July 31

The divine Logos of God the Father is mystically present in each of His commandments. God the Father is by nature present entirely and without division in His entire divine Logos (Christ). Thus, he who receives a divine commandment and carries it out receives the Logos of God who is in it; and he who receives the Logos through the commandments also receives through Him the Father who is by nature present in Him, and the Spirit who likewise is by nature in Him. ‘I tell you truly, he that receives whomever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me’ (John 13:20). In this way, he who receives a commandment and carries it out receives mystically the Holy Trinity….

So long as we only see the Logos of God as embodied multifariously (variously) in symbols in the letter of Holy Scripture, we have not yet achieved spiritual insight into the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Father as He exists in the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Son, according to the saying, ‘He who has seen Me has seen the Father…and I am in the Father and the Father in Me’ (John 14:9-10). We need much knowledge so that, having first penetrated the veils of the sayings which cover the Logos, we may with a naked intellect see–in so far as men can-the pure Logos, as He exists in Himself, clearly showing us the Father in Himself. Hence a person who seeks God with true devotion should not be dominated by the literal text, lest he unwittingly receives not God but things appertaining to God; that is, lest he feel a dangerous affection for the words of Scripture instead of for the Logos (Christ). For the Logos eludes the intellect which supposes that it has grasped the incorporeal Logos by means of His outer garments, like the Egyptian woman who seized hold of Joseph’s garments instead of Joseph himself (Genesis 39:7-13), or like the ancients who were content merely with the beauty of visible things and mistakenly worshiped the creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25).

                                                          ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 30

In Scripture the Logos of God is called and actually is dew (Deuteronomy 32:2), water, spring (John 4:14) and river (John 7:38), according to the subjective capacity of the recipient. To some He is dew because He quenches the burning energy of the passions which assails the body from without. To those seared in the depths of their being by the poison of evil He is water, not only because water through antipathy destroys its opposite but also because it bestows a vivifying power conducive to well-being. To those in whom the fountain of contemplative experience is continually active He is a spring bestowing wisdom. To those from whom flows the true teaching about salvation, He is a river copiously watering men, domestic animals, wild beasts and plants. That is to say, those who have remained human are uplifted by the conceptual images they have been given and are do deified; those made like domestic animals by the passions are restored to the human state by being shown the exact character of the virtuous way of life and so they recover their natural intelligence; those made like wild beasts by evil habits and actions are tamed by kind and tender counsel and return to their natural gentleness; those hardened like plants against divine blessings are made pliable by the Logos passing deeply through them, and they regain the sensitivity that enables them to bear fruit and to sustain the Logos within them.

                                                                        ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 29

Some are reborn through water and the spirit (John 3:5); others receive baptism in the Holy Spirit and in fire (Matthew 3:11). I take these four things–water, spirit, fire and Holy Spirit–to mean one and the same Spirit of God. To some the Holy Spirit is water because He cleanses the external stains of their bodies. To others He is simply spirit because He makes them active in the practice of virtue. To others He is fire because He cleanses the interior defilement which lies deep within their souls. To others, according to Daniel, He is Holy Spirit because He bestows on them wisdom and spiritual knowledge (Daniel 1:17 & 5:11-12). For the single identical Spirit takes His different names from the different ways in which He acts on each person.

                                                                                                ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 28

The initial stages of learning about religious devotion are naturally  related to the flesh. For in our first encounter with religion we come into contact with the letter and not the spirit. But as we get nearer to the spirit and refine the materiality of words with the more subtle forms of contemplation, we come to dwell — so far as this is possible for man — purely in the pure Christ, so that we can say with St Paul, ‘Though we have known Christ according to the flesh, now we no longer know Him in this manner’ (2 Corinthians 5:16). That is to say, we no longer know Him according to the flesh because, through the intellect’s naked encounter with the Logos stripped of the veils covering Him, we have advanced from knowing Him according to the flesh to knowing His ‘glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father’ (John 1:14).

                  ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 27

When the intellect scorns the teaching which purifies it from the passions, and ceases to examine what should be done and what should not be done, it will through ignorance inevitably be overcome by the passions. As the intellect gradually comes to be separated from God, it is more and more involved in difficulties not of its own choosing. Obeying the demons, it makes a god of the belly and tries to find relief there from what oppresses it. Let Saul convince you of the truth of this: because he did not take Samuel for an advisor in all things he inevitably turned to idolatry, putting his trust in a ventriloquist and consulting her as if she were a god (1 Samuel 28: 7-20).

He who asks to receive his daily bread (Matthew 6:11) does not automatically receive it in its fullness as it is in itself: he receives it according to his own capacity as recipient. The Bread of Life (John 6:35) gives Himself in His love to all who ask, but not in the same way to all; for He gives Himself more fully to those who have performed great acts of righteousness, and in smaller measure to those who have not achieved so much. He gives Himself to each person according to that person’s spiritual ability to receive Him.

                                                       ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 26

There are many virtues that are required of a good Christian, but above all else he must pray; for nothing can ever be achieved without prayer. Otherwise he cannot find his way to God, he cannot grasp the truth, he cannot crucify the flesh with all its passions and desires, find the Light of Christ in his heart and be united to our Lord. Frequent prayer must precede all these things before they can be brought about. I say ‘frequent’ because the perfection and the correctness of prayer is beyond our power. ‘For we know not what we should pray for as we ought’, says the Apostle Paul. Therefore we ought to pray often, to pray at all times, for this alone lies within our power and leads us to purity of prayer, which is the mother of all spiritual good.

As St. Isaac the Syrian says: ‘Win the mother and she will bear you children,’ so must you first of all attain the power of prayer, and then all other virtues will be easily practiced afterwards. All this is scarcely mentioned by those who have had no personal experience, but only a superficial knowledge of the most mysterious teaching of the Holy Fathers.

                                                        ~Excerpt from The Way of a Pilgrim

July 25

If the Lord’s being appointed for the fall and resurrection of many is understood in the right way, then the fall will refer to that of the passions and of evil thoughts in each of the faithful, and the resurrection to that of the virtues and of every thought that enjoys God’s blessing.

Those who think of the Lord only as the creator of things which are generated and which decay mistake Him, as Mary Magdalene did, for the gardener. It is therefore for their own good that the Master avoids contact with such persons, saying, ‘Do not touch Me’ (John 20:17); for they are not yet capable of ascending with Him to the Father. He knows that those who are predisposed to think of Him in such mean terms will suffer harm if they draw near to Him….

The land of the Chaldeans is a way of life dominated by the passions, in which the idols of sins are fashioned and worshiped. Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers, is a way of life that vacillates between opposites. The promised land is a state filled with every blessing. Everyone, then, who like ancient Israel neglects this state, loses the freedom which he has been granted, and allows himself once more to be dragged off into slavery to the passions.

                                                                                                   ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 24

When like the patriarchs we learn to dig wells of virtue and spiritual knowledge within ourselves by means of ascetic practice and contemplation, we will find within us Christ the spring of life (Genesis 26: 15-18). Wisdom commands us to drink from this spring, saying, ‘Drink water from your own pitchers and from the spring of your own wells’ (Proverbs 5:15). If we do this we shall find that the treasures of wisdom truly are within us.

                                                      ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 23

‘Do not say in your heart, “Who shall ascend into heaven?” –that is, to bring Christ down –or, “Who shall descend into the depths?” –that is, to bring Christ up again from the dead’ (Romans 10:6-7). Interpreted in another way, the depths stand for all that is sequent to God, in the whole of which the whole divine Logos providentially comes to dwell, as life returning to what is dead. For all things whose life depends upon their participation in life are in themselves dead. And heaven stands for God’s natural hiddenness, whereby He is incomprehensible to all things. Alternatively, if anyone explains heaven as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the depths as the mystery of the incarnation, he will not, I think, be far from the mark. For it is hard to grasp the meaning of either doctrine through the rational demonstration; or rather, their meaning is altogether inaccessible unless explored with faith…

When the Logos of God is raised up in us by our practice of the virtues and by contemplation, He draws all things to Himself (John 12:32); He sanctifies in virtue and spiritual knowledge our thoughts and words about the flesh, the soul and the nature of beings; He sanctifies also the very members of our bodies and our senses, and He places them all under His yoke. So let the visionary of divine things eagerly ascend in pursuit of the Logos until he reaches the place where He is. For, as Ecclesiastes puts it, He ‘draws to His place’ (Eccles. 1:5) all those who follow Him, and as the great High Priest He brings them into the Holy of Holies, where He Himself, who became as we are, has entered as a forerunner on our behalf (Hebrews 6:20).

                                                                            ~St Maximos the Confessor

The flesh revolts when prayer, frugality and blessed stillness are neglected.

Blessed stillness gives birth to blessed children: self-control, love and pure prayer.

                                                                             ~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 21

Those who seek the Lord should not look for Him outside themselves; on the contrary, they must seek Him within themselves through faith made manifest in action. For He is near you: ‘The word is…in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith’ (Romans 10:8) — Christ being Himself the word that is sought.

When we think of the height of God’s infinity we should not despair of His compassion reaching us from such a height; and when we recall the infinite depth of our fall through sin we should not refuse to believe that the virtue which has been killed in us will rise again. For God can accomplish both these things: He can come down and illumine our intellect with spiritual knowledge, and He can raise up the virtue within us and exalt it with Himself through works of righteousness.

                                                  ~St Maximos the Confessor