Sermon from Saint Petroc Monastery
Fr. Hieromonk Michael
Today begins the longest season of the Church’s year: Trinity-tide, which lasts until the end of November, almost a full month of Sundays. Today as a special matter however, we celebrate the revelation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. God, we are told repeatedly throughout the Holy Scriptures, is eternal. He has no beginning and He has no end. The Father’s Son is eternal: He is begotten before all ages, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father eternally. Heaven, the eternal Kingdom of God has no time in any earthly sense. It follows that our earthly, physical time has little significance.in Heaven. What then, does this mean for us when we look at the Church? The worship of the Church? The relationship between us and Christ?
From a Heavenly point of view, everything that has happened and will happen is, in a sense, happening “now”. While we are clearly told that some things which are yet to happen are unknown to any but God Himself, nevertheless, from the Heavenly point of view, Christ is God and man, Christ is being born of Mary who becomes thereby the Mother of God’s Incarnation, Christ is teaching and we are milling around Him, He is being tried, beaten and nailed to the Cross, we are consenting to that and we are at the same time crying for it and for ourselves. He is dying for us, He is being buried, visiting Hell, preaching to and leading the righteous sons of Adam out of Hell, He is rising again, He is teaching the Apostles in detail about what the Church is to be, its mission and how to understand His words. He is ascending to the Father, He is requesting the Holy Spirit from the Father, the Apostles are preaching, the Martyrs are dying, It is not some long-ago thing - it is now - the Church is spreading, the Holy Spirit is instructing the Fathers of the great Councils how to build and guide the Church. It is all happening in the present tense: We are an integral part of all that. It is not the past - it is the present for the Orthodox Believer. That is why we ask our friends to pray for us, to plead on our behalf - our friends - whether they be here on earth or reposed before us, great saints of the last millennium or humble friends of our youth, they are all our intimate neighbours who gather around us and pray to God for us. The Orthodox Believer reads the words of the Fathers and he is at the same time there listening to them, they are his friends, his mentors, his neighbours. It is as natural for him to ask them to intercede for him as it is for him to ask his brother-in-this-world to help him. From all this it follows that the Christian Priest serving before God in the Divine Liturgy, does not (cannot) repeat Christ’s Sacrifice of Himself. What the Priest and the Church do is to participate (both as penitents and as joyful recipients) in that original timeless, once-for-all Sacrifice at Calvary. Our worship is the worship of Heaven, we participate shoulder-to-shoulder with the crowd of Saints, Elders, Martyrs and Faithful. We have no time to make worldly observations during the Liturgy, this is truly our “time out” for we are in another place during the liturgy, with those who are our true friends and fellow disciples all over the world and throughout time, there is no differentiation other than that we are still here struggling to perfect ourselves and they are encouraging us and praying for us as we go. And in a sense, we are already there with them in this participation in the worship of Heaven before the Throne of God. The Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Triune God is eternal and we are part of the eternality in that we have been given the gift of eternal life in Him.