On the Angels
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages, amen.
Today we celebrate the holy angels and archangels. In truth, even if they are not seen they are present with us and always surrounding us. Every one of us has a guardian angel entrusted to us by the Lord from the time we were in our mother's womb, before we even became a complete person in body and spirit to watch over us until we reach our final end, glorifying in paradise with the Lord Jesus. At that time the angels come to take us with them and accompany us to our final destination on the path of holiness. If we notice that there are many things that happen in existence like injustice and abuse, and you do not have anyone to support you and give you your right, but they have no power over you. As a result, you accept what you must accept, and you remain in your peace and do not fear, as the Lord commanded to the one who had heard about his daughter's death. He said to him: Do not fear. Even standing on the verge of the abyss, do not fear. Stay firm in your faith. Only trust. At that point, the angels whom the Lord has entrusted cannot delay or be negligent in guarding you. They are able because they have grace and power and they are not ever defeated. It remains for you to not fear and to not be anxious. This anxiety is the way in which the Devil takes control over our minds and our life. He has no power and is not able to do anything except to cause us fear, and when we are weak, he dominates us. The angels, in their holy presence, do not let you feel their presence. They do not cause you fear, but rather fill your heart and your conscience with light, peace, and tranquility, and the anxiety stops. "Do not let your hearts be troubled," says the Lord, "because I give you peace, not as the world." The world greets you with peace to your face, but behind your back they betray you. They angels do not betray, because they have no other weapon besides obedience to the will of God. God sends them to serve you, and so do not have fear, because they will not abandon you and they have the power to fulfill the will of God. It is for you to respond to them and to imitate them in constant, unceasing prayer. Their constant work is to pray, to praise God, to glorify Him. So you respond with them in prayer. Perhaps a person's circumstances will put him under pressure and not allow him to pray with calmness, as we are doing today with long, blessed prayers, taking our time. However, when one is traveling, one is under specific pressure and has a reason for being disturbed and maybe cannot stand for an hour and pray. However at every moment, if he remembers that he is under the Lord's protection, he can give thanks to Him and praise Him, and so he prays more than one who stands for an hours while his mind is far from prayer. He imitates the angelic powers with constant prayer. Always, as when you're breathing, cry out to Him: Lord have mercy on me! May your name be praised, O Lord! Your will be done. Simple words. Easy expressions, but they pierce the heart and bring the Holy Spirit inside our being ,and they do not allow us to be far from Christ's love and care.
Thus we should celebrate these holy angels who are unseen but who are present with us at every moment when we are in danger or difficulty, helping us and sustaining us. This is not even to speak of the many situations where a person is at the limits of his weakness and doctors give up on him and friends pray for the rest of his soul, but God gives him strength and life because his angel did not yet want to let him die. Do you know why? Because he did not want to surrender him, or to let him fall into sin. As long as the holy angels hold on to him, they will not release him or fail him and the Evil One will not have power over him. This is how the Lord preserves us in all the circumstances of our life, with these holy lights and piercing intellects. They are bodiless, but they reach us and understand us and help us and they know how to achieve God's purpose for our salvation in this life.
Likewise, when we come across a good, holy, righteous person, a loving servant, we consider him to be an angel. He is a person, but his behavior is in this way beneficial to others and so we consider him to be an angel, like the honorable forerunner who lived a life full of purity and holiness and who was given the honor of baptizing Christ in the river Jordan. His life was angelic. Likewise likewise we consider angels the many fathers and martyrs who distinguished themselves with this rigor and purity in their conscience, their life, and their behavior. Even the Lord Jesus, when He wanted to describe human life in the Kingdom, He said that they will become like the angels, not marrying and not being given in marriage, which is to say that they have no bodily concerns but rather are like the angels. With what are the angels concerned? They are concerned with giving praise to the Lord, continuously chanting Holy Holy Holy Lord of Sabaoth. And so, beloved, when prayer becomes heavy for us, we must repeat part of this chant so that we remember that the angels are in heaven right now. Our angels are always in Christ's presence, bearing up to Him our hopes and our prayers, all our life. They cry out to Him: Holy Holy Holy Lord of Sabaoth. So then why should we not resemble those who intercede for us without ceasing, especially since their prayers do not stop!
Our hope in this feast is that we begin to take care to give praise to the Lord even more rigorously in our life, in our words, in our thoughts, and in all our behavior. This coming Sunday, by the grace of the Lord, the Nativity Fast begins, during which we prepare to receive the birth in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So we must be attentive to this and begin with sincerity and enthusiasm. From today, we prepare for this blessed fast, accepting it with zeal and enthusiasm, so that we may pass every day of this life like the angels, cut off from pleasures and with continuous prayer so that our mind and our being will rise up to glorify the Lord, Amen.
-Archimandrite Pandeleimon Farah, Abbot of the Monastery of the Dormition, Hamatoura. This sermon was originally given on November 8, 2009.
Reprinted with permission from the blog, Notes on Arab Orthodoxy