August 20

The devil is both God’s enemy and His avenger (Psalm 8:2). He is God’s enemy when he seems in his hatred for God somehow to have acquired a destructive love for us men, persuading us by means of sensual pleasure to assent to the passions within our control, and to value what is transitory more than what is eternal….He is God’s avenger when–now that we have become subject to him through sin–he lays bare his hatred for us and demands our punishment.

For nothing pleases the devil more than punishing us….he does this not with the intention of fulfilling God’s command, but out of the desire to feed his own passion of hatred towards us, so that the soul, sinking down enervated by the weight of such painful calamities, may cut itself off from the power of divine hope, regarding the onslaught of these calamities not as a divine admonition but as a cause for disbelief in God.

~St Maximos the Confessor

August 17

Reformation of life, angelic worship, the willing separation of the soul from the body, and the beginning of divine renewal in spirit–these are proclaimed in the veiled language of the New Testament. For instance, by the term ‘spiritual circumcision’ Scripture denotes the excision of the soul’s impassioned attachment to the body (Philippians 3:3 & Colossians 2:11).

It is entirely fitting and just that those who gladly accept the devil’s cunning suggestions to commit sins through their own volition should also be chastised by him. For through the passions to which we willingly accede, the devil is the begetter of pleasure, and through the experiences that we suffer against our will he is the inflicter of pain.

~St Maximos the Confessor

August 16

An intellect faithful in the practice of the virtues is like St Peter when he was taken captive by Herod (Acts 12:3-18). The name Herod means ‘made of skins or leather’, and so Herod signifies the law of leather, that is, the will of the flesh.

St Peter is guarded by two squads of soldiers and shut in by an iron gate. The two squads signify the attacks suffered by the intellect from the activity of the passions and from the mind’s assent to the passions.

When through the teaching of practical philosophy, as though with the help of an angel, the intellect has passed safely through these two squads or prisons, it comes to the iron gate which leads into the city. By this I mean the obdurate and stubborn attachment of the senses to sensible things.

None the less, the gate is opened automatically through spiritual contemplation of the inner essences of created beings; and such contemplation then fearlessly impels the intellect, now liberated from Herod’s madness, towards the spiritual realities where it truly belongs.

~St Maximos the Confessor

 

August 15

God, who yearns for the salvation of all men and hungers after their deification, withers their self-conceit like the unfruitful fig tree (Matthew 21:19-21). He does this so that they may prefer to be righteous in reality rather than in appearance, discarding the cloak of hypocritical moral display and genuinely pursuing a virtuous life in the way that the divine Logos wishes them to. They will then live with reverence, revealing the state of their soul to God rather than displaying the external appearance of a moral life to their fellow-men.

~St Maximos the Confessor

 

August 14

Since it is the nature of every evil to destroy itself along with the habits which brought it into being, man finds by experience that every pleasure is inevitably succeeded by pain, and so directs his whole effort towards pleasure and does all he can to avoid pain. He struggles with all his might to attain pleasure and he fights against pain with immense zeal. By doing this he hopes to keep the two apart from each other–which is impossible–and to indulge his self-love in ways which bring only pleasure and are entirely free from pain. Dominated by the passion of self-love he is, it appears, ignorant that pleasure can never exist without pain. For pain is intertwined with pleasure, even though this seems to escape the notice of those who suffer it.

~St Maximos the Confessor

An Audience With The King

Incense coils upward

in long argentine strands

Angelic voices sing a joyous refrain:

“Receive the body of Christ

Taste the fountain of immortality.”

 

The hands of Christ serve

the body of Christ

from a golden chalice.

Each member called by name,

singular and unique.

 

Forming a line in quiet expectation

of the gift of eternal blessings;

a body numerous are

the servants of The King,

multiform, and manifesting His

infinite creativity.

 

Let us each put on

the eyes of thanksgiving

and the ears of obedience

and praise.

 

Laying aside all earthly cares,

let us settle into that peace

which reveals things

as they truly are;

without judgement

or condemnation,

but in the simplicity

of Godly revelation.

 

The Body and the Blood–

we receive,

and Christ receives us.

We are glorified by His glory

and deified by His divinity.

 

We come to the King empty-handed

and He gives us everything.

 

~FS