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For they say that God and man are paradigms of each other, so that as much as man, enabled by love, has divinized himself for God, to that same extent God is humanized for man by His love for mankind; and as much as man has manifested God who is invisible by nature through the virtues, to that same extent man is rapt by God in mind to the unknowable.
St Maximos the Confessor, Ambiguum 10

Letters from the Dessert Barsanuphius and John: The Old Men of Gaza.

427. Question. If, while I am reciting the Psalms or praying or reading, an inappropriate thought arises, should I pay attention to it and interrupt my psalmody or prayer or reading in order to oppose it with appropriate thoughts?
Response by Barsanuphius
Show contempt to yourself and pay close attention to your psalmody and prayer and reading in order that you may be able to receive strength from the words that are recited. For if we accept to spend time with the thoughts of the enemy, then we would never be able to do anything good, which is precisely what the enemy is looking for. And when you notice that you are so congested by such thoughts, that they are bothering you in your psalmody or prayer or reading, even then do not struggle against them; for this is not something within your control. Rather, strive to invoke the name of God, and he will come to your assistance and abolish the machinations of the enemies. For his is the power and the glory to the ages. Amen.

On relations with non-Christians
686. Another Christ-loving layperson asked the same Old Man: I want to press some Jewish wine in my presser. Is this a sin?
Response by John
If, when God rains, it rains in your field but not in that of the Jew, then do not press his wine. If he is loving-kind to all and rains upon the just and the unjust (cf. Mt 5.45), then why do you want to be inhumane and not compassionate, rather, as he says: “Be merciful, even as your Father in heaven is merciful” (Lk 6.36).
Letters from the Dessert Barsanuphius and John: The Old Men of Gaza.

On Ancestral Sin and Adam’s fall:

After man had been brought into being by God, resplendent with the beauty of incorruptibility and immortality, he chose, instead of intelligible beauty, the relative deformity of the material nature surrounding him, and consequently lost the memory of his soul’s exalted dignity—or rather he became wholly oblivious of God, who had beautified the soul with divine form.

It was thus that man plucked fruit, which, according to the divine decree that wisely directs our salvation, was commensurate with the inclination of his mind, and so drew down on himself not simply the corruption and death of his body, but also the capacity and indeed propensity for all the passions, and, not least, the instability and disorder of the material substance that surrounded him, along with its facility and susceptibility to suffer change.

St Maximos the Confessor Ambiguum 8


Kontakion (tone three) to Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg

A wandering stranger on a foreign earth,
ever sighing for the heavenly homeland,
thou was known as a fool by the violent and unbelieving,
but as a most wise and holy by the faithful,
and wast crowned by God with glory and honor,
O Xenia, manly in mind and divinely wise,
wherefore we cry to thee: Rejoice, O blessed one.
for after earthly wandering thou hast come to dwell in the Father’s House.

When, on the other hand, Gregory wants to describe the reason why human beings were created, he uses different words and expressions, and states quite clearly the sacred purpose of this mystery, as can be seen in his oration “On the Nativity”: “Intellect and sensation, having been distinguished from one another, remained within their own proper limits, and bore the magnificence of the Creator Word in themselves. Yet these piercing heralds could praise God’s work only silently, for the two had not yet been fused together; the contraries had not yet been mingled. Such mingling would be the mark of greater wisdom and of God’s lavishness in the creation of living things, but the abundance of God’s goodness was not yet made known. Hence the Artisan Word, wishing to display this mixture in a single living creature formed from both—I mean from both invisible and visible nature—created man. Fashioning a body from already existing matter and placing within it His own breath, that is, a soul endowed with intellect—the image of God, according to Scripture—He made it a kind of second cosmos, a great creature in a small frame, and placed it on the earth, another angel, a worshiper formed of diverse elements,” and so on.
St Maximos the Confessor quoting St Gregory the Theologian.
Ambiguum 7  
{7.20} When, however, we exclude the highest form of negative theology concerning the Logos—according to which the Logos is neither called, nor considered, nor is, in His entirety, anything that can be attributed to anything else,76 since He is beyond all being, and is not participated in by any being whatsoever—when, I say, we set this way of thinking aside, the one Logos is many logoi and the [1081C] many are One. According to the creative and sustaining procession of the One to individual beings, which is befitting of divine goodness, the One is many.
According to the revertive, inductive, and providential return of the many to the One—as if to an all-powerful point of origin, or to the center of a circle pre-containing the beginnings of the radii originating from it—insofar as the One gathers everything together, the many are One.
We are, then, and are called “portions of God” because of the logoi of our being that exist eternally in God. Moreover, we are said to have “flowed down from above” because we have failed to move in a manner consistent with the logos according to which we were created and which pre-exists in God.
St Maximos the Confessor Ambiguum 7
We also believe [1080B] that this same One ismanifested and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in Him, in a manner appropriate to the being of each, as befits His goodness. And He recapitulates all things in Himself, for it is owing to Him that all things exist and remain in existence, and it is from Him that all things came to be in a certain way, and for a certain reason, and (whether they are stationary or in motion) participate in God. For by virtue of the fact that all things have their being from God, they participate in God in a manner appropriate and proportionate to each, whether by intellect, by reason, by sensation, by vital motion, or by some essential faculty or habitual fitness, according to the great theologian, Dionysios the Areopagite.
St Maximos the Confessor Ambiguum 7
Who—knowing that it was with reason and wisdom that God brought beings into existence out of nothing—if he were carefully to direct the contemplative power of his soul to their infinite natural differences and variety, and, with the analytical power of reason, were (together with these) to distinguish in his mind the logos according to which they were created, would not, I ask, fail to know the one Logos as many logoi, indivisibly distinguished amidst the differences of created things, owing to their specific individuality, which remains unconfused both in themselves and with respect to one another? Moreover, would he not also know that the many logoi are one Logos, seeing that all things are related to Him without being confused with Him, who is the essential and personally distinct Logos of God the Father, the origin and cause of all things, in whom all things were created, in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities: all things were created from Him, through Him, and return unto Him?
St Maximos the Confessor Ambiguum 7
From Saint Gregory’s same oration On Love for the Poor:
What is this wisdom that I embody? And what is this great mystery? Or is it God’s will that we, who are a portion of God that has flowed down from above, not become exalted and lifted up on account of this dignity, and so despise our Creator? Or is it not rather that, in our struggle and battle with the body, we should always look to Him, so that this very weakness that has been yoked to us might be an education concerning our dignity? The unity of rational beings.
St Maximos quoting St Gregory the Theologian Ambiguum 7 ( I’m currently reading it )
Pyrrhus: If fear is attributed to us by nature and if this is a thing worthy of reproof, then in your view things that are worthy of reproof, in other words, sin, exist in us by nature.
Maximus: Again you reason erroneously from an equivocation. Fear is both proper to nature and contrary to nature. Fear is proper to nature when it is a force that clings to existence by drawing back [from what is harmful to existence). But it is contrary to nature when it is an irrational dread. Therefore the Lord did not have that type of fear which is contrary to nature…. Rather, He received as good, that which is proper to nature and which expresses the power inherent in our nature which holds fast to being, willing it on our account. These natural things of the will are present in Him, but not in exactly the same way as they are in us. He truly hungered and thirsted, not in the same mode as we do, but in a mode which surpasses us, for He did so voluntarily. Thus He was truly afraid, not as we are but in a mode surpassing us. To put it concisely: all things which are natural in Christ have both the rational principle proper to the [human) nature and also a supernatural mode of existence, so that both the [human) nature is disclosed by means of its rational principle, and the economy by means of its super-natural mode of existence.
St Maximos the Confessor, Disputation with Pyrrhus (PG 91:297CD.)
The veneration of icons is an integral part of Orthodoxy, from which it cannot be separated. That the veneration of icons appears to some people to be the same as idolatry is no proof against icons. To the Jews it seemed that Christ worked miracles by the power of Satan and not God, and to the Romans it seemed that the Christian martyrs were ordinary sorcerers and magicians. St. Nicephorus said to Leo the Armenian, the iconoclastic emperor: “An icon is a divine thing, but not to be worshiped.” Then he explained how God commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and to raise it in the wilderness, even though just before this He had commanded: Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image (Exodus 20:4). The latter He commanded in order to save the chosen people from the idolatry of the Egyptians, and He commanded the former that He, the One and Most-high God, might manifest His power through a visible thing. In the same manner He manifests His power through icons. This is His holy will and our aid for salvation. If icons are things of little significance or even idolatry, why would many of the holiest and most spiritual men and women in the history of the Church have suffered to the death for icons?
From the Prologue of Ochrid by St Nikolai Velimirovich.
Pyrrhus: But it is impossible for two wills to coexist with each other in one person with opposition.
Maximus: If it is not possible for two wills to coexist in one and the same person without opposition, then by your own reasoning it is possible with opposition. And if this is possible, then you have confessed the existence of two wills. So you do not differ over the number of wills, but only over the principle of their opposition. So it remains for us to discover the real cause of this conflict [of wills]. What do you say this cause is? The natural will, or sin? If you say that it is the natural will-and since we already know that there is no other cause of this other than God-then you make God the author of the conflict [of wills]. But if the cause is sin and if Christ is free from sin, then the Incarnate God has no opposition of any kind in the wills proper to His natures, since no effect can result from a cause which does not exist.
St Maximos the Confessor, Disputation with Pyrrhus (PG 91 :292AB)
Virtues, then, are natural things?
Yes, natural things.
If they are natural things, why, [then], do they not
exist in all men equally, since all men have an identical nature?
Maximus: But they do exist equally in all men because of the identical nature.
Pyrrhus: Then why is there such a great inequality [of virtues] in us?
Maximus: Because we do not all practise what is natural to us to an equal degree; indeed, if we did practise to an equal degree [those virtues] natural to us, as we were created to do, then one could be able to perceive one virtue in us all just as there is one nature [in us all], and that one virtue would not admit of a “more” or a “less”.
Pyrrhus: If virtue is something natural [to us, then,] and if what is natural to us exists in us not through asceticism but in virtue of our creation, then why is it that we acquire the virtues, which are natural, with [such] asceticism and labours?
Maximus: Asceticism, and the toils that go with it, were devised for those who love virtue simply in order to ward off from the soul the deceit that establishes itself through sensory perception. It is not as if the virtues have been newly introduced from outside, for they inhere in us from creation, as has been said already. Therefore, when deception is completely expelled, the soul immediately exhibits the splendor of [its] natural virtue. For example: he who is not foolish is intelligent, he who is not cowardly or foolhardy is bold, he who is not intemperate is temperate, and he who is not unrighteous is righteous…. Consequently, with the removal of the things that are contrary to nature only the things proper to nature [remain and) are manifest.
St Maximos the Confessor, Disputation with Pyrrhus (309B-312A.)
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