennial spiritual battle will overflow into a final cosmic conflict. At the very end, we will see the coming of Christ, who himself is the beginning and end.
What is our role in this battle? The opening of Revelation says that by freeing us from our sins, Jesus has made us into a kingdom of priests. He is the true king, the one who rules even as he permits the spiritual battle to continue throughout history. As priests, however, our role is to offer sacrifice. We do this through our prayers, of course, but our very lives need to become an offering. We must remove all impurity from them by directing all that we do to God. This requires focusing on prayer and penance.
The vision recorded in Revelation comes to John through an angel. Angels are entirely spiritual beings (with no bodies) who serve as ministers to God. We see them throughout the Bible serving in this way, bringing messages to the prophets, intervening to change the course of things (such as stopping Abraham’s knife), and executing God’s judgment. We see also that they are our own helpers. The archangel Raphael models this, especially in guiding the young Tobias on his journey to find a wife. Unfortunately, as we will see later in Revelation, there was a great fall of angels who rebelled against God. These fallen angels, the demons, seek to draw us into their rebellion. We find this at the beginning of human sin when the serpent led Eve into wanting to know for herself what was good and evil and disobeying the command of God.
This spiritual conflict reveals the true nature of evil to us as a rejection of the order God has instilled into his creation. This conflict involves hosts of good and bad angels, overflows to the kingdoms of the world, and takes place in each of us. We seek to imitate the faithfulness of God’s angels, refusing to follow Lucifer in his prideful self-worship. Like St. Francis of Assisi, we take St. Michael himself up as a model over these forty days, who triumphed over the legions of evil by being “like unto God,” the meaning of his name. By obedience to God, by living like him, and by loving what is truly good and sacrificing for it, we can triumph over the evil in our lives through God’s power.