Thought of the day
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, archangels - Feast

The holiness of the angels

     "By the Lord's word the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host" (Ps 33:6)… Here we perceive the Three, the Lord who gives the order, the Word who creates, and the Spirit who confirms. And what else could this confirmation be than a perfecting in holiness? This perfecting expresses unchangeableness and fixity in good, but there is no sanctification without the Holy Spirit. The powers of the heavens are not holy by nature; otherwise there would be no difference between them and the Holy Spirit. They receive their measure of holiness from the Spirit, according to their rank…

Their substance is perhaps an ethereal spirit, or an immaterial fire, as it is written, " You make the winds your messengers; flaming fire, your ministers" (Ps 104:4). They exist in space and can become visible and appear in a bodily form to those that are worthy. But their holiness… comes through their communion with the Spirit. They keep their rank by abiding in the good and true; while they retain their free will, they never fall away from their patient attendance on Him who is truly good…

For how are angels to cry "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2:14) without being empowered by the Spirit? For "No one can say that 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit, and nobody speaking by the Spirit of God says 'Jesus be accursed,'" (1 Co 12:3) as might be said by wicked and hostile spirits… in their free will… And how could "thrones, dominions, principalities and powers"(Col 1:16) live their blessed life, if they did not "behold the face of the Father in heaven"? (Mt 18:10) But to behold it is impossible without the Spirit! ... How could the Seraphim cry "Holy, Holy, Holy," (Is 6:3) were they not taught by the Spirit? If "all His angels" and "all His hosts" praise God, it is through the co-operation of the Spirit. If "thousands on thousands" of angels stand before Him, and "ten thousand times ten thousand" ministering spirits, they are blamelessly doing their proper work by the power of the Spirit. All the glorious and unspeakable harmony of the highest heavens both in the service of God, and in the mutual concord of the celestial powers, can therefore only be preserved by the direction of the Spirit.

Saint Basil