Words for Michaelmas

A Reflection on the Revelation to John 12

Georgian Icon of St. Michael 

In our time, we are asked to face evil more consciously than ever before. It is more than overwhelming; this is a task we are only at the beginning stages of being able to meet.

If we live into the numerous manifestations of evil in the daily news, we can lose ourselves in the number of events in which human beings act reprehensibly towards one another and the earth, and the horrible variety therein. To enter into these pictures unprotected, we might become overcome by fear and the feeling of powerlessness the face of it all.

Another alternative is to turn away from it, to lose ourselves in the distractions of the happy life, to be like the bird that sinks its head into the sand in order to hide from the world. We can do this in many ways—be they earthly or spiritual distractions.

There is also a middle path—to enter into the world with attention but also to pay attention to myself; to notice when I am feeling powerless and to seek a way, before taking anything else in, of creating some agency in the face of whatever is overwhelming me.  I can always do something. What can I do right now to bring some light, some truth, some understanding, some compassion, some kindness into the world, in response to an expression of evil which I may not be able to directly change? It is important, more than anything else, to find one’s own sovereignty in the face of those beings who would disempower and enslave the human being through overwhelm, fear, or hatred. We can do this in the smallest of steps. There is always something that can be done that brings some good into the world, and this act makes me stronger. Even the smallest act can have a great effect in the soul, building up strength to take on ever greater things.

The Act of Consecration of Man is celebrated for this reason, to be enacted as a deed which makes us stronger and more human and more ourselves in the face of evil. It is a most powerful act of uniting ourselves with the forces of the Good:

The Archangel Michael, who has battled against the adversarial powers for a very long time, now recognizes a new power in the human being. He steps forward, and makes a gesture which can be called a decisively Christian gesture. To the human being he makes the gesture of beckoning us to follow him. This delicate gesture recognizes our integrity and the necessity for us to act in freedom when we follow him. The adversarial powers wish to overwhelm us so that we are not free but enslaved to them. Michael wishes for us to find a connection with the true source of our strength and becoming: the Mystery of Golgotha. This mystery is open to us. We can ponder it, we can enter into it in contemplation, we can feel its pictures, aiming to understand for ourselves most personally how a God came to earth to become human like us, gave of himself completely to us, united himself with our future becoming and the becoming of the earth.

It is our task to be here with him, and to be ever more present here. We are to christianize the earth with him, to make it a home for the spirit, for freedom, for truth, for compassion, conscience and ultimately for love. To walk with Christ is to practice walking the middle way.