From a church bulletin:
THE ETHICS OF PARADISE
“…In the age before Constantine, Christians were able to be the salt of the earth without losing their flavor. They lived in close-knit community with one another without closing themselves off from their neighbors. Theirs was truly a way of life, not merely a religion. Their experience of God was metaphysical and meta-political. It was rooted in the ineffable revelation of the infinite, transcendent God Who kenotically [self- emptying of Jesus] irrupted into His orderly creation in order to cast out chaos and perfect human nature. He descended so that mankind, in Him, may ascend. We must recapture this orientation. Every thought must be taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 2:5).
“Becoming his disciple is ever a radical choice in a world filled with egotism, for faith propels us toward the other as we discover a universe in the soul of each person. In self-denial, we open ourselves up to eternity. Indeed, we only discover life once we are willing to lose it. In community we discover the love of the Father.
“It is for this reason that the Gospel cannot be reconciled with society and its false ideals of pride and power, comfort and pleasure. All of reality must be conformed to—or rather transformed by—the ethics of Paradise. Christianity is not a religion of self-actualization, nor a system of political and socioeconomic standards. It does not exist to affirm and fulfill our personal dreams or desires. Christ has come to save us from ourselves.”
—Father Joseph Lucas
From a church bulletin:
The Resurrection of Jesus… was the ultimate human experience. For the first time, a human brain and a human nervous system were suffused from within by the energies of the Resurrection. The whole, material universe begins to be transformed from that moment to what Paul will call “the fullness of Christ.” For the first time, a human heart pulsed with a life beyond the power of death, the pulsation of a heart which will never stop. For all eternity that heart will beat.
Jesus was thereby manifest as the “firstborn from the dead” as he is called in the book of Revelation. His experience of rising from the dead, the first man to do so, is the secure promise of the glory that awaits all those who are joined to him in faith and Divine Grace. This will be the final stage of Salvation. The final stage of Salvation will come only at the end of the world. You see, even dying and going to heaven is not the last stage. It’s a rather important one, but it’s not the last stage. True Soteria—True Salvation—is found when our bodies will rise in glory.
—Father Patrick Henry Reardon
“If life always went well, would we not become so attached to our present state, even though we know it will not last, and by deception become enslaved to pleasure? In the end we would think that our present life is the best and noblest, and forget that, being made in the image of God, we are destined for higher things.”
-St. Maximus the Confessor, On The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ
“Maximus the Confessor (580–662) lived, historically and to some extent geographically, betwixt and between. Historically, he lived in the indefinite transition between ‘early’ and ‘medieval’ Christianity: after the downfall of the Western Roman Empire and the zenith of the Byzantine Christian Empire under Justinian, but before the schism of Byzantine and Roman Churches had reached the point of no return; after the crucial Councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), and Chalcedon (451), but before the age of the Ecumenical Councils had ended; after the most creative epoch in patristic thought, stretching from Origen to the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, but before the tendency toward theological scholasticism East or West had fully gained momentum.”
-Fr. John Behr, Editor of On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ
I very much enjoyed this video interview with a St. Maximus scholar, Fr. Maximos Constas: “The Relevance of St. Maximus Today.” And you can read more about St. Maximus HERE. Today we commemorate the translation of his relics, and sing this hymn:
Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship,
enlightener of the universe and adornment of hierarchs:
All-wise father Maximus, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things.
Intercede before Christ God to save our souls.
IN PRAISE OF SELF-DEPRECATION
The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.
The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.
The killer whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.
There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.