The Synaxis of Michael the Chief Commander and of the Other Bodiless Hosts

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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.

ON NOVEMBER 8TH--OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE SYNAXIS OF MICHAEL THE CHIEF COMMANDER, AND OF THE OTHER BODILESS HOSTS

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Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

Supreme Commander of the Hosts of the Heavens, we, the unworthy, importune and beseech you that by your supplications ye encircle us in the shelter of the wings of your immaterial glory, guarding us who now fall down and cry to you with fervor: Deliver us from dangers of all kinds, as the great marshals of the heavenly hosts on high.

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Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone

Supreme Commander of God and ministers of the Divine glory, guides of men and leaders of the bodiless hosts: Ask for what is to our profit and for great mercy, since ye are Supreme Commanders of the bodiless hosts.

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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 ancestors of the whole visible world. The local Council in Laodicea, that 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 ninth (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 who was caught up to the Third Heaven), writes of these Nine Orders in his books: '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: '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 St. 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 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 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

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FOR CONSIDERATION

That the Angels are constantly involved in this world is testified to, clearly and unmistakably, in Holy Scripture. Both from the Holy Scripture 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 those 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 in his left hand a branch of green palm. Archangel Michael is considered especially to be the guardian of the Orthodox Christian faith and a fighter against heresy.

'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 this 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 in 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 of 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. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)

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The down-flowing Life of Providence has a threefold operation: It is perfective, illuminating and purifying. These qualities characterize the activities of each triad, though the work of the highest is said to be essentially perfective, that of the middle more definitely illuminative, and that of the lowest triad purgative.

Thus, while the Celestial Hierarchies are the transmitters of Providential Life to all below them, they constitute for the aspiring soul which unites itself to them a spiritual ladder of ascent from earth to heaven which is seen to correspond with the threefold Way traversed by all great mystics--the Active Life through the Way of Purification, whereby men may become true servants of God; the Inner Life, the Way of Illumination and of real sonship with God; and the Contemplative Life, which is the Unitive Way whereby men may attain to true friendship with God.

The Purificatory Way leads to the Immaculate Good; through the Illuminative Way is revealed the Sacred Majesty of Truth; and in the Perfective Way union is attained with the Supreme Beauty.

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"And He summoneth all the Hosts of Heaven, and all the Holy Ones above--the Seraphim, the Kerubim, the Ophanim, all the Spirits of Power, the Blessed Ones, and all the Spirits of Principalities, the Angels, and the Powers on earth and over the water: with one voice shall they bless and glorify and exalt the Lord, in the virtue of faith, and in the virtue of wisdom, in the virtue of patience, and in the virtue of mercy, in the virtue of justice, and in the virtue of peace, in the virtue of goodness, and shall sing with one voice: 'Blessed is He: may the Holy Name of the Lord of Hosts be blessed for ever" (Book of Enoch).  [Source: Mystical Theology and the Celestial Hierarchies by Saint Dionysius  the Areopagite]

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DIVINE SERVICES FOR FEAST:

Great Vespers at 7:00 p.m. (This evening) at the Chapel of St. Nektarios.

Wednesday morning (November 8th):

Orthros at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. at St. Andrew

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"

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

+Father George