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« on: February 11, 2013, 08:22:11 PM »

Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings, by St. Maximus the Confessor

Since this is a compilation of writings, and the introductory material is fairly brief, I will just give excerpts here rather than doing a standard book review. Hopefully that will sufficiently cover the topics and tone of the book. These quotes were picked at random and don't represent a sort of "best of".

Preface, Foreword, Introduction (16 pp.)

The Trial of Maximus (18 pp.)
"Then the eparch said to him, 'Are you in communion with the Church of those of this city or are you not?' [Maximus] answered, 'I am not in comunion.' He said to him, 'For what reason?' [Maximus] replied, 'Because it has rejected the counsils.' And he said, 'If it has thrown out the councils, then how is it that they are referred to in thediptychs?' But [Maximus] said, 'And what is the use of the words when the dogmas are rejected?'" - p. 26

The Four Hundred Chapters on Love (66 pp.)
"Love is begotten of detachment, detachment of hope in God, hope of patient endurance and long-suffering, these of general self-mastery, self-mastery of fear of God, and fear of faith in the Lord." - p. 36

"The one who loves God cannot help but love also every man as himself even though he is displeased by the passions of those who are not yet purified. Thus when he sees their conversion and amendment, he rejoices with an unbounded and unspeakable joy." - p. 37

"The one who imitates God by giving alms knows no difference between evil and good or just and unjust in regard to the needs of the body, but distributes to all without distinction according to their need even if he prefers the virtuous person over the wicked because of his good intention." - p. 38

"When temptation comes upon you unexpectedly, do not inquire of the one through whom it comes but seek the reason for it and you will find correction. Whether it comes from one source or the other, you still ahve to drink fully the gall of God's judgments. So long as you have evil habits, do not refuse to undergo hardships, so that you may be humble by them and vomit out pride. Some temptations bring men pleasure, others distress, and still others bodily pain. For according to the cause of the passions rooted in the soul does the Physician of souls apply the medicine of his judgments." - p. 53

"For these five reasons will the soul abstain from sin: the fear of men, the fear of judgment,the future reward, the love of GOd, or finally the prompting of conscience." - p. 58

"Seek the reason why God created, for this is konwledge. But do not seek how and why he only recently created, for that question does not fall under your mind since while some divine things are comprehended by men others are not. As one of the saints has said, 'Unbridled speculation can push you over a precipice.'" - p. 76

"Love of God is always fond of flying off to hold converse with him; love of neighbor prepares the mind to think always well of him." - p. 79

"Love and self-mastery free the soul from passions; reading and contemplation deliver the mind from ignorance; and the state of pryaer places it with God himself." - p. 85

Commentary on the Our Father (28 pp.)
"'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass agains us. And led us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'  In these words SCripture makes us see how the one who does not perfectly forgive those who offend him and who does not present to God a heart purified of rancor and shining with the light of reconciliation with one's neighbor will lose the grace of the blessings for which he prayers. Moreover, by a just judgment, he will be delivered over to temptation and to evil in order to learn how to cleanse hiimself of his faults by canceling him complaints against another." - pp. 115-117

Chapters on Knowledge (55 pp.)
"There is no rational soul which is by essence more valuable than another rational soul. Indeed, God in his goodness, creating every soul to his image, brings it into being to be self-moving. Each one, then deliberately either chooses honor or accepts dishonor by its own deeds." (p. 130)

"The grace of the New Testament is mysteriously hidden in the letter of the Old. This is why the Apostle says that the Law is spiritual. Thus the law is rendered old and obsolete by the letter and becomes useless, but it is made young and thoroughly active by the Spirit. For grace is completely free of old age. The Law is the shadow of the Gospel and the Gospel is the image of good things to come. For the former checks bad activities and the latter provides good actions." - p. 145

"Every concept has its motion about substances, as  quality clealry has its place in a substance. For it is not possible that wat is completely free and simple and existing by itself could admit something which is not free and simple. But God is altogether simple in both ways and is a substance which is not present in a subject and a conception which has nothing of the subject in him, is not of those things which conceive or are conceved because he is obviously above essence and thought." - p. 148

"The meaning of Holy Writ reveals itself gradually to themore discerning mind in loftier senses when it has put off the complex whole of the words formed in it bodily, as in the sound of a gentle breeze. Through a supreme abandonment of natural activities, such a mind has been able to perceive sense only in a simplicity which reveals the Word, the way that the great Elijah was granted the vision in the cave at Horeb. For Horeb means 'newness,' which is the virtuous condition in the new spirit of grace. The cave is the hiddenness of spiritual wisdom in which one who enters will mystically experience the knowledge which goes beyond the senses and in which God is found. Therefore, anyone who truly seeks God as did the great Elijah will come upon him not only on Horeb, that is, as an ascetic in the practice of the virtues, but also in the cave of Horeb, that is, as a contemplative in the hidden place of wisdom which can exist only in the habit of the virtues." - p. 163

"The one who has joined the body to the soul through virtue and knowledge has become a lyre and a flute and a temple. A lyre, firstly, because he beautifully maintains the harmony of the virtues; next, a flute because through the divine experiences he receives the Spirit's inspiration; finally, a temple because through the purity of his mind he has become the Word's dwelling place." - p. 170

The Church's Mystagogy (46 pp.)
"Thus, as has been said, the holy Church of God is an image of God because it realizes the same union of the faithful with God. As different as they are by language, places, and customs, they are made one by it through faith. God realizes this union among the natures of things iwthout confusing htem, but in lessening and bringing together their distinction, as was shown, in a relationship and union with himself as cause, principle, and end." - pp. 187-188

"'What the divine chants symbolize.' He used to say that the spiritual enjoyment of the divine hymns signified the vivid delights of the divine blessings by moving souls toward the clear and blessed love of God and by arousing them further to the hatred of sin." - p. 199

Bibliography (7 pp.)
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