Angels–Messengers from God–appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named. Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces: Raphael guides.
Michael appears in Daniel’s vision as “the Great Prince” who defends Israel against enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God’s armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the Church of the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.
Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel’s visions, announcing Michael’s role in God’s plan. His best known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.
Raphael’s activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit’s son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to three-fold happy ending: Tobiah’s marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit’s blindness and the restoration of family fortune.
Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God’s protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly!
Today also begins a countdown of 22 days to our October Icon Workshop with Vladislav Andrejev (October 20–24, 2014). There are 22 steps to the “Ladder of Icon Writing” — is this another example of Divine Coincidence?? I believe this is no coincidence, rather a sign that people are listening to the call of contemplative prayer!
The first step on this “ladder” is the icon board itself. This is where students begin their new icon. The icon board represents the Tree of Life and the Return to Paradise. A call to prayer, a reminder of where we need to be in our daily lives. Twenty two of you have listened. Other interesting facts: there are 22 letters that make up the Hebrew alphabet which are used to compose the Word of God. The word of God is called a lamp (Psalms 119:105 and Proverbs 6:22) thus it is the light by which we are to live. The word “light” is found 264 times in Scripture. When 264 is divided by 12 (Divine Authority) we have twenty-two, which represents light. Go ahead, “google” it, I did!
I leave you now with a quote from St. Hildegard: “Just as a father or mother answers a child when it tries to learn something from them, so also the Holy Spirit fosters human knowledge in any of the arts when the person seeks to learn it through inclination, desire, and diligence.” Let me know what you think, I’m listening!