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A Story of St. Michael the Archangel

Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, so I thought it would be appropriate to share this video. It’s the original radio broadcast of a letter written by a Marine to his mother while he was stationed in Korea in 1950. This young Marine had a strong devotion to St. Michael the Archangel (after whom he was named), and that devotion ended up saving his life. You can also read the text of the letter here as well as below.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn’t dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don’t worry, you hear me, don’t worry. I was wounded but I’m okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn’t have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I have always prayed to St. Michael. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? “Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh corps of Heaven adorning…” You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day, sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting, but always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold; my breath was like cigar smoke. I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I’d ever seen. He must have been over 6 feet 4 inches and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near me.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, “Cold ain’t it.” And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather!

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly.

I looked at him, “I’ve never seen you before. I thought I knew every man in the outfit.”

“I just joined at the last minute,” he replied, “the name is Michael.”

“Is that so,” I said surprised, “that’s my name too.”

“I know,” he said, and then went on saying the prayer, “Michael, Michael of the morning…”

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn’t I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen? Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time, and then he broke the silence.

“We’re going to have some trouble up ahead.” He must have been in fine physical shape for he was breathing so lightly I couldn’t see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself; well with the commies all around us, that’s no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in thick great globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out, and I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

“Michael!” I shouted in sudden alarm. I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, “This will stop shortly.”

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in the heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise. Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them, seven commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

“Down Michael!” I screamed, and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing.

Mom, those guys couldn’t have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits, but there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least that’s what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I thought I was dying. Maybe I was even dead. I remember thinking, “Well, this is not so bad.”

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock, but it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again, only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that’s the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me; I don’t know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment’s rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

“Where’s Michael?” I asked. I saw them look at one another. “Where’s who?” asked one.

“Michael, that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us.”

“Kid,” said the sergeant, “you weren’t walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in, when you disappeared in the snow.”

He looked at me, curiously. “How did you do it, kid?”

“How did I do what?” I asked half angry, despite my wound. “This Marine named Michael and I were just…” “Son,” said the sergeant kindly, “I picked this outfit myself and there just ain’t another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it.”

He paused for a minute. “Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots, yet there hasn’t been a shot fired from your rifle, and there isn’t a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there.”

I didn’t say anything; what could I say? I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then, the sergeant spoke again. “Kid,” he said gently, “every one of those seven commies was killed by a sword stroke.”

That is all I can tell you, Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain, but that is what happened.

Love, Michael

St. Michael, pray for us!


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A Great Resource for the Extraordinary Form

In the five years I’ve been running this blog, I’ve made no secret of my love for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass–the primary one I attend. Perhaps this has attracted your attention. Perhaps you’ve wanted to see an Extraordinary Form Mass but don’t have one that’s close by.

Wonder no more! The LiveMass.net website runs a daily live stream of Mass in the Extraordinary Form! Mass is broadcast from three different locations–Sarasota, Florida (where the whole operation originally started), Guadalajara, Mexico, and Fribourg, Switzerland. They also have pre-recorded Masses you can watch if there isn’t a Mass currently being offered. All three parishes are associated with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I should also add that they also have an app, iMass, that allows you to stream the Mass on a tablet or smartphone.

I have to admit, I was practically dancing when I found this website. Having the chance to view the Latin Mass whenever and wherever I am is a literal dream come true–it made me so happy that I just had to share it with everyone else.

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Happy Easter!

O Sons and Daughters, let us sing!
The King of Heaven, the Glorious King
O’er death today rose triumphing. Alleluia!

This feast is the center of our faith, the center of our lives. If Christ had not risen, our faith would be in vain. But He did rise, so hooray!

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Good Friday 2017

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

The human race was redeemed today, but that redemption came at a high cost, a cost that we must never forget. To that end, this is an article that details some of the relics associated with the Passion–things like a piece of the True Cross, the sign that hung over Jesus’s head, and the tunic He wore. It also lists the cup that tradition holds is the Holy Grail–so we’ve known where it was the entire time, and Indiana Jones’s quest was for nothing.

In all seriousness, though, there are some fascinating images included here.

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Holy Thursday 2017

Once again the Triduum is upon us, so once again I break out the presentation on the Fourth Cup. It’s a fascinating presentation, really, and I don’t ever really get tired of sharing it.


In a similar vein, I wanted to take the opportunity to recommend How Christ Said the First Mass by Fr. James L. Meagher. It’s an old book and was written before Vatican II (so its Mass references are talking about the Extraordinary Form), but I think that people who aren’t familiar with the Extraordinary Form would still find it interesting. It talks about the traditions surround the Hebrew Passover, how Christ observed those traditions, and how they became the Catholic Mass. There are some other minor traditions it addresses, too, such as how many children Adam and Eve had (here’s a hint: it was more than just Cain, Abel, and Seth). All in all, it’s an intriguing book I definitely recommend, especially for this time of year.

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Following up with St. Augustine’s “City of God”

Back in National Blog Post Writing Month, I mentioned that I was working my way through St. Augustine’s City of God with the idea that once I had finished it, I would write about it here on My Turn to Talk. I actually finished it back about a week before Christmas, but I got busy with a lot of other things and didn’t get a chance to write the post. But now that things have quieted down a little bit, I find I actually have the time to write about my thoughts.

City of God turned out to be a really good book to read during the Advent season because I came away feeling as if I had just been on a really intense spiritual journey. It might sound corny to say that, but it’s true. St. Augustine sets the truths of the Catholic Faith in front of you with such passion and clarity that you can’t help but get swept up in his writing. Plus, his writing feels as if you are covering all of human history, the past as well as the future. There were many times when I could identify with some of the scenarios in the Church and the world in general–heck, a lot of times I forgot this book was written nearly 2,000 years ago; so much of it is still relevant today. It was a refreshing glimpse of a world where people meant what they said and weren’t going to back down from the truth.

I mentioned that there were times I forgot the book was written so long ago, and that wasn’t just because of the familiar scenarios in the Church and the world. A lot of the scientific stuff that St. Augustine mentioned were things that we still teach in our classrooms today, which surprised me a little. Apparently the people who lived back then weren’t nearly so uneducated as historians like to claim they were. Yes, there were a few things he got wrong (he wasn’t sure if there was a continent on the other side of the ocean, and if there was, he didn’t think people could live there), but there were other things he got right even if he didn’t use the same terms we use today (he mentioned a man with two heads and multiple limbs which sounded to me like a case of conjoined twins). Also, he talked a little bit about a race of people that had the bodies of men but the heads of wolves–he had heard stories of their existence and was trying to determine if they had immortal souls or not (his answer was basically, “If they are descended from Adam, yes, they have immortal souls; just don’t ask me how they got the wolf heads”)–and for a while I was like, “Hey, werewolves are real, and St. Augustine talks about them!” (What can I say; I’m weird; I get distracted when saints say there might be real werewolves.) Oh, and there was another part, too, where he casually mentions that the first Good Friday was on March 25, and my reaction was along the lines of, “Dude! Do you know how many internet debates have been waged over that date!? And you’re just casually dropping it here like it’s no big deal!?” Yes, poor St. Augustine got subjected to my running commentary. I can only imagine I caused him to facepalm several times.

Random geeking and commentary aside, I appreciated the, well, universal quality the book had–like I said, it felt relevant even though it was written thousands of years ago. It was a great book, and I’m glad I decided to read it.

It did cause me to consider, though, that a lot of the saints left great works of literature behind them when they died. What am I going to leave? This blog. I doubt it will help my cause for canonization (they’ll probably decide against canonizing me on the grounds that I just called St. Augustine “Dude”). But at the same time, it made me realize just how divinely inspired St. Augustine had to have been in order to write City of God. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was really God who wrote the book; He just had St. Augustine write the words down for Him.


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Christmas Eve 2016

Yes, it’s Christmas Eve once again, ladies and gentlemen, and I decided to get on here and wish you all a Merry Christmas in case I don’t get a chance to do so tomorrow. I also wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas songs with you, “Gabriel’s Message”. My church choir sings it every Christmas, but I didn’t know what the title was until I searched for some of the lyrics. My search led me to this, and I am so glad I finally found the title.

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