August 8

The devil has deceived us by guile in a malicious and cunning way, provoking us through self-love to sensual pleasure (Genesis 3:1-5). He has separated us in our wills from God and from each other; he has perverted straightforward truth and in this manner has divided humanity, cutting it up into many opinions and fantasies.

The suffering of the saints lies in the struggle between malice and virtue, the former fighting to win control, the latter enduring all things to avoid defeat. The first struggles to nurture sin by chastising the righteous; the second to hold good men firm although they experience more than their share of misfortunes.

~St Maximos the Confessor

 

 

August 7

As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (Genesis 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (Hebrews4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature. In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh, He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it.

~St Maximos the Confessor

August 6

According to the text, ‘But we have the intellect of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16), the saints are said to receive Christ’s intellect. But this does not come to us through the loss of our own intellectual power; nor does it come to us as a supplementary part added to our intellect; nor does it pass essentially and hypostatically into our intellect. Rather, it illumines the power of our intellect with its own quality and conforms the activity of our intellect to its own. In my opinion the person who has Christ’s intellect is he whose intellection accords with that of Christ and who apprehends Christ through all things.

~St Maximos the Confessor

 

If you share secretly in the joy of someone you envy, you will be freed from your jealousy; and you will also be freed from your jealousy if you keep silent about the person you envy.

~St Thalassios the Libyan

August 5

When our intellect has shaken off its many opinions about created things, then the inner principle of truth appears clearly to it, providing it with a foundation of real knowledge and removing its former preconceptions as though removing scales from the eyes, as happened in the case of St Paul (Acts 9:18). For an understanding of Scripture that does not go beyond the literal meaning, and a view of the sensible world that relies exclusively on sense-perception, are indeed scales, blinding the soul’s visionary faculty and preventing access to the pure Logos of truth.

~St Maximos the Confessor

 

A surfeit of foods breeds desire; a deficiency sweetens even plain bread.

~St Thalassios the Libyan

 

August 4

The tongue of a back-biting soul is three pronged: it injures the speaker, the listener and sometimes the person being maligned.

~St Thalassios the Libyan

The text, ‘The Kingdom of heaven has drawn near’ (Matthew 3:2 ; 4:17), does not in my judgment imply any temporal limitation. For the kingdom ‘does not come in a way that can be observed: one cannot say, “Look, it is here” or “Look, it is there” ‘ (Luke 17:20-21). The phrase has reference to the relationship which the saints have with the kingdom, each according to his or her inner state. For ‘the kingdom of God’, says Scripture, ‘is within you’ (Luke 17:21).

~St Maximos the Confessor

The Crystal Doorway

This, for those afraid of the grave–

and who among us isn’t?

 

(moldy, wet and dark with images of worms,

and creepy things)

 

But what of light, and breezes:

imagine the grave, up in the air—

 

a crystal-lined prism cut into the sky,

rectangular and brimming with brightness.

 

Up into this portal we are raised,

from which our souls emerge,

resplendent, on the other side.

 

Passing through this open door

we enter into the vastness

of our new home.

 

Perhaps this is so–

as we are lowered into the earth,

we are also lifted up,

through the crystal doorway.

 

Grave and doorway–

mirror images,

reflected about this life

on Earth.

 

~FS

Hidden Prayer, Hidden Fruits

Everything

begins its life veiled

beneath the surface

and hidden from view.

 

Cultivate your inner soil

through prayer–

before the plant is seen,

roots are growing

below the surface.

 

The field that appears fallow,

or barren,

will bloom in time—

the persistent farmer

eventually harvests his reward.

 

Words are the clothing

our thoughts,

and motives wear

when visiting others.

 

But we disrobe entirely

in the presence of

The One who made us.

There are no clothes

to hide our thoughts

from Him.

 

Our forebearers

picked forbidden fruits,

but we through prayer

will bear the hidden fruits.

 

~FS