[Addr-12] All true Religion is, or brings forth, an essential Union and Communion of the Spirit of the Creature with the Spirit of the Creator: God in it, and it in God, one Life, one Light, one Love.
All life or being begins to be in so far as God’s Being is lent to it in time and space, partially, incompletely, and potentially as what is capable of being perfected imperfectly. Life or being, Light or meaning, and Love or desire are present to every creature in so far as its respective nature is capable of imitating God.
The Spirit of God first gives, or sows the Seed of Divine Union in the Soul of every Man; and Religion is That by which it is quickened, raised, and brought forth to a Fullness and Growth of a Life in God.— Take a Similitude of this, as follows.— The Beginning, or Seed of animal Breath, must first be born in the Creature from the Spirit of this World, and then Respiration, so long as it lasts, keeps up an essential Union of the animal Life with the Breath or Spirit of this World. In like manner, Divine Faith, Hope, Love, and Resignation to God, are in the religious Life its acts of Respiration, which, so long as they are true, unite God and the Creature in the same living and essential manner, as animal Respiration unites the Breath of the Animal with the Breath of this World.
Man’s return to God comes by way of Religion. Now, to be sure, there are all sorts of imperfect and underdeveloped kinds of religion. Some kinds reveal a relation to the Divine that is childish, as with the example of those who are moved from truths expressed in mythology and fables. Those who are moved by mythology and fables are the worshipers of immature and underdeveloped sensations, feelings, perceptions, and opinions. Religion in this case does not grow beyond the deification of feeling and impulse. The soul in such a case dogmatically and tyrannically asserts truth without any intention or motivation to prove it rationally. More intellectually advanced religion can be found in the efforts of the Greeks. From the Pre-Socratics, through Plato and Aristotle, to Plotinus can be found the discovery of the One Transcendent God. Their efforts were spent in discovering more about this God’s nature. The Jews came to know the same knowledge through faith in God’s Grace. And yet both groups, in the end, judged that God had not been reconciling the world to Himself through the God-Man, Jesus Christ. They fell back into their own imperfect perfection. In the end, the formulations of their reason in Roman and Jewish Law expelled God wholly and completely from His own creation. The Christian Religion alone sees God perfectly redeeming and saving all of creation. In it man finds union with God through the God-Man and His ever-present unfolding Willful Grace in time and space. In it created nature is redeemed as man turns back to God through Jesus Christ. Thus creation is converted through man’s return to God through the Mind of Christ and as a member of the Body He left behind in time and space. The Body is the Church and its members endure death and then new life by participating in the Life, Light, and Love of the God-Man. His Spirit animates the members of His Body to find reconciliation with God. In Him everything, both light and darkness, day and night, good and evil can be serviceable for the salvation journey. With the Mind of Christ illuminating the minds of His Body’s members creation and all in it is returned to God. ‘And God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.’ (Gen. i. 31) Man has breath from the Holy Spirit; but this generates mere being or living. Respiration for man is the actualization of faith, hope, love, and resignation to God’s will. Man believes in God, hopes through Him, and loves all others in Him. He resigns to God’s will since anything other than that would spell ruin and damnation. So in Jesus Christ all of creation seen in God and willed for God’s glory.
[Addr-13] Now as no Animal could begin to respire, or unite with the Breath of this World, but because it has its Beginning to breathe begotten in it from the Air of this World, so it is equally certain, that no Creature, Angel or Man, could begin to be religious, or breathe forth the Divine Affections of Faith, Love, and Desire towards God, but because a Living Seed of these Divine Affections was by the Spirit of God first begotten in it.— And as a Tree or Plant can only grow and fructify by the same Power that first gave Birth to the Seed, so Faith, and Hope, and Love towards God, can only grow and fructify by the same Power, that begot the first Seed of them in the Soul. Therefore Divine immediate Inspiration and Divine Religion are inseparable in the Nature of the Thing. [Addr-14] Take away Inspiration, or suppose it to cease, and then no Religious acts or Affections can give forth any Thing that is godly or Divine. For the Creature can offer, or return Nothing to God, but That which it has first received from him; therefore, if it is to offer and send up to God Affections and Aspirations that are Divine and godly, it must of all necessity have the Divine and godly Nature living and breathing in it.— Can any Thing reflect Light, before it has received it? Or any other Light, than that which it has received? Can any Creature breathe forth earthly, or diabolical Affections, before it is possessed of an earthly, or diabolical Nature? Yet this is as possible, as for any Creature to have Divine Affections rising up and dwelling in it, either before, or any further, than as it has or partakes of the Divine Nature dwelling and operating in it.
What is clear is that man cannot offer up Affections and Aspirations to God until he has asked the Holy Spirit to come alive in him. Countless numbers of men assume spiritual potentiality who have not surrendered to the Lord in fear, obedience, and in-othering. There can be not true Godliness unless and until God has caused it to come alive in the soul that longs after it. And thus we must acknowledge the Divine Causation of our salvation and get ourselves into it through utter surrender. We cannot embrace God’s life until we intend to live in it. We cannot reflect His Light and Truth until we have been been illuminated by it and thus moved to further surrender. We cannot love God and share His love with others until we have been forgiven and made new by it. We will what we know. We know only what Christ reveals to us as His love. All of this is to say that we must assent consciously to the Life, Light, and Love of God if we claim to be Religious. Now Religion is only of use to us if we see, know, and acknowledge if and when we have been moved and defined by earthly and diabolical affections also. Thus we must admit and confess that we have chosen to be moved by people, places, and situations outside of God’s quickening, enlightening, and loving of them. Thus we must repent constantly of any thoughts, words, and works that have not been returned to God. Our Religion is of use only when all that we are, we know, and we love are measured in the Life, Light, and Love of our Heavenly Father.
St. Michael and All Angels Sermons