Synaxis of the Holy Chief Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers

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

The Eighth Day of the Month of November

The Synaxis of the Holy Chief Commander Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers

"...We render thanks to Thee also for this liturgy which Thou dost deign to receive from our hands, although there stand beside Thee thousands of Archangels and myriads of Angels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft on wings.

Chanting, voicing, shouting and saying the Triumphal hymn:

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the Highest, blessed is He that commeth in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest.

[The choir or cantors chant a Triumphal hymn composed of the song of the Angels who surround the Throne of God in heaven (Isaiah 6:3-7) ]

[Divine Liturgy)

+++

The Holy Church, which rejects the impious worship of Angels devised by idolaters and heretics of old, has received from the divinely inspired Fathers the tradition of celebrating with reverence the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Holy Angels. In the days of the Old Testament, the people of God, having fallen away from their Creator, began to worship that which the Lord created. They made idols after the likeness of things visible, of that which is in heaven above and earth beneath, the work of their own hands. At that time, when the people offered oblations unto the sun, the moon, and the stars as gods, imagining that these possessed living souls, they also began to worship Angels.

The local council of Laodicea while it anathematized and rejected the heretical worship of Angels, it decreed lawful the pious and proper veneration of the Holy Angels as God's servants and the guardians of the race of man, establishing the celebration of the festival held in their honor on this day. The council decreed that the feast of the Angels be celebrated in November, the ninth month counting from March, when the world was created. [March was the first Month after the creation of the world.], since there are nine orders of Angels, according to Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, the disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul was taken up to the Third Heaven, where he saw how the Holy Angels are divided into ranks, and he told his disciple of this (2 Corinthians, ch. 12). These nine ranks are grouped in three hierarchies of three orders: the highest, the middle and the lowest.

The highest hierarchy of angels, which is the nearest to the Most Holy Trinity, consists of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Thrones. Closest of all to the Creator and Fashioner stand the Seraphim, beloved of God, of whom Isaiah said, "Seraphs stood round about Him: each one had six wings (Isaiah ch. 6). They are like fire, because they stand nearest to Him of Whom it is written: "Our God is a consuming fire, and His throne is like a fiery flame, and the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire." Since they stand before such fiery glory, the Seraphim are themselves fiery, as it is written: "He maketh His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire" (Psalm 103). They burn with love for God and kindle the love of God in others, as their name itself reveals, for in the Hebrew tongue "seraphim" means "burning" or "consuming."

The divinely wise Cherubim stand next after the Seraphim in the presence of God the All-Knowing, Who dwells in transcendent light. These Angels, who abide in God's ineffable Light, themselves ever shine more brilliantly than the orders below them with the Light of righteousness and the knowledge of God and His wisdom. They are themselves radiant and illumine others; therefore, they are called Cherubim, which in Hebrew means "much wisdom," or "an effusion of wisdom." Through the Cherubim wisdom is poured out, and through them the noetic eyes of others are illumined, enabling them to see the glory of God and to know Him.

The Thrones stand after the Cherubim before the exalted Throne on High. They are called God-bearing by Saint Dionysius, since according to the explanation offered by Saint Maximos the Confessor, God noetically rests upon them as upon noetic thrones. Saint Basil the Great writes that they are called God-bearing not according to their essence but because of the grace vouchsafed them and the service entrusted to them. The Thrones are called God-bearing because they bear God within themselves in an ineffable and inexpressible manner, not by nature but because of the grace and service to them. It is through the Thones that God brings to pass His righteous judgments, for they are the ministers of His justice, imparting to the tribunals of magistrates here below and to the kings and lords, the ability to pass righteous judgments. (Source: The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints)

If you are truly interested to learn more about the Angels of God, a wonderful book, written by Mother Alexandra entitled The Holy Angels. All Orthodox Christians should purchase this book and add it to their private or home library.

In her book she writes the following, "Like the existence of God, the existence of the Holy Angels is presumed, not asserted. Angels in the Bible are referred to simply as accepted fact. Although they are mentioned over two hundred times, we learn nothing about their creation or when it took place, nor do we find many physical descriptions. This is not as strange as it might at first appear. The Bible does not deal with all mankind, even in the first few chapters, but is concerned primarily with the history of God's action toward man. The Old Testament is concerned with the development of one nation only, God's chosen people, though we do hear of other peoples because of their historical connection with the Jews. Similarly, the story of creation describes the coming into existence of our earth, the sun and stars, the appearance of plants, animals and, finally, man. It does not include an account of how, nor when, the spiritual beings were created. This remains a matter of theological conjecture. Nevertheless, from the very outset we are made aware of their presence in the existing world and their interest in us, both for weal and woe.

But, first of all, when referring to these celestial beings we should understand that the term "angel" is loosely and inaccurately used, for in Greek it simply means "messenger" and, properly speaking, this would apply only to the two orders of Angels in direct communication with man.

Angels and Archangels, although spirit, are not supernatural. God alone is supernatural, for He alone is uncreated. Like us, the Holy Angels are created, natural beings, as much a part of our world as we ourselves. "Yet, in him all created things took their being, heavenly and earthly, visible and invisible..." (Col. 1:160.

An Angel has character, individuality, and a will of his own, much as we have; but in other ways Angels do not resemble us. When, to make himself manifest to us, an Angel takes on human semblance, he never is physically like a human being, nut only a mental image of one. If we are so little aware of them, it is because we do not as a rule see them with our mortal eyes, and our spiritual perception is either dulled or undeveloped...Saint Basil the Great 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 completed 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 grave.

Angels are pure integral spirits: they are not confined to time or space: they know neither youth nor old age, but live 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 movement, "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 or 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).

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 Bible: there 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 Angels' 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).

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.

The Principalities, Archangels and Angels. These have this earth of ours in 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 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 prophecies.

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

Epilogue

Mother Alexandra writes, "It was early morning, when I was seven years old, that I saw the Angels. I am sure of it now as I was then. I was not dreaming nor "seeing things"--I just know they were there, plainly, clearly, distinctly. I was neither astonished nor afraid. I was not even awed--I was only terribly pleased. I wanted to talk to them and touch them.

Our night nursery was lit by the dawn and I saw a group of Angels standing, as if chatting, around my young brother's bed. I was aware of this, although I could not hear their voices. They wore long flowing gowns of various soft-shaded colors. Their hair came to their shoulders, and different in color from fair and reddish to dark brown. They had no wings. At the foot of my brother Mircea's bed stood one heavenly being, a little aside from the others--taller he was, and extraordinarily beautiful, with great white wings. In his right hand he carried a lighted taper; he did not seem to belong to the group of Angels gathered around the bed. He clearly stood apart and on watch. I knew him to be the guardian Angel. I then became aware that at the foot of my own bed stood a similar celestial creature. He was tall, his robe was dark blue with wide, loose sleeves. His hair was auburn, his face oval, and his beauty such as I cannot describe because it was comparable to nothing human. His wings swept high and out behind him. One hand was lifted to his breast, while in the other he carried a lighted taper. His smile can only be described as angelic; love, kindness, understanding, and assurance flowed against the end of the bed, I stretched from under the bedcovers and, kneeling up against the end of the bed, I stretched out my hand with the ardent wish to touch my smiling guardian, but he took a step back, put out a warning hand, and gently shook his head. I was so close to him I could have reached him easily. "Oh, please don't go," I cried; at which words all the other Angels looked toward me, and it seemed I heard a silvery laugh, but of this sound I am not so certain, though I know they laughed. Then they vanished.

I was but a child when I saw my guardian Angel. As time passed I still sporadically remembered and acknowledged his presence, but mostly, I ignored him. Paradoxically, it was evil and distress that brought me up short and cleared by vision.

Perhaps due to all I had witnessed and undergone in the War and under Communist occupation, I was, in the following years, plagued by demonic nightmares. My only salvation while dreaming  these dreams was to make the Sign of the Cross. I have always known that I was asleep; it was a conscious dreaming--but to drag myself out of sleep into wakefulness was torture.

One day, in looking through a collection of old icons, I came across one done in three panels representing the guardian Angel; in the middle panel, he is defending his sleeping charge from bad dreams. Later, when plagued once more by one of my most fearsome of nightmares, upon wakening I suddenly remembered the icon, and with overpowering clarity I recollected that as a child I had seen my guardian Angel.

With utmost certainty, at that instant, I turned to my guardian Angel as I had not done since my childhood; and I knew positively as I did when I saw him, that he was standing by me to protect me. Reassured and at peace, I fell back into deep, restful sleep..."

____________________________________________

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.

+

Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

+++

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

+Father George