• Yes, our school is still open as usual. Students return Sunday night at the regular time.
• Third Quarter Oral Exams are this week, March 16-20. Students are encouraged to study, parents are encouraged to pray!
• The Sacrament of Confirmation will be bestowed on those students who would like to receive it on Monday, April 27, at 5:30 PM, in the abbey church.
• Graduation will be on Memorial Day, May 25, at 2:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard. All are welcome to attend.
• Our next baseball games are March 17 (Tuesday) at Orange County Great Park [8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine, CA 92618], at 3:15 PM; and March 19 (Thursday) at St. Michael’s.
Lent is a battle, a struggle, a contest. This is how the Fathers and saints of the Church have often described Lent. It is a struggle against ourselves, of course, against our own sinfulness; but it is also a battle against our biggest enemy, the devil. In fact, you might recall that the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent recounts our Lord’s showdown with Satan, His temptation in the desert, where our Lord kicked Satan’s “derriere,” shutting him out 3-0.
Holy Mother Church reminds us again with today’s Gospel about the battle which continues to rage on. Once again we hear our Lord giving Satan the royal smack-down as He casts a demon out of a possessed person. Now, this is easy for our Lord, of course. He is the One Omnipotent God. The demons are just creatures. Powerful creatures, no doubt; but still just creatures. We did hear something rather strange, though, in today’s Gospel. Did you catch it? The Gospel said that, after being expelled from the person, devil wandered around through waterless places, looking to rest. What does that mean?
What is a waterless place? Where the waters of Baptism have not yet flowed or have been dried up, so to speak, by mortal sin. Water, remember, very often represents the Holy Spirit, which is, as it were, poured into our souls at the moment of Baptism. Those who have not been baptized are easy targets for the devil. No Baptism, no sanctifying grace, no presence of the Blessed Trinity, waterless spiritual deserts where the devil loves to wander.
So, this brings us to two great ways we can attack the devil ruthlessly, namely the sacraments and sacramentals. Remember what the sacraments are: External signs instituted by Christ which confer supernatural grace. Sacraments work automatically—ex opere operato, as we say; which means that as long as the person receiving them has the intention to receive them, they work. One of the dumbest things we can ever say about attending Mass or any other sacrament is, “Well, I don’t feel like I get much out of it.” How foolish! It doesn’t depend on us! It’s kind of like standing under a waterfall. As long as you stand there and don’t try to shield yourself from the water, you get soaked—soaked with grace. And when that grace flows into your soul, the devil and his demons flee.
That’s why the devil hates Lent. And oh how the devil hates Lent! Think about it: with so many throughout the world who are preparing at this time for Baptism, Confirmation, First Holy Communion; so many others returning to the state of grace through a good Confession. And traditionally, at the end of the Easter Season, at Pentecost, there are Ordinations to the Priesthood. Yes, the next 10 weeks or so are a treasury of sacraments. But in addition to the 7 sacraments, we have sacramentals.
Sacramentals are things or actions which the Church uses in a certain imitation of the Sacraments, in order, in virtue of her prayers, to achieve effects, above all those of a spiritual nature [1917 Code of Canon Law]. They are called sacramentals because they are “mini-sacraments” if you will, that is, they are similar to, though not exactly the same as a sacrament.
Sacramentals do not communicate sanctifying grace. They do remove obstacles to the receiving of sanctifying grace, and they do help dispose us to its reception. They don’t work automatically like the sacraments; rather they depend for their effects on the prayer of Mother Church and oftentimes on the disposition of the one using them as well. They are still very powerful, however, and should be used often: blessed objects, holy water, sacred images, scapulars, rosaries, blessed salt, and so on. If the sacraments are like nuclear bombs dropped on the devil, sacramentals are like bullets. So, fire away at those enemies of your soul and don’t ever stop.
Finally, during these difficult days where so many churches are being closed throughout the world because of the fear over the Corona Virus, we should try to make even more use of the sacraments and sacramentals on behalf of all those who don’t have access to them. Ultimately this is a spiritual battle. And the devil is so happy to see churches closing. So let’s do our part in this battle, hitting the devil with everything we got, so that he will be defeated once and for all and the Kingdom of Christ will reign in the hearts of all His children
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.