“Yolk unto them a radiant angel”
– Prayer from the Orthodox Rite of Baptism
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
My parish priest growing up once shared a story with our youth group about a time when he was out walking and wished to cross the street. Without looking both ways first, he began to dash into the middle of the road. Upon doing so, he said he felt a force similar to two hands pushing him backward as a car raced across his path the same moment. He didn’t see who or what had pushed him, only that he was pushed back just in time so as to avoid the oncoming car. An invisible protector had saved his life that day.
As Orthodox Christians we are thankful for the many gifts God has given us, many of which we celebrate formally this month, as Americans, on Thanksgiving Day. A holiday in our Church which is less talked about but also is celebrated in the month of November is the Synaxis (Gathering) of the Archangels on November 8. At every baptism, we pray that “a radiant angel” be assigned to the person being baptized, what we often know as our “guardian angel.” In Psalm 91, the Scriptures say “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (v.11) At every Divine Liturgy, when we sing the hymn “Invisibly escorted by the angelic hosts” (from “Ταις Αγγελικαις”), we affirm that angels worship with us. Our faith is also full of stories of God’s messengers being there in times of needs for each of us, such as the one conveyed to us by our priest growing up.
As we begin entering into the season of Thanksgiving this month, let us also be grateful for the many ways the Lord looks out for us and strengthens us, not the least of which are His angels. Let us remember that we can pray for help to our guardian angels, or any angels, in the same way we pray to the saints to intercede before God on our behalf. So many angels, as well as holy men and women, stand ready to protect and assist us, our children, and all people, in whatever hardships we may face. What an incredible blessing!
May the prayers of all the bodiless powers be with us this month and this beautiful holiday season.
With love in Christ,
Father Niko Bekris