January 21, 2022

Introduction to the Writings of Saint Maximos the Confessor in the 'Philokalia' (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)

 Introduction to Saint Maximos the Confessor 
By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

(The Philokalia, vol. 2)

Our Holy Father Maximos the Confessor lived during the reign of Constantine Pogonatos, around the year 670, and was, of all, the chief destroyer of the ill-famed Monothelite heresy.

At first he distinguished himself in the royal palaces and was honored with the office of Chief Secretary, then, leaving worldly endeavors behind, he engaged himself in ascetic combat. His mouth approached the fount of wisdom, and drinking incessantly from the fountains of the divine Scriptures which flow with life, he made to gush forth from his belly rivers of divine doctrines and writings which flooded the ends of the universe.  

From these, the fresh water that resurrects the dead, we, too, channeled with the present chapters this book here and put it in front of those who are possessed by the good thirst of wisdom, to drink from it in abundance and to never be thirsty. For in them the knowledge and work of sacred and godly love are philosophized; the infallible correctness of high Theology is unquestionably proved; the mystery of the Economy of the Word is piously developed; the practical contemplation of godlike virtues is clarified, and the scheming gang of passions and vices, opposed to virtues, are decried. In short, in these chapters the arrangement of morals shines and many and various soul-beneficial teachings are gathered, with which one can easily, after getting rid of all evil and acquiring a habit of virtue, become a citizen of heaven and achieve divine glory.

In these chapters we also added the exegetical exposition of the "Our Father", because it is much superior to the other interpretations and brings great benefit.

This divine father is also mentioned by the wise Photios (text 191): "Insofar as the style goes, he has periods much too long and delights in inverting the word order; he carries explanations to the farthest limit and is not concerned with the proprieties of language ... But, if someone loves to elevate the nous in the divine interpretations and theoria, it is impossible to find texts more varied and well prepared than these.” 

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.