“St. Michael of September”: words and images

The nineth and the celebrations of September in honor of St. Michael have come to an end: an unusual feast, heavily conditioned by the emergence of the pandemic and the rules against the spread of the virus.

And, however, a celebration that was characterized even more by that scent of sacred, religious, faith and devotion, which made it intimate, destined for a very personal relationship between the faithful and the Archangel. 

St. Michael, teacher and prayer companion: this is what Father Mattia Skiba called it, when he gave a title to the reflections of the nine days that prepare for the Solidarity of September 29. Michelita, with a very empathetic style and with very deep content, emphasized the importance of prayer, not as a religious practice, perhaps detached from reality, but as a necessary nourishment for everyday life. 

“Prayer brings us closer to God, he makes us know his will”: commenting on the Word of the XXVI Sunday of Ordinary Time, Mons. Francesco Pio Tamburrino reinforced the theme of the nine, adding that “you must be able to say “yes” to the Lord and perform his will in concrete circumstances.” Presiding over the Celebration of 27 September, the Archbishop Emeritus of Foggia- Bovino inaugurated the solemn Micaeliian functions, consolidating his strong and ten-year relationship with the sanctuary of Gargano, for which, as abbot of Monte Virgin, he shared projects, work and spiritual intentions with the Benedictine community that guarded the Holy Cave.

Sunday ended with another “orante” appointment with a decidedly… young: the boys of Monte Sant’Angelo, in fact, animated with singing, with readings, with their presence the vigil of adoration in the Holy Cave. In front of the Holy Sacrament and the Archangel, they have laid down all their aspirations, dreams, fears, expectations for the life that awaits them.

September 28 is the day the City meets its Patron. In a sober and almost silent form, the government authorities first placed a wreath in front of the obelisk that recalls the fourth appearance and then participated in the Eucharistic Concelebration, during which the traditional rite of wax offering was perpetuated. This gesture has evidently expressed the desire of the entire population, entrusted to the intercession of the Archangel, to “shine”, to be alive and to find light in this world so full of darkness and shadows. “May you continue to enjoy the protection of the Archangel and be that light that basically illuminates not the Holy Cave, but somehow illuminates the path of this community free from conditioning that can mean the presence of evil in all its manifestations”: this is the wish that the Archbishop Emeritus of Lecce, Mons. Domenico D’Ambrosio, addressed to the faithful, mountaineers and strangers. , present and connected via streaming, during his homily.

On September 29, the Universal Church celebrates the great Archangel Michael.

The devotion to the Heavenly Prince touches, in fact, all the points of the Earth: especially in this pandemic time, the countless messages, the frequent online contacts, the incessant requests for prayer attest to the trusting recourse to Him who stands before God by Christians of every continent.

“St. Michael is an angel of peace, Minister of the Lord, victorious angel, protector towards those who are oppressed and weak, guide, triumphant, companion to the light, the angel who cries out the dignity of God”: paraphrasing the anthem composed of Mons. Marco Frisina, in the Divine Eucharist of the morning Mons. Franco Moscone outlined some attributes of the Archangel, “translating” them and representing them as concrete instruments. Since his inauguration, the Pastor of the Diocese of Manfredonia – Vieste – St. John Rotondo has shown great sensitivity and strong attention to the dignity of man and to the preservation of the territory, social and ecological. These themes were the subject of the reflection that the Archbishop shared during the Eucharistic Concelebration that took place in the afternoon, outdoors, in front of about a thousand faithful and live on television on the broadcaster Padre Pio TV: “I plead with the Archangel Michael so that, once freed from the grip of the coronavirus, the values of sharing and solidarity are kept alive; I implore the Archangel Michael to heal the heart of every devotee and gargantuan citizen with the scalpel of his sword, making him capable of listening, fraternal sensitivity and collaboration; I implore the Archangel Michael to help us create a more cohesive society and a Church more in the style of the gospel, a mother Church of hearts capable of generating relationships of love. Amen.

As has been tradition, the Eucharistic Celebration of 30 September represents the closing of the Celebrations but, above all, a moment of thanks: to God for giving the Archangel and for granting another opportunity to honor it; St. Michael,who continues to watch over his people; to the faithful, who with increasing faith and veneration have participated in the sacred functions; employees, volunteers, collaborators and benefactors of the Sanctuary who generously and committedly dedicate themselves to the service of God and pilgrims.  The Holy Mysteries were officiated by the Bishop of Cerignola – Ascoli Satriano, Mons. Luigi Renna, who returned to the Holy Cave after having ruled the Sipontino-Garganic Diocese as Apostolic Administrator before the appointment of Mons. Moscone.

Raffaele di Iasio

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