November 9, 2009 Length: 37:34
Having just celebrated the Feast of the Angels, Fr. Tom asks - Who are the angels and the demons? Were the demons created evil? Can they repent? Get the answer to these questions and much more in this episode.
In the Orthodox Church, we just celebrated the festival of the Holy Angels. That’s the way we speak about it generally. And we know the names of some of those Archangels—Gabriel, Michael, Raphael. They’re written about in Scripture, and then there are others.
But we should know that in the Church, the angel is just one of nine ranks of Bodiless Powers. And even that festival that we just celebrated, it’s called the Feast of the Bodiless Powers of Heaven. And we Christians believe, following Scripture, and find this very, very understandable and reasonable that God Almighty would create everything He could possibly create. That God being good, God being powerful, God being wise, God being loving, would bring into existence in creaturely form, all the possible creaturely forms that could exist.
Now of course, we see things only from our perspective of life on the planet Earth. We don’t know what God is doing beyond us, but we do know by now that there are billions and billions of galaxies and billions and billions of stars. And we really don’t know very much at all what’s going on out there—although that it actually exists.
But what we do know and what we would claim on the planet Earth here, is that we see various forms of created life. We see animals and vegetables and minerals in the classification. Animals are those beings that move and that have life in them and that are sensate. Vegetables also are living; there’s a vegetative soul in the Tradition—life that’s in vegetable form like plants and flowers and trees and living things in that form. And then there’s the minerals—the stones and the earth and the rocks and the water and the matter.
These are the realities that we know on our everyday experience on the planet Earth. But we also know and would claim to believe that there is also a purely spiritual realm—that God has created a whole realm of bodiless creatures, pure spirits, minds they can be called, or powers. And these are just generally called the angels. That whole world is called by the Greek Fathers kosmos noetos, the spiritual world or the mental, intelligible, world of the angelic.
And our claim would be that there are creatures on Earth, human beings on Earth, who really claim to have had experience with the Angelic Realm and have had intercourse with what we would call, generally speaking, the angels. Not only our angels witness to in the Holy Scripture, I mean the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel; he comes to Zacharias; he comes to Mary. He is the one who is like God. It’s not a human being, but it’s a messenger of God. And it’s a spiritual reality.
And then we have other images in the Scripture. Isaiah in the Temple, seeing the Lord God in a vision, as it were, sitting upon a throne, and the angels and Cherubim and Seraphim singing: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” So there is this witness to the Angelic Realm, and many Christian Saints and many people, generally, have had, what they consider to be, experiences of angels, of pure spiritual beings that somehow revealed to them. And as we’ll see also, not only good angels but bad ones, demons, evil spirits, evil powers, have been witness to by human beings on the planet Earth and are certainly witness to in the Holy Scripture and in Church Tradition.
Indeed, even here in Ellwood City, at the monastery where I serve and just on Saturday, celebrated the Festival of the Holy Angels, we always recall at the monastery that Mother Alexandra, the nun who founded the monastery, who was Princess Ileana of Romania, she believed with all her soul that as a child she had a vision of angels and that she had an experience of angels. And that stayed with her, her whole life. And she never would deny it, and she would claim that that’s what kept her faithful through many years and many difficulties and a couple of World Wars and so on and even led her to be a nun. And the first little book that she wrote, when she became a nun, was a book on the Holy Angels.
So there is this affirmation of the angels. But it was always a debated reality, and we know that it was debated among the Jews. We know, for example, from the Scripture that there was a party of Jews called the Sadducees, which did not believe in the Resurrection. And they even came and questioned Jesus and tried to catch Him in His teaching about the Resurrection, and they tried to ridicule doctrine of the Resurrection.
For example, saying that a woman who had seven husbands, if there would be a Resurrection, who would get the girl? Would one of the men has her as his wife and the other six would not? And then Jesus said in response: “You don’t know the Scripture or the power of God,” and then he even says “in the Resurrection, we will be like the angels,” isaggeloi, equal to the angels, os aggeloi as the angels. That’s in Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the Scripture.
Now we human beings, we have to see though, right from the beginning here, are not angels. We are not angels. We are not pure spirits. In addition to the fact that the Scripture says that human beings, male and female, are created kat’ eikona theou, according to the image of God or in the divine homeosis, in the divine likeness, in the image and likeness of God.
And we believe that that means that human beings are capable of living divine life by faith and by grace, that human beings are capable, in the very structure of their being is such, that they can be love like God is love. They can live forever immortally as God does. They could be free and have self-determination as God does. They can be wise and intelligent and beautiful and creative and interrelative, and caring for the universe and so on, just like God does.
And so to be like God, and of course the Icon of God is Christ, Himself. It is Christ who is the perfect human being, and the perfect human being that God, Himself, has become. But a real human being who shows us what it means to be in the image and likeness of God. So that the Apostle Paul said about Jesus that: “He is the image of the invisible God.” And so this is how we are supposed to be.
But in addition to being the teaching that we are made in God’s image, it’s also a classical Christian teaching, probably taken from the Hellenistic World, that human beings are also microcosm. We are, not only, made in the image and likeness of God, but being made in the image and likeness of God, we human beings have all of the elements of created order that we know about—certainly that we know about on the planet Earth.
That we are spiritual and noetic like the angels. We have bodies and sensation, and we have life like the animals. We are vegetative in the fact that all ourselves and our bodies, and the very matter of our bodies has that same type of matter that you would find in plants and animals. And also in the mineral world, we have minerals in our body. We have all those elements that make up the mineral world, the vegetable world, the animal world, and the angelic world. All of these come together in the human being, who is a composite of all of these realities and somehow integrates them all into himself or herself. So each human being has all of the elements of the created order, including those of the Angelic Realm.
And here, it’s very important to note that according to Christian Scriptures, the Bible, it is only human beings that are made in the image and likeness of God. The angels are God-like. That’s even why they have the word El in all their name. El means God. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael—God is strong; God is great; who is like God; God heals.
But the very reading that’s read in Church on the Festival of the Angels says that it is not with angels that God is concerned, that the message is declared by the angels, but God is concerned with the children of Abraham. He’s considered with the human beings, and all the angels of God worship Him. And the winds are His angels and the fires is His angels, and His angels are like wind and His angels are like fire. Even the word Seraph has to do with fire.
But it says very specifically in the Letter to the Hebrews 2:5: “It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come of which you are speaking. It is to the human being.” And it says that he made Jesus, as it were in His Incarnation, a little lower than the angels, because the Angelic Realm is considered to be the Spiritual Realm, is considered to be in the heavens. It’s considered to be over all the world, but it also penetrates all the world.
But it says in the Letter to the Hebrews that God has made the angels to be the ministering spirits, to serve for the sake of us who are to obtain salvation. That’s the last verse of the first chapter. And of course Jesus says that those who follow Him and are exalted at the right hand of God with Him will sit on thrones judging the angels. And that human beings are to have power and dominion even over the angels, including the fallen angels, the demons. We’ll speak about that in a second.
And we even say in the Orthodox Church, a very famous, well-known thing in the Orthodox Church, is that that we proclaim that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is the quintessential human being, the perfect human being, the perfect Christian, when she attains her glory through her faith and grace in her son Jesus, being the Mother of God, being the Theotokos, that we proclaim her as more honorable than Cherubim and beyond compare, more glorious than Seraphim. And Cherubim and Seraphim are the highest ranks of angels.
And here I might just mention that those terms, Cherubim and Seraphim, those are plural already—“im” makes it plural in Hebrew language. So there is one Cherub and many Cherubim, and there is one Seraph and many Seraphim. We don’t say Seraphims or Cherubims. And by the way, the adjectival form is not Cherubimic, because there’s a hymn in the Liturgy called The Cherubic Hymn, but it’s The Cherubic Hymn, not The Cherubimic Hymn.
But in any case, it is a Christian conviction that there are myriads and myriads and countless, various forms of bodiless spirits that God has created, bringing into existence all that can exist. And that we human beings are in communion with that Angelic Realm, bodiless realm, the same way that we are in communion with the physical realm on the planet Earth or even the galaxy realm with all the planets and the stars—that the human being is the center of it all. But it is only the human, male and female, who is said to be made in the image and the likeness of God—to govern the whole of creation and even to govern the angels and to have power and authority over the angels and, of course, also over the fallen angels, the demons, the evil spirits.
And here, we come to a very particular conviction of the Christian faith. First of all, there’s the conviction that this realm actually exists, that there really are angels. There really are principalities and authorities and dominions and powers and all different kinds of angels and Cherubim and Seraphim. And we believe that, and in that particular instance, Christians, including Jesus Christ our Lord, according the pages of Scripture, agree on that point, not with the Sadducee party, but with the Pharisee party.
Because the reason that I mention the Sadducees earlier, who denied the Resurrection, is because according to the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts, the Sadducees, not only denied the Resurrection, but they denied angels, and they denied spirits. They just did not believe in this spiritual realm, and we find that point being made in Acts 23. Because every time the Apostle Paul got in trouble for his preaching about Jesus and preaching about the Resurrection, he would always immediately refer to the fact that he is preaching Resurrection. And whenever he would do that, he would cause a big fight to start between the Sadducees and the Pharisees, who were judging him, because they disagreed on this point.
As an example of this, I would just read to you from Acts, where St. Paul is held before the High Priest Ananias. He’s in the Council. He’s in Jerusalem. They’re against him for his preaching about Jesus and that Jesus is the Messiah. And he’s standing before the High Priest and then it says beginning at Acts 23:6:
When Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees, with respect to the hope in the resurrection of the dead, I am on trial.” And when Paul had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.
And at that point, we Christians are with the Pharisees. We acknowledge them all. Now when we consider the Angelic Realm and insist that the angels, generically, all of the bodiless spirits are ministering servants for the sake of our salvation, but they are also servants who are created to glorify God. They are servants created to sing: “Holy, Holy, Holy!” They were servants to somehow mediate between God and the other elements in the created order. They were creatures who were made to bring messages to the other creatures, particularly to human beings.
But it is known, and it was known to God we should say, that not only would the creatures rebel on the planet earth, the human beings, but that there would also be a crack, a rebellion, an apostasy within the Angelic Realm as well, within the kosmos noetos. And this would be a Christian conviction, namely that God created all the angels knowing that some of those angels, some of those bodiless powers, would not want to retain their rank as the ministering servants of God and for the sake of human beings.
But out of rebellion and apostasy and some teachers even say out of envy for the human beings that God created that they would rebel against God. And that they would then instigate a rebellion among human beings against God. And that the human beings, under the influence of the evil spirits and the powers of heaven in high places, the dark powers that went against God, those very powers would influence human beings, and human beings would also rebel against God and would also live together with the fallen angels, the evil spirits, rather than the good ones and rather than with the good God, Himself.
And so, it is a Christian teaching that this apostasy, this crack, this rupture, in the cosmic realm has resulted in the fact that bodiless powers that were created good, wholly, beautiful, splendid, to glorify God have rebelled against God, have turned against God. Some of the saints and the Scripture even say, they rebelled out of envy—envy of the greatness of God, envy of each other, envy of the human beings. We know how insidious envy is. It says in the Scripture that even Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas out of envy. The High Priest envied Him.
We should think a little about envy. It’s a horrible, horrible thing, jealousy—not wanting to be what God made me to be, not wanting to be who I am, not wanting to be what I am, not wanting to be how I am, and rebelling against that. And the claim is that that was done by some of the angels. In the Apocalypse it says that one-third of the angels fell from Heaven.
In St. Luke’s Gospel, it’s even read on the Festival of the Angels—it’s interesting, most of the readings on the Feast of the Angels have to do with their fall, with their apostasy—the tenth chapter where Jesus speaks about seeing Satan fall like lightning from Heaven, when he sends his apostles out to have power over the evil spirits that are in the universe. And it says that the disciples who went out preaching the Kingdom, they came back rejoicing because they had power over the evil spirits, over the demons. And Jesus told them: “Don’t rejoice that you have power over the demons. Rejoice, rather, that you name is written in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
But Jesus Christ, Himself, as the Messianic King, he has total power over demons. And so one of the great Messianic signs that Jesus is the Messiah is that he casts out demons, that he expels demons, that he overcomes demonic power. It’s interesting that in St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is not confessed as God’s Son until he’s confessed so by the centurion after the Crucifixion. None of the Apostles even confess Jesus as the Son of God in Mark’s Gospel until the very end. But in Mark’s Gospel, it’s the demons. Right from the beginning, they said to Him: “We know who you are. You are the Holy One of God. Why are you come here to torment us before the time, being God’s Son?”
So you can’t imagine Christian life or, to put it another way, Christians can’t imagine human life without this presence of the holy and good angels and the evil and wicked powers, the wicked spirits. And that we Christians believe human beings are just caught up in a clash, this cosmic clash in the heavens, celestial clash, that goes on between the powers of darkness and the powers of light. But the Christians believe that the powers of light are greater than the powers of darkness. And the power of light Himself is Jesus who is the Power of God and is the Light of God and has power over all creation—not only the winds and the seas and the elements and the human bodies and the human souls but over the demons as well, that Jesus has the power over the demons.
Now Jesus and God, Himself, does not have power over the freedom of angels to be evil—just like God does not have the power over the freedom of human beings if they want to be evil. But God does have the power to control it. God does have the power to crush it. God does have the power to captivate it, to tie it up, to put it in bondage, and to hold it, so that that evil power cannot destroy others. And we believe that.
Even on the Icon of the Pascha of the Lord, Christ is shown destroying death, which comes through the power of the devil, through sin. And then it shows Him binding up that devil image in the pit of Gehenna, in the pit of Sheol, where the demons are held and where those who are with him end up. They end up in that same torment, which the demons have when they are tormenting each other and trying to torment God’s creation. So the Lord God Almighty has the power over these.
Now, we might ask the question: “Why did God make it like this in the first place?” Just like how people ask: “Why did God make bad people?” Well we could ask: “Why did God make angels that he knew would be bad?” Because we must remember, the angels were created good. God creates everything good. All things are good from the Hand of God.
But good things become wicked when they misuse and abuse their powers, when they refuse to be who God created them to be, when they refuse what God wanted them to do so that they could be happy, and they could be joyful, and they could be blessed, and they could be beautiful. Well, to have that, we have to remain in communion with God through the keeping of His word, through the keeping of His commandments, through what he wants from us.
And so, the ultimate definition of sin is rebelling against God’s will for us, not wanting to be who and what and how we are, not accepting our creaturely place within the universe together with all the other creatures and glorifying and thanking and praising God, which the angels themselves were created to do, without being messengers of God, bringers and bearers of the glad tidings and the goodness of God.
Now why did God do that? Well the answer in the most simple, catechism, form is: “God is love, and He creates every possible form of being that can exist.” And I think, we could even say that God creates everything that could possibly exist, He’ll create it. And He creates everything, even if He knows that creature will rebel against Him—even if He knows that creature will rebel against Him everlastingly, permanently, eternally, will hate God forever and ever and ever. God still creates them and loves them and brings His love to them.
And it’s His very love and mercy and beauty and goodness and righteousness and truth that judges those who do not want it. God doesn’t punish anybody. He gives everybody freedom. He gives everybody the possibility, as it says already in the Law of Moses: “to choose life or to choose death, to choose a blessing or to choose a curse.”
And here, it is the Christian teaching that in the spiritual realm, there were those bodiless beings that chose death, chose a curse, and tried to bring that curse and that death to human beings also to destroy God’s good creation. But God will not let that happen, and God does not let that happen. In fact in 1 John it says: “The reasons for the appearance of the Son of God,” we could add “on the planet Earth in our human life,” “was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Now the devil, Diabolos, it means the one who divides, the one who separates. The word Diabolos is the opposite, etymologically, of the word symbolos, a symbol. A symbol brings everything together in harmony. That’s why we call the Creed, a Symbol of Faith . A symbol is something that brings together realities in harmony and unity. Diabolos, devil, is that which divides and seperates.
Also in the Scripture, the devil is called Satan which means the accuser, the deceiver, the liar from the beginning, as Jesus said, or Lucifer, the bearer of light that falls from Heaven and brings darkness to the world. Now, it is a teaching of Orthodox Church dogmatics—St. John of Damascus and others teach clearly that angels, once they rebel against God, can never be saved. There is no redemption for an angel, because an angel’s very being, very spiritual reality, is to be like God and to show forth God.
And so, if we put it in Evangelical terms, when angels rebel and apostatize, that is an eternal sin that cannot be forgiven. It’s a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s a rejection of God with their entire, whole, being. And that’s one of the radical differences between angels and human beings, according to Christianity, at least ancient Christianity, that is that human beings can repent. Human beings can be caught by the devil. Human beings are born already caught by the devil in the fallen world because of the ancestral and primordial sins of the very human beings at the beginning, what is called often the original sin or Adam and Eve, which simply means that human beings sin from the beginning and put themselves under the powers of the demons, and they’re under the powers of the devils. And we’re born into that world.
That’s why in Christian faith we have to be exorcised before we are baptized. And we even exorcise newborn babies when we baptize them, around the 40th day of their life on Earth. Sometimes people say: “Why are you exorcising a poor, little baby? Baby didn’t do anything wrong. Baby’s a nice little coo coo baby being held by some Godparent,” and we’re saying “Cast out of them the spirit of evil, of darkness, of concupiscence, of idolatry,” and all these things and then we spit on the devil at Baptism and so on.
Well, the ancient Christianity really believed that just by being born in this world, not because sexual intercourse that bears us is sinful, not at all, but that we’re born into a world that is in sins. We are born in a situation already bearing and paying for the sins of our forebears and our ancestors and our parents. We are brought into the world already, somehow, held by the devil. Jesus said: “The prince of this world is the devil.” And that has to be cast out, and so Baptism is the casting out of devil, out of that newborn person, to live in Christ, to live in God—not to apostatize, to live by the one Holy Spirit and not the multitude of evil spirits that are out there trying to destroy us.
So we, Christians, do believe that there are these evil powers that are infecting and polluting and poisoning human life and poisoning the universe, itself, and that the universe has to be cleansed of them. It has to be purified. And God Almighty does it ultimately, perfectly, in His Son, Jesus Christ. And He raises the dead, and he casts out demons from us, and He gives us the possibility of living, already now, free from the power of the devil.
And actually in the Lord’s prayer, the prayer that Jesus gave us, we’re supposed to say it everyday or three times a day, seven times a day, many times a day. We say: “Do not let us fall when we are tested.” That’s what “Lead us not into temptation,” literally means. Do not let us fail the test. Do not let us fall in the final tribulation of the clash between the powers of light and the powers of darkness. But on the other hand, in Greek, alla rhysae hêmas apo tou ponerou, but deliver us from the evil one. And it doesn’t mean generic evil. It means anyone who is evil, and that means the devil. It means Satan. It means every evil spirit. It means all the antichrists, and there are many antichrists according to 1 John. It means the one of lawlessness, the one who stands over, against the word and the law and the precept and the commandment of God. Deliver us from them. Don’t let us capitulate to the devil.
And so, you can’t be a Christian without hearing about the evil powers and the evil spirits all over the place. You say the Lord’s Prayer. “Deliver us from the evil one.” You come to Church to join it; you’re baptized; you’re exorcised. You hear the Holy Gospel, and you hear about Christ casting out these demons and giving that power to his disciples—the power to be with God and not to be controlled by evil powers. And not to be crushed by them, but actually to crush them, to put Satan under our feet, as Satan is crushed under the feet of Christ, Himself.
Now when we think about these things, we can also think about the demons. The good and holy angels, the Angelic Realm, the Seraphim and Cherubim who sing to God: “Holy, Holy, Holy!”, all the principalities and powers that our God is using to govern and care for his universe, and then we can think of the angels and archangels who bring the messages of God to the world. We can think of Gabriel and Michael and Raphael that we read about and hear about in the Holy Scriptures. And we can know that we have our own guardian angel that’s given to us, to protect us, and we should cultivate a relationship with our guardian angel. So we think of all the good and holy angels, but then we think about all the evil spirits too.
The powers of darkness, those who are, like it says in Scripture, in the Letter of Peter, it says that “the devil is like a roaring lion, going around, seeking whom he can devour.” In the Gospels, Jesus even says that the devils and Satan wants if possible, even to seduce the elect people—appearing like a light, appearing like an angel of Light, when in fact they’re darkness.
And then of course, we can think about that statement in the Letter to the Ephesians, which is so important to quote when we’re thinking about angels and demons. And that is where the Apostle Paul is writing in the last chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians:
Finally, he says, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of the present darkness, against the spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all things to stand.
And of course that evil day is that day of judgment and the day of tribulation that we’re in. So St. Paul continues:
Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace. Beside all these things, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This is how we are understanding ourselves. In this cosmic battle with the evil spirits, with the powers, the principalities, the world rulers of the present darkness, the spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places, and the evil one himself, this is what our struggle is.
Now, if we want to know if all this is true. If you want to know, is this really so? Is this, not just, mythology or fantasy or something like that? Then, we are told by the Scriptures and by the saints how we can find out if it’s true. What we are told is this:
If you want to know if it’s true, just try to keep the commandments of God. If you want to know whether or not this is true, just try to pray. If you want to know whether or not this is true, just try to love your enemy and to bless those who curse you and to pray for those who abuse you. If you want to know if it’s true, just try to keep the commandments, the Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant, Try not to lie, not to cheat, not to bear false witness, not to commit adultery, not to fornicate, not to get involved in porneia. If you want to know if it’s true, just try to honor other people and to give honor as due, honoring your parents first of all, honoring your father and your mother. Try to live at peace with everyone.
And then according to the Scriptures and the saints, we’ll know darn well whether this is true or not. Because we’ll realize that when we try to do these things—when we try to be Godly, when we try to obey God, when we try to keep his commandments, when we try to follow the teachings of Christ, when we try to be pure in heart and poor in spirit, when we try to be merciful and peacemaking and when we try to be meek, when we try to keep the teachings of the Sermon on the Mountain—then every demon in Hell rises up to attack us.
One of the Holy Fathers said: “If you want to know if the demons exist, just try to pray.” Try to focus and pray. He says: “Cause when a person stands up to pray, every dark and evil power in Hell tries to get him not to pray.” And they’ll always lie. They’ll always accuse. They’ll say: “Oh you don’t need to do this. There’s no God anyway. You’re a good person anyway.” And then when you sin, they say: “You’re an evil person. You’re going to burn in Hell. You’re going to be with us. Ha! Ha! We got you!”
They always tell the opposite. They always accuse. They always attack, and they never shut up. They’re always blabbing at us, every minute. We’ve got to learn how to live not paying attention to them. But they’re there, and stupidly they never give up. They keep trying to get us to the end. And of course, the old saying also is: “Why are there no devils in the cities? Why are they all out in the desert?” Well, they’re after the monks; they’re after the nuns. The devil has already got the people who follow their own evil will.
And according to the saints, many people follow their own evil will, and in fact, they’re following the devil. Cause we’re either following our own evil will with the devil or fighting against evil and trying to do good with the Holy Spirit. There’s no middle path. If we’re not with the Holy Spirit, then we’re with the evil spirits. But if you want to know if those evil spirits exist, just try to do good. And when you try to do good, you’ll have an experiential conviction of how those crazy, demonic powers try to get you. And they’ll try to get you every possible way.
And we can say, well on one hand, that invisible warfare is very treacherous. It’s very subtle. But on the other hand, it’s very simple too. The Holy Fathers say, the evil spirits are subtle, and they are seducing, and they are hiding, but once you get to know their tactics, you realize how transparently stupid they are and how they keep trying the same thing and doing the same thing and rebelling against the goodness and the beauty and the glory of God.
So here we are in the midst of it, and so we have the angels, and we have the demons, and we’re in the midst of that. And of course, we Christians, want to be with the angels, and we want the good angels to be with us, and we pray with those angels. In the Divine Liturgy, we ask God to send angels to pray together with us. We say: “Let them serve together with us and glorify God together, with us.”
We image the angels when we sing the Holy, Holy and the Cherubic Hymn, the Trisagion. We enter into the realm of the angels when we go with Christ into the presence of God, through hearing His word and having Holy Communion. We rejoice with the angels, the good ones, while at the same time, we have this power over the evil ones who are foolish and have ultimately, already been bound by Christ. And their power has already been broken, by the crucified and raised and glorified Christ.
So this is how we understand these things. And I will reflect a bit, at a future time, about a very particular part of the Gospel that has to do with those demons—the Gerasene story, which is an amazing story in the Holy Scripture that we have to understand properly. So let us pray to God that we would understand all these things properly. But if we’re going to pray to God, we have to know every demon in Hell is going to be after us. We have to also know, they have no power of us. None whatsoever. We spit on them. We say: “Get behind me, Satan.” We stick and cling to the hem of the garment of Christ, and then we too rejoice with the angels and crush the power of the demons.