Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kids and the Prayer to St. Michael

The Prayer to St. Michael has long been one of my favorites (see my sidebar!).  I've always had a competitive, fighting spirit, especially when it comes to defending what's right.  Now that I'm a pro-life activist, this prayer has infinitely powerful meaning.  We are fighting a war, after all.  It's just such a tough, positive, warrior-like keeps me motivated.

We recently decided it was time to add another prayer to our son's bedtime repertoire.  He's had the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Guardian Angel Prayer, Glory Be, Hail Mary, and Our Father down pat for a long time now.  He's definitely ready for a new one.  So we chose the Prayer to St. Michael.  He followed along and repeated for a few nights and then something went awry.

Apparently that prayer doesn't have quite the same meaning to a 4 year old.  I hadn't thought of that.

We said it 3 or 4 nights in a row and he was just starting to get it.  Then one night my husband was working late so Jack and I were saying the prayer together.  We said the first few words, then he stopped and said he didn't want to say it anymore.  I asked him why and he, terrified, started bawling and said, "Because I don't want to go to Heaven!!!!"

I was heartbroken!

Not because I think he wants to go to Hell, but because to a 4 year old, "I don't want to go to Heaven" is the same thing as "I don't want to die."  He was terrified of dying!  This isn't something we've discussed in very much detail yet, but he has always gotten the idea of what dying is - basically going away and not coming back.  But I think the St. Michael prayer's graphic imaging of "snares of the Devil" and "casting into Hell" were really too much for him!

He started asking me when he'd be able to come back to Earth after going to Heaven.  He told me he didn't want to be away from Mommy (*tear*).  But most of all, he "heard on TV" (not sure if that's true) that there's no food in Heaven!  That one really opened the flood gates.  He just couldn't continue.

We didn't know if it was a one-time thing, but ever since then when we ask him to say the Prayer to St. Michael, he tells us that he wants to say his own prayer instead.  Which is fine - they're usually adorable, though some are just ridiculous stall tactics that go on an on about nothing at all (lots of "um, well, see...").

From now on I think we'll save the Prayer to St. Michael until he's a little older.  Maybe we'll switch to Come Holy Spirit for now.  It's more upbeat and who could be upset with "fill the hearts of thy faithful?"  He's always been a big fan of hearts!


  1. This is really sweet. Poor thing. I prayed this with some kids I babysat for once, the 5 year old said, "Can St. Michael really send people to HELL???"

  2. It must be something kids go through, our talk about dying a lot too at this age. Poor Mom. I never see those things coming either. I admire your patience at bedtime though! Can I have some?

  3. My daughter (just turned 4) and I go to cemeteries frequently because I am a Volunteer Grave Photographer at I take pics for people who, whether because of distance or infirmity, cannot photograph their own loved ones' gravestones.

    I have found it AMAZINGLY helpful in talking about death, dying, Jesus, resurrection, our bodies as temples, etc.

    Almost every time we're in the boneyard, we talk about theology of death. What are headstones? They're markers for the people buried in the ground underneath them. Like Grandpa. Remember, he died?
    She asked the other day if they get hungry. So we talked about how when we die, we no longer need our bodies until Jesus returns, and then our bodies will be raised, but until then, we need no air, water, etc. so we can be underground with no problems.

    She asked about Jesus's body so we talked about The Resurrection, etc.

    For a four year old, she asks good questions and I'm always very matter of fact about death and cemeteries but I also try to impart the fact that our bodies are temples, in the image of God, not just "shells", and so we treat them with reverence even after the soul leaves. No walking on tombstones, no loud screeching, we pray at the graves even for strangers, etc.

    You might (if this is something you're interested in) try to take the little ones to the cemetery. I find it makes SO much more sense to Mary now that we do that.

    P.S. St. Michael is one of my patrons and we pray that prayer every night, too!


  4. Some kiddos are softies! We even changed a basic: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Your love be with me through the night, and wake me with the morning light" None of that "if I should die" stuff... I'd love you to post one of his prayers - I'll bet it's adorable!

  5. Awww! Kids have such amazing little minds. I'll never forget when at age 4 my nephew, understanding that abortion hurt babies, informed my sister that he was *terrified* Obama would abort his little sister (under a year old at the time). It hadn't occurred to my sister that he had misunderstood regarding *which* babies were at risk (and she also has never quite figured out how her little man knew SO MUCH about the presidential candidates at the time lol). She had to reassure him that baby E was safe. This same nephew, now age 6, recently asked me, wide-eyed, if pirates go to Hell. Such heavy thinkers!!!

  6. ohh that is too sweet. I'd love to see one of his prayers, too (like Danya said :))...

  7. LOL! "Do Pirates go to Hell?"


  8. I actually understand his pov perfectly. The Prayer of St. Michael kinda scares me too!

    I remember a nice woman from church gave my daughter a gold necklace with a St. Michael medal and box chain. I remember thinking: Wooooah...for a little baby, isn't St. Michael just a bit too much.

    Of course, I am sure he is wonderful and no offense to anyone that adores this prayer. I am just giving you my quick impression and that I do relate to your son's feelings.

  9. Aw, poor little guy! I think we held off on that prayer until my son was around 6 or so. It is scary! Soooo necessary and powerful, but scary for our little ones.

    When Mikey was about your son's age, we used a book called "God's Love Story" found in the Catholic Heritage Curriculum. It's a homeschool curriculum and is awesome. But that one book was great at explaining WHY there's a heaven and why it's separate from earth and how wonderful it is! It's a coloring book too so they can mark it all up as you go along. Just a thought. It helped Mikey understand the whole concept of separation from God at an early age. They might have some other resources that you might like too. I think it's or something like that.

  10. Next time we have a good one, I'll definitely post Jack's prayer! Haha! I never thought to, but I'll have to make a point of it!

    Stacy - no patience - I'm serious. I'm terrible!

    Cathy - great advice on the cemetery. Thanks!

    Danya - We got our version from a little toy he got at birth. "Angels watch me thru the night, till I wake in morning light." Not as morbid as the version I grew up with! ha!

    Sarah - seriously, our house is so pirate-obsessed. We've never had a "do pirates go to hell" conversation but lots of "are pirates bad guys" "I'm a GOOD pirate" type stuff around here! Hahaha!

    SC - Thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely check it out!

  11. Oh, bless his tender little heart. What a sweetie. I do love the prayer but I can understand how it might be a little heavy for someone so young!

  12. How adorable and innocent! If only us adults could be so open and discuss our fears!! Definitely a powerful prayer!

  13. Hi, Nicole. I'm a new reader/lurker, and I had to chime in on this one. When my youngest was learning this prayer, he was also pretty emotional about it. He finally told me he was worried about the devil's 'evil spirits roaming the earth to sneeze on us'... wait, what?

    When I asked what he meant, he said, 'because we pray for protection from the wickedness and SNEEZE of the devil.' =)

    If it's any consolation, he's just turned 7 and doesn't remember his fright that sins would be sneezed on to him!

  14. Death has been a topic of conversation with Rosie recently and I have no idea where it came from. I was thinking a 4yo boy might like that prayer. His objections are super sweet.

  15. Hi Ceeb! Welcome! Your little boy's translation of the prayer was adorable!! Maybe Jack is misinterpreting something?!? I used to think the Hail Mary said "Pray for us scissors!" Kids are so funny!

    Elisabeth, I know! I would have thought a little boy would think it's awesome. But he is pretty sensitive and gets scared even at some really innocent TV shows so I guess I should have known!

    We started Come Holy Spirit last night and it went off without a hitch! :)