The Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangels-November 8


My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,



In the 4th century, Pope Sylvester and Patriarch Alexander established this day to celebrate the nine orders of Angels. According to a Church Canon of the Fourth-century Council of Laodicea, Angels are not to be worshipped. Each Angel has his particular service, but all are equal in honor. The Hierarchy of the Nine Orders is six-winged Seraphim, many-eyed Cherubim, godly Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Archangel Michael is the leader of the Angelic army. His name means, "Who is like God." When Lucifer (Satan) and his followers were cast down from heaven, Archangel Michael said, "Let us give heed! Let us stand aright! Let us stand with fear!" Archangel Michael defends the Garden of Eden, told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac his son, 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. In Orthodox churches, the image of Archangel Michael is situated on the left of the holy icon screen (Eikonostasion), and Archangel Gabriel is on the right. The name Gabriel means "The Power of God." Archangel Gabriel announces the Mysteries of God. (Source: Daily Lives, Miracles, and Wisdom of the Saints and Fasting Calendar 2018 by The Orthodox Calendar Company)


The Holy Angels (Part I)

Like the existence of God, the existence of the Holy Angels is presumed, not asserted. Angels in the Holy Bible are referred to simply as an 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 Holy 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.

For a more complete knowledge of Angels and their nature, we have first to examine the Holy Bible as a whole, both the Old and the New Testaments, in order to know what has been revealed to us about spiritual beings; only then can we pick up the threads chronologically, according to the books of the Holy Bible. 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 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. "Yes in Him all created things took their being, heavenly and earthly, visible and invisible..." (Col. 1:16).

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, but 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.

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 completed beings, but without material form.

Angels are of a superiority all but incomprehensible to us, but they are part of our lives: by God's boundless mercy, they are destined, in great moments of history, to be 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 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 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 the 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 was His decree that fashioned them, His Command that gave them birth" (Psalm 148:2-5). [Source: The Holy Angels by Mother Alexandra]

(To be continued)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostom


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

+Father George