With other angels or on his own, Saint Michael is mentioned throughout the Sacred Scriptures. He is successful in his battle against Satan because of his humility, which makes him, as his name indicates, one Who Is Like Unto God. Saint Michael does not get in God’s way with sin and pride and all that is demonic. Instead, Saint Michael lets God shine through himself to the greater honor and glory of God.
There is a prayer to Saint Michael which all can say, a prayer which many popes have indicated be said after Holy Mass, a short version of a longer version of a much longer version. The short version is available to all as it is stripped of direct commands to Satan, and instead directs the one praying to make a humble petition to Saint Michael:
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
Great! But many are not content with that, thinking that if one does not personally and in the first person make brave to rebuke Satan, directly commanding him to depart (which is always an exorcism, not just “delivery”), then all prayers to Saint Michael and to God Himself are useless, stupid, a distraction, not permitting one to show how powerful one is oneself over against Satan. And so they command Satan though they are not exorcists and are therefore not expressly mandated by their bishops to do so in the name of Jesus. They say they have empirical proof that they are powerful over against Satan, that they are the ones who know better, who are special, who don’t have to be “limited” to humble petition because simple prayer is NOTHING! Really? Just. Wow. They say simple prayer has no effect. It’s only when they themselves do exorcisms and speciouly call those exorcisms mere private and pious prayer (how very ironic) that things happen…. Yeah, I bet that’s exactly right. Things happen. Satan plays a mind game with them, making those raising themselves up look like they have POWER! Ooooh! “Power.”
It is said that what they do is simple and not solemn, private and not public, relatively modern instead of relatively ancient, short and not long, “delivery” instead of exorcism… all false distinctions meant to say that directly commanding Satan is not an exorcism. Here’s the deal: Commanding Satan is always and in every instance an exorcism by definition. That’s precisely why they do it. But they are also those who say that 2+2=5. Pfft.
It is said that some guy at Ecclesia Dei in a response to a private person (a priest) said it was O.K. to just go ahead and recite the longer version, with the exorcisms as part of one’s private, pious prayer. But an exorcism, however quietly said in a hidden manner, is always, by definition, a public act of the Church, drawing on the merits of Christ and the saints. But it seems to me that this private suggestion by Ecclesia Dei is not legislation for the whole church, nor does it undo previous and authoritative decisions that this is not to be done except with the express mandate of the local ordinary as we see in the universal law of the Church.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing the longer versions of the Saint Michael prayer with the exorcisms, with an accompanying indication that the exorcisms were to be skipped by those who are not mandated to do exorcisms. But I digress.
Humbly following canon law and the mind of the legislator as expressed in authoritative decisions about the same and as directed to the universal Church is, it seems to me, the way to go. Humility in the midst of the Church is way to go. God does not penalize us if we act with humility. Saint Michael does not abandon us if we act with humility. Our guardian angels do not mock us if we act with humility.
Again, what Ecclesia Dei did was not only not presented for approval by the Holy Father in forma specifica, but it was also not declared that it was approved by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In my experience, it’s when laity and priests who are not exorcists just go ahead and do exorcisms that problems begin.