Commemorated on 8/21 November
The Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers was established at the beginning of the Fourth Century at the Council of Laodicea. was established at the beginning of the fourth century at the Council of Laodicea, which met several years before the First Ecumenical Council. The 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea condemned and denounced as heretical the worship of angels as gods and rulers of the world, but affirmed their proper veneration.
The Feast was established in November, the ninth month after March (with which the year began in ancient times) since there are Nine Ranks of Angels. The eighth day of the month was chosen for the Synaxis of all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven since the Day of the Dread Last Judgment is called the Eighth Day by the holy Fathers. After the end of this age (characterized by its seven days of Creation) will come the Eighth Day, and then “the Son of Man shall come in His Glory and all the holy Angels with Him” (Mt. 25:31).
There are nine ranks of all the archangels according to St. Dionysius the Areopagite: Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Archangels and Angels; their number is very large.
Angelic Ranks are divided into three hierarchies – the higher, middle, and lower. Each hierarchy is composed of three ranks. The highest hierarchy includes: the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones.
Closest of all to the Blessed Trinity are the six-winged Seraphim (Flaming, Fiery) (Isaiah 6:2). They are aflame with love for God and encourage others toward such love.
After the Seraphim the closest rank to the Lord are the the many-eyed Cherubim (Gen. 3:24). Their name means: outpouring of wisdom, enlightenment, because through them, shining the light of the knowledge of God and the understanding of the mysteries of God, descends wisdom and enlightenment for true knowledge of God.
After the Cherubim, according to God-bearing grace given to them for service, are the are Thrones (Colossians 1:16). Mystically and incomprehensibly bearing God, they serve God’s justice.
The middle angelic hierarchy consists of three Ranks: Dominions, Powers, and Authorities.
Dominions (Col. 1, 16) have authority over the successive ranks of Angels. They instruct wise governance to the earthly rulers established by God. Dominions instruct how to master one’s emotions, to tame sinful lust, to enslave the flesh to the spirit, to master one’s will, and to overcome temptations.
Powers (1 Peter 3:22) fulfill God’s will. They perform miracles and send down the grace of wonderworking and clairvoyance to the saints of God. Powers help people to fulfill obediences, strengthen patience, and bestow spiritual strength and courage.
Authorities (1 Peter 3:22; Colossians 1:16) have the power to tame the power of the devil. They repel demonic temptations from people, strengthen and guard ascetics, and help people in their struggles with evil thoughts.
The lower hierarchy consists of three ranks: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.
Principalities (Colossians 1:16) rule over the lower angels, directing them to the fulfillment of the divine commandments. They were instructed to control the universe, to protect countries, peoples, and nations. Principalities instruct people to render honor to everyone, befitting one’s rank. They instruct those in authority to perform their official duties, not for personal glory or profit, but for the honor of God and the good of others.
Archangels (1 Thessalonians 4:16) announce the gospel about the great and glorious, reveal the mysteries of faith, prophecy and the understanding of God’s will. The Archangels strengthen in people the holy faith, enlightening their minds with the light of the Holy Gospel.
Angels (1 Peter 3:22) are closest to people. They proclaim God’s intent and instruct people to lead virtuous and holy lives. They preserve faith, restrain people from falling, raise up the fallen, never abandoning us, and always ready to help, if we request.
All ranks of Heavenly Powers bear the common name of Angels – in light of their ministry. God reveals His will to the highest angels, and they, in turn, enlighten the others.
Above all nine ranks the Lord established the Holy Archangel Michael (his name in translation from Hebrew – “who is like God”) – a faithful servant of God, for he is raised to cast Lucifer out of heaven with the other fallen spirits. And he said to the rest of Angelic Powers: “Let us attend! Let us stand aright before our Creator and eradicate any thoughts displeasing to God!”
According to Church tradition, Archangel Michael is attributed to participation in many events of the Old Testament. At the time of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, he went before them in the form of a pillar of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Through him was revealed the strength of the Lord, destroying the Egyptians and Pharaoh, who pursued the Israelites. Archangel Michael defended Israel in all disasters.
He appeared to Joshua and revealed the will of the Lord for the capture of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-16). The strength of the great Archangel was revealed in the destruction of 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian King Sennacherib (4 Kings 19:35.), in the defeat of the wicked leader Antiochus Iliodor and in the protection from the fire of the three holy youths – Ananias, Azarias and Misael, who were thrown into the furnace to be burned for refusing to worship an idol (Daniel 3:92-95).
By the will of God, the Archangel delivered the Prophet Habakkuk from Judah to Babylon, to give food to Daniel entrapped in the lions’ den (Akathist, Kontakion 8). Archangel Michael forbade the devil to reveal to reveal to the Jews the body of the holy Prophet Moses for deification (Jude 1:9).
Holy Archangel Michael also showed his power when he miraculously saved the child, who was cast by looters into the sea with a stone around his neck off the coast of Mount Athos (Athos Paterik).
Holy Scripture and Tradition give us the names of the Archangels:
- Michael: tramples the devil underfoot.
- Gabriel: strength (power) of God, herald and servitor of Divine omnipotence (Dan 8:16, Luke 1:26). He announces the mysteries of God.
- Raphael: the healing of God, the curer of human infirmities (Tobit 3:16, 12:15)
- Uriel: the fire or light of God, enlightener (3 Ezdras 5:20). We pray for him to enlighten those with darkened minds.
- Selaphiel: the prayer of God, impelling to prayer (3 Ezdras 5:16). He prays to God for mankind.
- Jehudiel: the glorifying of God, encouraging exertion for the glory of the Lord and interceding for the reward of efforts.
- Barachiel: distributor of the blessings of God for good deeds, entreats the mercy of God for people.
- Jeremiel: the raising up to God (3 Ezdras 4:36).
– Translated from Russian