St. Maximus the Confessor

quotes from Maximus the Confessor→

Maximus the Confessor (580-662) was a theologian, a scholar, and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius who gave up this life in the political sphere to enter the monastic life.

Maximus was drawn into the controversy caused by Monothelitism, which was a heresy that espoused that Christ had only one divine will, denying that he had a human will.  Maxiumus supported an interpretation of the Chalcedonian formula on the basis of which it was asserted that Jesus had both a human and a divine will.  Maximus was present when the newly elected Pope Martin I convened the Lateran Council of 649 at the Lateran Basilica in Rome, where the 105 bishops present condemned Monothelitism.  It was in Rome that Pope Martin and Maximus were arrested in 653 under orders from Roman Emperor Constans II, who supported the Monothelite doctrine. Pope Martin was condemned without a trial, and died before he could be sent to the Imperial Capital.  Maximus was tried, his tongue and right hand cut off, and he was sent into exile, where he died of his wounds.

Extant Writings:

  • Mystagogia (Mystagogy or “Learning the Mysteries)
  • Opuscula Theologica et Polemica (Small Theological and Polemical Works)
  • Expositio Orationis Dominicae (Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer)
  • Versibus Amigua (Difficult Passages)
  • Epistulae (Epistles)

Quotes & Excerpts:

Quotes of Maximus the Confessor as compiled in “The Philokalia of the Niptic Fathers” by Nicodemus the Hagiorite and Macarius of Corinth:

Do not say that you are the temple of the Lord, writes Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 7:4); nor should you say that faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save you, for this is impossible unless you also acquire love for Him through your works.  As for faith by itself, the devils also believe, and tremble (Jas. 2:19).”  The Philokalia: The Complete Text compiled by St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth

“Nothing created by God is evil. It is not food that is evil but gluttony, not the begetting of children but unchastity, not material things but avarice, not esteem but self-esteem. It is only the misuse of things that is evil, not the things themselves.” –Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

“There are said to be five reasons why God allows us to be assailed by demons. The first is so that, by attacking and counterattacking, we should learn to discriminate between virtue and vice. The second is so that, having acquired virtue through conflict and toil, we should keep it secure and immutable. The third is so that, when making progress in virtue, we should not become haughty but learn humility. The fourth is so that, having gained some experience of evil, we should “hate it with perfect hatred” (cf. Ps. 139:22). The fifth and most important is so that, having achieved dispassion, we should forget neither our own weakness nor the power of Him who has helped us.” –Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2).

“If God suffers in the flesh when He is made man, should we not rejoice when we suffer, for we have God to share our sufferings? This shared suffering confers the kingdom on us. For he spoke truly who said, If we suffer with Him, then we shall also be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).”  –Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

“The person who truly wishes to be healed is he who does not refuse treatment. This treatment consists of the pain and distress brought on by various misfortunes. He who refuses them does not realize what they accomplish in this world or what he will gain from them when he departs this life.” –Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

“Almost every sin is committed for the sake of sensual pleasure; and sensual pleasure is overcome by hardship and distress arising either voluntarily from repentance, or else involuntarily as a result of some salutary and providential reversal. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor. 11:31-32).” -Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God.“ –Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 3.62, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2).

Life of the Virgin:

“I Hear this, all you nations, and take heed, all you inhabitants of the earth (cf. Isa 34.1)! Come all believers and gather all lovers of God, kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all judges of the earth, boys and girls, the old with the young, every tongue and every soul, let us hymn, praise, and glorify the all-holy, immaculate, and most blessed Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, the throne of the king more exalted than the cherubim and seraphim, the mother of Christ our God.” –The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor, Chapter 1, translation by Stephen J. Shoemaker

“Now by her grace let us speak about her Dormition and removal from the world to the eternal kingdom, for it is the joy and the light of pious souls to hear such a story. When Christ our God wanted to bring his all-holy and immaculate mother forth from the world and lead her into the kingdom of heaven so that she would receive the eternal crown of virtues and supernatural labors, and so that he could place her at his right hand beautifully adorned with golden tassels in many colors (cf. Ps 44.10, 14) and proclaim her queen…” –The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor, Chapter 8, translation by Stephen J. Shoemaker

She is the ardent intercessor with her son, Christ God, for all those who entreat her.  She is the calm harbor of all those buffeted by waves, who rescues them from spiritual and fleshly waves.  She is the guide on the way of life for all who have gone astray.” –The Life of the Virgin: Maximus the Confessor, Chapter 9, translation by Stephen J. Shoemaker

“And there is her incorruptible girdle as a crown of grace and a steadfast wall for the faithful city and as a source of victory to the pious emperors.” Life of the Virgin, trans. Stephen J. Shoemaker

“If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who rejects those who rejected Pyrrhus, rejects the See of Rome itself -that is, he rejects the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself as well, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Church of God.”
-Disputatio cum Pyrrho (Written ca. 640 A.D.)

“Let him first hasten to satisfy the See of Rome… It is futile to try and persuade one like me without instead trying to satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the holy Church of Rome. For that is the Apostolic See, which has received from the Incarnate Son of God Himself, universal and supreme dominion, authority, and the power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches. This is confirmed by all holy synods, according to the holy canons in the whole world.”
-Disputatio cum Pyrrho (Written ca. 640 A.D.)

“It is not right that one who has been condemned and cast out by the Apostolic See of Rome for his wrong opinions should be named with any kind of honor, until he is received by her, having returned to her -no, to the Lord- by a pious confession and orthodox faith.”
-Disputatio cum Pyrrho (Written ca. 640 A.D.)

Maximus the Confessor
“By nature the Holy Spirit in his being takes substantially his origin from the Father through the Son who is begotten (Questions to Thalassium 63 [A.D. 254]).