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Sunday, August 8, 2010

St. Maximus the Confessor: 18 Spiritual Interpretations of the Transfiguration (1)


That The Saints Are Not Introduced into The Mysteries Like Us

But going back to what has already been contemplated, let us turn our attention according to our means to the rest of the meaning of the Transfiguration, so that the excellence of the Saints in everything and their genuine separation from the flesh and matter may be seen. And let us note that they do not contemplate either creation or Scripture like us in a material or lowly way. They do not acquire the blessed knowledge of God only by sense and appearances and forms, using letters and syllables, which lead to mistakes and bafflement over the judgment of the truth, but solely by the mind [nous], rendered most pure and released from all material mists. Since therefore we want to judge reverently and see clearly and intelligibly the meanings of those things perceived by the senses, we must look carefully to the inerrant knowledge concerning God and divine things and rightly proceed along the straight path.

Further Contemplation of the Transfiguration Containing Eighteen Spiritual Interpretations

A. Therefore it was said above that through the luminous brightness that shone from the face of the Lord on the mount, the thrice-blessed apostles were secretly led in an ineffable and unknowable manner to the power and glory of God which is completely incomprehensible to every being, for they learnt that the light that appeared to their senses is a symbol of what is hidden and beyond any manifestation. For as the ray of the light that came to pass here overwhelmed the strength of the eyes and remained beyond their grasp, so also their God transcends all the power and strength of the mind and leaves no kind of trace for the mind to experience. The white garments teach, in a divinely fitting way, at one and the same time both the magnificence that lies in creatures proportionately to the logoi according to which they have come into being and the mysterious revelation found in the understanding of the words of Holy Scripture, so that the written power in the Spirit and the wisdom and knowledge manifested together in creatures are displayed together for the knowledge of God, and through them again he is proportionately manifested. Through Moses and Elijah, who were with Him on either side, they are taught many various conceptions which are put forward as figures of mysteries: through true contemplation of them they found ways of knowing. It is this that must now be examined.

1. And first they received through Moses and Elijah the most reverent notion about how the legal and the prophetic word had always to be present with God the Word, as they are and proclaim from Him and concerning Him and they are established around Him.

2. Then they are taught through them about wisdom and kindness dwelling with Him. It is in accordance with wisdom that the word is declaratory of things made and prohibitory of things not made, and of this Moses is the type, for we believe the grace of law-giving to belong to wisdom. And it is in accordance with kindness that the word invites and causes to return to the divine life those who have slipped away from it, and of this Elijah is the type, through himself manifesting the complete prophetic gift. For the conversion through love for humankind of those who have erred is a characteristic of divine kindness, and the heralds of this we know as the prophets.

Continued Part Two
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