On October 13th, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about ten minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from his chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere. When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices – two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord:
“I can destroy your Church.”
The gentle voice of the Lord:
“You can? Then go ahead and do so.”
To do so, I need more time and more power.”
“How much time? How much power?”
75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
“You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
That was Pope Leo's vision in 1884. Satan said that he needed between 75 and 100 years. 75 years onto 1884 brings us to 1959 (incidentally, the year of my ordination!) and in the January of that year Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council. Just about the first thing to come from the deliberations of the Council Fathers, which began in earnest in 1963, was the abandonment in 1964 of the Leonine Prayers, the prayers at the end of Mass which called St Michael to the aid of the Church on earth.
In the years from 1959 to 1984, judge for yourselves whether Satan has kept his promise to destroy the Lord’s Church. Of course, the Lord’s Church can never be destroyed altogether. But, ask yourself, if you are old enough to remember, were parish churches fuller in 1984 (and since) than in 1959? What happened to parish societies, like the SVP and the Legion of Mary, in that time? Has the Church been more united in worship? Are we more united in doctrine than ever before, or is everyman his own Pope now?
One particular loss of belief which we have suffered is the belief in Satan and his awful army of devils who seek to destroy our spiritual life with God. I love to say the Leonine Prayers whenever I can, and I hope and pray that some day they will be re-instated at the end of every Mass which is celebrated.