Thinking of Angels

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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.

13 Responses to “Thinking of Angels”

  1. chrisjohn06 Says:

    Father I am a Roman Catholic , and I have to admit outside of one friend who is a Orthodox priest I know little about Orthodoxy. However I know that we bear a lot of similarties to each other liturgically and somewhat theologically. My question is, are Orthodox Christians more aware of these beings (angels) than there Catholic counterparts? My Catholic brethern seem to have almost forgot these sort of spiritual creations.

  2. fatherstephen Says:

    Chris,

    It is probably not incorrect to say that angels, along with many other parts of Roman Catholic tradition got shoved into the closet at Vatican II. How and when or whether they’ll ever be brought out again is anyone’s guess. Orthodox services are full of references to angels. We do tend to be more aware of them.

  3. Tyler Says:

    Wow, what an interesting list! My protestant scholasticism almost NEVER speaks about angels in any form or fashion, be they helping angels or ones in dreams.

  4. Hartmut Says:

    Dear father Stephen,
    in the meantime I read the book You recommended: Mother Alexandra, The Holy Angels. It is indeed very helpful. It’s a sad fact that for the average member (even an pastor) of the church I come from (Lutheran) the angels don’t matter very much in the daily life. I must confess that I myself for a long time mistook angels for mere symbols (in the modern sense) of the presence of god and not for creatures made by God.
    Since I’m on my way into the Orthodox Church I discovert and rediscovert so many things – Glory be God for his patience and mercy!

    Hartmut

  5. david guy Says:

    I am a retired United Methodist Minister. I have witnessed angels throuhghout my life. I praise God for them. While I have been aware of them from an early age I have never seen any but know most assuredly of their instant suddden arrival in my hour of need. They delight in God’s work and word. They are courageous, strong, and agile. They are swift. They have powers and can move about without wings. They can be frightening. They can and do speak so that you can hear them. They will often use a voice that you endear in order to reach you. It is rare for you to see one as they are Spirit-Beings, not having flesh and bones. Having said that, I will tell you that much like a mirage they can physically move you. You know this because you have been moved. Somryomrd there are several angels banded together very happi;y doing God’s will.

  6. Steve Says:

    David,

    Thanks for your post. The very fact that God breathed a soul into mankind, opens up undreamed of possibilities.

    You are so very right. An encounter with an angel always leads to fundamental change.

    They are seen when seeing is necessary. From what I gather, this happens more often than is generally believed.

  7. John Damianos Says:

    Hi, Fr. Stephen, I was wondering if I could use your picture of a cherub for an article on Cherubim on Orthodox Wikipedia? We don’t have a picture. Thank you!

  8. david guy Says:

    Dear Father Stephen: I like this forum. Recently, I have been meditating on heavenly bodies. The Magnificat in Luke 2:13kjv comes to mind. If I may attempt to quote it, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,” and of course, you automatically know verse 14.

    My question is to the text. Multitiude gives the word host a plural context. What host? Seraphims, Teraphims, Angels and or Arch-angels?

    This may not be answerable. I do know that we are all hidden in Christ. That different kinds of knowing is possible like personal knowing is different from objective factual knowing.

    On the personal sphere we may have faith which the late Paul Tillich says is our ultimate concern. Yet proving that faith as a fact may take some creative effort more than one might think. Yet, I have it and boast of it. I have come to believe that there are other heavenly host. It makes me happy to believe this. God’s world is not limited to our thinking nor our belief or lack of it. I am excited to know more of God’s revelation. It will come in His time. Until then, verse 14 is “Glory to God in highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

  9. fatherstephen Says:

    Our culture has privileged what it calls “facts” – simply a way of saying that objective rational knowing is superior to other kinds of knowing. I do not think God knows me as a fact, for instance. As to the angels – the hosts – I have no idea. Just lots and lots of them.

  10. Joel Watson Says:

    Year ago, I was Chaplain at San Francisco City Prison, General Hospital and worked on the Streets twice a month as the Night Minister. One night I was walking alone, not another soul on the street and suddenly there was a young man before me. We talked for a while, very very deep conversation right from the beginning and have gave me assurance on what I was doing and doing with the life I was living. We walked a bit and then as a turned my head for a moment, and turned back he was gone. There were no doorways or any other place he could have gone, he simply was not there. Immediately I knew that he was, well, an angel. I have never forgotten that, and never really told anyone about it except my wife years later. Do I “believe in angels?” Yes. I do., but I can not explain any of the above. I do know God was there, where I was.

  11. Barb Says:

    I hope you got the first part. Somehow I either deleted it or sent it by mistake. I would like to know about the thinking angle. My sister found a pendant and we need to know what it stands for. She told me it was the Thinking Angle

  12. Barb Says:

    You didn’t get the first part. My brother (brother in law) passed away on Nov. 6. I was told that it was special that he passed in november because of All Saints Day. I need to know why. also my sister found a thinking angle pendant. I would like to know its meaning

  13. fatherstephen Says:

    Barb,
    I can only assume that someone suggested your brother’s death, being so near to the feast day of All Saints occurred at a special time. I am not familiar with a thinking angel pendant.

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