St. Maximus the confessor著
301 – 400
《400 sayings about love》
by St. Maximus the confessor
301 – 400
1. The mind is first of all in wonder when it reflects on God’s universal infinity and that inaccessible and greatly desired ocean. Next it is amazed at how from nothing he has brought into existence everything that is. But just as, “of his greatness there is no end,” so is his wisdom unsearchable.
2. How can one help but marvel when considering that immense ocean of goodness which is beyond astonishment? How can one not be struck when reflecting on how and whence rational and intelligent nature came to be, and also the four elements which make up bodies, when there was no matter at all previous to their existence? And what kind of power is it that moved them to reality and brought them into being? But the pagan Greeks do not admit this and remain in ignorance about the all-powerful goodness and its efficacious wisdom and knowledge which is beyond the mind’s powers.
3. Eternally existing as Creator, God creates when he wishes by his consubstantial Word and Spirit out of infinite goodness. But do not object : For what reason did he create at this time, since he was always good? Because, I say in turn, the inscrutable wisdom of the infinite nature is not subject to human knowledge.
4. When he willed it, the Creator gave substance to and produced his eternally preexisting knowledge of beings. It is of course absurd to doubt that an omnipotent God can give substance to something when he wishes.
5. Seek the reason why God created, for this is knowledge. But do not seek how and why he only recently created, for that question does not fall under your mind since while some divine things are comprehended by men others are not. As one of the saints has said, “Unbridled speculation can push you over the precipice.”
6. Some say that created things eternally exist with God, which is impossible. For how can what is limited in every way eternally coexist with the wholly infinite? Or how are they really creatures if they are coeternal with the Creator? But this is the theory of the Greeks, who admit God as the Creator not of the substance at all but only of the properties. But we who know the almighty God affirm that he is the Creator not of the properties but of the substance endowed with properties. And if this is true, creatures do not eternally coexist with God.
7. God, along with divine realities, is in one sense knowable and in another sense unknowable: knowable in ideas about him, unknowable in himself.
8. Do not search for states and aptitudes in the simple and infinite substance of the Holy Trinity, lest you make it composite like creatures. To have such notions about God is absurd and impious.
9. Only the infinite and all-powerful substance which created all things is simple, of one form, unqualified, peaceful, and undisturbed. Every creature, on the other hand, is a composite of substance and accident and in constant need of divine Providence since it is not free from mutability.
10. Every intellectual and sensitive substance receives from God, when he brings them into existence, powers which allow them to apprehend beings, the intellectual substance through thoughts and the sensitive substance through sensations.
11. God is participated only; the creature both participates and communicates. He participates in being and in well-being but communicates only well-being, corporeal substance in one way, incorporeal in another.
12. Incorporeal substance communicates well-being by speaking or acting or by being an object of contemplation. Corporeal substance does so by being an object of contemplation only.
13. Whether the rational and intelligent being has eternal being or nonbeing lies in the will of the one who created all good things. Whether it be good or bad by choice lies in the will of the creatures.
14. Evil is not to be regarded as in the substance of creatures but in its mistaken and irrational movement.
15. The soul is moved reasonably when its concupiscible element is qualified by self-mastery, its irascible element cleaves to love and turns away from hate, and the rational element lives with God through prayer and spiritual contemplation.
16. When one in time of temptation does not bear up under incidental annoyances but cuts himself off from the love of his spiritual brothers, he does not yet have perfect love nor the knowledge of divine Providence in its depths.
17. The purpose of divine Providence is to unify by an upright faith and spiritual love those who have been separated in diverse ways by vice. Indeed it was because of this that the Savior suffered, “to gather together into one the children of God who were dispersed.” Therefore, the one who does not endure disturbances or bear up under distress or undergo hardships walks outside divine love and the purpose of Providence.
18. If “love is patient and kind,” how can the person who is fainthearted in the troubles that befall him and who consequently deals wickedly with those who offend him, cutting himself away from love for them, help but fall away from the purpose of divine Providence?
19. Be on guard lest the vice that separates you from your brother be not found in your brother but in you; and hasten to be reconciled to him, lest you fall away from the commandment of love.
20. Do not disdain the commandment of love, because by it you will be a son of God. If you transgress it you will become a son of Gehenna.
21. What separates you from the love of friends is this: envying or being envied, hurting or being hurt, insulting or being insulted, and suspicious thoughts. May you never have done or experienced any of these things by which you might be separated from your friend’s love.
22. A temptation came upon you from your brother, and the hurt led you to hate. Do not be overcome with hate but overcome hate with love. You will prevail in this way: Pray for him sincerely to God, accept his apology, or else come up with an apology for him yourself, think of yourself as the cause of the temptation, and be patient until the cloud has passed by.
23. A person is patient if he waits out the end of a temptation and awaits the triumph of perseverance.
24. “A patient man is rich in prudence,” because he refers every happening to its end, and while waiting for it he puts up with difficulties. “And the end is everlasting life,” according to the divine Apostle ; “and this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent, Jesus Christ. ”
25. Do not be calm over the loss of spiritual love, because there is no other way to salvation left for men.
26. Do not, because of the hate which has arisen in you today from the evil one’s abuse, judge as bad and vicious the brother who yesterday was spiritual and virtuous. Instead, through the patience that love gives, cast out today’s hate by thinking of yesterday’s goodness.
27. Do not, because you changed from love to hate, disparage today as bad and vicious the one whom yesterday you praised as good and honored as virtuous, and blame your brother for the evil hate within you. Rather, continue in those same praises even though you are still full of hurt, and you will easily return to the same saving love.
28. Do not adulterate a brother’s customary praise in the company of the other brothers because of the hidden hurt that you still have toward him by the imperceptible injection of censure into your words. Instead, use only genuine praise in company; pray sincerely for him as for yourself, and you will very swiftly be delivered of this pernicious hate.
29. Do not say, “I do not hate my brother by putting him out of my mind.” But listen to Moses who said, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Reprove him openly and you will not incur sin through him.”
30. Even if in temptation your brother should insist on speaking ill of you, you should not be swept away from your charitable disposition and allow the same wicked demon to upset your mind. But you will not be swept away from it if you bless when being reviled, keep silent when spoken ill of, and remain friendly when being conspired against. This is the way of Christ’s wisdom, and the one who will not take it is not in his company.
31. Do not regard as well-meaning those who bring you tales that cause you pain and hate toward your brother, even though they seem to be true. Instead, turn away from such people as deadly serpents in order to cut them off from abusive speech and to deliver your own soul from wickedness.
32. Do not goad your brother by ambiguous language, lest you receive the same from him in turn and drive away the disposition of love from you both. Instead, go and correct him in loving familiarity, so that you may dissolve the causes of pain and deliver both of you from trouble and pain.
33. Examine your conscience with all honesty to determine whether it is your fault that your brother is not reconciled. Do not be dishonest with it since it knows your hidden secrets, accuses you at the time of your passing, and becomes an obstacle in time of prayer.
34. Do not recall in time of peace what your brother said in time of hurt, even though the offensive things were said to your face, or were said to another about you and you heard them afterward, lest in retaining grudges you revert to pernicious hate for your brother.
35. A rational soul that nourishes hate for a person cannot be at peace with God, who gives us the commandments. “For if,” he says, “you will not forgive men their offenses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your offenses.” But if he does not want to be at peace, still keep yourself away from hate by praying sincerely for him and by not speaking ill of him to anyone.
36. The unutterable peace of the holy angels is attained by these two dispositions: love for God and love for one another. This holds true as well for all the saints from the beginning. Thus we have been beautifully told by the Savior that “on these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.”
37. Do not be a pleaser of self and you will not hate your brother. Do not be a lover of self and you will love God.
38. If you have determined to live with spiritual brothers, renounce your will at the outset, for in no other way will you be able to be at peace either with God or with those you are living with.
39. The one who has been able to acquire perfect love and who has let it control his whole life can say, ” ‘Lord Jesus,’ in the Holy Spirit.” In the contrary case, the opposite will, of course, be true.
40. Love of God is always fond of flying off to hold converse with him; love of neighbor prepares the mind to think always well of him.
41. It is characteristic of the one who still loves empty glory or who is attached to some material thing to take offense at men for the sake of passing things, or to bear them resentment or to have hate for them or to be a slave to shameful thoughts. To the soul that loves God, however, all these things are altogether foreign.
42. When you neither say nor do anything intentionally shameful, nor bear any grudge against the one who has harmed you or spoken ill of you, and when in time of prayer you always keep your mind free of matter and form, then know that you have reached the full measure of detachment and of perfect love.
43. It is no small struggle to be delivered from vainglory; however, one is delivered by the discreet practice of virtue and more frequent prayer. An indication of this deliverance is to bear no more grudges against anyone who offends us now or has offended us in the past.
44. If you want to be just, assign to each part within you what it deserves, that is, to body and soul. To the rational part of the soul give spiritual reading and meditation and prayer. To the irascible part give spiritual love, which is opposed to hate. To the affective part give temperance and self-mastery. To the bodily part give food and clothing, and only what is necessary.
45. The mind functions according to nature when it keeps the passions subject, when it contemplates the principles of beings, and when it dwells in God’s presence.
46. As health and sickness have to do with the body of an animal and light and darkness with the eye, so do virtue and vice have to do with the soul and knowledge and ignorance with the mind.
47. The Christian is wise in these three things: in the commandments, in instruction, and in faith. The commandments separate the mind from the passions, instruction introduces it to the knowledge of beings, and faith brings it to the contemplation of the Holy Trinity.
48. Some of those who contend only beat back passionate thoughts, while others excise the passions themselves. One beats back passionate thoughts, for example, by psalmody, prayer, or uplifting of the mind, or by some other suitable occupation. But another excises the passions by despising the things for which he acquired the passions.
49. The things for which we have acquired the passions are these: women, money, fame, and so forth. And one is able to despise women when with the help of solitude he weakens the body as he should through self-mastery. He despises money when he persuades the mind to be content in everything with just enough, and fame when he loves the secret practice of the virtues known only to God, and similarly for the rest. The one who despises these will never come to hate anyone.
50. The one who has renounced things such as a woman, wealth, and so forth, has made a monk of the outer man but not yet of the inner. The one who renounces the passionate representations of these things makes a monk of the inner man, that is, of the mind. Anyone can easily make a monk of the outer man if he really wishes to, but it is no small struggle to make a monk of the inner man.
51. Who, then, in this life is entirely freed from passionate representations and has been deemed worthy of pure and immaterial prayer, which is the sign of the inner monk?
52. Many passions lie hidden in our souls. They are exposed when their objects appear.
53. It can be that someone is not troubled by the passions in the absence of the objects, and so enjoys a partial detachment. But if the objects do appear, then the passions immediately distract the mind.
54. Do not think that you have perfect detachment when the object is not present. When it does appear and you remain unmoved toward both the object itself and its subsequent recollection, know that then you have reached its frontiers. But you are not to become presumptuous, because virtue sustained kills the passions but virtue neglected rouses them anew.
55. The one who loves Christ thoroughly imitates him as much as he can. Thus Christ did not cease to do good to men. Treated ungratefully and blasphemed, he was patient; beaten and put to death by them, he endured, not thinking ill of anyone at all. These three are the works of love of neighbor in the absence of which a person who says he loves Christ or possesses his kingdom deceives himself. For he says, “Not the one who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father.” And again, “The one who loves me will keep my commandments,” and so forth.
56. The whole purpose of the Savior’s commandments is to free the mind from incontinence and hate and bring it to the love of him and of one’s neighbor, from which there springs the splendor of holy knowledge in all its actuality.
57. Once granted a partial knowledge of God, do not be careless about love and self-mastery, for these purify the passionate aspect of the soul and are ever preparing for you the way to knowledge.
58. The way to knowledge is detachment and humility, without which no one will see the Lord.
59. Since “knowledge makes boastful but love edifies,” link up love with knowledge and you will not be puffed up but rather a spiritual architect building up yourself and all those around you.
60. This is the reason why love edifies, because it neither envies nor grows angry with those who do envy, nor does it make a public display of what is the object of envy, nor think that it has already apprehended, but confesses unabashedly its ignorance of what it does not know. In this way it renders the mind modest and constantly prepares it to advance in knowledge.
61. It is normal that presumption and envy follow upon knowledge, especially in the beginning, presumption interiorly and envy both interiorly and exteriorly: interiorly for those who have knowledge, exteriorly for those who do not. Thus love overcomes these three: presumption, because it is not puffed up; interior envy, because it is not jealous; exterior envy, because it is patient and kind. It is thus necessary for the one who has knowledge to take hold of love in order to keep his mind from any kind of wound.
62. The one who has been gifted with the grace of knowledge but still has grief, resentment, and hate for his brother is like the person who stings his eyes badly with thorns and burrs. Knowledge is for that reason necessarily in need of love.
63. Do not devote all your time to the flesh, but assign it exercises according to its capacity and turn your whole mind inward. “For bodily exercise is of little profit, but piety is of universal profit, etc.”
64. The one who ceaselessly devotes his energies to the interior life is temperate, patient, kind, and humble. Not only this, but he is also contemplative, united to God, and prayerful. And this is what the Apostle says, “Walk in the Spirit, etc.”
65. The one who does not know how to walk the spiritual way has no concern over passionate representations but devotes his whole time to the flesh. Either he is gluttonous or intemperate; or he is full of hurt, bitterness, or resentment, and so darkens his mind; or else he is injudicious in his ascetical practices and disquiets the understanding.
66. Scripture takes away none of the things given by God for our use but it restrains immoderation and corrects unreasonableness. For example, it does not forbid eating or begetting children or having money or managing it, but it does forbid gluttony, fornication, and so forth. Nor does it even forbid us to think of these things, for they were made to be thought of; what it forbids is thinking of them with passion.
67. Some of the things we do for God are done because of the commandments, some not because of the commandments but through what one can call a free-will offering. For instance we are commanded to love God and our neighbor, to love our enemies, to refrain from adultery, murder, and so on. When we transgress these, we are subject to condemnation. However, there are other things which are not commanded, such as virginity, celibacy, poverty, the monastic life, and so forth. These have the nature of gifts, so that if from weakness we have been unable to observe some of the commandments we may propitiate our good Master with gifts.
68. The one who holds celibacy and virginity must necessarily keep his loins girt and his lamp burning, his loins through self-mastery and his lamp through prayer, contemplation, and spiritual love.
69. Some of the brothers suppose that they are excluded from the Holy Spirit’s gifts, for through their careless observance of the commandments they do not know that the sincere believer in Christ has within himself all the divine gifts collectively. But since through laziness we are far from having an active love for him, which reveals the divine treasures lying within us, we reasonably suppose that we are excluded from the divine gifts.
70. If, according to the Apostle, “Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,” and “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him,” then all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in our hearts. They are revealed to the heart in proportion to each one’s purification by the commandments.
71. This is the treasure hidden in the field of your heart which you have not yet found because of laziness, for if you had found it you would then have sold everything to acquire that field. But now you abandon the field and give your attention to nearby things, in which you find nothing but thorns and burrs.
72. This is why the Savior says, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they see God,” because he is hidden in the heart of those who believe in him. They will see him and the treasures in him when they purify themselves by love and self-mastery, and the more intensely they strive the fuller will their vision be.
73. This is why he also says, “Sell what you possess and give to the poor and behold all things are clean for you,” that they no longer devote themselves to bodily things but hasten to purify the mind (which the Lord calls heart) from hate and intemperance. For the things which soil the mind do not permit it to see the Lord dwelling in it through the grace of holy baptism.
74. Scripture calls the virtues ways, and the best of all the virtues is love. Therefore the holy Apostle says, “I show you a more excellent way,” because it leads to the despising of material things and to preferring nothing temporal to the eternal.
75. The love of God is opposed to lust, for it persuades the mind to abstain from pleasures. Love of neighbor is opposed to anger, for it makes it disdain fame and money. These are the two silver pieces which the Savior gave to the innkeeper so that he could take care of you. Now do not show yourself as senseless by joining up with the robbers, lest you be beaten up once again and be found not half dead but completely dead.
76. Purify your mind of anger, resentment, and shameful thoughts, and then you will be able to know the indwelling of Christ.
77. Who enlightened you with the faith of the holy, adorable, and consubstantial Trinity? Or who made known to you the incarnate dispensation of one of the holy Trinity? Or who taught you about the principles of incorporeal beings and those concerning the origin and end of the visible world, or about the resurrection from the dead and eternal life, or about the glory of the kingdom of heaven and the awful judgment? Was it not the grace of Christ dwelling in you, which is the pledge of the Holy Spirit? What is greater than this grace, or what is better than this wisdom and knowledge? Or what is loftier than these promises? But if we are lazy and careless and do not purify ourselves from the passions which defile us and blind our mind, in order to be able to see the principles of these things more clearly than the sun, let us blame ourselves and not deny the indwelling of grace.
78. God who has promised you everlasting happiness and placed in your heart the pledge of the Spirit has enjoined you to tend to your behavior so that the inner man, freed from the passions, might begin here and now to enjoy this happiness.
79. If you have been granted divine and sublime contemplations, pay close attention to love and self-mastery, so that by maintaining your sensitive element undisturbed you will also keep unfailing the splendor of your soul.
80. Curb the irascible element of the soul with love, weaken its concupiscible element with self-mastery, and give flight to its rational element with prayer, and the light of your mind will never be eclipsed.
81. The things which destroy love are these: dishonor, damage, slander (either against faith or against conduct), beatings, blows, and so forth, whether these happen to oneself or to one’s relatives or friends. The one who destroys love on account of any of these has not yet learned what is the purpose of Christ’s commandments.
82. Be as eager as you can to love every man, but if you cannot do this yet, at least do not hate anyone. And you cannot do this unless you scorn the things of this world.
83. Such a one has offended you; do not hate him but rather the offense and the demon who contrived the offense. If you hate the offender, you hate a person and transgress the commandment, and what he did in word you do in deed. But if you keep the commandment, give proof of your love, and if you in any way can, help him so that he can be delivered from wickedness.
84. Christ does not want you to have hate for anyone, or grief, or anger, or resentment in any way at all or for any temporal reason whatsoever. And this is thoroughly proclaimed in the four Gospels.
85. Many of us talk but few of us act. But no one should falsify the word of God by his own carelessness. Rather, he should confess his weakness and not hide from God’s truth, lest he be charged with transgressing the commandments and misrepresenting God.
86. Love and self-mastery free the soul from passions; reading and contemplation deliver the mind from ignorance; and the state of prayer places it with God himself.
87. When the demons see us disdaining the things of the world in order through them not to hate men and fall away from love, they then incite slanders against us, hoping that, unable to bear the hurt, we will come to hate those who slander us.
88. There is no hardship more oppressive to the soul than slander, whether one is slandered in his faith or in his conduct. And no one can disdain it except the one who like Susanna looks to God who alone can rescue in need, as he rescued her, and to reassure men, as he did in her case, and to encourage the soul with hope.
89. To the extent that you pray from your soul for the one who spread scandal about you, God will reveal the truth to those who were told the scandal.
90. Only God is good by nature, and only the one who imitates God is good by his will. His plan is to join the wicked to himself who is good by nature in order that they may become good. So, then, when he is reviled by them, he blesses them; when persecuted, he endures; when slandered, he entreats; when put to death, he intercedes for them. He does all things in order not to fall away from the purpose of love, which is our God himself.
91. The Lord’s commandments teach us to use indifferent things in a correct way. The correct use of indifferent things purifies the state of the soul; the pure state of the soul gives rise to discernment, which gives rise to detachment, from which is begotten perfect love.
92. One does not yet possess detachment if when temptation comes he is unable to overlook the fault of a friend whether it is real or apparent. For when the underlying passions of the soul are aroused, they blind the understanding and do not allow it to look at the rays of truth or to discern the better from the worse. So then neither does such a person possess perfect love, which casts out the fear of judgment.
93. “Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend.” This is because he regards his friend’s misfortunes as his own and supports him in hardships until death.
94. Friends are abundant—that is, in times of prosperity. In time of trial you can barely find one.
95. You are to love every man from your soul, but in God alone are you to place your hope and to serve him with your whole strength. For so long as he protects us, all our friends respect us and all our enemies can do nothing against us. But if he should ever abandon us, all our friends shall turn away from us and all our enemies will prevail over us.
96. There are four general types of abandonment: The first is in the Lord’s incarnation in order that through seeming abandonment those who had been forsaken might be saved. The second type is for testing, as in the case of Job and Joseph, so that they might appear as pillars: one of courage, the other of chastity. The third type is for paternal instruction, as in the case of the Apostle, so that by being humble he might preserve the abundance of grace. The fourth type is a turning away, as with the Jews, so that by being punished they might be brought down to repentance. All of these types are saving and full of the divine goodness and wisdom.
97. Only the diligent observers of the commandments and the genuine initiates into the divine judgments do not forsake their friends who are undergoing trials with God’s consent. Those, however, who disregard the commandments and are not initiated into the divine judgments enjoy their friend when he is cheerful; but when he is feeling badly in adversity, they forsake him, and, it is even possible, side with his enemies.
98. The friends of Christ love everyone sincerely but are not loved by everyone. The friends of the world do not love everyone nor are they loved by everyone. The friends of Christ maintain the continuity of their love till the end. The friends of the world, on the contrary, maintain theirs until they clash with each other over the world’s goods.
99. “A faithful friend is a strong defense,” for when his friend is prospering he is a good counselor and sympathetic collaborator, and when he is in distress he is his sincerest supporter and most sympathetic defender.
100. Many people have said much about love, but only in seeking it among Christ’s disciples will you find it, for only they have the true love, the teacher of love, of whom it is written, “If I have prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Therefore, the one who possesses love possesses God himself, since “God is love. ” To him be glory forever. Amen.