“St. Michael’s Lent” is upon us again

NOTE: This post is reblogged from last year and edited with some additions. Last year’s post was also a ‘reblog’ and edited from the prior version.)

Coming up on August 15th is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. It is also the beginning of a Franciscan devotion known as “St. Michael’s Lent.” It is a 40-day period of fasting begun by St. Francis of Assisi in the 1220’s similar in practice to the actual Lenten season. It ends September 29th on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. It was during one of these fasts in 1224 that St. Francis received the stigmata.

I looked up this observance online, didn’t find much beyond what I stated above (the following is from an informative webpage that I referred a few years ago but is now a broken link.) “‘In the writings of St. Francis, such as the Volterra text (Letter to All the Faithful) which is included in The Rule of the SFO, we are reminded again and again that Franciscans are called to be penitents, to pray and fast. For these reasons this ancient tradition is important to us. St. Michael’s Lent is a period of 40 days, honoring Mary and St. Michael the Archangel. It begins on the Feast of the Assumption and ends on The Feast of the Archangels.

“[H]e wished along with the most faithful Brothers . . . to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (August 15) and then prepare himself by a forty days’ fast for the Feast of St. Michael (September 29). In common with the rest of the people of the Middle Ages, Francis nourished a special devotion to this Archangel, signifer santus Michaelis, the standard-bearer of the Heavenly Host, and the one who with his trumpet was to wake the dead in their graves on the last day . . . .” (St. Francis of Assisi by Jorgensen)’”

(Via Our Lady of the Pearl.) Perhaps the keepers of that site can resurrect that page?

You can just observe a fast of sorts (food or bad habit/character defect, etc.) and whatever other penitential practices you can think of.

Fr. Richard Heilman of the Roman Catholic Man site has posted some very useful devotions that you can use throughout this ‘season.’ Please go here: St. Michael’s Lent Prayers and Devotions

I do believe that it is significant that this period begins and ends when it does. The Solemnity of the Assumption is observed because as Mary was preserved from Original Sin in her conception, she was bodily assumed into Heaven when her mortal period of time on Earth was over, thus preserving her from the corruption of death. St. Michael was the champion and leader of the blessed angels in their battle against Lucifer and his demons in the Fall of the Angels, and in his victory cast Satan out of Heaven. We can gain strength from this observance in our struggles against drinking and drugging, and especially against sins of impurity. Instead of fasting from food, one can “fast” our eyes from images that can trigger lust. It is summertime, and people have the habit of wearing little clothing. Fasting with your eyes means turning your gaze away from provactively dressed people. If you are anxious and stressed about material things and current events (and what isn’t stressful nowadays?) You can perhaps “fast” from anxiety. Turn the news off; avoid news websites for a few days. I vanish from the Internet for several days at a time, or at least from social networks. Easier said than done, but such actions are possible. The world will thrive or suffer just as well with or without your attention! No wonder Satan uses impurity and addictions and fear in his ongoing war against those made in the image and likeness of God.

So, go back and grab your Lenten devotional books and whatever else; read, study and meditate on the Passion narratives in the Gospels, perhaps even try and read the Daily Mass readings from the past Lent (available on the USCCB site, just use the Calendar to navigate back to Lent). If I may, there’s always Sober Catholic’s Lenten post archive Or just use Fr. Heilman’s material I linked to above.

(Just in case anyone counts the number of days from Aug. 15 to Sept. 29, you’ll get “46.” Don’t count the six Sundays that occur and you’ll get the forty. Sundays aren’t considered a part of any Lenten observance.)

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)