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.
Specific Prayers for Spiritual Protection
- The most basic prayer for spiritual protection is the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel that used to be recited at the end of every Low Mass.
- The prayer that we used on the youth trip can be found at this article on DiscerningHearts.com
- The Lorica of St. Patrick (+ 461) I took from Lives of the Saints With Excerpts from their Writings, Fr. Joseph Vann, O.F.M., Ed. (New York, John J. Crawley & Co., Inc., 1954, pp. 119-121)
Lorica [Body Armor] of Saint PatrickI arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through a belief in the Threeness, Through a confession of the Oneness Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension, Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today Through the strength of the love of cherubim, In obedience of angels, In the service of archangels, In hope of resurrection to meet with reward, In prayers of patriarchs, In predictions of prophets, In preachings of apostles, In faiths of confessors, In innocence of holy virgins, In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today Through the strength of heaven; Light of sun, Radiance of moon, Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning, Swiftness of wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of earth, Firmness of rock.
I arise today Through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's hosts to save me From snares of devils, From temptations of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, Afar and anear, Alone and in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of women and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through a belief in the threeness, Through a confession of the oneness Of the Creator of Creation.