FEAST OF THE ARCHANGELS
On the 8th of November, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of Synaxis of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel and the rest of the archangels. The word synaxis means the gathering of believers to celebrate a feast, or to make a remembrance of a saint. This feast also has a special meaning; it is the gathering of the humans with the angels, “their union, their gathering and standing in fear in front of the Creator.”(1) Because of the fall of the devil and his angels, this feast is the celebration of the “sobriety and unity” of the rest of the angelic powers who stayed loyal to God. “We celebrate also the contribution of the angels and archangels and their help and support in the war against the dark powers and the devil.”(2)
We celebrate this feast of unity between angels and humans, and this unity is not in the “life to come” at the end of times — it starts in this world: the angels direct and guard the sons of God who are struggling in this world; they are glad with every sinner returning to God; they convey prayers to God’s throne. Hence, there is a common liturgical work between angels and humans. The angels offer a non-stop continuous doxology and mental worship with humans to God. They offer to the Holy Trinity the Trisagion: “With these holy powers, we sinners say the trisagion, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Sabaoth, the heavens and earth are filled with Thy glory, hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest’.” They gather around the holy altar with the priest to serve with him the Liturgy.
So there is only one celebration, one feast common between humans and angels: “Angels with humans celebrate together, earthly with heavenly speak.”(3) “Through Thy Cross Christ our God, the angels and humans become one church, heaven and earth are united, O Lord Glory to Thee.”(4) The angels are members of the Church, the body of Christ. The 8th of November is also a specific feast of Archangel Michael, going back in history in celebrating the memory of his church in Arkadia in Constantinople.
WORK OF ANGELS
From the book of Tobiah in the Old Testament, the Archangel Raphael reveals himself to Tobiah by saying: “I will not hide from you the mystery, when you were praying, you and Sarah, I was lifting your prayers to the Holy One … and now God sent me to heal your wounds … I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who lift the prayers of the saints and serve the Throne of the Holy One” (Tobiah 12:12-15). In this passage there is a description of the work of angels, which is mainly to lift the prayers of the saints and help God, and they are sent by God to humans to help them.
“And of the angels he saith, whom maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrew 1:7).
The word angelos is Greek and means “who is sent” or “messenger.” This name is given to them by God because of the function of serving the human race to be saved: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
~ By Nabil Semaan, taken from Mystagogy: The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos, (http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/angels-according-to-orthodox-tradition.html).
3. Liturgy of the Feast of Archangels
4. Troparion of Wednesday Orthros