"Thy Kingdom Come..."

Martyr Valetine in Moesia, Bulgaria

Martyr Valetine in Moesia, Bulgaria

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

"...THY KINGDOM COME..."

Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis commenting on the interpretation of The Lord's Pray by Saint Maximos the Confessor writes: "...In the prayer's first phrase, 'Our Father, Who art in the heavens, hallowed by Thy name. Thy Kingdom come", he sees the first two blessings presented; Theology and Adoption. Here, "theology" means, in a literal sense, Triadology, in other words, the teaching concerning the Holy Trinity, "that from this beginning we may be taught to revere, invoke, and worship the Trinity in unity." The Holy Trinity is indeed proclaimed because although the Father alone is mentioned, mystically and anagogically the other two are implied in the words "name" and "kingdom," "For the name of God the Father exists in substantial form in the Only-begotten Son. Again, the Kingdom of God exists in substantial form as the Holy Spirit."

"...After the proclamation of the Holy Trinity, the prayer declares the grace of adoption in that we are found worthy to call God "Father". God is, according to nature, "Creator" however according to grace is our Father. This understanding of paternity, in which it is said that God is properly called "Creator" on account of His creating us but "Father" by Grace, is worthy of remark. We are all, then, children of God. We have the grace of adoption and call Him "Father", not because He created us, but because he has given us rebirth and regeneration by the saving work of His Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His labor we possess this adoption by grace. This spiritual adoption demands that we try to preserve in our life the characteristics of our Divine birth by grace. In our action, and not only in our words, we are to "hallow" His name, and thus be proven to be true children of God, glorifying, "who is by nature Son of the Father", in all that we think and do. The name of the Father is hallowed when we mortify the material desires and are purified of the corrupting passions, as "sanctification is the complete mortification and cessation of desire in the senses." In this condition, manifestations of anger because anger is, by nature, kindled by sinful desire. When we mortify these desires, then the mania of anger ceases.

"...It is fitting that, anger and desire repudiated, we should next invoke the rule of the Kingdom of God the Father with the words "Thy Kingdom come", that is "May the Holy Spirit come"; for having put away these things, we are now made into a temple of God through the Holy Spirit by the teaching and practice of gentleness."

Christ's calling of the meek and humble, and the assurance that these will inherit the earth, is realized in the perfection of the spiritual life. Saint Maximos says that we must spiritually understand "earth" to mean, "the resolution and strength of the inner stability, immovably rooted in goodness, that is possessed by gentle people," which, accompanied by indelible joy, resemble the state of the Angels. ...When the soul is reformed into the Divine Likeness and becomes a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, then vices are made to vanish and virtues blossom forth in their place. In this state we experience a continual nativity and incarnation of Christ--a mystical Christmas. "Christ always desires to be born in a mystical way, becoming incarnate in those who attain salvation..."

We now move on to the next phrase of the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". In this phrase Saint Maximos sees man becoming equal in honor to the Angels, as asking for equality with the rational beings. In the fulfillment of God's will on earth as it occurs in heaven, man imitates the Angels. In the Angels there exists no sinful desires, which paralyze the spiritual faculties with pleasure, nor anger, which is fiercely directed against brothers. We find only the natural leading of rational beings toward God and nothing else.

Saint Maximos gives two meanings to the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread"; one anagogical, the other literal. In the anagogical interpretation, the spiritual interpretation, our daily bread is divine food. It is the food of the bread of life and of consciousness which the first man forfeited as a consequence of sin. If man had tasted this bread of divine consciousness, the death that comes through sin would not have appealed to him. Saint Maximos prefers this interpretation to the literal one because Christ Himself taught the disciples that they ought not be occupied with perishable bread, with concerns for what they will eat, what they will drink and what they will wear rather they ought, above all else, seek the Kingdom of God. Obviously, Christ would not teach His disciples to ask something in the prayer which He had commanded them not seek. If, however, Christ taught us to ask for every-day, transient bread, we must not overstep the temporal boundary which the prayer puts in place. We must not stock up on many years worth of goods but rather ask only for our daily bread, free from other concerns, so as to demonstrate that we do not prepare for life but death, "that as Christian philosophers we make life a rehearsal for ideal for death." The spiritual life "not just to live but to live for God," confining our petition to the provision of bread for just one day, not extending it to a second. It is clear from this, then, that Saint Maximos the Confessor understands the fourth of the seven blessings to be participation in the bread of life and incorruptibility.

According to the anagogical interpretation the petitioner asks God for the bread of wisdom, which we were deprived of by the transgression of the first-created man. In relation with this, Saint Maximos uses a familiar pair-pleasure and pain. He develops these particularly in the chapters, development which he assumes here. He writes that we ask spiritual bread from God in our prayer because we know that only one true pleasure exists. This pleasure is the attainment of divine blessings which God, by nature, bestows but man safeguards according to His will and intention. On the other hand, the sole true pain is the loss of divine blessings; a loss prompted by the Devil but only made actual by man on account of his of laziness through which he renounces the Divine.

The next phrase of the Lord's Prayer is as follows: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In this petition, it seems that man presents himself to God as an example of virtue, exhorting God to imitate his behavior. "A person of this kind makes himself a pattern of virtue for God, it may be put in this way". Forgiveness of the sins of others not only contributes to the remission of our own sins by God, but principally to the evading of divisions and schisms, and the restoration of human nature which in this state, when it does not rebel and divide, accepts the Divine condescension. God taught us to seek forgiveness, not so that He might learn what is right from us, but to purify us from the passions and to demonstrate that our disposition is vital to achieving the brotherly relationship among men under grace. In this petition for absolution, Saint Maximos sees the attainment of the fifth blessing; the restoration of nature culminating in the unity and harmony of all men.

The final petition phrase, "Lead not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One", contains as it request the attainment of the final two blessings of the seven: the abolition of the law of sin and the overthrowing of the tyranny of the Devil. Temptation is the law of sin, something unknown to creation initially. The Devil, through whom temptation came to human nature, was not evil. Temptation is understood as the voluntary predilection of the soul towards the passions, while evil is the implementation in practice of this impassioned predilection. Forgiving the sins of other men and the setting aside every dislike and hatred is of great importance so that God might immediately hear our prayer and send a double grace and reward. The forgiveness of sins is not only protection and deliverance from sin, but also from the future attacks of the Devil. The past and the future are both dependent on present absolution.

Summarizing what he has previously said in reverse order, Saint Maximos the Confessor writes that, in order to be free from the Devil and to flee temptation, we must forgive the sins of others. In this struggle to expel the passions we have Christ as our ally, who with love unites and restores nature and moves us to love the bread of life. In living according to the Divine Will we are made like unto the Angels, and then with the participation by the grace of the Holy Spirit He makes us "commune with the Divine nature", He makes us children of God who are clothed by the worker of Grace, Christ. "From Him, through Him and in Him we have and always will have our being, our movement and our life." Thy mystery of theosis (deification) is the aim of the Lord's Prayer, which presents to us, from the lowest semblance of faith in the Incarnate Lord, the path of the grace of adoption. We ought to show by our works that that the prayer is realized in us; not to preach that God is "Father" and yet allow it to appear by our passions and vices that the father of our life is the Devil. God, on the one hand, is the giver of life, while the Devil, on the other hand, is the purveyor of death through the various temptations that he prompts.

Finishing, Saint Maximos the Confessor clarifies that there exists two types of temptations; the pleasurable and the painful. The pleasurable temptations are voluntary and freely chosen and are the root of sin. From this form of temptation, we ask God to deliver us saying, "Lead us not into temptation". Conversely, the painful temptations--pain in other words--are chastisement for sin. By the difficulty caused by involuntarily suffering, God chastens and corrects the sin-loving disposition. If one endures these painful, involuntary temptations he is lauded by the Apostle James, who advises us to be glad when tempted by various temptations. The Devil uses both forms of temptations with much villainy. He uses pleasurable temptations to pry the soul away from the love of God by pleasure, but the painful temptations he uses to devastate man through pain and suffering, pushing him to blasphemy and accusation of God. We, however, who know the methods of the Devil and his evil thoughts; we must retreat from the pleasurable temptations so as not to be separated from the love of God, but the painful temptations, the manifold trials which come to us by God's permission, we must endure with courage showing that we prefer the Creator to creation.

We conclude our presentation of this luminous little work of interpretation, On the Lord's Prayer, with the final prayer of Saint Maximos: "May all of us who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be delivered from the present delights and the future afflictions of the Evil One by participating in the reality of the blessings held in store and already revealed to us in Christ our Lord Himself, Who alone with the Father and the Holy Spirit is praised by all creation." [Source: The Lord's Prayer Interpreted according to Saint Maximos the Confessor by Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-- Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George