January 21, 2010

Maximus the Confessor on the Church and Gospel

The Holy Church

The holy Church is, as we have said, the sign [typos] and image [eikon] of God: for it is through [the Church] that He, in His infinite power and wisdom, brings an unmixed union into being, made up of the diverse essences of beings.

As Creator He unites them to Himself in their highest [attainment]. And so for all the faithful, the grace and calling of faith joins each one to the other in a single form.

Those who practice asceticism and virtue are brought into a single identity of will - an unbreakable and indivisible concord - with the contemplatives who seek knowledge.

It is a sign [typos] of both the noetic and sensible worlds, the sanctuary symbolizing the intelligible world, and the nave [signifying] the world of sense.

It is also an image of the human [person]: the sanctuary reminds one of the soul; while and the nave suggests the body.

And [the Church] is also a sign [typos] and image of the soul considered in itself: for in the sanctuary it bears the glory of the contemplative element; while in the nave it possesses the orderly behavior of the active part.

The Holy Gospel

The holy Gospel is (broadly-speaking) a symbol of the fulfillment of this [present] age.

More specifically:

[1] In regard to believers it indicates the complete disappearance of the primordial deception;

[2] In regard to those who practice [asceticism], the mortification and consumation of the Law and reasoning according to the flesh;

[3] In regard to those who [pursue spiritual] knowledge, the gathering and ascent toward the most comprehensive [inner] meaning [logos] from the many and varied [inner] meanings [logoi], once the most detailed and varied natural contemplation has been attained and transcended.

- From Mystagogy, Ch. 24.