The Holy Angels


This 8th of November is the Feast of St. Michael and All the Bodiless Powers of Heaven. The feast marks its own special occasion, but it seems entirely appropriate that the feast should be so close to the beginning of the Nativity Fast. There are very few Biblical stories where angels do not play a part, and their presence only grows greater with the incarnation of Christ. In the life of the Church they surround our every action. And thus it is good to celebrate these humble messengers of God.

I offer here a few thoughts on their many occasions of help to mankind.

  • Cherubim were posted at the entrance of the Garden of Eden protecting us from the damage we would do to ourselves by entering where we should not yet go.
  • An angel ministered to Hagar, saving her and her child from death.
  • An angel intervened and spared the life of Isaac staying the hand of Abraham at Mount Moriah.
  • An angel accompanied Abraham’s servant as he returned to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac.
  • An angel spoke to Jacob in a dream directing him how to find his freedom from his father-in-law Laban.
  • An angel appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of the burning bush.
  • In all of the travels of Israel during the Exodus, the Angel of the Lord went with them and protected them.
  • All of the Judges of Israel seem to have guided and protected by angels.
  • Angels are found in the visions of the prophets.
  • An angel speaks to Joachim and Anna and brings good news to that barren household.
  • An angel speaks to Zechariah as he ministered in the Temple.
  • An angel speaks to the Theotokos and brings the glad tidings of salvation for all mankind.
  • An angel speaks with Joseph and told him that the child she had conceived was of the Holy Spirit.
  • Angels spoke to the shepherds of the salvation that had been born in Bethlehem.
  • Again an angel told Joseph to take the Theotokos and the Christ Child into Egypt.
  • Angels ministered to Christ after His temptation in the wilderness.
  • An angel appeared to Christ strengthening Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • An angel greeted the women at the tomb and announced the resurrection.
  • Angels stood by and explained the meaning of the ascension to the disciples.

I could, of course, amplify this small list – but these few mentions serve to show how constantly the angels have looked after us and been a part of God’s saving work among us. Thus it is always fitting that we should give thanks to God for their work and not forget the good they have done.

Comments

  1. says

    The photo is of the dome of the Orthodox Church of the Shepherds in Beit Shahour, near Bethlehem. Around the drum of the dome is depicted Christ at the holy table, with angels making the Great Entrance.

  2. Rick says

    An amazing image, Father. Thank you.
    I’ve taken to reading your blog from the beginning, while also staying up to date with your new posts as they arrive. Should meet somewhere in the middle, I suppose. Like those guys who built the railroad.
    Blessings.

  3. Jenny says

    Rick, I’ve been slowly doing the same thing the past couple of months; I was wondering if it was a bit schizoid, but your analogy to building a railroad strikes a chord! Thank you.
    Father’s teachings within the “walls” of this classroom are like vitamin supplements for my misinformed withering brain, salve to my wounded soul, soothing my clamoring head and heart. As a Roman Catholic (in a former life), I just never understood…I tried so hard to keep all the rules, obey all the sometimes conflicting catecheses, had so many unanswered questions, and the confusion nearly destroyed me. Within Eastern spirituality, I’ve begun to find peace. Christ is in our midst!

  4. Timothy says

    Compared with the things that merely are, with irrational forms of life and indeed with our own rational natures, the holy ranks of heavenly beings are obviously superior in what they have received of God’s largess. Their thinking processes imitate the divine. They look on the divine likeness with a transcendent eye. They model their intellects on him. Hence it is natural for them to enter into a more generous communion with the Deity because they are forever marching toward the heights, because, as permitted, they are drawn to a concentration of an unfailing love for God, because they immaterially receive undiluted the original enlightenment, and because, ordered by such enlightenment, theirs is a life of total intelligence.
    St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Celestial Hierarchy 4.2

    The existence of created but incorporeal spirits shows us the possibility of a direct knowledge of spiritual reality, a direct communication between spirit and spirit. From this result two modes or planes of the revelation of God: one directly spiritual, and one that occurs through sensible forms.
    Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God, Vol 2, p. 120

  5. Micah says

    Victor,

    I find that the distinction between prayer and worship comes across far better in German– where beten (prayer) is a stem of anbeten (worship) — than English.

    In Old English at least to pray was practically synonymous with to ask, not that there’s anything wrong with asking of course.

    Thankfully, there’s no requirement that one be a linguist to pray, (or ask) or worship God (Who alone can retain our worship).

    Humility is a more than a must of course, for how would we fit through the narrowest of gates?