Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers


For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways
Psalm 90:11

The Archangel Michael, whose feast falls on November 8/21, is especially honored In the Orthodox Church. Since ancient times prayers have been offered up to him. There are many testimonies about the Archangel Michael’s intercessions for ordinary people. St. Gregory Palamas called the Angels “secondary lights”. According to St. Gregory the Theologian, “God is the supreme Light... The secondary Light is the Angels—a certain stream or communion from the primary Light; they find their transformation in striving for the primary Light and service to It” (Homily for Holy Baptism).

The name of each Angel can have several meanings. Thus, “Michael” translates as “God is one” and “there is no one like God.” Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh summarizes these meanings and says that we must worship the Almighty. This is the meaning of the name of the Archangel Michael. When we open the Holy Scriptures, we find many references to the holy Archangel Michael. The Greek word “archangelos” means “chief angel”. The word “archangel” is not used to describe Michael in the Old Testament, but another angel calls him one of the chief princes (Dan. 10:13).

The name of the Archangel Michael is often mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee (Jude 1:9). In the Book of Revelation the holy Apostle John sees a great battle in Heaven: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Rev. 12:7–9).

The celebration of the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Heavenly Powers was established in the fourth century at the local Council of Laodicea, which was assembled a few years before the First Ecumenical Council (or in 360).

Since ancient times the Archangel Michael has been famous for his miracles in Russia. In the Volokolamsk Paterikon the story of St. Paphnuty of Borovsk is given from the words of the Tatar Baskaks about the miraculous salvation of the city of Veliky Novgorod: “He went to the Lithuanian cities, came to Kiev, saw the great Archangel Michael painted above the door at the stone church, and said to his princes, pointing with his finger: ‘This one forbade me to go to Veliky Novgorod.’”

The intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos for Russian cities have always been carried out by Her appearances with the Heavenly Host under the leadership of the Archangel. Grateful Russia sang of the Most Pure Theotokos and the Archangel Michael in church hymns. Monasteries and numerous churches are dedicated to the Archangel. There was no city in Russia where there was no church or chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

For centuries people have turned to the Archangel Michael and the Heavenly Host for help—and the Heavenly Powers have never forsaken those who needed help. Therefore, we must as often as possible turn to the Heavenly helpers, including the Guardian Angel given to each one of us. They are always near and always ready to help. We are only required to pray with pure hearts and thank the Lord for everything.

Translation by Dmitry Lapa

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Skete


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