Imagine that the entire world is magical,
that a dryad lives in every green tree,
a water-nymph lives in every forest pool,
and every blade of grass is imbued with
enchanted fairy dust.
If this was truly the world we inhabited,
would you live your life differently?
Would you speak the same words,
if you knew your conversations were being overheard by fairies?
Would you trust in logic alone,
if you knew that magical spells influenced both politics and the weather?
Would you even walk around outside your house in the same way, if you knew that witches were waiting around every corner, looking for an opportunity to speak incantations, to bring curses down upon your head?
When you go to confront that one annoying family member, would you go all alone, if you knew that your family member wasn’t acting alone? If you knew that person was in league with witches, demons, and sorcerers, and was literally imbued with magical power from the very bowels of hell, would you approach this person on your own? Or would you seek protection from every magical amulet you could find? If you knew there were good spirits who could help you, wouldn’t you seek their aid?
How would you live your life differently, if the world was truly imbued with magic?
I have news for you. The world is imbued with magic. We do live in Narnia.
If you want to read a fantasy, then just open a modern science textbook. Most science textbooks are far more imaginary, unprovable, and unbelievable than any episode of Lord of the Rings.
Fairy-tales are written about real things, such as magic, witchcraft, angels, demons, and the supernatural.
Science textbooks are written about imaginary things, such as “natural laws”, “natural forces”, and blind materialism.
Today’s culture—even among Christians—tends to scoff at the supernatural. One of the most dreaded charges is the accusation of being “superstitious”. Yet, according to the dictionary, the definition of the word “superstition” is simply “belief in the supernatural”. Thus, you cannot even be a Christian without being superstitious.
Maybe on Sunday morning you just have to admit the existence of God, if you want to remain a Christian. But on Monday through Saturday, in your normal, mundane, day to day existence, most modern Christians just don’t seem to believe that supernatural realities have any practical application to everyday life. From morning to evening, we live our lives as if most things are guided by natural laws and impersonal forces. We pretend that supernatural realities, if they exist at all, only intervene on very rare occasions.
I used to think this way. As a Christian, I had to believe in the existence of angels. But I believed in angels the same way I believe in Russians. I know they exist, there are a lot of them, and they all live somewhere, but they don’t live here. Russians live in a faraway country called “Russia”, and angels live in a faraway country called “Heaven”. I’d like to visit both places someday. But for now, I live here in southern Illinois, and I just don’t run into many people from either place. Russians really do not affect my daily life, and neither do the angels. Or so I believed.
But the Bible says differently.
According to Scripture, the most important parts of my life are influenced by invisible spirits.
The most important part of my life is my salvation. And according to Hebrews 1:14, angels are ministers which God sends to help me on that path. If you are going to inherit salvation, then you can be sure the angels are there to help you succeed.
The angels also significantly impact our worship. When we come together to pray and to worship God, women wear headcoverings. Why? According to 1 Corinthians 11:10, it is because of the angels.
Another important aspect of my life is human relationships. It is important for me to treat every human being with love, honor, and respect. It is important that I never look down on anyone. But why is it important? According to Matthew 18:10, Jesus says that guardian angels are the reason. Even the smallest child has a guardian angel which is always beholding the face of God in heaven. Therefore, do not look down on any child. Do not despise the little ones. This is the reasoning used by Christ. In our personal relationships, angels matter.
And what about that annoying, nonchristian family member you occasionally have conflict with? Scripture says this sort of discord is not merely a one-on-one affair. In Ephesians 6:12, the apostle Paul says that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Therefore, it is foolish to think you should singlehandedly enter any situation that involves interpersonal conflict.
Remember the example we considered earlier? If you knew your family member was in league with witches, demons, and sorcerers, and was literally imbued with magical power from the very bowels of hell, you would not hastily approach this person on your own. Instead, you would be wise to avail yourself of every form of spiritual protection that is at your disposal. You would want a sufficient amount of “white magic” to counteract this other person’s “black magic”.
Now, there may not be any magical amulets that you can wear. But you do have the sign of the cross. It is powerful, and it gives you great strength in your battle against the dark angels.
You might not be able to consult any white wizards, like Gandalf. But you do have the help of the holy angels. Call upon them for protection. Ask God to send them on your behalf. Give thanks to your guardian angel for his watchful eye, and for the protection provided by his sword.
Be glad that when you go to do spiritual battle, you do not go alone. God is there with you. And the angels go there with you.
The next time you have to enter some sort of conflict, do not spend all your time thinking about what you are going to say. First, spend some time in prayer, asking for the assistance of the holy angels, asking God to break the stronghold of Satan in the other person’s life. Spend some serious time in prayer, waging spiritual warfare, before you concern yourself with what words you will speak.
You are not merely waging a battle of logic against the other person’s mind;
You are waging a spiritual battle against the ancient demons who are holding the other person captive. Do not be deceived into thinking that mere logic will cause them to release their prisoner.
When God created the heavens and the earth, the angels sang.
When Moses received the Law, it was by means of the angels.
When the Incarnation took place, the angels announced the coming of Christ.
When Jesus rose from the dead, angels announced the resurrection.
When the 1st century apostles spread the Gospel, they did so with the assistance of angels.
When your body is resurrected, angels will carry you into the presence of God.
When Jesus returns to earth, He will have tens of thousands of angels at His side.
Search the Scriptures from cover to cover, and you will find no natural causes, no natural laws, and no natural explanations. In the Bible, what you will find are angels, demons, signs and wonders, miracles, witches, wizards, necromancers, unicorns, and immortal beings. You won’t find any naturalists or scientists. But you will find talking animals, invisible spirits, objects possessing healing powers, water which can be converted either into wine or a walking path, and a God who singlehandedly controls the weather, the crops, and the fates of entire nations.
If you believe that every waking minute of your life is impacted by angels, and if you believe your nonchristian acquaintances are more influenced by demons than by logic, then you have a firmer grasp on reality than most scientists do. They are still living in their imaginary world of materialism and natural law. Meanwhile, you have your feet firmly planted in the present reality of supernatural forces.
Today is the feast day for St. Michael the Archangel, the Prince of all the angels. Let us give thanks for all the assistance he has given us, and let us continue to call upon him for his protection in the future.
This article is an adaptation of a homily preached on Sunday morning, September 29, 2013, at Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, by Dn. Joseph Gleason.