Msgr. Eric R. Barr: The Return of Michaelmas: Why We Need St. Michael the Archangel

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By Msgr. Eric R. Barr, STL, Catholic Exchange, September 27, 2019

Joe Roddy is the Irish captain of a small boat that takes a dozen very lucky tourists out to sea. Their destination is a rock called Skellig Michael. It is an island eight miles off the southwestern coast of Ireland. 

When they arrive at the dock, he asks them if they know why the island is famous. One unfortunate pipes up and says, “Of course. This is where Star Wars: The Last Jedi was filmed.” 

A priest sitting at the entrance to a cell on Skellig Michael, circa 1890-1910 via National Library of Ireland / Flickr

Resisting the urge to keel-haul the star-struck landlubber, Captain Roddy patiently explains that the island has been dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel for the past fifteen hundred years, and it’s also the site of an ancient monastery of the same name. Moderns may have forgotten those facts in lieu of Hollywood movie trivia, but clueless tourists can still feel drawn to holy places. Even the most spiritually barren seem to need a supernatural friend.

That’s why the coming Feast of Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of the Archangels, on September 29, is still important. A holy day focused heavily on St. Michael the Archangel, it was the third most popular feast next to Easter and Christmas, a harvest festival of great celebration. But it has faded in the minds of people.


In a world where there can be no afterlife for anyone or anything, in a world where creation is not treasured, in a world where those people who have gone before us are not remembered, in a world where saints are not honored and where angels are thought not to exist–in a world like this, human life will ultimately be cheapened and our faith will die. Even Catholics who still try to hold on to the faith are touched with this nihilism.  ….

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