In his daily Tweet, Pope Francis is invoking the help of Saint Michael the Archangel to protect Christians from the devil’s traps.
Let us ask the help of Saint Michael the Archangel to defend us from the snares of the devil.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 29, 2015
On September 29, Catholics celebrate the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Saint Michael, whose name in Hebrew means “Who is like God?”, is depicted in the Bible as the commander of the heavenly host and the victor over Satan, who appears as a dragon. He is often shown in sacred art as standing over the devil, sword in hand, with one foot on the devil’s head.
The book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, describes the scene:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Pope Francis, more than any of his recent predecessors, seems never to miss an opportunity to preach about the devil.
Visiting with Harlem schoolchildren during his recent trip to the United States, the Pope departed from his prepared text to tell the students and their teachers that the devil is a killjoy who tries to spoil their dreams and destroy their happiness.
“All of you here, young and old, have the right to dream,” he said. “Where there are dreams, where there is joy, Jesus is always present. Always,” he said.
“On the other hand,” Francis asked the children, “who is the one who sows sadness, who sows distrust, who sows envy, who sows evil desires? What is his name?”
At this, some of the children answered quietly, and the Pope nodded.
“The devil, the devil!” he exclaimed. “The devil always sows sadness because he doesn’t want us happy. He doesn’t want us to dream.”
Since his election as Pope, Francis has encouraged Christians to believe in the existence of the devil and to resist his temptations.
Last October, in one of his homilies at morning Mass, Francis insisted that the devil “is not a myth” and that “we have to fight him.”
This generation, the Pope said, “was led to believe that the devil was a myth, a picture, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists, and we have to fight him. These are Saint Paul’s words, not mine!”
“The devil,” the Pope went on, “is a liar, the father of lies.”
The Pope has similarly praised the work of exorcists, priests dedicated to the work of deliverance and casting out demons.
Without faith, there is no going forward, Francis said. “We need this shield of faith” because “the devil doesn’t throw flowers at us” but “flaming arrows” to kill us, he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome