A CHURCH OF ANGELS
By: Fr Tadros Malaty
Each angel will be with one person whom he has been commissioned by God to guard and direct. Thus, when the saints are assembled, there will be two Churches; a church of the people and the other of the angels[i].”
This unity of the visible and invisible churches has been awarded to us through the Cross, for it has opened the gates of heaven, and granted us here on earth the experience of having the heavenly life in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Creator of heaven and earth became Man and dwelt among us. It was His loving will and delight to suffer on our behalf.
St. Paul says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) It is the pleasure of God’s angels to minister to us, as the members of the body of Christ (church) and the partakers of His inheritance. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1:14)
Even in the Old Testament they had their role. “..For the Law was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator (Gal. 3:19)[ii].”
SOLDIERS OF GOD
St. John the evangelist beheld the Archangel Michael and his angels who were caught up in God’s battle for our victory (Rev 12:7).
“..For He shall give His angels charge over you; to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 90:11).
He comments: “For it is the just that needs the aid of the angels of God, so as not to be overthrown by the devils, and so that their hearts will not be pierced by the arrow which flies in the darkness[iii].”
When the human soul is so young and still forming, she is guarded by angels and teachers called “the guardians of children”,
“Don’t despise one of these little ones for I say to you that in heaven their angels see the face of My father who is in heaven. (Matt 18:10)
The angels are nourished on the Wisdom of God (The Logos) and receive their strength from Him to accomplish their own good works of the contemplation on the Truth and Wisdom. The people of God are table-companions of the angels. “Man ate the bread of angels” (Ps. 77:25).
This bread is called in many places in the Old Testament “The Heavenly Bread.” (cf. Exodus 16:4; Neh 9:15; Ps. 78:24; 105:40) This Bread is the Logos of God and our source of eternal life, divine wisdom, real knowledge, purity, and brightness.
At the same time, the heavenly Groom (Jesus) calls on the angels as His own friends to eat and drink of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that produces in the hearts of men. “I have come to My garden, My sister, My spouse; I have gathered My myrrh with My spice; I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey; I have drunk My wine with My milk. Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!” (Song 5:1)
The angels are eager to see us (the Church) as the bride of Christ. St. John the evangelist says, “Then another angel came out of the temple and crying with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud;, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ (Rev 14:15)
St. John Chrysostom says that at the departure of a real believer one or more of the angels are sent to welcome his soul, accompany her and show her what God had prepared for her. They say to her, “Welcome home!”
MUTUAL LOVE AND CHURCH TRADITION
Till last century the feasts of angels, especially of Archangel Michael were well known by “The Setting Feasts” where people got to eat together, having mutual love among all members of the church. Through the Cross, The human is reconciled with the Heavenly Father, and having to enjoy the love of the heavenly hosts and the brothers.
ANGELS’ FEASTS, WHY?
- To remind us of our new life in Jesus Christ. We are called to be like the angels.
- To offer thanksgiving praises to God who guarded us with His angels as our guardians.
- To imitate them in their hunger and thirst for God the Logos, as their heavenly Food.
- To share in their heavenly traits, such as unceasing joy.
- To desire eagerly the Lord’s last coming with His angels, or our departure to be with Him and our new friends (the angels).
- To spare us the feeling of loneliness or inferiority, for we have lots of heavenly friends who are proud of us, for being the children of God.
- To discover their love as they pray on our behalf, for we are their close friends.
[i] Origen: On Prayer 31:4.
[ii] Origen: Comm. on the Songs of Songs: Prologue 4 (ACW).
[iii] Origen: Hom. in Num., 5, 3.