The Holy Angels (Part II)

Martyr Menas of Egypt

My beloved spiritual children 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 FOR HEALING

+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Lord our God, Who are Righteous and compassionate, the Physician of our souls and bodies; by whose stripes we are healed; the Good Shepherd, Who comes to search for the wandering sheep; Who desires not the death of a sinner but that he may turn from his wickedness and live; Who gives consolation to the faint-hearted and life to those who are shattered; Who did heal the woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years; Who did set free the daughter of the woman of Canaan, who was tormented by a devil; Who did bestow healing and forgiveness of sins upon the paralytic; Who did justify the Publican by Your word, and accepted the thief through his confession at the last moment; Who took the sins of the world and nailed them to the Cross: Lord, to You I lift up my voice: stretch forth Your powerful arm. Send down from heaven Your healing power. Touch my sick body. Bless the means used for my recovery and those who administer them. Release the fever. Soothe the suffering. Drive away the weakness. Forgive my sins. Raise me up from the bed of affliction. Grant that this sickness may be the means of my repentance and transformation. For I am but dust and if I live at all it is only by Your power and grace. To You, Lord Jesus, I direct my prayer, and trusting in Your mercy and love, I offer all worship and adoration to You, and the Eternal Father and the Most Holy Spirit now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On November 11th our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Great Martyr Menas of Egypt, who was martyred at Cotyaeion of Phrygia in Asia Minor; Holy Martyr Victor of Italy, who was beheaded in Damascus; Holy Martyr Vincent the Deacon, of Saragossa in Spain; Holy Martyr Stephanie, who suffered martyrdom with Saint Victor; Holy Father Theodore the Confessor, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Studium; Holy Martyr Stephen of Dechani in Serbia; our Righteous Fathers Nestor and Efthymius of Dechani in Serbia; Saitn Uroshitsa the Myrrh-streamer, Prince of Serbia; Holy and Blessed Maximus of Moscow, the Fool-for-Christ's sake and Wonderworker; our Righteous Father Martyrius of Zelenets.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Deacons, Holy Abbots, Holy Princes, Holy Righteous, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY MARTYR MENAS. Saint Menas had Egypt as his fatherland, contested in Cotyaeion of Phrygia in 296 AD, during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian and Maximian. A soldier distinguished for his valor in war, he renounced his rank and withdrew to devote himself to ascetical struggles and prayer in the mountains. Filled with zeal and more than human courage, he presented himself in the midst of a pagan festival in Cotyaeion and declared himself to be a Christian. After terrible tortures, which he endured with astonishing courage, he was beheaded. His martyrium in Egypt became a place of universal pilgrimage; evidence of ancient journeys to his shrine have been found as far away as Ireland. The glory and refuge of the Christians of Egypt, he has been revealed to be a worker of great miracles and a swift defender for all who call on him with faith; besides all else, he is also invoked for help in finding lost objects.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Menas. Plagal of First Tone

With great valour of soul, thou didst strive in martyrdom, and having fought the good fight, O divine Great Martyr Menas, thou from Heaven hast received the gift of miracles; for God hath shown thee to the world as a worker of great signs, and He made thee our protector and a swift help in afflictions and ever-vigilant defense from harm.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Holy Martyrs. Fourth Tone

With songs of praise, let us hymn the steadfast athletes of Christ: divine Victor, Vincent, and the noble Stephanie, with Menas the all-glorious. Having crushed the foe in sundry ages and countries, they rejoice together, glorified in the Heavens. Have mercy, O Christ Savior, on all, by Thy Martyr's prayers.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistles Lesson: 2 Corinthians 4:6-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:42-48

INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"Thus, when our minds, with great gratitude, begin to taste of the beneficent energies of the Holy Spirit, we come to know that Divine Grace has begun more fully to paint the "likeness [of God--Trans.]" on the "image [of God]" within us. In this process, the work of Divine Grace resembles that of artists. Artists, when they paint a human being, in the beginning draw the figure with one color only, afterwards embellishing their canvas, little by little, with different colors, thus giving form to what they are painting in every detail, even down to the hairs of the head. Similarly, Divine Grace, too, first through Holy Baptism, returns man to his precious blessedness, which is found in his creation according to "the image [of God--Trans.]. (From Saint Diadochos) [Taken from "The Evergetinos"]

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THE HOLY ANGELS (PART II)
By Mother Alexandra

In seeking better to understand the Angelic nature, we should turn to our knowledge of God rather than to our knowledge of man. Saint Basil the Great says that in his eyes "their substance is a breath of air or an immortal fire, and this is why they are localized or become visible in the shape of their own bodies to those who are worthy to see them." Saint Basil means that they take on a visible individuality expressed in human form, though not humanly tangible. The Holy Angels, from the beginning of their creation, are complete beings, but without material form.

Angels are of a superiority all but incomprehensible to us, but they are a part of our lives: by God's boundless mercy, they are destined, in the great moments of history, to be the heralds of the Most High to man below; they are, as well, our guides, guardians, mentors, protectors, and comforters from birth to the grave.

Angels are pure integral spirits: they are not confined to time or space; they know neither youth nor old age, but life ever at its fullest. We can barely envision for ourselves even a shadowy image of their majesty, might, and power, or grasp the lightning that is their movements, "So the living creatures came and went, vivid as lightning flashes" (Ezek. 1:14). Furthermore, mortals cannot begin to understand the freedom of the holy Angels and the scope of their intellects, untrammeled by physical brains. Crystal clear and faultless, knowing no pain or frustration, unhindered by doubt or fear, neither male nor female, they are beauty, love, life and action welded into individual unutterable perfection. "Thou wilt have Thy Angels be like the winds, the servants that wait on Thee like a flame of fire" (Psalm 103:4). In a certain sense, if it can be so expressed, they are the individualized selfness of God's own attributes.

The Holy Angels stand in the presence of God beholding the face of the Lord. "Angels are more than the bearers of divine messages and the guides of men: they are bearers of the very Name and Power of God. There is nothing rosy or weakly poetical in the Angels of the Holy Bible: they are flashes of the Light and Strength of the Almighty Lord." Their being is sustained by God's Goodness, and they participate in His Might, Wisdom, and Love. They are uplifted by their perpetual praise and thanksgiving. Uplifted Godwards, from their beginning it has been the Angel's greatest joy to choose freely for God and to give Him their undaunted flow of life in unending love and worship. The entire heavenly host partook from the first in the execution of God's Will: Seraphim (Is. 6:2), Cherubim (Ezek. 10:1), Thrones (Col. 1:16), Dominions (Col. 1:16), Virtues (1 Peter 3:22), Powers (Col. 1:16; Eph. 3:10), Principalities (Col. 1:16; Eph. 3:10), Archangels (1 Thes. 4:15), and Angels. All nine choirs have ever stood bent on God's intentions, unerringly fulfilling His design: "Praise Him, all you Angels of His, praise Him, all His armies...it was His decree that fashioned them, His command that gave them birth" (Psalm 148:2-5).

"The Lord has set up His Throne in Heaven, rules with universal away. Bless the Lord, all you Angels of His; Angels of sovereign strength, that carry out His commandment, attentive to the word He utters; bless the Lord, all you hosts of His, the servants that perform His Will; bless the Lord, all you  creatures of His, in every corner of His Dominion; and thou, my soul, bless the Lord" (Psalm 102:18-22).

From earliest times, these Angelic hosts were conceived as divided into three hierarchies; Saint Dionysius the Areopagite called them "choirs." This is the most fitting term as their whole activity is like an eternal song of praise and thanksgiving to the Most High God.

First come the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. These are councilors and have no direct dealings with man, but are absorbed in unending love and adoration (worship) of God. No other creature is so intensely capable of loving God.

Second come the Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. These are understood to be the governors of space and the stars. Our orb, consequently, as part of the galaxy is under their dominion; otherwise, we have no direct contact with the second choir.

Third come the Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These have this earth of ours in their special charge. They are the executors of God's Will, the perpetual guardians of the children of men and the messengers of God.

The Archangels have distinct individualities and are an order of celestial beings in themselves, partaking of the nature of both Principalities and Angels. Yet they are also Messengers, like the Angels. There are seven Archangels, the first four of whom are mentioned by name in the books of the Holy Bible.

  1. Michael (Who Is Like God?). The greatest leader of the heavenly host. It was he who overcame the Dragon (Lucifer) and thrust him out of Paradise.
  2. Gabriel (The Man of God). The Angel of the Annunciation.
  3. Raphael (The Healing of God). The chief of the guardian Angels, and the one who bears our prayers to the Lord.
  4. Uriel (The Fire of God). The interpreter of the prophecies.

The names of the other three Archangels are not found in the Holy Scripture.

"Like God, Man of God, Healing, Fire." Here in the utter simplicity of the interpretation of the Archangelic names, we get momentary glimpses of their personalities, through which their relationship to God becomes more apparent as does their power and influence. The Areopagite gives a wondrously clear definition: "An Angel is an image of God, a manifestation of the invisible Light, a burnished mirror, bright, untarnished, without spot or blemish, receiving (if it is reverent to say so), all the beauty of the absolute Divine goodness, and (so far as may be) kindling in itself, with unalloyed radiance, the goodness of the secret silence."

The more we become aware of the Angels of Light, the more strengthened we are in capacity for good, and the sharper becomes our ability to detect and resist the snares of our bitterest enemies (the demons), the angels of darkness.

"O bodiless Angels, as you stand before God's Throne, and are enlightened by its rays, and with the overflow of Light forever shining, pray to Christ to give our souls peace and grant us mercy." (Lord, I Call, Tone 1)

(To be continued)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George