St Maximus the Confessor: Are You Assiduous in Acquiring the Fruits of Love?

Feast of St Olympias the Deaconess and the Dormition of St Anna, Mother of the Theotokos

Maximus_Square_3.jpgWHEN YOU are insulted by someone or humiliated, guard against angry thoughts, lest they arouse a feeling of irritation, and so cut you off from love and place you in the realm of hatred.

You should know that you have been greatly benefited when you have suffered deeply because of some insult or indignity; for by means of the indignity self-esteem has been driven out of you.

Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not actualize the light of spiritual knowledge in the soul.

Just as the light of the sun attracts a healthy eye, so through love knowledge of God naturally draws to itself the pure intellect.

A pure intellect is one divorced from ignorance and illumined by divine light.

A pure soul is one freed from passion and constantly delighted by divine love.

A culpable passion is an impulse of the soul that is contrary to nature.

Dispassion is a peaceful condition of the soul in which the soul is not easily moved to evil.

A man who has been assiduous in acquiring the fruits of love will not cease loving even if he suffers a thousand calamities. Let Stephen, the disciple of Christ, and others like him persuade you of the truth of this (cf. Acts 7:60). Our Lord Himself prayed for His murderers and asked the Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing (cf. Lk. 23.34).

If love is long-suffering and kind (cf. 1 Cor. 13.4), a man who is contentious and malicious clearly alienates himself from love. And he who is alienated from love is alienated from God, for God is love.

Do not say that you are the temple of the Lord, writes Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 7.4); nor should you say that faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save you, for this is impossible unless you also acquire love for Him through your works. As for faith by itself, “the devils also believe, and tremble” (Jas. 2.19).

We actively manifest love in forbearance and patience towards our neighbor, in genuinely desiring his good, and in the right use of material things.

He who loves God neither distresses nor is distressed with anyone on account of transitory things. There is only one kind of distress which he both suffers and inflicts on others: that salutary distress which the blessed Paul suffered and which he inflicted on the Corinthians (cf. 2 Cor. 7.8-11).

—St Maximus the Confessor, First Century on Love

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