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

July 20

As long as I remain imperfect and refractory, neither obeying God by practicing the commandments nor becoming perfect in spiritual knowledge, Christ from my point of view also appears imperfect and refractory because of me. For I diminish and cripple Him by not growing in spirit with Him, since I am ‘the body of Christ and one of its members’ (1 Corinthians 12:27).

                                     ~St Maximos the Confessor

An obdurate soul does not notice when it is whipped and so is unaware of its benefactor….

A soul defiled by the passions becomes obdurate; it has to undergo knife and cautery before it recovers its faith….

A wise man pays careful attention to himself, and by freely choosing to suffer escapes the suffering that comes unsought.

~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 19

He who prays must never stand still on the steep ascent that leads to God. Just as he has to progress upwards from strength to strength in the practice of the virtues (Psalm 84:5-7), and to rise in his contemplation of spiritual truths from glory to glory (Corinthians 3:18), and to pass from the letter to the spirit of Holy Scripture, so he must advance in a similar manner within the realm of prayer.

He must raise his intellect and the resolve of his soul from what is human to what is divine, so that his intellect can follow Jesus the Son of God, who has passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14) and who is everywhere. For He has passed through all things for us by the dispensation of His incarnation, so that we, by following Him, may pass through all that is sequent to Him and so come to be with Him, provided we apprehend Him not according to the limitations to which He accommodated Himself in His incarnation but according to the majesty of His natural infinitude.

                                                        ~St Maximos the Confessor

Even if we do not wish to believe Him, it was Jesus who said that no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

                                                        ~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 18

Let us build on the Lord, as though on a foundation of faith, with gold, silver and precious stones, raising a temple of holiness (1 Corinthians 3:12). Let us build, that is to say, with pure undebased theology, with a way of life that is lucid and radiant, with divine thoughts and conceptual images more precious than jewels. Let us not use wood, hay or stubble, that is, idolatry — which is a passionate desire for sensible things — or a meaningless way of life, or thoughts which are impassioned and as empty of wise understanding as straw.

If a man seeks spiritual knowledge, let him plant the foundations of his soul immovably before the Lord, in accordance with God’s words to Moses: ‘Stand here by Me’ (Deuteronomy 5:31). But it should be realized that there are differences among those who stand before the Lord, as is clear from the text, ‘There are some standing here who will not taste death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power’ (Mark 9:1). For the Lord does not always appear in glory to all who stand before Him. To beginners He appears in the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7); to those able to follow Him as He climbs the high mountain of His transfiguration He appears in the form of God (Matthew 17:1-9), the form in which He existed before the world came to be (John 17:5).
It is therefore possible for the same Lord not to appear in the same way to all who stand before Him, but to appear to some in one way and to others in another way, according to the measure of each person’s faith.

                                                   ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 17

The Logos of God is like a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31): before cultivation it looks extremely small, but when cultivated in the right way it grows so large that the highest principles of both sensible and intelligible creation come like birds to revive themselves in it. For the principles or inner essences of all things are embraced by the Logos, but the Logos is not embraced by any thing. Hence the Lord has said that he who has faith as a grain of mustard seed can move a mountain by a word of command (Matthew 17:20), that is, he can destroy the devil’s dominion over us and remove it from its foundation.

The grain of mustard seed is the Lord, who by faith is sown spiritually in the hearts of those who accept Him. He who diligently cultivates the seed by practicing the virtues moves the mountain of earth-bound pride and, through the power he has gained, he expels from himself the obdurate habit of sin. In this way he revives in himself the activity of the principles and qualities, or divine powers present in the commandments, as though they were birds.

                                                                                                    ~St Maximos the Confessor