Guardian of Our Souls and Bodies
Long ago, before the creation of mankind, an epic battle took place that shaped the course of the entire cosmos. The angels of God, led by Archangel Michael, fought against the dark forces of Satan. The Archangel addressed the heavenly host saying: “Let us stand well! Let us stand with fear!” All the angels then replied with one voice: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth! Heaven and earth are full of Your glory!” The outcome of this battle was the expulsion of Satan and his forces from heaven. As our Lord Jesus Christ would later testify: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven!” (Luke 10:18). From that moment, the holy angels of God have never ceased to fight on our behalf against evil, protecting and leading mankind on the path to salvation.
When Joshua, the leader of the Jewish people, came to Jericho centuries ago he saw a mighty angel standing before him carrying a sword. “Are you for us or on the side of our enemies?” he asked. The angel replied: “I am the chief captain (αρχιστράτηγος) of the host of the Lord!” Joshua fell on his face, saying “O Master, what do you command your servant?” (Joshua 5:14).
St Isaac the Syrian explains why we don’t have a greater awareness of the presence of angels: “Divine providence surrounds all persons at all times, but it is not visible except to those who have purified their souls of sin”. More often than not, the dangers we face throughout our lives are spiritual sinfulness rather than physical. As St Paul writes: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This is why in our evening prayer (Ἀπόδειπνο), we pray to our guardian angel: “strengthen my poor and feeble hand, and guide me in the way of salvation”.
At every Divine Liturgy, the priest or deacon prays that God grant “an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies”. The recently canonised Saint of our Church, St Iakovos of Evia (1920-1991), according to his own testimony, would officiate as a priest at every Divine Liturgy surrounded by a throng of holy angels, Cherubim and Seraphim. During the Preparation service (προσκομιδή), he would see angels of the Lord taking the portions of those being remembered, placing them before the throne of Christ, as prayers.
What a great blessing it is for us to be surrounded by holy angels! To know that we have an angel of peace always at our side, a guardian of our soul and body, protecting us in every moment of our lives from every spiritual and physical danger.
Source: Lychnos November/December 2018