Celebrating the Archangel Michael, The Defender of the Faith
My father, Michael John Jamis, has been passed almost 20 years. Many people called him Mike or Big Mike, due to his height of 6 feet, four inches. My father was a wonderful Orthodox Christian role model for me. Though it took until my mid-forties to fully appreciate it, nonetheless I recognize that it was through his examples that I serve my church and its ministries.
I love the feast day of the Synaxis of the Heavenly Bodiless Angelic Powers celebrated on November 8. This holiday was established in the fourth century at the Council of Laodicea. The 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicea condemned and denounced as heretical the worship of angels as gods and rulers of the world. It did however, affirm their proper veneration.
The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts includes Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers Archangels – Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel, Jehudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel. I wanted to find out more about my father’s name sake, Archangel Michael, so I did a bit of research.
Michael means “Like unto God” or “Who is like unto God?”. Mention of Michael first appears in the Old Testament, in the book of Joshua’s account of the fall of Jericho. He is not mentioned by name but Joshua “looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.” When Joshua asks which side of the fight the Archangel is on, Michael responds, “neither…but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come”. (Joshua 5:13-14)
The most famous of miracle of Michael’s is the salvation of the church at Colossae. A number of pagans tried to destroy the church by diverting the flow of two rivers directly into its path. The Archangel appeared among the waters and carrying a cross. He channeled the rivers underground so the church would not be destroyed. The spring which came forth after this event is said to have special healing powers.
The icon of St. Michael is beautiful. He is often depicted holding a sword in one hand. In the other hand he will carry a shield, date-tree branch, a spear, or a white banner. In some icons he is holding an orb in the one hand and a staff in the other.
At your church, have you ever noticed the side doors the priest uses to enter the altar? Archangels Michael and Gabriel are usually the entry angels to the right and left of the center doors, the “Beautiful Gate.”
I wanted to honor my father in some way for the teachings and examples he bestowed upon me while I was growing up. My first-born daughter is named “Michelene”. He was thrilled when she was born and was a constant in her life until he passed. He would be proud of the young woman she has become today.
Joanne is the author of Ordinary Is Extraordinary, available through Amazon.
“Honor Thy Father” is another OCN post Joanne wrote about her dad.
OCA.org- Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and other Bodiless Powers
Orthodox Wiki- The Archangel Michael