Fathers of the Church on Angels
The Church Fathers are made up of a select group of ecclesiastical authors whose authority on doctrinal matters carry special weight. Their authority is held to be infallible only when they teach a doctrine unanimously. Their individual teachings are not considered infallible, but are to be respected. We will highlight their thoughts on angels briefly below.
We thank Mother Alexandra for the research on this in her book The Holy Angels (Book III pp 131-168).
Angels in the Primitive Church - Apostolic Fathers
The Apostolic Fathers are those who immediately followed the Apostles. They preserved the Gospels and Epistles for us. Many had direct contact with the Apostles. They do not make many references to Angels. We include in this section Fathers from the period 100-325 AD.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-107)
He received his bishopric from Saint John the Evangelist. He writes:
"...Might I not write you things more full of mystery? But I fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are but babes (in Christ). Pardon me in this respect, lest, as not being able to receive their weighty import, ye should be strangled by them. For even I, though I am bound (for christ), and am able to understand heavenly things, the angelic orders, and the different sorts of angels and hosts, the distinctions between powers and dominions, and the diversities between the thrones and authorities, the mightiness of Aeons, and the pre-eminence of the Cherubim and Seraphim, the sublimity of the spirit, the Kingdom of the lord, and above all, the incomparable majesty of the Almighty God–though I am acquainted with these things, yet am I not therefore by any means perfect..."
(Epistle of Ignatius to the Trullians, " The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, Grand rapids Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1956, p. 68)
Note the early understanding of the Angelic hierarchy which was a view from the earliest days of the church and not some invention of later times. See Dionysius the Areopagite.
Saint Clement of Rome (c. 96 AD.)
Saint Clement was the third in succession to Saint Peter. At Alexandria, St Clement met the holy Apostle Barnabas, listening to his words with deep attention, and perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, St Clement was baptized by the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous disciple and constant companion, sharing his toil and sufferings with him. He was a contemporary of Saint Ignatius and was possibly one of Paul's "fellow workers who names are in the book of life" (Phil 4:3). He was most concerned with the organization of the early Christian community, its ministry and liturgy.
"Let us think of the whole host of angels, how they stand by and serve his will, for Scriptures say: "Ten thousand times ten thousand were doing service to him, and they cried out: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth; the whole of creation is full of His glory." Then let us gather together in awareness of our concord, as with one mouth we shout earnestly to him that we may become sharers in his great and glorious promises."
(Saint Clement of Rome, "Epistle to the Corinthians," XXXIV, The Early Christian fathers, ed. and trans. by Henry Bettenson, Geoffrey Cumberledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956, p. 47)
He highlights that the angels serve God and that were are united with them in harmony.
Saint Irenaeus (c. 130-202 AD)
One of the first great Theologians of the universal Church.
In his writings angels are mentioned in order to refute heretical notions about them, rather than to describe them. For instance he refutes that the world was created by angels.
Saint Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 AD)
He outlined the basic Christian Philosophy and faith very precisely. On angels he wrote the following in opposition to the Gnostics:
"...angels, whether seen or not, the divine power bestows good things. Such was the mode adopted in the advent of the Lord. And sometimes also the power “breathes” in men’s thoughts and reasonings, and “puts in” their hearts “strength” and a keener perception, and furnishes “prowess” and “boldness of alacrity”..."
(The Stromata of Miscellanies, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 518)
In another writing he says:
"...these primitive and first created virtues are unchangeable in substance, and along with subordinate angels and archangels whose names they share, effect divine operations. thus Moses names the virtue of the angel Michael, by an angel near to himself and of the lowest grade.... Moses heard him and spoke to him face to face. On the other prophets through the agency of angels an impression was made as of beings hearing and seeing.
"On this account also they alone heard, and they alone saw....If the voice had been open and common, it would have been heard by all....It was heard by him alone, in whom the impression made by the angels worked."
(Fragments of Clemens Alexandria, in Ant-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 575)
In addition he says:
"...by an ancient and divine order the angels are distributed among the nations...[and] the best thing on earth is the most pious man; and the best thing in heaven, the nearer in place and purer, is an angel, the partaker of the eternal blessed life. But the nature of the Son...is the most perfect..."
(The Stromata of Miscellanies, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p 524)
Origen (c. 185-254 AD)
He was a biblical scholar Even though a few of his views differ from Orthodoxy he remains the first and greatest biblical critic of early Christianity He comments of the different roles God has assigned to his angels:
...or are we to suppose that it is the result of accident that a particular office is assigned to a particular angel: as to Raphael, e.g., the work of curing and healing; to Gabriel, the conduct of wars; to Michael, the duty of attending to the prayers and supplications of mortals. For we are not to imagine that they obtained these offices otherwise than by their own merits, and by the zeal and excellent qualities which they severally displayed before this world was formed; so that afterwards in the order of archangels, this or that office was assigned to each one, while others deserved to be enrolled in the order of angels, and to act under this or that archangel, or that leader or head of an order.
...to one angel the Church of the Ephesians was to be entrusted; to another, that of the Smyrneans; one angel was to be Peter’s, another Paul’s; and so on through every one of the little ones that are in the Church, for such and such angels as even daily behold the face of God must be assigned to each one of them;
...it is to be believed that they were conferred by God, the just and impartial Ruler of all things, agreeably to the merits and good qualities and mental vigor of each individual spirit.
...it is neither from want of discrimination, nor from any accidental cause, either that the “principalities” hold their dominion, or the other orders of spirits have obtained their respective offices; but that they have received the steps of their rank on account of their merits, although it is not our privilege to know or inquire what those acts of theirs were, by which they earned a place in any particular order.
De Principiis, Chapter VIII.—On the Angels, pp 265-266
The Shepherd of Hermas is a text from the very early Christian church of the second century, during the period in which the New Testament was being canonized. A popular text during the second and third centuries, the Shepherd was considered scriptural by many of the theologians of the time. The author is unknown. It mentions a guardian angel as well an a attendant devil attached to each person. It says:
There are two angels with a man—one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity.” And I said to him, “How, sir, am I to know the powers of these, for both angels dwell with me?” “Hear,” said he, and “understand them. The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When, therefore, he ascends into your heart, forthwith he talks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and of every righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all these ascend into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you. These are the deeds of the angel of righteousness. Trust him, then, and his works. Look now at the works of the angel of iniquity. First, he is wrathful, and bitter, and foolish, and his works are evil, and ruin the servants of God. When, then, he ascends into your heart, know him by his works.” And I said to him, “How, sir, I shall perceive him, I do not know.” “Hear and understand” said he. “When anger comes upon you, or harshness, know that he is in you; and you will know this to be the case also, when you are attacked by a longing after many transactions, and the richest delicacies, and drunken revels, and divers luxuries, and things improper, and by a hankering after women, and by overreaching, and pride, and blustering, and by whatever is like to these. When these ascend into your heart, know that the angel of iniquity is in you. Now that you know his works, depart from him, and in no respect trust him, because his deeds are evil, and unprofitable to the servants of God. These, then, are the actions of both angels. Understand them, and trust the angel of righteousness; but depart from the angel of iniquity, because his instruction is bad in every deed. For though a man be most faithful, and the thought of this angel ascend into his heart, that man or woman must sin. On the other hand, be a man or woman ever so bad, yet, if the works of the angel of righteousness ascend into his or her heart, he or she must do something good. You see, therefore, that it is good to follow the angel of righteousness, but to bid farewell to the angel of iniquity.”
(The Pastor of Hermas, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II. p. 266)
Angels in the Age of Theology - Nicene Fathers and beyond
In 313Ad after Constantine the Great became Emperor full sanction was given to Christianity and the persecutions were stopped. It at this time that the nicene Creed cam about as the result of the First and second Ecumenical Council of the Church. The Fathers of this time had to combat several heresies in the formulation of a Creed that protected the teachings of the Christ and His apostles. The Fathers of this period are called the Nicene Fathers.
The Fathers firm belief in a spiritual world is stated in the first article of the Creed. "I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible." By invisible things they meant the angels and the human soul.
Saint Athanasius (c. 296-373 AD)
Athanasius was very influential in the crafting of the Creed. He never questioned or shoed any doubt about the reality of angels. He explained their appointed place:
...for to minister is of things originate as of servants, but to frame and to create is of God alone, and of His proper Word and His Wisdom. Wherefore, in the matter of framing, we shall find none but God’s Word; for ‘all things are made in Wisdom,’ and ‘without the Word was made not one thing.’ But as regards ministrations there are, not one only, but man out of their whole number, whomever the Lord will send. For there are many Archangels, many Thrones, and Authorities, and Dominions, thousands of thousands, and myriads of myriads, standing before Him, ministering and ready to be sent.
(Discourse II Against the Arians, Chapters XVII in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol 1, p 362)
He also says that an angel cannot save but only does so at the will of God.
...It is proper then to an Angel to minister at the command of God, and often does he go forth to cast out the Amorite, and is sent to guard the people in the way; but these are not his doings, but of God who commanded and sent him,
...when the Father works, it is not that any Angel works, or any other creature; for none of these is an efficient cause, but they are of things which come to be; and moreover being separate and divided from the only God, and other in nature, and being works, they can neither work what God works, nor, as I said before, when God gives grace, can they give grace with Him. Nor, on seeing an Angel would a man say that he had seen the Father; for Angels, as it is written, are ‘ministering spirits sent forth to minister, and are heralds of gifts given by Him through the Word to those who receive them. And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God. And he who beholds a vision of Angels, knows that he has seen the Angel and not God...
...But if at any time, when the Angel was seen, he who saw it heard God’s voice, as took place at the bush [with Moses]; for ‘the Angel of the Lord was seen in a flame of fire out of the bush, and the Lord called Moses out of the bush, saying, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob,’ yet was not the Angel the God of Abraham, but in the Angel God spoke. And what was seen was an Angel; but God spoke in him.
(Discourse III Against the Arians, Chapters XXV in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol 1, p 400-401)
At great Pascha Athanasius would write to his churches. In one of these letters he describes this great celebration including all created beings.
"The whole creation keeps a feast, my brethren, and everything that hath breath praises the Lord as the Psalmist...Oh what a feast and how great the gladness in heaven! how must all its hosts joy and exult, as they rejoice and watch in our assemblies, those that are held continually, and especially those at Easter?...Who then will lead us to such a company of angels as this? Who, coming with a desire for the heavenly feast, and the angelic holiday.
"Wherefore let us not celebrate the feast after an earthly manner, but as keeping festival in heaven with the angels...Let us fast like Daniel; let us pray without ceasing, as Paul commanded; all of us recognizing the season of prayer, but especially those who are honorably married; so that having borne witness to these things, and thus having kept the feast, we may be able to enter into the joy of Christ in the kingdom of heaven...let us first be purified and freed from defilement, so that when we depart hence, having been careful of fasting, we may be able to ascend to the upper chamber with the Lord, to sup with Him; and may be partakers of the joy which is in heaven..."
(Letter VI, 9, 11, Easter 335, p 523)
Saint Athanasius believed that angels accompanied Christ on his ascension. These were angels who had come with Him from heaven and accompanied Him on earth. On his Ascension they announced Him to the celestial virtues to open the gates.
"The powers are in a stupor at seeing Him in the flesh. For which reason they cry, stupefied at this astonishing economy: Who is this? The angels mounting with Christ answer them: the Lord of virtues,, it is the King of Glory who teaches those who are in the heavens the great mystery, to know that he who has vanquished the spiritual enemies is King of Glory."
(Jean Danielou, Les Anges et Leurs Mission. editions de Chevetogne, p 51)
Saint Basil the Great (c. 330-379)
Basil was one the most highly respected saints of the 4th century. In addition to his care of the poor and sick, the establishment of community monastic life and defense of the faith against Arianism, he left us many important writings. He comes from one of the greatest Christian families many of whom are saints of the Church. To Saint Basil angels were an undeniable fact.
As Saint Basil's sister, who is also a saint, Saint Macrina, was dying she prayed for "an angel of light who will lead me to the quiet pastures and waters of peace and the bosom of the Holy Fathers."
(Robert Payne, The Holy Fire,New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957, p 54)
He writes about creation:
It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea... The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected His works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names. They fill the essence of this invisible world, as Paul teaches us. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” or virtues or hosts of angels or the dignities of archangels.
(The Hexameron, Homily 1,5, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, series II, Vol VIII, p54)
Saint Basil also writes about angels in relation to the Holy Trinity clarifying the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, from the things created at the beginning may be learnt the fellowship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. The pure, intelligent, and supermundane powers are and are styled holy, because they have their holiness of the grace given by the Holy Spirit...But do thou, who hast power from the things that are seen to form an analogy of the unseen, glorify the Maker by whom all things were made, visible and invisible, principalities and powers, authorities, thrones, and dominions, and all other reasonable natures whom we cannot name...the ministering spirits subsist by the will of the Father, are brought into being by the operation of the Son, and perfected by the presence of the Spirit. Moreover, the perfection of angels is sanctification and continuance in it.
(On the Holy Spirit, Chapter XVI, 38, p 24)
Like Athanasius Saint Basil does not attribute to the angels any inborn virtues. They were created with the capacity and will to attain them. There they too strive for perfection.
The powers of the heavens are not holy by nature; were it so there would in this respect be no difference between them and the Holy Spirit.
He tells us that both Man and angels serve God. The angel protect Man where he cannot protect himself. The goal of both is God and the understanding of this is given to them by the Holy Spirit.
It is in proportion to their relative excellence that they have their need of holiness from the Spirit. The branding-iron is conceived of together with the fire; and yet the material and the fire are distinct. Thus too in the case of the heavenly powers; their substance is, peradventure, an aerial spirit, or an immaterial fire, as it is written, “Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire;” wherefore they exist in space and become visible, and appear in their proper bodily form to them that are worthy. But their sanctification, being external to their substance, superinduces their perfection through the communion of the Spirit. They keep their rank by their abiding in the good and true, and while they retain their freedom of will, never fall away from their patient attendance on Him who is truly good.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa (330-395 AD)
Brother to Saint Basil the Great and also a defender of the faith from Ariansim.
In his works we have a dialogue with his sister Saint Macrina on the nature of the Soul. He asks her what Paul meant in his Epistle to the Phillipians where "...he makes mention of certain things that are “under the earth” “every knee shall bow” to Him “of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”"
"I do not think, she replied, that the divine Apostle divided the intellectual world into localities, when he named part as in heaven, part as on earth, and part as under the earth. There are three states in which reasoning creatures can be: one from the very first received an immaterial life, and we call it the angelic: another is in union with the flesh, and we call it the human: a third is released by death from fleshly entanglements, and is to be found in souls pure and simple. Now I think that the divine Apostle in his deep wisdom looked to this, when he revealed the future concord of all these reasoning beings in the work of goodness; and that he puts the unembodied angel-world “in heaven,” and that still involved with a body “on earth,” and that released from a body “under the earth”; or, indeed, if there is any other world to be classed under that which is possessed of reason (it is not left out); and whether any one choose to call this last “demons” or “spirits,” or anything else of the kind, we shall not care. We certainly believe, both because of the prevailing opinion, and still more of Scripture teaching, that there exists another world of beings besides, divested of such bodies as ours are, who are opposed to that which is good and are capable of hurting the lives of men, having by an act of will lapsed from the nobler view, and by this revolt from goodness personified in themselves the contrary principle; and this world is what, some say, the Apostle adds to the number of the “things under the earth,” signifying in that passage that when evil shall have been some day annihilated in the long revolutions of the ages, nothing shall be left outside the world of goodness, but that even from those evil spirits shall rise in harmony the confession of Christ’s Lordship."
(On the Soul and the Resurrection, , in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol V, p. 103)
Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-391)
Speaking on the interaction of the Three Persons of the Trinity in the act of creation Gregory says,
"But since this movement of self-contemplation alone could not satisfy Goodness, but Good must be poured out and go forth beyond Itself to multiply the objects of Its beneficence, for this was essential to the highest Goodness, He first conceived the Heavenly and Angelic Powers."
It was not sufficient for God to simply contemplate himself but He desired to share his goodness and multiply it. The first act of this creation were the angels who were to be His ministers.
"And this conception was a work fulfilled by His Word, and perfected by His Spirit. And so the secondary Splendors came into being, as the Ministers of the Primary Splendor; whether we are to conceive of them as intelligent Spirits, or as Fire of an immaterial and incorruptible kind, or as some other nature approaching this as near as may be."
"Then when His first creation was in good order, He conceives a second world, material and visible..."
Next The would create Man with both visible and invisible characteristics.
"Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this, and to produce a single living being out of both—the visible and the invisible creations, I mean—fashions Man; and taking a body from already existing matter, and placing in it a Breath taken from Himself which the Word knew to be an intelligent soul and the Image of God, as a sort of second world. He placed him, great in littleness a microcosm. on the earth; a new Angel, a mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only partially into the intellectual; King of all upon earth, but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and yet intellectual; half-way between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh..."
(Oration XXXVIII, IX-X, On the Theophany or Birthday of Christ, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol VII, p 347)
Saint Cyril sees angels as God's messengers but not equal or to be confused with the Holy Spirit. They also extend the Glory of the Trinity.
Thou hast seen His power, which is in all the world; tarry now no longer upon earth, but ascend on high. Ascend, I say, in imagination even unto the first heaven, and behold there so many countless myriads of Angels. Mount up in thy thoughts, if thou canst, yet higher; consider, I pray thee, the Archangels, consider also the Spirits; consider the Virtues, consider the Principalities, consider the Powers, consider the Thrones, consider the Dominions —of all these the Comforter is the Ruler from God, and the Teacher, and the Sanctifier. Of Him Elias has need, and Elisseus, and Esaias, among men; of Him Michael and Gabriel have need among Angels. Naught of things created is equal in honor to Him: for the families of the Angels, and all their hosts assembled together, have no equality with the Holy Ghost. All these the all-excellent power of the Comforter overshadows. And they indeed are sent forth to minister, but He searches even the deep things of God..."
Saint Cyril says Man cannot comprehend the nature of angels. If this is so how much more impossible is it for Him to know the nature of God.
"I have ever wondered at the curiosity of the bold men, who by their imagined reverence fall into impiety. For though they know nothing of Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, the workmanship of Christ, they attempt to scrutinize their Creator Himself. Tell me first, O most daring man, wherein does Throne differ from Dominion, and then scrutinize what pertains to Christ. Tell me what is a Principality, and what a Power, and what a Virtue, and what an Angel: and then search out their Creator, for all things were made by Him."
Speaking to catechumens he emphasized his point that God created both an invisible world as well as the visible world.
There is then One Only God, the Maker both of souls and bodies: One the Creator of heaven and earth, the Maker of Angels and Archangels: of many the Creator, but of One only the Father before all ages,—of One only, His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom He made all things visible and invisible."
Be sure to remember when we recite the creed and say God created all that is visible and invisible we are referring to the angels, the servants of God, of Christ, when we say "invisible".
The angels are also witnesses to our life. The time of our baptism is one of great significance.
"This is in truth a serious matter, brethren, and you must approach it with good heed. Each one of you is about to be presented to God before tens of thousands of the Angelic Hosts..."
Saint Cyril reminds us of the great multitude of angels that make up the heavenly world and that we will face them on judgment day.
When the Son of Man, He says, shall come in His glory, and all the Angels with Him. Behold, O man, before what multitudes thou shalt come to judgment. Every race of mankind will then be present. Reckon, therefore, how many are the Roman nation; reckon how many the barbarian tribes now living, and how many have died within the last hundred years; reckon how many nations have been buried during the last thousand years; reckon all from Adam to this day. Great indeed is the multitude; but yet it is little, for the Angels are many more. They are the ninety and nine sheep, but mankind is the single one. For according to the extent of universal space, must we reckon the number of its inhabitants. The whole earth is but as a point in the midst of the one heaven, and yet contains so great a multitude; what a multitude must the heaven which encircles it contain? And must not the heaven of heavens contain unimaginable numbers? And it is written, Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; not that the multitude is only so great, but because the Prophet could not express more than these. So there will be present at the judgment in that day, God, the Father of all, Jesus Christ being seated with Him, and the Holy Ghost present with Them; and an angel’s trumpet shall summon us all to bring our deeds with us. Ought we not then from this time forth to be sore troubled?
Saint Ambrose (c. 339-397 AD)
Bishop of Milan and a great Greek scholar. He was preoccupied with the question of their immortality. He points out that while the angels have immortality it is not part of their essential nature. They only have immortality at the will of God.
The Godhead is the one only Substance that death cannot touch, and therefore it is that the Apostle, though knowing both the [human] soul and angels to be immortal, declared that God only had immortality. In truth, even the soul may die: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” and an angel is not absolutely immortal, his immortality depending on the will of the Creator.
(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book III, Chapter 3, p 245)
Like others Saint Ambrose mission is to serve God.
“And the Son of Man shall confound him, when He shall come in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels.” (Mark viii. 38) The angels come in obedience, He comes in glory: they are His retainers, He sits upon His throne: they stand, He is seated—to borrow terms of the daily dealings of human life, He is the Judge: they are the officers of the court.
(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book III, chap XIII, 106, p. 257)
He also points out that angles progress.
Howbeit, seeing that the angels (as well as ourselves) acquire their knowledge step by step, and are capable of advancement, they certainly must display differences of power and understanding, for God alone is above and beyond the limits imposed by gradual advance, possessing, as He does, every perfection from everlasting.
(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chap I, p 263)
Saint Ambrose tell us that angels are part of God's glory. When he enters our heart the angels will also enter and they are always with Him.
For Christ standeth at the door of thy soul. Hear Him speaking. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man open to Me, I will come in to him, and I will sup with him, and he with Me.” And the Church saith, speaking of Him: “The voice of my brother soundeth at the door.” He stands, then—but not alone, for before Him go angels, saying: “Lift up the gates, O ye the princes.” What gates? Even those of the which the Psalmist sings in another place also: “Open to me the gates of righteousness.”Open, then, thy gates to Christ, that He may come into thee—open the gates of righteousness, the gates of chastity, the gates of courage and wisdom.
(Exposition of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chap II, p.264)
Saint Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430 AD)
Saint Augustine wrote much about angels in his work City of God. He says angels were created during the six days and the t "They re the light which is called day." Angels make up the major part of the Holy City. While men live in a city of the world while angels live in a heavenly city, men can be with them and live with them even though they remain invisible to normal sight.
Let us keep our vigil, beloved; we also have those that are eager for our success, if we will. Near each one of us Angels are sitting; and yet we snore through the whole night. And would it were only this.
(Homilies on Hebrews, Heb 8:1-2, XIV, p. 438)
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” What marvel (saith he) if they minister to the Son, when they minister even to our salvation? See how he lifts up their minds, and shows the great honor which God has for us, since He has assigned to Angels who are above us this ministration on our behalf. As if one should say, for this purpose (saith he) He employs them; this is the office of Angels, to minister to God for our salvation. So that it is an angelical work, to do all for the salvation of the brethren: or rather it is the work of Christ Himself, for He indeed saves as Lord, but they as servants. And we, though servants are yet Angels’ fellow-servants. Why gaze ye so earnestly on the Angels (saith he)? They are servants of the Son of God, and are sent many ways for our sakes, and minister to our salvation. And so they are partners in service with us.
Consider ye how he ascribes no great difference to the kinds of creatures. And yet the space between angels and men is great; nevertheless he brings them down near to us, all but saying, For us they labor, for our sake they run to and fro: on us, as one might say, they wait. This is their ministry, for our sake to be sent every way.
(Homilies on Hebrews, III, p 377)
And of these examples both the Old [Testament] is full, and the New. For when Angels bring glad tidings to the shepherds, or to Mary, or to Joseph; when they sit at the sepulcher, when they are sent to say to the disciples, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?” ( Acts i. 11 ), when they release Peter out of the prison, when they discourse with Philip, consider how great the honor is; when God sends His Angels for ministers as to friends; when to Cornelius [an Angel] appears, when [an Angel] brings forth all the apostles from the prison, and says, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people the words of this life” ( Acts v. 20 ); and to Paul himself also an Angel appears. Dost thou see that they minister to us on God’s behalf, and that they minister to us in the greatest matters? wherefore Paul saith, “All things are yours, whether life or death, or the world, or things present, or things to come.”(1Cor 3:20)
(Homilies on Hebrews, III, p 377)
Speaking on Prayer: "From beneath, out of the heart, draw forth a voice, make thy prayer a mystery.... Yea, for thou art joined to the choirs of angels, and art in communion with archangels, and art singing with the seraphim. And all these tribes show forth much goodly order, singing with great awe that mystical strain, and their sacred hymns to God, the King of all. With these then mingle thyself, when thou art praying, and emulate their mystical order."
(Homily 19 on St. Matthew: On the Lord's Prayer)
When speakng on the Lord's Prayer and the petiton "Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven," he gives us insights about th enaature of angers when he writes:
He who worships God mystially with the faculty of the intellegence alne, keeping it free from sensual desire and anger, fulfills the divinewill on earth just as the orders of angels fulfill it in heaven. He has becom in all things co-worshipper and ellow citizen with the angels, onformingll to Saint Paul's statement, 'Our citizenship is in heaven' (Phil 3:20). Among the angels desire does not sap the intellect's intensity through sensual pleasure not does anger make them rave and storm indedcently aat their ellow reatures: there is only the interllegence naturally leading intllegent beings towards ther source of intlligence, the Logos Himself.... Nothing is offered to god in heaven by the angels except intellegent worship; andit is this tht God also demands from us when He teaches us to sday our prayers, 'Thy Will lbe done on earth as it is in heaven'.
A disciple of Paul he wrote a detailed view of the Celestial Hierarchy.
Accepted as one of the Best expositions on the Orthodox faith he incuded a section "Concerning Angels".
Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers