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September 10, 2021

The Patristic Basis of Theology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

It is very significant that Saint Maximus the Confessor at the beginning of his theological struggle spoke about hesychast and neptic issues. He began, that is, with the texts that speak about love and more generally the texts that speak about the healing of man. The second phase of his struggle he was concerned with transmitting the terminology of the Cappadocian Fathers regarding the Trinitarian God in the Person of Christ. And the third phase of his theological struggle he was concerned with the topic about how every nature has its own will, that is, it was against monothelitism in Christ.

But I consider the basis of the theological teaching of Saint Maximus the Confessor to be the hesychast tradition. He was a great hesychast and a great confessor. One cannot be a true confessor unless they are previously a hesychast. We see this clearly in the first texts that were written by Saint Maximus.

I remember years ago, when I became a clergyman, I wanted to see what exactly love is and I read the "Chapters on Love" of Saint Maximus the Confessor and I tried to identify what exactly love is. I thought that I would find in Saint Maximus the Confessor a definition of what exactly love is, but what I discerned is that he spoke the whole time about the passions, and the main passion was said to be the passion of self-love.


If self-love is the root of all the passions, as he exactly calls it, then from this root and the stem of self-love are born the passions of love of glory (ambition), love of money (avarice) and love of pleasure (lust). Therefore, the entire struggle that must be done by Christians and monastics is with the passion of self-love.

Source: From the book Holy Knowledge. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.