Maximus of Turin: In the Feast of His Baptism the Lord is Reborn Sacramentally Thursday, Jan 10 2013 

Maximus_TurinThis feast of the Lord’s baptism, which I think could be called the feast of his birthday, should follow soon after the Lord’s birthday, during the same season, even though many years intervened between the two events.

At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin; today he is born in mystery.

When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to him.

The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves his Son by his loving testimony.

The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore; the Father reveals that his Son is to be worshiped by all the nations.

That is why the Lord Jesus went to the river for baptism, that is why he wanted his holy body to be washed with Jordan’s water.

Someone might ask, “Why would a holy man desire baptism?” Listen to the answer: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched.

For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.

For when the Saviour is washed all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.

Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.

I understand the mystery as this. The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so they could follow on their brave journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed.

As the apostle Paul said, what was accomplished then was the mystery of baptism. Clearly it was baptism in a certain sense when the cloud was covering the people and bringing them through the water.

 But Christ the Lord does all these things: in the column of fire he went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of his body, he goes through baptism before the Christian people.

At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it give light to the hearts of believers.

Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.

Maximus of Turin (d. between 408 and 423):  Sermon 100, 1, 3 (CCL 23, 398-400) from the Office of Readings for the Friday between the Feasts of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord @ Crossroads Initiative.

Maximus of Turin: Imitate the Tiniest Birds… Friday, Oct 26 2012 

A Christian worthy of the name will be intent on praising his Lord and Father throughout the whole day and on doing all things to his greater glory, in accordance with these words of the Apostle:

Whether you eat or drink, in fact whatever you do, let all of it be offered for God’s glory.

[…] Above all, says the Apostle, let all be done for the sake of God’s glory.

Christ wants our every act to be carried out in his own presence as companion and witness, and for this reason:

that his personal inspiration may influence us for good, while his constant partnership may cause us to refrain from evil.

Let us, then, give thanks to Christ on rising, and throughout the day let us begin our every deed with the Saviour’s sign.

[…] For you must realize that Christ’s one sign alone will guarantee the total success of every enterprise.

And whoever makes that sign at the sowing of his seed will reap the harvest of eternal life, whilst he who makes it at the outset of his journey will travel all the way to heaven.

Thus in Christ’s sign and name must all our actions be performed, and to it all life’s ups and downs must be referred, for has not the Apostle told us, in him we live and move and have our being?

But when evening’s shadows lengthen, we must sing to him in the psalmist’s words and declare his praises in melodious chants.

For, in having overcome our labours and our struggles, we, like conquerors, have deserved our rest and the oblivion of sleep as the reward of our toil.

Who, then, possessing human intelligence, would not be ashamed to end the day with no repetition of the psalms, when even the birds pour out their own sweet psalms in gratitude, and with no exultant hymns sung to the glory of him whom the birds praise in melodious song?

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, imitate the tiniest birds by giving thanks to the Creator in the early morning and at evening.

And if you are specially devout imitate the nightingale, for whom the day alone is not enough to fill with praise, and so it sings the whole night through as well!

You also, then, as you vanquish the day with your songs of praise, must add a nightly round to your office, and with a sequence of psalms console your sleepless diligence in the work which you have undertaken!

Maximus of Turin (d. between 408 and 423): Sermon 73.3-5 (CCL 23:305-307); ); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2

Maximus of Turin: “Ascending On High He Led Captivity Captive” Monday, May 7 2012 

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Our Lord blossomed afresh when he rose from the tomb, and he bore fruit when he ascended to heaven.

As a flower he burgeoned from the depths of the earth; as the fruit he took his place on his lofty throne.

Enduring the torment of the Cross alone, he is that grain which he himself describes; surrounded by his Apostles, now unshakeable in their faith, he is the fruit.

In his converse with his disciples during those forty days after his Resurrection, he taught them the fullness of mature wisdom, and reaped from them an abundant harvest by the life-giving power of his words.

Then he ascended to heaven, bringing his Father the fruits of his incarnate life, and leaving in his disciples the seed of holiness.

Just as the eagle leaves the low lying ground, makes for the heights, and climbs high to heaven, in like manner our Saviour left the lower regions, made for the heights of Paradise, and reached heaven’s highest summit.

But what of the fact that an eagle often steals its prey by carrying off what belongs to another?

Even so, our Saviour did something not unlike that, for in a manner of speaking he stole his prey when he snatched the manhood he had assumed from ­the jaws of hell and carried it off to heaven, freeing the human ­race from slavery to an alien prince, that is, from the power of the devil, and leading it captive into a higher captivity.

As the prophet says, Ascending on high he led captivity captive; he gave gifts to men.

The undoubted meaning of these words is this: that since the devil held the human race captive, our Lord, by wresting it from him, took it captive himself and as the prophet tells us led that very captivity to the heights of heaven.

Both captivities do indeed bear the same name, but they differ one from the other.

The devil’s captivity means enslavement; Christ’s, on the contrary, means restoration to freedom.

Maximus of Turin (d. between 408 and 423): Sermon 56, 1-2 (CCL 23:224-225); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Sixth Week of Eastertide, Year 2

Maximus of Turin: If a Thief Could Receive the Grace of Paradise, How Could a Christian Be Refused Forgiveness? Sunday, May 22 2011 

Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free.

He has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in Baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life.

His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth.

[…] In one and the same movement our Saviour’s Passion raises men from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights.

Christ is risen! His rising brings life to the dead, forgiveness to sinners, and glory to the saints.

And so David the prophet summons all creation to join in celebrating the Easter festival: Rejoice and be glad, he cries, on this day which the Lord has made.

The light of Christ is an endless day that knows no night.

Christ is this day, says the Apostle; such is the meaning of his words: Night is almost over; day is at hand.

He tells us that night is almost over, not that it is about to fall.

By this we are meant to understand that the coming of Christ’s light puts Satan’s darkness to flight, leaving no place for any shadow of sin.

His everlasting radiance dispels the dark clouds of the past and checks the hidden growth of vice.

The Son himself is the day to whom The Day, his Father, communicates the mystery of his Divinity.

He it is who says through the mouth of Solomon, I have caused an unfailing light to rise in heaven.

And as in heaven no night can follow day, so no sin can overshadow the justice of Christ.

The celestial day is perpetually bright and shining with brilliant light; clouds can never darken its skies.

In the same way, the light of Christ is eternally glowing with luminous radiance, and can never be extinguished by the darkness of sin.

This is why John the Evangelist says: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never been able to overpower it.

And so, my friends, each of us ought surely to rejoice on this holy day.

Let no one, conscious of his sinfulness, withdraw from our common celebration, nor let anyone be kept away from our public prayer by the burden of guilt.

Sinner one may indeed be, but no one must despair of pardon on this day which is so highly privileged.

For if a thief could receive the grace of Paradise, how could a Christian be refused forgiveness?

Maximus of Turin (d. between 408 and 423): Sermon 53, 1-2 (CCL 23:214-216); from the Office of Readings for Sunday of the 5th week of Easter @ Crossroads Initiative.