Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
PRAYER TO YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
Holy Angel, heavenly companion of my life, do not abandon me, a sinner, nor leave room to evil demons to overwhelm me through my weaknesses. But rather take hold of my weak hand and guide me on the path of salvation. Yes, Holy Angel of God, guardian and protector of my soul and body, overlook all the things by which I have grieved you. Guard me also during the night and protect me from every influence of Satan, that I may not fall into sin. Intercede to the Lord for me that He may grant me forgiveness of sins and help me to be worthy of His Goodness. Amen.
On November 8th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Synaxis (Assembly) of the Archangel Michael and the other Bodiless Powers of Heaven; Saint Martha of Pskov, Princess of Pskov; New Holy Martyr Michael the Blessed of Chernigov (1922); Saint Willihad, Bishop of Bremen.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Princess, Holy Archangels and Heavenly Bodiless Powers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY ARCHANGEL MICHAEL AND ALL THE BODILESS POWERS OF HEAVEN. The Angels of God have been commemorated by men from the earliest times, but this commemoration often degenerates into the divinization of Angels (IV Kings 23:5; A.V. II Kings). Heretics always wove fantasies round the Angels. Some of them saw the Angels as gods and others, if they did not so regard them, took them to be the creators of the whole visible world. The local Council in Laodicea, which was held in the 4th century, rejected in its 35th Canon the worship of Angels as gods, and established the proper veneration of them. In the time of Pope Sylvester of Rome and the Alexandrian Patriarch Alexander, in the 4th century, this Feast of the Archangel Michael and the other heavenly powers was instituted, to be celebrated in November. Why in November? Because November is the 9th Month after March, and it is thought that the world was created in the month of March. The 9th month after March was chosen because of the nine orders of Angels that were the first created beings. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul (that Apostle who was caught up to the Third Heaven), writes of these 9 Orders in his book: 'Celestial Hierarchies'. These Orders are as follows: Six-winged Seraphim, many-eyed Cherubim, godly Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. The leader of the whole Angelic army is the Archangel Michael. When Satan, Lucifer, fell away from God, and carried half the Angels with him to destruction, then Michael arose and cried to the unfallen Angels: "Let us give heed! Let us stand aright; let us stand with fear!" and the whole Angelic army sang aloud: "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!" (See on the Archangel Michael: Joshua 5:13-15 and Jude v.9). Among the Angels there rules a perfect unity of mind, of soul, and of love; of total obedience of the lesser powers to the greater and of all to the Holy Will of God. Each nation has its own Guardian Angel, as does each individual Christian. We must keep in mind that, whatever we do, openly or in secret, we do in the presence of our Guardian Angel and that, on the Day of Judgment, a great multitude of the Holy Angels of heaven will be gathered around the Throne of Christ, and the thoughts, words and deeds of every person will be laid bare before them. May God have mercy on us and save us at the prayers of the Holy Archangel Michael and all the bodiless powers of Heaven. Amen.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
That the Angels are constantly involved in this world is testified to, clearly and unmistakably, in Holy Scripture. Both from the Holy Scriptures and from Holy Tradition, the Orthodox Church has learned the names of the seven leaders of the Heavenly Powers: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Jegudiel and Barachiel (and to these is sometimes added an eighth, Jeremiel.)
'Michael' in Hebrew means 'Who is like God?' or 'Who is equal to God?'. Saint Michael was depicted in the earliest Christian times as a leader, bearing a spear in his right hand with which he attacks Lucifer, Satan, and holding on his left hand a branch of green palm. At the top of the spear is plaited braid with a red Cross. The Archangel Michael is considered especially to be the guardian of the Orthodox faith and a fighter against heresy.
Archangel Michael defends the Garden of Eden, told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac, told Lot to flee Sodom, protected Jacob from Esau, took the soul of Moses from the devil, and changed the course of a river in Asia Minor to protect a holy spring in a church. The icon depicting Archangel Michael is on the left side of the icon Screen in Orthodox churches, and Archangel Gabriel is on the right.
'Gabriel' means 'man of God' or 'power of God'. He is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the mystery of the Incarnation and all those that are linked with it. He is depicted bearing a lantern with a burning candle in his right hand, and in his left a mirror of green jasper. The mirror signifies the wisdom of God as a hidden mystery.
'Raphael' means 'God's healing', or 'God the Healer' (Tobias 3:17; 12:15). He is depicted leading Tobias by the right hand (Tobias carrying a fish caught in the Tigris), and holding a physician's jar in his left.
'Uriel' means 'fire' or 'light of God' (II Esdras 4:1; 5:20). He is depicted holding a sword against the Persians n his right hand and a burning brand in his left.
'Salathiel' means 'one who prays to God' (II Esdras 5:16). He is depicted with his head bowed and his eyes lowered, and his hands placed together in the attitude of prayer.
'Jegudiel' means 'one who glorifies God'. He is depicted bearing a golden wreath in his right hand and a three-thronged whip in his left.
'Barachiel' means 'the blessing of God'. He is depicted wearing a white rose on his breast.
'Jeremiel' means 'God's exaltation'. He is venerated as an inspirer and awakener of those higher thoughts that raise a man God-ward.
WHAT ARE THE HOLY ANGELS?
The Angels are immaterial, spiritual and immortal beings. They do not possess a material body such as ours but are spiritual beings and therefore invisible. They cannot be seen, just as our soul, which is also a spirit, cannot be seen. God created the Angels before he created the material world. This derives from the words of God Who said to Job: "When the stars were made, all My Angels praised me with a loud voice" (Job 38:7). That the Angels are a creation of God is clearly stated in Holy Scripture: "by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers" (Col. 1:16).
As immaterial and spiritual beings the Angels transport themselves with ease from place to place: however, they are not omnipotent like God, for they, too, are creatures of God with limited abilities and powers. Though their powers are much greater, indeed, incomparably greater, than those of man, they are nevertheless found infinitely lacking when compared to God's Omnipotence. Their knowledge is also great, much greater than human knowledge; yet it cannot be compared with God's Omniscience. Their wills were tested when Lucifer rebelled against God, and through divine grace their will has become firmly rooted in good, towards which it continuously inclines. It is for this reason that they are called the Holy Angels.
At times--whenever God so willed--they have been sent to holy men and women to reveal to them God's will. At such times they took on the form and appearance of young men, occasionally winged, and spoke in human tongue, otherwise it would have been impossible for them to announce to man God's will.
Our Holy Church daily prays to God that He grant to each one of us "an Angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies". And we should not forget the words of our Lord in the Holy Gospels that "there is joy (in heaven) in the presence of the Angels of God over the sinner that repents" (St. Luke 15:10). Moreover, He says that "their Angels" (of these little ones: little children but also simple, meek people) do always behold the face of My Father's which is in heaven" (St. Matthew 18:10). Hence, Holy Scripture is the source of the truth about each one's personal Guardian Angel.
So much for the Angels' ministry towards us men upon earth. But what are the Angel's mission and task in regard to God? It is a task incomparably more sublime and perfect than that which they perform regarding us men. It is the unceasing doxology, praise and worship of the Divine Majesty, of the glory and blessedness of God, a task which bestows upon the Angels themselves blessedness and glory. That is to say, the more the Angels see and comprehend, hymn and glorify God's Majesty, the holier, the more spiritual and the more blessed they become. Thus this sublime task results in their personal perfection, glory and splendor.
WHAT IS THE ANGELS' TASK?
It is indicated by their name "Angel", which means a messenger, one who comes bearing a message, and especially a joyful one. The heavenly spirits are therefore called Angels because they announce and bring to men good tidings concerning their salvation. For this reason they are described in the Epistle (Letter) to the Hebrews as "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Thus, they appear in human guise--indeed as graceful youths--and speak with a human voice in order to guide and serve man.
The Church teaches the existence of demons. What are demons? Demons like the Angels, are spirits: immaterial and bodiless, but evil spirits which oppose God and seek the spiritual destruction and annihilation of man, though it is not uncommon to find situations in which they bodily torture man and make man's life on earth sheer tyranny within that measure of freedom allowed them by God. And God allows them this freedom either for the punishment or chastisement of the sinner, or for the trial of the righteous. The demons were not created by God as demons: evil and unclean spirits. In the beginning they were brilliant Angels--just as all the heavenly spirits. However, they were overcome and dominated by arrogance and pride. Thus, under the leadership of their captain Lucifer, Eosphoros (lit. the light-bearing angel), who subsequently became Satan, they revolted against God. Lucifer tried to become like God in all things by domineeringly usurping divine authority and glory. "I will go up above the clouds", thought Lucifer, "I will set my throne above the clouds. I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13-14). For this reason, God cast him down into Hades, and with him all those angels who believed and followed him. All these became demons, evil spirits, and their leader became the Devil, Satan, the "father of lies", as our Lord so named him. The Tempter, the Dragon of Revelation, the ancient Serpent, who appeared to Eve as a serpent in order to lure her into disobedience and sin, Belial, Beelzebub--as he is called in the New Testament--the Seducer who seduces the universe, possessing deadly hatred for God and blind passion against man. His demons are like him
Of course there do exist people who deny the existence of demons, people who say that the Devil does not really exist. "And what is the Devil?" they ask. "He is merely the personification of evil". Yet practically every page of the New Testament speaks about Satan and mentions so many people who were possessed by demons and from whom our Lord cast them out. The Evangelist Saint John emphasizes that "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil" (I John 3:8). It is indeed sad when people and especially Christians deny this truth; so abundantly witnessed to by Holy Scripture. Indeed, such a denial could prove both disastrous and fatal. To deny the Devil's existence is to fall into one of Satan's very own traps, set in order to trap with all certainty his victims, and to lure them first into sin and then to cast them into perdition.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 2:2-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 10:16-21
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"It is no small struggle to be delivered from vainglory. One is delivered from it by performing his spiritual work in secret and by more frequent prayer. A sign that one has been delivered from vainglory is that he no longer harbors resentment against one who has spoken--or continues to speak--ill of him". (Saint Maximos the Confessor)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God