John Maximovitch: Trinitarian Concord Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedThe Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share one nature, one essence, one substance.

That is why the Three Faces are the Trinity, one-in-substance.

[Ed.: in Greek, prosopon denotes both face and person.]

Humans also have one nature, one substance.

But while God is the Indivisible Trinity, divisions occur in mankind constantly…

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have common thought, common will, common actions.

What the Father desires, the Son also desires, and the Holy Spirit also desires.

Whatever the Son loves, so do the Father and the Holy Spirit also love.

Whatever is pleasing to the Holy Spirit, is pleasing to the Father and Son.

Their actions are also common among them, all act in conjunction and in accord.

This is not so with man. We are in constant disagreement, we have differing desires.

Even a small child expresses his own wishes, willfulness, disobedience to his loving parents.

As he grows older, he separates from their more, and so often in our day becomes completely alienated from them.

People simply don’t share identical opinions, on the contrary, there are perpetual divisions in all things, quarrels and conflicts between individuals, wars between nations.

Adam and Eve, before their Fall, were in full accord and of common spirit with one another at all times.

Having sinned, alienation was immediately sensed. Justifying himself before God, Adam blamed Eve.

Their sin divided them and continues to divide all of mankind.

Emancipated from sin, we approach God, and, filled with His grace, we sense our unity with the rest of mankind.

Such unity is very imperfect and lacking, since in each person some portion of sin remains.

The closer we approach God, the closer we approach each other, just as the closer rays of light are to each other, the closer they are to the Sun.

In the coming Kingdom of God there will be unity, mutual love and concord. The Holy Trinity remains eternally unchanging, all-perfect, united in essence and indivisible.

The One, Indivisible Trinity ever remains the Trinity. The Father always remains the Father, the Son remains the Son, the Holy Spirit remains the Holy Spirit.

Besides Their personal Properties, They all share all in common and in unity. That is why the Holy Trinity is One God.

John Maximovitch (St John of Shanghai and San Francisco; Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): Sermon on the Holy Pentecost @ Pravoslavie.

John Maximovitch: Seeing the Light of the Risen Christ with the Eyes of the Heart Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedLet us cleanse our senses and see through the gleaming, unapproachable light of Christ’s Resurrection.

Now is everything filled-full with light — the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

All is presently bathed in light: Christ is risen from the dead.

The heavens make merry, the earth rejoiceth, the underworld exulteth.

The Angels in Heaven hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ-Saviour. Do Thou make us, on earth, also worthy to glorify Thee with a pure heart.

The Angelic Choir, horrified at seeing Its Creator and Master dead, doth now, in joyous song, glorify Him resurrected.

Today doth Adam exult, and Eve rejoiceth; and with them do the Prophets and Patriarchs sing worthy songs to the Creator of all and to our Deliverer, Who did descend into the underworld for our sake.

The Giver of Life doth lead men out of hell this day, and up-lifteth them to Heaven; He layeth low the powers of the enemy and breaketh down the gates of hell by the Divine power of His authority.

On earth, the Angels announce the gladsome tidings to men and declare Christ’s Resurrection. Attired in gleaming white robes, the Angels ask the Myrrh-bearing Women:

“Why seek ye the Living One amongst the dead? He is risen; He is not here! Come, see the place where the Lord did lie.”

The Myrrh-bearing women rush to the Apostles, bearing to them the joyous news. And through the Apostles and the Gospel is Christ’s Resurrection preached unto all the world today.

Not all the Apostles immediately saw the risen Christ through spiritual eyes. Two disciples travelling to Emmaus did see Jesus walking with them, but did not recognize Him till such time as He had warmed their saddened hearts; and then were their spiritual eyes opened.

Mary Magdalene conversed with Christ in the garden, but neither recognized Him nor was cognizant of the mystery of the Resurrection, until the voice of her beloved Teacher touched her heart and illumined her soul, which had been given to thinking in worldly fashion.

It was the beloved disciple John, whose heart was pure and undimmed by, timidity, who before all others descried the light of the risen Christ through spiritual eyes; and with his bodily eyes did he behold the manifested Lord.

Scattering and dispersing the dark and gloomy tempest of sin, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone forth, gleaming not in the hearts and souls of the Apostles only, but in those of all who draw near to Him with faith, salvation seeking.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Christ sayeth; “blessed are those who have perceived Me not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.”

John Maximovitch (John of Shanghai and san Francisco; Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): A Paschal Epistle of Archbishop John to the Western European and East Asian Flock and to All His Spiritual Children, 1956, Paris, Translated into English by G. Spruksts, “Orthodox Rus”, No. 7, 1996, p.5.

John Maximovitch: The Cross Now Acts Invisibly in the World, Guarding It from Perdition Saturday, Sep 14 2013 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedSeptember 14th is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites.

He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom.

Through the laying on of his hands in the form of a cross on his grandsons, Jacob gave a blessing to his descendants, foretelling at the same time their future until the coming of the “expectation of the nations” (Genesis 48).

By the Cross, the Son of God having become man, accomplished our salvation. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross (Phil. 2:8).

Having stretched out His hands upon the Cross, the Saviour with them, as it were, embraced the world, and by His blood shed on it, like a king with red ink, He signed the forgiveness of the human race.

The Cross of the Lord was the instrument by which He saved the world after the fall into sin.

Through the Cross, He descended with His soul into hell so as to raise up from it the souls who were awaiting Him.

By the Cross, Christ opened the doors of paradise which had been closed after our first ancestors had been banished from it.

The Cross was sanctified by the Body of Christ which was nailed to it when He gave Himself over to torments and death for the salvation of the world, and it itself was then filled with life-giving power.

By the Cross on Golgotha, the prince of this world was cast out (John 12:31) and an end was put to his authority. The weapon by which he was crushed became the sign of Christ’s victory.

The demonic hosts tremble when they see the Cross, for by the Cross the kingdom of hell was destroyed. They do not dare to draw near to anyone who is guarded by the Cross.

The whole human race, by the death of Christ on the Cross, received deliverance from the authority of the devil, and everyone who makes use of this saving weapon is inaccessible to the demons.

[…] The Sign of the Cross is made at all the Mysteries and prayers of the Church. With the making of the Sign of the Cross over the bread and wine, they become the Body and Blood of Christ.

With the immersion of the Cross, the waters are sanctified. The Sign of the Cross looses us from sins.

[…] Just as the flaming sword in the hands of the Cherubim barred the entrance into paradise of old, so the Cross now acts invisibly in the world, guarding it from perdition.

John Maximovitch (Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): extracted from The Cross, The Preserver of the Universe @ Orthodox Church in America.

John Maximovitch: Have You Ever Observed the Life of the Heart? Thursday, Mar 14 2013 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedFocus on the Eternal.

Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation.

Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil?

Beware of temptations from this world and from worldly people; beware of hidden inner temptations that come from the spirit of indifference and carelessness in prayer, from the waning of Christian love.

If we turn our attention to our mind, we notice a torrent of successive thoughts and ideas.

This torrent is uninterrupted; it is racing everywhere and at all times: at home, in church, at work, when we read, when we converse.

“It is usually called thinking,” writes Bishop Theophan the Recluse, “But in fact it is a disturbance of the mind, a scattering, a lack of concentration and attention.”

The same happens with the heart. Have you ever observed the life of the heart? Try it even for a short time and see what you find.

Something unpleasant happens, and you get irritated; some misfortune occurs, and you pity yourself;

you see someone whom you dislike, and animosity wells up within you;

you meet one of your equals who has now outdistanced you on the social scale, and you begin to envy him;

you think of your talents and capabilities, and you begin to grow proud.

And all of this can pass through the heart in a matter of minutes.

For this reason one ascetic, who was extremely attentive to himself, was quite right in saying that “man’s heart is filled with poisonous serpents. Only the hearts of saints are free from these serpents, the passions.”

But such freedom is attained only through a long and difficult process of self-knowledge, working on oneself and being vigilant towards one’s inner life, i.e., the soul.

Be careful. Watch out for your soul! Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass away and turn them toward what is eternal.

Here you will find the happiness that your soul seeks, that your heart thirsts for.

John Maximovitch (Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus and taken from Orthodox America, Vol. XIV, No. 2-3. Sept – Oct. 1993 @ Kandylaki.

John Maximovitch: Weeping Entered the World, and the Soul became Burdened Friday, Dec 2 2011 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedThe world was created good and called to the joy of life in union with the Source and Creator of life, the Lord God.

The first to sin and to be torn from this union were angels.

The angelic realm was split: some remained with God; others, in their pride, desired to live their own life, independent of God.

The angelic world was split and sin was born there, but the earthly world remained good.

And then the devil, which means “the one cast down from heaven,” began to strive to join the earthly realm to himself.

The highest creation on earth, man, had been given a commandment by God not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Why was the commandment given? This tree was just like all the others, and in itself it had no outstanding characteristics.

No, the knowledge of good and evil was not in the tree itself, and not for this reason was the commandment given.

The Lord gave it because man was created free, and the Lord desires of man a freely-willed striving and longing for union with God.

The commandment was given because only through its fulfillment could man express his freely-willed striving toward God and love for Him.

And blessedness consists simply of communication with God through love of Him.

The devil is burdened by his separation; he is perpetually in a state of wrath and vengeance, and it comforts him to attract others.

The devil never appears as his true self, but takes on various appearances.

Then in paradise he took on the appearance of a serpent, and gave man the idea that the commandment had not been given for the expression of man’s love of God, but so that man would not become like God.

The devil planted the thought that the command was issued, not out of God’s love, so that man would dwell in God’s love, but because God desires to dominate, and to prevent man from being as God, and coming to know the endless and limitless joy of being.

When man came to believe this diabolical idea, he was instantly separated from God.

Everything changed, and man could no longer enjoy life in God and speak with God freely and straightforwardly as children speak.

There was no peace, no joy, and man began to hide from God.

Everything changed, the link between God and man was destroyed and nature ceased to heed man.

Weeping entered the world, and the soul became burdened.

John Maximovitch (Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): Sermon on the Fall of Man @ Orthodoxy Today and Orthodox Christian Faith