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

July 16

The proper function of the soul’s intelligent aspect is devotion to the knowledge of God, while that of its passible aspect is the pursuit of self-control and love….

Although we have received the power to become the children of God (John 1:12), we do not actually attain this sonship unless we strip ourselves of the passions….

A wise man in one who pays attention to himself and is quick to separate himself from all defilement.

                                                    ~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 15

God is one because there is one Divinity: unoriginate, simple, beyond being, without parts, indivisible. The Divinity is both unity and trinity — wholly one and wholly three. It is wholly one in respect of the essence, wholly three in respect of the hypostases of persons.
For the Divinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and is in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The whole Divinity is in the whole Father and the whole Father is in the whole Divinity….
The whole Son is in the whole Divinity and the whole Divinity is in the whole Son; the whole Son is both the whole Divinity and in the whole Divinity….

The Divinity is not partially in the Holy Spirit, nor is the Holy Spirit part of God. For the Divinity is not divisible; nor is the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit incomplete God.

On the contrary, the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Father; the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Son; and the whole and complete Divinity is completely in the complete Holy Spirit….

Therefore the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God. The essence, power and energy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, for none of the hypostases or persons either exists or is intelligible without the others.

                                                                      ~St Maximos the Confessor

If you make a habit of listening to spiritual teaching, your intellect will escape from impure thoughts.

God alone is good and wise by nature; but if you exert yourself your intellect also becomes good and wise through participation.

                                                                                                     ~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 14

The manna which was given to Israel in the desert (Exodus 16:14-35) is the Logos of God. Those who eat it find that it supplies every spiritual delight. It is blended to suit every taste in accordance with the different desires of those who eat it, for it has the quality of every kind of spiritual food. Thus, to those who through the Spirit have been born from above by means of incorruptible seed (John 3:3-5), it comes as pure spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2); to the weak it comes as vegetables (Romans 14:2) sustaining the soul’s passible aspect (passionate aspect; incensive and appetitive); to those in whom the soul’s organs of perception have been trained by long practice to distinguish between good and evil it serves as solid food (Hebrews 5:14).

The Logos of God also has other infinite powers which cannot be encompassed in this world. If at death a man is worthy to be put in charge of many things or all things because in this world he has been faithful in small things (Matthew 25:21), he will also receive all or some of these other powers of the Logos. For the most exalted of the divine gifts of grace bestowed in this world is scant and minimal compared with those that are held in store for us.

                                                    ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 13

Self-love–that is, friendship for the body–is the source of evil in the soul….

For the deiform (Godlike) soul to abandon the Creator and worship the body is an act of depravity.

You were commanded to keep the body as a servant, not to be unnaturally enslaved to its pleasures.

Break the bonds of your friendship for the body and give it only what is absolutely necessary.

Enclose your senses in the citadel of stillness so that they do not involve the intellect (nous) in their desires.

The greatest weapons of someone striving to lead a life of inward stillness are self-control, love, prayer and spiritual reading.

                                  ~St Thalassios the Libyan

July 12

He who has been trained by the prophet’s words not only refrains from the outward fulfillment of the passions but also renounces all assent to them in his soul. He is not content simply to appear to abstain from sin in the inferior part of himself, the flesh, while secretly allowing its free rein in his superior part, the soul.

He who has truly embraced the life of the Gospel has made himself immune to both the promptings and performance of evil, and pursues every virtue in action and thought. He offers a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17), for he has been set free from all disturbance produced by the passions and liberated from mental warfare against them; and he feeds his soul with the hope of the blessings held in store, his one unquenchable delight….

                                              ~St Maximos the Confessor

July 11

He who yields to the pleasures of the body is neither diligent in virtue nor readily receptive of spiritual knowledge. For this reason he has no one–that is, no intelligent thought–to put him into the pool when the water is disturbed (John 5:7), that is, into a state of virtue capable of receiving spiritual knowledge and of healing every sickness.

On the contrary, although sick, he procrastinates because of laziness and is forestalled by someone else, who prevents him from being cured. And so he lies there with his illness for thirty-eight years.

He who does not contemplate the visible creation so as to discern God’s glory in it, and does not reverently raise his inner vision to the noetic world, quite fittingly remains ill for the number of years specified.

For the number thirty, understood with reference to nature, signifies the sensible world, while with reference to the ascetic life it signifies the practice of the virtues. The number eight, understood mystically, denotes the intelligible nature of incorporeal beings, while understood in terms of spiritual knowledge it denotes the supreme wisdom of theology.
Whoever does not advance towards God by these means remains paralyzed until the Logos (Christ Jesus) comes to teach him how he can obtain prompt healing, saying to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’ (John 5:8); that is to say, the Logos commands him to upraise his intellect from the love of pleasure which dominates him, to shoulder the body of the virtues and to go home, that is, to heaven.

Better that the higher should raise the lower up to virtue on the shoulders of ascetic practice than that, through soft living, the lower should drag the higher down into self-indulgence.

                                                           ~St Maximos the Confessor