This past summer I attended a youth trip where the organizers had decided to pray a prayer for spiritual protection every day. There exist real forces of evil. Our Catholic faith clearly teaches that there are spirits that are opposed to God’s work in the world and that try to keep us from doing God’s will. A prayer for spiritual protection asks for protection against these forces, in many cases by invoking the good spirits that serve God faithfully, which we call angels. The chief of these good spirit protectors is the Archangel Michael.
At first I dismissed this idea as unnecessary and excessive. Outside of exorcisms and some weird haunted houses, evil spirits just don’t seem all that active. I was afraid we could develop an unhealthy focus on the presence of evil. As the trip unfolded I started to notice things. There was a lack of certain kinds of drama that often happen on these trips. Things were moving more smoothly than expected. And the youth seemed to be experiencing God’s love in a positive way.
The work of the enemy is most destructive when it is most subtle. A clear presence of evil, as is the case in exorcisms or demonic oppression, is easier to recognize and resist. It is harder to resist the little things, like lies and discouragements, that subtly undermine God’s work in our lives. By asking for protection every day, we are turning away from the Enemy and towards the God who loves us.
We shouldn’t fear evil. All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish a single candle. But we need to make a conscious effort every day to turn away from the darkness and towards the light. My daily routine now includes a prayer for spiritual protection written by St. Patrick. When I first read this prayer it seems ridiculously excessive. I’m pretty convinced now that St. Patrick knew what he was talking about. The forces of evil assault us every day in all kinds of ways that are barely noticeable. It seems foolish not to wear a little armor.Read More