Today, September 29, is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, known in Merry Old England as Michaelmas. Michaelmas really is one of my favorite feastdays, and it seems particularly appropriate to us here at What's Wrong with the World, because the whole point of the reading for this feast is that the good guys do win in the end, and by battle, too, but that sometimes the ultimate victory takes a while. Here is the entire (exceedingly cool) reading for today from Revelation.
The Book of Revelation, the twelfth chapter, beginning at the seventh verse:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the eath and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."
And just for fun, here it is in Latin from the Vulgate:
7. Et factum est proelium magnum in coelo: Michael, et angeli ejus proeliabantur cum dra- cone, et draco pugnabat, et angeli ejus: 8. et non valuerunt, neque locus inventus est eorum amplius in coelo. 9. Et projectus est draco ille magnus, serpens antiquus, qui vocatur diabolus, et satanas, qui seducit universum orbem: et projectus est in terram, et angeli ejus cum illo missi sunt. 10. Et audivi vocem magnam in coelo dicen- tem: Nunc facta est salus, et virtus, et regnum Dei nostri, et potestas Christi ejus: quia projectus est accusator fratrum nostrorum, qui accu- sabat illos ante conspectum Dei nostri die ac nocte. 11. Et ipsi vicerunt eum propter sanguinem A- gni, et propter verbum testimonii sui, et non dilexerunt animas suas usque ad mortem. 12. Propterea laetamini coeli, et qui habitatis in eis. Vae terrae, et mari, quia descendit diabo- lus ad vos, habens iram magnam, sciens quod modicum tempus habet.
(I took the Latin off a Google books result of a parallel text in Latin and in some Czech language. There were a number of scanning errors in the Latin. If I missed any, please tell me in the comments.)
Here is a recording of Bach's "Nun ist das Heil," clearly intended to be used for Michaelmas. It begins at "Now is come salvation, and strength..." and ends with "...for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."
The passage ends by crying "Woe!" to the inhabitants of earth. That includes us, for the moment at least. Yet I always find the passage tremendously encouraging. From the perspective of God, all the ill that Satan can do he is doing in a "short time." Yes, I know, we don't experience the divine sense of time, and to us it seems more like, as in the Christmas song, two thousand years of wrong have rolled over us since the coming of Our Lord. But the end of the story is never in doubt, from God's perspective, however long it seems to take from ours. For those of us who try, however imperfectly, to be on the side of the angels, that should be heartening.