What happens when we die? And what does the Archangel Michael have to do with our life after death? The Catholic Church teaches through the mass prayers, Her prayers for the dying, and through the lives of the saints that St. Michael has been given a very important role both during and after our death.
In the Offertory for the Mass for the Dead we pray, “May the standard bearer, St. Michael lead them into the holy light,” while in the Mass for the Dead hymn we sing, “I have established thee Prince over all souls that are to be received into My Kingdom.” Similarly when a soul is dying in peace or in agony, when a soul is in its last battle with Satan and all his minions, the Catholic Church prays this special prayer for St. Michael’s intercession to aid the dying in the “Commending A Departing Soul Unto God”:
Let him/her be welcomed by St. Michael, the archangel of God who has deserved to hold first place among the heavenly host. May the holy angels of God come to meet him/her and lead him/her into the heavenly city, Jerusalem. May he/she be received by the blessed apostle, Peter, to whom God has entrusted the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”(Roman Ritual)
St. Alphonsus Liguori shares a testimony of a very sinful man who refused to convert and repent but rather remained obstinate in his belief and sin. At his death bed full of agony and suffering, he still had a little bit of devotion to St. Michael so God allowed for St. Michael to appear to him and he converted at St. Michael’s recommendation. Soon after two priests sent by a stranger arrived on time to hear his confession, give him Holy Communion, and last rites.
Saint Louis de Montfort teaches in the “Secret of the Rosary” through the life miracles of St. Dominic, other saints and his that it is St. Michael who holds the scales when we go before God. Saint Louis de Montfort provides a couple of examples where each time Our Lady comes to the aid of a person condemned to hell, but not before St. Michael weighs the fruitfulness/fruitlessness of their life,
“Saint Michael put all her penances and other prayers on one side of the scales and all her sins and imperfections on the other.The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections.”
Tradition tells us that St. Michael is the “Guardian of Purgatory” and that he holds “The Keys of Purgatory.” In the life of mystics St. Michael is often seen sending his angels to console souls in purgatory by sprinkling them with the Precious Blood. St. Michael is also seen escorting souls from purgatory into heaven. At other times like on First Saturday, Our Lady comes to release souls from purgatory. Three great saints and doctors of the Catholic Church also concur St. Michael’s intercession and consolation of the souls of purgatory,
St. Robert Bellarmine
“It is incontestably recognized since the foundation of Christianity that the souls of the faithful departed are delivered from Purgatory through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel.”
“The Prince of the Heavenly militia is all-powerful in Purgatory, and he can assist the poor souls whom the justice and sanctity of the Almighty retain in this place of punishment.”St. Anselm
St. Alphonsus Liguori
St. Michael has received the care of consoling and helping the Souls in Purgatory.”
This also aligns with one of the early church writings called Apocalypse of Paul which explains how a soul was lifted up in a vision into the heavenly abodes:
“Behold! A river with its waters. I say to the angel, ‘what is it?’ he answers, ‘if anyone is impure or unholy, but repentant, once he has left his body behind, he is led forward first to adore God, and then by the command of the Lord he is handed over to the Angel Michael, who baptizes him in the river and then leads him to the city of God.’”(Apoc., Paul 22.)
In the book St. Michael and the Angels testimonies from holy monks explain how one holy monk offered mass for a friend recommending his soul to St. Michael and how the priest was able to see the soul escorted from purgatory into heaven by St. Michael the Archangel. In another testimony a priest offers mass also in honor of St. Michael for several souls but adds the prayer, “May the Prince of Angels, St Michael, lead them into the glory of Heaven,” and he is able to see St. Michael descend from heaven into purgatory to deliver the souls.
This coming day of the Holy Souls, let us invoke the intercession of St Michael for the souls in Purgatory; offering especially those prayers (20 Ways to Pray for Souls) adorned with indulgences as when we visit a cemetery from November 1-8 or the prayer that Our Lord taught St. Gertrude the Great which releases 1,000 souls from their suffering in purgatory:
“Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home, and in my family. Amen.”
Read the other parts of the series
Angels & Dragons VI –“Set the Oppressed Free!” (Luke 4:18)
Angels & Dragons VII – Transferences
Angels & Dragons X –St. Faustina’s Battles
Angels & Dragons XI –“Michael the Archangel will Arise.” (Dn.12:1)
Angels & Dragons XII –Angels & Dragons XII: St. Michael’s Flaming Sword!
Angels & Dragons XIII –The Glorious Michaelmas!