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Saints and Feasts of November 17

Friday, November 8, 2019

Encomium to the Divine Archangel Michael the All-Greatest (St. Neophytos the Recluse)


By St. Neophytos the Recluse

Michael the all-greatest and great taxiarch, Michael the one radiant like a torch and wholly-shining like the sun, Michael the taxiarch of the heavens, the helper of men, I have desired to hymn, as much as is possible, he who is the head and leader of the bodiless powers, the great glory of men and the muzzling of demons, the blooming and shady tree of the vault of the heavens, the most-sacred and great healer of earthly evils, the great and most-speedy eagle of the "Great King", who with faith hastens speedily throughout the world, the wondrous and fiery pillar that reaches heaven, the highest and heavy-laden branch of the cedar, the unfading and chosen branch, the divine bush, which surpasses every fragrance, he who relieves those suffering from demonic stench, the sheltering branch and God-planted root, who makes to disappear immediately the burning of the demons, the divine cypress and the tall plane tree, which, for those under its shade, heals those from various afflictions and incurable passions. Now, let us praise him, praises from we who are small for him who is all-greatest, and having offered a few words of praise, we will offer up salutations. The divine, holy and honored temple which resembles a harbor of salvation and the sky with many stars, a dwelling-place of divine angels, and an ax and sword which rends all forms of passions and a perfect hospital, which ceases the pains of various forms of afflictions.

I think that this divine temple is a divine river, which cleans "every form of sickness and every weakness," as the Lord says. A river springs up and spreads from Eden, in order to water Paradise. From there, it divides in four directions, the names of which are Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates. That river watered Eden, but this divine temple has rich grace from heaven, because it belongs to a heavenly mind, namely the Archangel. The former was divided in four directions, while this distributes in thousands of directions the healing waters of miracles, watering hurting hearts and drying up the destructive waves of demons. The former with its four directions irrigates Eilat, Ethiopia, Egypt and the Assyrians, as Scripture states, while this divinely-honored temple of the Archangel, which is irrigated from heaven by the Holy Spirit, not only the former places, but the entire world overflows with miracles, freeing people from the tyranny of demons, cooling those with incurable diseases, cleansing all sorts of wounds, giving sight to the blind, healing those who suffer from headaches, and easily removing all pain. A shady, tall fruit tree, I think is this temple, covering, altering and lifting many. And he covers them from demonic burning, turns them away from the bothersome passions, and raises sinners to God with repentance.

I think I should stop praising with encomiums this temple, since I couldn't say anything remarkable. If I could not say anything worthy of this earthly temple, from which we see gushing forth divine miracles, how can we speak or eulogize the spiritual and heavenly master of the house? We know that the mind that writes an encomium to him such as this must become angelic and heavenly. We know, however, that fervor moves us many times to speak about God. And if God, the Creator of the Angels and all creation, moves us to speak thusly with divine eros, why should it be strange to speak a few things about the divine General, whom I entreat to grant us the grace of God? And before this, I ask for divine grace and the life-creating Spirit to richly enlighten my poor thoughts. For without Him, no man can speak of heavenly things. This heavenly fervor moves me to praise the heavenly General, but my earthly mind and my corrupted flesh pulls me down.

But you, O great Archangel, raise me upwards, "cleanse my tongue", strengthen my hand, and grant grace to my mind, that I might be able to praise and salute your grandeur, that my desire might be granted to finish this word. I think that it is better to begin salutations, from Him Who granted to you existence and authority.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, creation of the Beginningless Light and the second light, together with your fellow Angels.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, creation of the eternal and radiant and fire-bearing Light, together with the other heavenly powers.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, who never thought of yourself more than is right, not of the height of glory that was granted to you, but you always think of Him Who created you, and honored you and glorified you. And with thanksgiving you keep faith in Him unshaken, and with humility you serve Him with obedience, as befits the Creator and Almighty God Who holds all things. Well done, well done, all-greatest one, for your decision worthy of praise, and woe to him who was high-minded and prideful, who thought of evil things and perceived disastrous things, and desired to have heaven as his throne, and to place in submission his ranks, desiring to be like the Most-High One. He rightly was rewarded and became from an Archangel into an Archdemon, from radiant to dark, instead of an exalted throne and heavenly clouds, he became one below and inherited the mansions beneath, and instead of becoming like God, became the lawless one among His creations. This is the result of vainglory and prideful thoughts. Because when one seeks and desires more than the honor which he thinks he has, he loses it. This is what the devil suffered and which the man [Adam], who desired to be god and immortal, became mortal. And even to this day, many men suffer from this, desiring to inherit greater honor, they lose what they have.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, who was pleased with your God-given rank, and never sought to inherit more glory or position than that which was granted to you.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, leader of the heavenly powers and great helper of men, who once disputed for the body of the Prophet Moses, responding to the enemy. You did not respond with your own authority, but on behalf of God, as a lover of God and a lover of the Lord, saying: "The Lord rebukes you, O devil". In this manner, therefore, I entreat you, O Head General, to cease not to rebuke the tyrant, until, through your right direction and intercessions, O one graced by God, we might meet God Who is full of mercy.

Rejoice, O most-radiant Taxiarch, who stands on the right side of the divine throne, which cannot be described.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, radiant servant of the Source of light and Thrice-holy God.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, and fire-bearing pillar, which formerly led the people of Israel, when they were fleeing Egypt.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, you who formerly were sent by God as a defender for the ancient peoples.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, speedy soldier of God the King, and all-glorious hoplite.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, the famed Head General of the heavenly army, and mighty defender of earthly soldiers.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, the great glory of the radiant angels and the incurable wounding of the dark demons.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, the supporter of kings and helper of rulers.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, who are a hoplite and Head General and great fellow fighter with soldiers.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, servant of God and important boast of His servants.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, you who are a defender of Christians and dissolver and destroyer of enemies of the faith, for, as the Scriptures say, "A punishing Angel came forth from God, and put to death the Assyrian army 185,000 men."

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, protector of the faithful and destruction of the faithless.

Rejoice, O good Archangel, most-glorious soldier of the Good King, for you hasten from the east to the west, performing with exactness the commandments of God, and you speedily reach the ends of the earth, the sea and the ends of the world.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, whose light is much greater than the sun, the moon, and the various stars. They were created "to keep the proper changing and discernment of the ages, days and years and to enlighten the earth", but you [were created], to glorify God, to direct the Angels, for the salvation of men, enlightenment and to guide us who are upon the earth. You will exist, not for a few "ages, days and years", but you have a portion of immortality, which was granted to us by the Immortal God, and you are a Head General of the Angels eternally, in order to chant together with all the ranks of the Angels, Archangels, Rulers, Powers, Principalities, the Seraphim and the Cherubim, the divine Thrones,, the Thrice-holy hymn to the Thrice-holy God.

Rejoice O Taxiarch, the best creation of God, "the spirit of utter intelligence, holy", and a flame of fire with those who are with you. "When God scattered the nations in different parts of the earth and defined the regions that would remain, he also set the boundaries of the nations according to the number of angels,” says the Scriptures. Another prophet observed, "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from His presence. Thousands upon thousands attended Him, and myriads upon myriads stood before Him." You also served with them very reverently all-glorious Michael.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch of the divine bodiless powers, who preserved your divine church in Chonais unscathed from the raging of two rivers, Lykou and Lykokamprou, which the lawless idolaters desired to destroy your spring of holy water and your holy church and your servant, Archippos. But you, O fiery torch and fire-bearer, appeared as a pillar of fire reaching from earth to heaven, and you advised him to not be afraid of the raging of the rivers, but you stood firm so that the unconquerable power of God might be seen. And having struck the hard rock with the staff you were holding in your hand, you divided it in two, moving the flow of the two rivers into the abyss which stands to this day. And your servant, together with the holy spring of your sacred church were saved and exist to this day. This area, which formerly was named Colossae, was renamed Chonais, on behalf of this great miracle, and the funneling downward of the waters.

Rejoice, O good Taxiarch, the all-glorious Head General of the Good King, and the final consolation of His servants. Those who at the hour of their death are made worthy of your radiant presence, are delivered from the bitter darkness of the devil, as the darkness is dissolved by the light. This, do not cease to do for us, O all-perfect one, but now and then, "protect us underneath the shadow of your wings", and enlighten us with the light of your face.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, defender of the righteous and guide of the venerables, monastics, hermits, and dwellers in monasteries.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, who covers the modest and teaches those unlearned.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, with a voice like a trumpet, who will proclaim the Second Coming of Christ our God, proclaiming to "heaven, the earth and under the earth", and awakening the dead who have slept for ages, to tell them mightily: "Behold the Bridegroom is coming, come forth to meet Him".

Then, as the Scriptures say, the Son of Man "will send His angels to proclaim loudly and to gather the chosen from the four corners of the world, from one end of the earth to the other". Then, O all-greatest Archangel of God, do not forget me, I entreat you, do not separate me, the unworthy one, from that gathering, even if it is something great which I seek, do not pass over me, I entreat you, on behalf of your speedy path.

Rejoice, O Taxiarch, who is found with your fellow Angels round about God serving Him and offering Him as gifts the pure souls of the righteous. "For", as the Psalm says, "those around Him will offer gifts". Among which, O first-called by God and all-greatest one, entreat Him that I might be among them, together with your great and all-radiant helper and fellow-worker, the forerunner of new grace that is worthy of praise, the true divine apostle, who revealed the mystery to the Virgin [Mary], as I perceive him to be a Taxiarch like you and fellow-partaker in glory, Gabriel, the divine and most-glorious and most-perfect archdeacon of our salvation, who is a perfect and true witness, which the Scriptures bear witness to, "there is no one else to help me in these deeds, but only the leader of your nation, the Archangel Michael".

O divine Michael, Head General of the angelic powers, him whom I sent to you, do heal, for your divine pharmacy is always full of medicines which relieve pains. And this encomium, like the mites which the Lord received from the widow, do you receive, and make us worthy to remain in your divine church, even though we are poor spiritually and we cannot offer to you something richer or more honorable, for the height of your glory is great and granted by God. Because we cannot honor you as is right with our human mind, you were exceedingly glorified by God and honored with the command of the choir of the Angels and Archangels. Because of this, as the Lord received the two mites, you too, do receive this encomium, O one graced by God, and because you hearken speedily, and fulfill our entreaties, send him back healthy whom I sent you, that we might all, together with all who are suffering, glorify you and Him Who glorified you, for to the Thrice-holy God belongs all glory, honor and worship, unto the ages. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.


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