Icon of the Synaxis of Holy Archangel Michael painted in St Elisabeth Convent*
On the 21st of November (the 8th of November on the Western Calendar), we celebrate the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers. On this day, we commemorate the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael, as well as the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Archangels Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel.
What are Angels and what do we know about them?
The Bible tells us, that Angels are God’s creations:
"Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created." (Psalm 148:2,5)
One of the most famous Holy Fathers of Orthodoxy, St John of Damascus, explained the nature of Angels in his book, "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith", written in the 7th century AD.
St John wrote:
"God is Himself the Maker and Creator of the angels; for He brought them out of nothing into being and created them after His own image. They are an incorporeal race, a sort of spirit or immaterial fire, even as the divine David says that 'His angels are spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.'; (Psalm 103:6).
Handmade Icon of Michael the Archangel from finely ground semiprecious stones*
Angels are bodiless spirits, so we cannot see them, but we should remember that reality is not exactly only the things that we can see with our eyes or perceive with our senses. There is much more to it - there’s a reality beyond our own. And each and every one of us is ultimately called to it.
What do the Angels do?
When we read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, we often see Angels as heralds, as messengers. This is the original meaning of the greek word “άγγελος” - messenger. Angels are also spiritual warriors who constantly protect us.
We also know that every Christian has a Guarding Angel. We pray to them, we seek their protection and help. They are also meant to be examples to us. On every Orthodox icon that depicts the Angels, we can clearly see Christ in their midst. This is what the Angelic Hosts are called to do eternally - they stand in the presence of God and serve the never-ending Divine Liturgy at His Throne.
We are called to emulate the Angels because, if God grants us the entrance to His Kingdom, then we will stand in His presence and glorify Him for Eternity, just as the Angels do. Therefore, we should learn to focus on God alone because this is the example that the Heavenly Hosts set for us.
What is the Feast of Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers all about?
The feast was established in the 4th century AD at the Council of Laodicea. The Holy Fathers condemned the worship of angels as gods and set a feast day in November to commemorate the Heavenly Hosts.
A handpainted icon of St Michael the Archangel made in St Elisabeth Convent*
In ancient times, the calendar year began in March, so November was the 9th month. November was chosen, as it represents the nine ranks of Angels that exist: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
The Lord appointed the Holy Archangel Michael as Chief Commander of all the Bodiless Hosts because he was the one who cast down Lucifer and the other fallen angels from Heaven.
In the Orthodox tradition, we celebrate this feast day by serving the Divine Liturgy and reading special prayers:
“Commanders of the heavenly hosts, we who are unworthy beseech you, by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory, and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you: “Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commanders of the powers on high!” (Troparion of the Synaxis)
If you are interested in virtually attending the Divine Liturgy on Sunday (22nd November, 9 AM Minsk time), then please use this link which will lead you to the Live Stream on our YouTube channel. Our Live Streams have English subtitles of the Service in Live Chat so that our English-speaking friends can pray along with us!
Also, if you have a prayer request, do not hesitate and send it to us via this form. We will pray for you and your loved ones during the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers.
* You can order this icon or other products of St Elisabeth Convent by clicking on this link.
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