There were the thunderous booms -- fireworks, while we were at Mass.
There was the well, said to create miracles.
There was the sun, doing unusual things.
There was the woman who growled before our pilgrim Mass -- apparently possessed or at least oppressed, seeking help.
A volcano sent out steam on the horizon.
We speak here of one of the major -- perhaps in the top three -- shrines anywhere in the world dedicated to the Archangel Michael, whose feast day approaches. (One other is in Italy near San Giovanni; another on an island off France; below for nine-day novena leading up to it.)
Might we not anticipate and prepare in prayer the way the Mexicans do?
For that's where the shrine is -- at Navitas in the state of Tlaxcala, about two and a half hours from Mexico City -- and the fireworks were part of a weekend festival that, last week (9/11/16), is simply a revving up to the great feast day on the 29th: a prelude complete with food stands, little carnival rides, and souvenirs (each Sunday).
Think about it: they're celebrating the great Michael -- and for weeks!
For this where Michael is said to have appeared in 1631 -- a hundred years after Guadalupe -- to a seventeen-year-old youth, Diego Lazaro de San Francisco, as he participated in a procession imploring God's help in the midst, back then, of a horrifying plague.
When Michael appeared (in an apparition fully approved by the Church), he had said:
"You are to know that I am Saint Michael the Archangel, and I have come to tell you that it is the will of God and mine that you tell the inhabitants of this place, and everywhere abroad, that near a valley between two mountain ridges you will find a miraculous spring of water that will cure the people of their ills. You will find it beneath a great boulder. Do not doubt what I have told you and do not neglect what I have sent you to do."
But the young man doubted, and when he failed to do as instructed, he too was stricken with illness.
Then Michael appeared again.
And as Diego recounted, the great archangel "transported me to the place he had told me about before. With Saint Michael going before me through the night, everything was illuminated as the great prince passed, as if it were midday. Rocks and branches split apart as he passed, clearing a path for us. As we reached a certain spot, I saw Saint Michael holding a golden staff topped with a cross." (Who said there is not a devil under every rock?)
the place I touch with this staff you will see flowing the miraculous
spring I told you about during the procession," said the
archangel. "Make it clear to
everyone that the illness you have suffered is a fruit of your
"Having said this, a great whirlwind of deafening screams, wailing and moaning, as if a great crowd were being driven from the place," Diego further recalled. "I shook with fear. It seemed to me that the entire mountain ridge would tumble down on top of me during the turmoil."
"'Do not fear," Michael told Diego, "these are the sounds made by the demons, thine enemies, because they know the great benefits that through my intercession the faithful will receive in this place from Our Lord. Many, seeing the marvels worked here, will convert and do penance for their sins, and all will give thanks to God for His mercies. Those who approach this spring with lively faith and sorrow for their faults will, with the water from this spring, obtain relief in their sufferings and needs, and those at the point of death will find a comfort in these waters."
And so it was: a healing well, this one instituted by the archangel, was found when the villagers -- assisted by a radiant, mysterious stranger -- moved a boulder (impossibly) and found the spring!
When we visited, and had a Mass celebrated by our accompanying priest, Father David Trujillo, of the Salt Lake City area, it turned out, he later informed us, that just before the liturgy , two women had approached asking if he could bless a friend, a third woman, who, with glazed eyes, and clearly troubled, was with them.
Father Trujillo, a priest ordained just over a year ago, closed his eyes and began a prayer -- the blessing.
As he did, he told us, he heard the growl.
"I opened my eyes to look for a dog," explained the priest. "I was sure there was a dog there. It sounded like a dog and yet not quite a dog, with a gurgle."
No dog was there.
Instead, his eyes flew to the troubled woman (about thirty years old), who was now glaring -- glowering -- at him.
As the startled priest blessed her, the woman recoiled, as though shielding herself.
The same when two sacristans rushed for a bucket of Holy Water, which father then sprinkled on her.
For a young priest, quite an introduction to spiritual warfare! But what better place? (Afterwards, the woman's friends thanked him profusely and kissed his consecrated hands.)
As Father Trujillo witnessed, there is real power in a simple priestly blessing.
Quite a lesson for us all. Saint Michael is powerful. We recall a similar occurrence while visiting the famous cave of St. Michael in Italy (Monte Gargano, near San Giovanni; go there!) -- where another young and apparently possessed woman wailed as a priest prayed over her. Obviously, his shrines do this: cause real deliverance. And end plagues, as in Rome during the time of Gregory the Great.
Now, here comes September 29.
Remember a litany to the archangels [again, below].
And powder up the cannons.
It's time to both celebrate and seek Michael's potent intercession.
The volcano (a sign?) is Popocatepetl.
The fireworks, these days, in society, are all around us.
[At top, sun above church and well during Mass 9/11/16]
[resources: spiritual warfare books]