Monday, May 12, 2014

What Is the Aim of a Christian Society?

St John Maximovitch tells us plainly in two of his sermons (bolding has been added) - acquire the Kingdom of Heaven (holiness, virtues), not the Kingdom of Earth (riches, power, glory, knowledge, etc.):

The Day commemorating the saints who have shown forth in the Russian land points to that spiritual heaven beneath which the Russian land was founded and lived.

Before the holy Prince Vladimir, there lived on the Russian land separate, pagan tribes that warred with one another. The holy Prince Vladimir brought them a new faith, a new consciousness and meaning of life, a new inner spiritual state; he gave them a new spirit of life that united everyone, and thus a single nation was formed.

The very existence of the Russian nation is tied to the begetting of spiritual life within it, with the assimilation of the fundamentals of a Christian world-view. It is senseless to seek the meaning and purpose of life in earthly life, which ends with death. One must strive to acquire the Divine, grace-filled, eternal life, and then this temporal, earthly life will arrange itself as well: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).

Faith and the Orthodox Church united the separate tribes into one nation. Faith in the Kingdom of God and the search for it, the search for righteousness [pravda] became the most salient characteristic of the Russian people.

For the sake of the Kingdom of God, for the sake of participation in it, for the sake of prayer, Russian ascetics left the vanity of the world and went into the forests, onto uninhabited islands. They sought only the Kingdom of God. They did not want to found or build anything; they went away from people, but people followed after them for the sake of the Kingdom of God, which was present on those islands and in those forests around the righteous ones, and thus lavras and monasteries grew up.

The search for righteousness is a basic thread in the life of the Russian people, and it is not by chance that the first written code of laws, which was designed to regulate life, was called "Russian Justice" [Russkaya Pravda ].

It was not only those who withdrew from the world and from the company of men, who thought about heaven and the Kingdom of God; all believing Russian people understood the meaning of life. All who truly contributed to the development of Russia as a nation, likewise considered that their primary concern was to be faithful to the Divine Kingdom and to Divine Truth [Pravda].

In Russia there were princes, military leaders, landowners, people of all ranks and occupations; and all had in common a fundamental understanding and striving, which were the acquisition of the Kingdom of God and participation in it. This was the meaning of life.

 . . .

Source:  ‘All Saints of Russia’,, accessed 11 May 2014

We do this with help from the saints, with whose help (together with the help of all Christians, for the Church is one; no Christian is ever separated from the rest) we are working out our salvation:

The feast of All Saints of Russia is not a feast of just righteous ones, but of saints. God is filled with holiness; "Holy is the Lord our God." But man is created in the "image and likeness" of God, and the Lord at creation breathed into him the power to partake of the Divine essence [Something may have been lost in translation, for as St John and all Orthodox acknowledge, no man can know God in His hidden, transcendent essence - only in His manifested energies. -- W. G.], and thereby come closer to God. And the closer a man is to God, the holier he is. Saints are those who have partaken of the Divine essence and made it their own; to God, they become "His own." The saints enjoy blessedness, for God is blessed. From them there is light for men. Through them the power of God is revealed. Saints retain all that is characteristic of the human condition; they know everything that is ours. They are near to God, but they are also near to us; they walked and dwelt among us.  . . . Celebrating the saints, we desire to be together with them and to acquire the power of God through their holiness. They know us, our nature, our characteristics and spirits, and they know our souls, too — what is necessary for us. We are close to them as children are close to their parents. The Apostle Peter prayed for his disciples. St. Demetrius of Thessalonica rushes to help the Greeks because this is his own nation. Sts. Boris and Gleb help their relatives (e.g., Alexander Nevsky), and their own Russian people [just as the saints of our Southern forebears from Scotland, Spain, England, Africa, Germany, and the rest pray for and help us -- W. G.].

Source:  ‘Feast of All Saints of Russia’,, accessed 11 May 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment