Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Honouring Angels

November was chosen as the month to honour the angels because it is the ninth month after March, when it is thought the world was created. The first created being (after the creation of the world) were the nine orders of angels. The leader of the world’s angelic army is Michael. Gabriel is the herald of the mysteries of God, that is, the incarnation.
The Nicene Creed proclaims that God is the “Creator of Heaven and earth, and of all things, visible and invisible.” Just who are these invisible entities created by our Heavenly Father? They are, of course, the angels. According to the Scriptures and Holy Tradition, the Orthodox Church has provided us with the names of seven leaders of the heavenly powers. Perhaps the best known is the Archangel Michael. Michael in Hebrew means “Who is equal to God?” Of course, no one is like God – that is why he captained the army that drove Lucifer from heaven, for in his pride, Lucifer believed himself to be God’s equal.

Gabriel (“power of God”) is known for being God’s chosen messenger. He is best remembered for announcing to the Virgin Mary that she was to give birth to Christ. Raphael means “God’s healing.” For this reason, he is often depicted holding a physician’s jar in his hand. The fourth angel with whom we are familiar is Uriel – “light of God.” We usually see Uriel holding a sword in his right hand and a burning branding iron in his left. Angel #5 – Jegudiel – literally means “one who glorifies God.” We often find Jegudiel bearing a golden wreath in one hand and a whip in the other. Barachiel, another of the angels known by name, is commonly found wearing a white rose on his breast. His name is translated as “the blessing of God.” Finally, we find among the angels Salathiel – “one who prays with God.” Fittingly enough, Salathiel is depicted in a posture of prayer, with hands folded and head bowed.

What purpose do angels serve? They constantly minister at God’s Holy Throne. They are also God’s messengers, who serve Him in whatever way He desires. Finally, they fill the important role as our protectors and guardians.

Both Testaments of the Holy Bible give witness to the existence of the Heavenly Host of Angels, spirits not clothed with flesh. Although countless numbers of Angels are referred to, we know the names of but a few. There is the Archangel Michael, captain of the angelic host that fought against those who revolted against God; Archangel Gabriel, sent as a messenger of the Lord to the Holy Virgin; and mention is made of St. Raphael who journeyed with Tobias.

The Church speaks of several functions of the Angelic Host:
·     They are involved with the unceasing praise of Almighty God. In our Liturgy, we join the Angelic Choir in singing "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.
·      Angels are God's messengers to mankind. Not only was Archangel Gabriel sent to announce to the Holy Virgin that she would become the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but Angels proclaimed His Birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem. Again, an angel announced the Lord's resurrection from the dead to those who came to the empty tomb.
·      Angels are guardians of nations, churches, and people. In a special way they guard us from harm and guide us to our heavenly destiny. In the ceremony of Baptism, the Church prays that such a Guardian Angel protect the christened one.

There is said to be 9 choirs of Angels, in 3 ranks: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, adoring God at His throne; Dominions, Principalities and Powers, struggling against evil; and Virtues, Angels and Archangels, occupied with the care of Creation.

The Holy Orthodox Church calls upon us to pray to the Holy Archangel with faith and love. We are asked to utter these words: SAVE AND PRESERVE THOSE WHO CRY OUT TO YOU: "BE OUR DEFENSE SO THAT NO ONE CAN BE AGAINST US."
The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin … Vestal, Cliffwood, New Jersey … Litho in USA

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