(Theologian Fr Dumitru Staniloae)
“Even if all the world shall enter into communion with the (heretical) Patriarch, I will not!”
(St. Maximus the Confessor)
St Maximus the Confessor, the greatest of Byzantine theologians, lived through the most catastrophic period the Byzantine Empire was to experience before the Crusades.
“By birth a citizen of Constantinople and at first a high-ranking courtier at the court of the Emperor Heraclius, he then became a monk and the abbot of a monastery not far from the capital. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite heresy, which developed from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: as Eutyches asserted that there is in Christ only one nature, so the Monothelites asserted that there is in Him only one will. Maximus resisted this assertion and found himself in opposition to both the Emperor and the Patriarch. But he was unafraid, and persevered to the end in proving that there are in the Lord two natures and therefore also two wills. By his efforts, one Council in Carthage and one in Rome stood firm, and both these Councils anathematized the Monothelite teaching. Maximus’s sufferings for Orthodoxy cannot be fully described: tortured by hierarchs, spat upon by the mass of the people, beaten by soldiers, persecuted, imprisoned; until finally, with his tongue cut out and one hand cut off, he was condemned to exile for life in Skhimaris, where he gave his soul into God’s hands in the year 662.”
Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich in “The Prologue from Ochrid”
See also: The Life of St. Maximus
Troparion of St Maximos Tone 3
By an outpouring of the Holy Spirit/ thou didst pour forth Christ’s sacred teachings./ Thou didst expound with divine authority the self-emptying of God the Word/ and wast radiant in thy confession of the True Faith./ Glorious Father Maximos, pray to Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion of St Maximos Tone 2
O Maximos divinely inspired champion of the Church,/ sure and illumined exponent of Orthodoxy,/ thou harp and trumpet of godliness,/ divine and holy adornment of monks:/ cease not to intercede for us all.
TEACHERS OF THE CLEAN MIND
(from the Speech On Love)
3.93 & 27: HE clean mind sometimes God himself comes into and teaches, sometimes the holy angelic powers suggest the right things, sometimes the vision of the nature of things. … But to participate or not in His goodness and wisdom, depends to the will of the creatures who have reason.
3.79: Do not dishonor your conscience, perfectly instructing you always. Because she suggests you the divine and angelic opinion, she sets you free from the hidden infections of the heart and she gives you uprightness before God when you depart.
3.80: If you’ve known yourself, you will understand many, great and wonderful things. Because, thinking that you know doesn’t let you progress in knowing.
1.95: The sun of justice, rising into the clean mind, reveals himself and the reasons of all that He created and will create.
4.61: Love defeats those three, self-deception, because she is not proud. Interior envy, because she is not jealous. Exterior envy, because she is generous and serene.
1.70: All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are inside our hearts hidden.
1.31: Faith without love does not act in the soul the illumination of the divine knowledge.
3.97: When the mind receives the ideas of things, by its nature is transformed according to each and every idea. If it sees the things spiritually, is transfigured in many ways according to each vision. But if the mind becomes in God, then it becomes totally shapeless and formless, because seeing Him who has one face it comes to have one face and then the whole mind becomes a face of light.
Other Quotes from St. Maximus on Love
Letter 2: On Love
Louth: At one pole is self-love at the other is deifying love
Divine love…in its power is beyond circumspection or definition (L 2:85)
Nothing is more truly Godlike than divine love, nothing more mysterious, nothing more apt to raise up human beings to deification (85)
The mystery of love which out of human beings makes us gods (85)
Everything is circumscribed by love according to God‟s good pleasure…for what form of good things does love not possess?—faith, hope humility, meekness, gentleness, mercy, self-control, patience, long-suffering, kindness, peace and joy (86)
Love is the goal of every good, being the highest of goods with God, and source of every good (86)
Love alone…proves that the human person is in the image of the Creator…persuading the inclination to follow nature (86-7)
The divine and blessed love…will embrace God and manifest the one who loves God to be God himself (87)
The power of love [is] the adversary of self-love (88)
Self-love is…the first sin, the first progeny of the devil, and the mother of the passions…the beginning and mother of all evils (88)
Love gathers together what has been separated (88)
God takes form in each through his great love for mankind out of the virtue that is present in each through the ascetic struggle (90)
Love is therefore a great good, and of goods the first and most excellent good since through it God and man are drawn together in a single embrace (90)
Love is…in a definition: the inward universal relationship to the first good connected with the universal purpose of our natural kind…there is nothing that can make the human being who loves God ascend any higher (90)
[We do] not divisively [assign] one form of love to God and another to human beings, for it is one and the same and universal: owed to God and attaching human beings to each other (90)
For the activity and clear proof of perfect love towards God is a genuine disposition of voluntary goodwill toward one‟s neighbor (90)
The all glorious way of love…is truly divine and deifying and leads to God (91)
Love is said to be God Himself which from the beginning the thorns of self love have covered up (91)
For the sake of love the saints all resist sin continually finding no meaning in this present life (91)
Love…binds human beings to God and one another (91)
The grace of love…leads one to God who deifies the human being that He himself has fashioned (92)
Love “never fails” since it possesses God who is alone unfailing and unalterable (92)
(Other texts taken from the book “Maximus the Confessor” by Andrew Louth)
Contemplation of the end of the world
Those who look carefully at the present world, making the most of their learning, and wisely tease out with their mind the logos that folds together the bodies that harmoniously constitute it in various ways—they discover what is perceived through the senses, and what is understood and what is universal, everything contained in everything and turning by the exchange of the individual qualities of each. For by nature the senses are contained by what is perceived through the senses, and what is perceived through the senses is contained by the senses through sensation, as being understood. And again the universal is corrupted by change into the particular, and the particular, turned into the universal by reduction, also suffers corruption. And there comes about the corruption of everything that owes its coming to be to others. For the union of universals with one another, which causes the coming to be of particulars, is the corruption of one another by change, and the reduction of particulars to universals by the dissolution of their being bound together, leading to corruption, is the continuance and coming to be of the universals. And learning that this is the constitution of the world of the senses—the change and corruption of the bodies through which and in which it consists, one into another—we come to understand that it follows from the natural property of the bodies in which it consists—their instability and changeability and their chameleon-like alteration of universal qualities—that it is not possible for the world to have a necessary consummation. Nor can it be rightly thought that what does not possess eternity should appear to any rational understanding as eternal, separate from change and alteration, and not rather scattered and changing in a myriad of ways.
Contemplation of the virtues
Consequently a human being is blessed who has virtues, whether or not he has any other blessings besides. If he has virtues and other advantages too, he is blessed in a general sense, as one said who was wise in divine matters. If he has virtues alone and for their own sake, he is blessed in a more circumscribed sense. For some things are thought of in a more circumscribed way, as when we think of two cubits, others in a
more general way, as when we think of a heap. For you can take away two measures from a heap, and will be left with a heap. If you take away all bodily and external advantages from the condition of general blessedness, and leave nothing whatever but the virtues, it remains a state of blessedness.
For virtue, by itself, is sufficient for happiness. Therefore every bad person is wretched, even if he has all the so-called blessings of the earth, if he is deprived of the virtues. And every good person is blessed, even if he is deprived of all earthly blessings, since he has the radiance of virtue. It is because of this that Lazarus rejoiced, at rest in the bosom of Abraham.
Contemplation of how God is understood from Creation
So therefore when the Saints behold the creation, and its fine order and proportion and the need that each part has of the whole, and how all the perfect parts have been fashioned wisely and with providence in accordance with reason that fashioned them, and how what has come to be is found to be not otherwise than good beside what now is, and is in need of no addition or subtraction in order to be otherwise good, they
are taught from the things he has made that there is One who fashioned them. So,95 too, when they see the permanence, the order and position of what has come to be, and its manner of being, in accordance with which each being, according to its proper form, is preserved unconfused and without any disorder; and the course of the stars proceeding in the same way, with no alteration of any kind, and the circle of the year
proceeding in an orderly manner according to the periodic return of the [heavenly bodies] from and to their own place, and the equal yearly proportion of the nights and days, with their mutual increase and decrease, taking place according to a measure that is neither too small nor too great, they understand that behind everything there is providence, an this they acknowledge as God, the fashioner of all.
Contemplation of divine providence
Anyone who is convinced that God exercises providence over the things that are, from which he has learnt that he exists, will judge it right and reasonable that he is none other than the guardian of the things that are and cares for them and that he alone is the fashioner of what is. For the permanence of what is, and its order and position and movement,111 and the consonance of the extremities with the middle, the agreement of the parts with the wholes, and the union throughout of the wholes with the parts, and the unblurred distinction of the parts one from another in accordance with the individuating difference of each, and the unconfused union in accordance with the indistinguishable sameness in the wholes, and the combination and distinction of everything with everything else (not to limit myself to particulars), and the eternally preserved succession of everything and each one according to form, so that the logos of each nature is not corrupted by confusion or blurring—all this shows clearly that everything is held together by the providence of the Creator God. For it is not the case that God is good but not beneficent, or beneficent but without providence, and therefore he cares wisely for the things that are and in a way befitting God, so that they are favoured with existence and care. Providence is, then, according to the God- bearing Fathers,112 the care that comes from God to the things that are. They also define it thus: providence is the will of God through which everything that is receives suitable direction. If this will is God’s, if I may use the very words of my teachers, then it necessarily follows that what happens happens in accordance with right reason, and so no better disposition could be looked for. One who has chosen to take truth as his guide is therefore led to say that providence is either the one who is truly known to be the Creator or is a power exercised by the Creator of all things. And with animals, if we approach them in a rational way we shall find a trace of the intelligible in them which is a not unworthy imitation of what is above reason. For if we look at those beings that naturally care for their offspring, we are encouraged to define for ourselves reverently and with godly boldness that God exercises providence in his sovereign uniqueness over all beings, and not over some beings but not others, as some of the adepts of the ‘outer learning’113 have it, but of absolutely everything, in accordance with the one and indistinguishable will of goodness, and indeed of both universals and particulars, for we know that if particulars can perish because they are not within the remit of providence and fitting protection, then universals will perish with them (for universals consist of particulars), in this way propounding a rational demonstration that rightly leads by a reasonable retort to the truth. For if universals consist of particulars, then if the particular examples of any logos in accordance with which things exist and consist should perish, then it is quite clear that the corresponding universals will not continue to be. For the parts exist and subsist in the wholes, and the wholes in the parts. No reason can gainsay it. But there are those who are, as it were, unwillingly bound by the truth and betray the power of providence, arguing that it only pervades what is important to them. For they say that only universals are governed by providence,114 and that particulars are hidden from providence, being led by necessity towards the truth that they are anxious to flee. For if they say that it is because of permanence that universals are worthy of providence, they admit even more strongly that those particulars are worthy, in which the permanence and stability of the universals consist. These are admitted together through the indissoluble natural relationship that they have with each other, and both conserve permanence, nor can one be said to be foreign to the protection of the other, and again if they admit the protection of the one with respect of permanence, they have to grant the other too. Apart from that there are three ways in which the providence of God is denied.115 Some say that God does not understand the method of providence, others that he cannot will it, others that he has not the power. But it follows from the common notions that God is good and beyond goodness and eternally wills what is good for everything, and that he is wise and beyond wisdom, or rather the source of all wisdom, and certainly knows everything that is going to happen, and that he is powerful, or rather infinitely powerful, and certainly brings about in a divinely fitting way in everything what is known to him and what he wills for the good and what is fitting. For God is good and wise and powerful, and pervades everything visible and invisible, both universals and particulars, both small and great, indeed everything that possesses existence in any way whatever. He is not diminished by the boundlessness of his goodness and wisdom and power, and conserves everything in accordance with the logos of its being, both in relation to themselves and to others, and in accordance with the indissoluble harmony and permanence that relates everything one to another. Why then can we not understand that natureitself teaches us clearly about the existence of God’s providence over everything? For nature itself gives us no small proof that the knowledge of providence is naturally implanted within us, whenever it prepares us to seek salvation through prayers in sudden emergencies, as if pushing us towards God in an untaught way.117 For seized by necessity, all unawares, without choice, before we have had a chance to think of anything, as if providence itself led us to itself without any thought, faster than any mental power within ourselves, placing before us the divine help as stronger than anything else. Not that nature leads us to the possession of something unnatural. Whatever happens naturally, even if it is obscure to all, possesses the strong and unconquerable power of the demonstration of the truth. If it is the case that the reason for providence as it affects particulars is incomprehensible to us, as in accordance with the verse, his judgments are unsearchable and his ways past finding out (Rom. 11:33), then in my view they are not right who say that it shows that there is no such providence.118 For if the difference and variation between different human beings is great and incomprehensible, in ways of life and customs and opinions and choices and desires, in what they know, and their needs and pursuits, and the almost countless thoughts in their minds, and in everything that happens to them in each day and hour (for this animal, man, is changeable, sharp on occasions and changing with need), it is absolutely necessary that providence, comprehending everything with foresight in the circumscription of its individuality, should be manifest as different and manifold and complex, and should achieve harmony as it extends into the incomprehensibility of the multitudinous, in a way suitable to each individual, whether thing or thought, reaching as far as the least movement of mind or body. If therefore the difference of particulars is incomprehensible, then likewise is the infinite meaning of providence that draws them into harmony, but it should not follow that, since themeaning of particular providence happens to be infinite and unknowable to us, we should make our ignorance a ground for denying the all-wise care for the things that are, but we should receive and hymn all the works of providence simply and without examination, as divinely fitting and suitable, and believe that what happens happens well, even if the reason is beyond our grasp. And I mean all the works of providence, not what happens by our agency in accordance with our reason, for these are quite different from the logos of providence. For the manner indicated by the great teacher of the power and grace of the Saints, according to reason and contemplation, is conjectural rather than categorical (for our mind is very far from truth itself), but trying to get hold of what has been said with the reason, and as it were tracking it down, I have done nothing more than make suggestions.