The Creed – Part 8

“… and of all things visible and invisible.”

When the Creed refers to all things invisible it is referring to angels. God created the angels before creating the material world and human beings. The word “angelos” in Greek means ‘messenger” and being messengers is one of angels’ most important roles. We will remember that in St. Luke’s gospel we read about the angel Gabriel being sent to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she has been chosen to become the mother of Jesus Christ.
We know the names of only a few angels, but a 5th-6th century book, The Celestial Hierarchy, written by St. Dionysius the Areopagate, tells us that the angels are divided into nine choirs or groups. The highest of these choirs are those who serve God directly, that is, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The choir closest to us is composed of Dominions, Archangels and Angels. Scripture and tradition tell us that angels are always around us, especially at the Divine Liturgy. In the Old Testament we read about the Cherubim present at the service in the temple in Jerusalem:
“In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;…” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

The Book of Revelation describes the Liturgy in heaven:

“And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:6-8).

The four living creatures mentioned here are the angels worshipping before the throne of God. At our Divine Liturgy, during the Great Entrance when the priest carries the bread and wine into the sanctuary the choir sings the Cherubic Hymn showing the presence of angels:
Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares. That we may receive the King of All, who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts. Alleluia!”
We can see the continuity of the presence of angels at work in the New Testament and the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church.
In addition to angels being at Liturgy we all have our own Guardian Angel and we should frequently pray to them. One short prayer we can say is: “O holy angel of God, my guardian, pray to God for me.” There are other longer prayers to our guardian angel that we can find in an Orthodox prayer book either in print or online. Of course, in addition to the good angels there are the fallen angels, the demons.
These are the angels headed by Lucifer (or Satan) who rebelled against God. We read about this in the Book of Revelation

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Rev 12:7-9) and the Gospel of Luke: “And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18).

No one knows for sure why some of the angels rebelled against God but many believe it was because Satan and his followers could not tolerate being subordinate to God because they were so filled with pride. We know that Satan wants to lead us into rebellion against God. We remember the devil in the form of a serpent tempting Eve in the Book of Genesis and Satan tempting Jesus in the Gospels during his stay in the wilderness.
In general, we see the demons being very active during Christ’s ministry, opposing Him in various ways. For example, Christ deals with people who were possessed by demons and we also see that Satan “entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve…” (Luke 22:3) leading him to betray Christ. But the Gospel makes clear that Christ has complete authority over demons and that Christians then and now have nothing to fear from demons if we put our faith in Christ.
In baptism we are set free from the powers of the devil and if when we sin after baptism, through Confession we are set free again from the Evil One. Finally, by partaking of Holy Communion we participate in the resurrected Christ and his victory of Satan and the demons.

Fr. John