Patriarch Daniel of Romania referred to the qualities and ministries of the bodiless powers during his sermon at the Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence on the feast of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel on Monday.
The Romanian Patriarch explained that the term ‘angels’ is generally used to refer to all heavenly bodiless powers, while angels are actually the lowest order and closest to humans.
Qualities and ministries
We have nine angelic choirs divided into three groups or triads. The first triad consists of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. The second triad consists of Dominions, Virtues, and Powers. And the third consists of Principalities, Archangels, and Angels, the Patriarch explained.
These heavenly powers grouped into nine orders have unique qualities and ministries.
“The holy heavenly and bodiless powers called ‘Seraphim’ are around the Throne of God; they are the bodiless creatures closest to the Holy Trinity. And the Cherubim follow the Seraphim.”
Patriarch Daniel said that the Seraphim have six wings each: “With two they fly, with two they cover their eyes because they are overwhelmed by the glory of God – that is, His beauty, goodness, and wisdom – and with two they cover their feet because they are near the Most Holy Trinity.”
The Cherubim have many eyes, which means that they pay more attention to receiving the glory of God, but also to fulfilling His will with great abnegation, self-sacrifice, and fidelity, Patriarch Daniel explained.
“The second triad, of Dominions, Virtues, and Powers, deals especially with the guarding of the universe created by God, and they have dominion over hell. They also have power over demons.”
“And the lowest triad – including Principalities, Archangels, and Angels – not only shows what God’s will is to be done but also helps humans.”
In general, angels proclaim the will of God, the Patriarch noted.
“They are heralds or, as a newer biblical dictionary says, ‘God’s spokescreatures.’”
They take human form to communicate more easily
Patriarch Daniel noted that Archangels and Angels often take the form of a human even though they have no substance, only form.
“They take the form of a human to communicate God’s will to people more easily and to encourage them more. If they showed themselves in a form other than human, angels, in general, would frighten people. They show themselves as humans without having human substance because they are immaterial spiritual beings. They are limited in space, but they have the power to move very fast by the grace of God.”
The Patriarch said that the names of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael are first mentioned in the Book of the Prophet Daniel. Then, the First Book of Enoch and what is known from Tradition completes the list of the names of the seven Archangels with Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Gudiel, Barachiel.
They proclaim God through praise and their way of being
Patriarch Daniel went on to say that the Old Testament notes that “the throne of the eternal God, the Maker of angels, of heaven and earth, is surrounded by myriads (thousands and thousands) of Seraphim and Cherubim.”
“Myriads of angels praise God unceasingly and proclaim His glory not only through praise but also through their way of being icons of God’s holiness.”
“Every bodiless heavenly power is an icon of light in which the glory of God is reflected as in a mirror.”
“Therefore, angels appear before people as being clothed in bright garments, in garments of light, and have faces of great beauty,” explained Patriarch Daniel recalling the angel who proclaimed the resurrection of Christ to the Myrrh-bearing women.
“They look like young people dressed in white. This beauty, glory, divine light on the faces of angels and their shining garments – which are made not of material but of light, of the presence of God’s grace in them – have often been painted by God-inspired painters to show that the bodiless heavenly powers proclaim God not only through the message, ideas and words they convey but also through their way of living, of being.”
At the end of his sermon, Patriarch Daniel turned his attention to the almost 1.5 million Romanians who bear the names Michael and Gabriel or derivatives, and he addressed them with kind wishes and “Happy Name Day!”