Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Excerpt from the Homily on the Archangels Michael and Gabriel by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

  Excerpt from the Homily on the Archangels Michael and Gabriel by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (amateur translation)
...According to the Theologians, there are two foremost powers and special qualities and idioms of the holy God: the one being Righteousness, also called conferment and judgment, and the other is Goodness, also called faithfulness and compassion and mercy, as David says: “I will sing of Your mercy and judgment, O Lord.” With righteousness God judges and chastens men, when they sin, and do not keep His commandments, and with goodness He again shows mercy and compassion.

Now the Archangel Michel appears as the special Angel of the righteousness of God, for we see him utilized as a servant in order to chasten and to make continent the evil, and to protect those who take refuge in the good. This is clear from the many parts of the divine Scripture, and of course from the death of the first-born of the Egyptians worked by Michael, while the life of the first-born of the Hebrews was preserved.

The Archangel Gabriel appears as a special Angel of the goodness and compassion of God, for we see him utilized as a servant when there must be special compassion and mercy. This we also see many times, and of course from the good news which Gabriel offered to the world, of the great mercy by the coming of Christ.

Three are the special and greatest works which God performed: first, the creation of the noetic world, second, the creation of the sensible world, and third, the incarnate economy of God the Word. And in all three of these, first and foremost He utilizes Michael and Gabriel...

And therefore, Michael and Gabriel are the two brightest eyes of the all-perceiving God, with which He beholds and enlightens all of the visible and invisible world. Michael and Gabriel are the two strongest hands of the All-Governing One, with which He works all on heaven and earth. Michael and Gabriel are the two swiftest and thousand-winged feet of the Lord Who is everywhere present, with which He hastens everywhere and passes through not only the whole world, but even to the bodiless souls of men, even into the darkest abysses. Because of this in one instant you behold them to be found at one end of the earth and at the next instant to be found at the other end, here healing a barren woman, and there seizing one drowning in the abyss.

Michael, the Angel of divine fear; Gabriel, the Angel of divine grace. Michael, the chastening right hand of the Righteous One; Gabriel, the merciful right hand of the Lover-of-Man. Michael, who rests upon the strongest; Gabriel, who speaks from the ineffable. Michael, the stern eye of the Judge; Gabriel, the peaceful gaze of the Foreseer. Michael, the fearful voices and thunder and lightning and trumpets of the descent of God on Mount Sinai; Gabriel, the peaceful dawn, the calm embraces, the gladsome light and soft voice of He Who comes upon an ass [i.e. Christ's humble coming to Jerusalem] proclaiming the descent of God the Word to the womb of Mariam. Michael, the supreme servant of the Old Testament; Gabriel, the chosen servant of the new grace of the Gospel.

Michael had as a purpose the entrance of praxis, for he served the Law, as Paul said that we were under a custodian until Christ, while Gabriel has as a purpose the perfection of theoria, for he served the mystery of Christ, as he was the completion of the Law and the surpassing. Michael was the beginning and Gabriel the end. Michael was the fore-chastening, Gabriel the perfecting. Michael the Alpha and Gabriel the Omega. But they were not against each other or spoke against each other, of course not. But just as there is no praxis without theoria, neither is their theoria without praxis, according to the Fathers, in the same way, there is neither Michael without Gabriel, nor Gabriel without Michael. For as the Law springs the Gospels and the Gospel from the Law, in the same way, in Michael is found Gabriel and in Gabriel is found Michael, and the one and the other are united more than is the soul and the body. Because of this, wherever is Michael there is Gabriel, and wherever is Gabriel there is Michael. The two are always and everywhere inseparable. They are inseparable in Heaven, inseparable in the Old Testament, inseparable in the New. And in working wonders they are inseparable. And if Michael chastens the evil, he chastens towards continence, that they might fear the power and greatness of God and not neglect them due to His great goodness. And if Gabriel again shows them mercy, he does this that they might have hope and not come to despair from their great fear. And the two therefore have the same goal: the salvation of men and the fulfilling of the all-good will of God, as His good Gracious Angels...

But O most-glorious Michael and Gabriel, the sweetest among all the angels and men in reality and names, the Angels of the righteousness and goodness of God, the special servants of the special works of God, the two silver and golden-winged eagles, the two great Arch-soldiers of the life-creating Trinity, who with unflinching eyes behold the uncreated light of the three-sunned Godhead, the two arch-satraps and of the King of kings and Lord of lords, and first consultans and bodily protectors of the God-man Jesus Christ, the archangelic pair and beloved dyad desired-of to the world and by all, the adornment of all the Angels, the boasts of Christians, the excellent and special guides and protectors of the Monastic rank, who imitate your angelic way of life as much as possible: receive this offering which we all who have gathered today offer to doxology of the All-governing God Who loves man in honor of your holy gathering. Accept this as a gift and a smallest sign of thanksgiving for all that you continuously work for each of us, for you care for us, and in many ways save us from every evil. And we entreat you humbly to not abandon us of your fatherly providence, but, O most-sympathetic and most-compassionate, you approach us always and surround us, in order to fill us with holy theoria and spiritual minds, and to deliver us, by virtue of your approach, from all evil and obscene thoughts, and simply, all invisible and visible enemies which tempt us, because with grace like this, they are estranged if and when they approach. For St. Mark the Ascetic says: “When the holy Angels approach us, they fill us with spiritual theoria.” Similarly, Abba Issac says: “When the holy Angels approach you to surround you, all temptations hold back.” And because those who theologize say that to each man is granted one of the Angels in this preset life, you do not neglect, O divine Archangels, to grant to us this from you: first, to drive from our bodies and souls all those dangers which could accompany us externally or internally; and second, in order to compel us always towards the good, enlightening our nous with divine illumination, sweetening our desire and our heats with divine grace; third, to hinder from us the wiles and schemes of the demons; fourth, in order to offer our prayers to God, as the Angel Raphael offered the prayer of Tobit, and as the Angels in the Apocalypse offered the prayers of the Saints; fifth, to ever intercede to God on behalf of us; and sixth, to chasten us in a fatherly manner sometimes, when we stumble, not through vengeance, like the evil demons chasten us, but through correction and chastity, for this gift is granted to us.

And straightaway we entreat you: hearken unto our entreaties, O most-philanthropic Arch-soldiers of God, do not cease with your ineffable intercessions for us to to calm God's indignation, and to overlook, as the All-Compassionate One, all of our sins, whether committed in deed or in word or in thought, with which we embitter Him each day. Yea, we are sinners—we confess this—and have transgressed His holy commandments, but we know no other God but Him. Make us worthy, O Virgins and guardians of virgins, O Archangels, to pass through this life of ours in chastity and virginity, as we have planned, when we wear this Angelic Schema. Be for us protectors and sleepless guardians, for all of us who celebrate your all-holy Synaxis. And throughout this passing life, drive away from us the scandals, and machinations of all visible and invisible enemies, and at the hour of death, stand by us sinners as helpers, from the right and the other from the left, covering us with your golden wings, that our soul not behold the terrible sight of the evil demons. And taking us up, lead us unto the eternal and bright dwelling-place of the heavenly Kingdom, that we might ever glorify with you one Godhead in Trinity, to Whom belong all glory, honor and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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