First Week of Lent

St. Michael and Spiritual Warfare

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 about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
— Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, St. Mark tells us that when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, "the angels ministered to him." We don't know for sure which angels came to his aid, but the odds are good that St. Michael was involved, or at least that he sent them.
St. Michael is one of the archangels, meaning he has a leadership role among the angels who concern themselves with human affairs. Specifically, Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies. Jesus has commissioned him and the angels under him to defend and protect the Church, individual Christians, and all people from attack by Satan and the demons. St. Michael and his angels also guide the souls of the just to heaven.
The Book of Revelation tells us that St. Michael led the fight against the fallen angels when they rebelled against God, casting them out of heaven. Therefore, St. Michael is most often depicted as a winged, armored warrior pinning Satan to the ground with a sword or spear. He is also seen in images holding the scales divine justice that measure the lives of the dead in images of the Last Judgment.
Veneration of St. Michael goes back to biblical times and continued in the early Church through to today. This Lent, let's get in the habit of calling on him to defend us from our spiritual enemies.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.