Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. Reading has made many saints.”
St. Josemaría Escrivá
The mercy of God to the penitent
Saint Maximus (ca. 580 - 662 A.D.) began as a civil servant and rose to high office. Later he took monastic vows and became abbot at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar).
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius. He applied rigorous Aristotelian logic to these writings to make their doctrine clearer, and harder to misunderstand.
The passages from St Maximus which adorn the Office of Readings are chosen to reflect for us the glory of the light of the events of our redemption.
Credit: Adapted from Universalis; https://www.universalis.com.
From a letter by Saint Maximus the Confessor, abbot
God’s will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repentance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God’s desire for our salvation is the primary and pre-eminent sign of his infinite goodness. Precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God’s heart than this, the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and did, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father, when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled. He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suffering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.
So it was that Christ proclaimed that he had come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous, and that it was not the healthy who required a doctor, but the sick. He declared that he had come to look for the sheep that was lost, and that it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that he had been sent. Speaking more obscurely in the parable of the silver coin, he tells us that the purpose of his coming was to reclaim the royal image, which had been coated with the filth of sin. “You can be sure there is joy in heaven’, he said, over one sinner who repents.
To give the same lesson he revived the man who, having fallen into the hands of the brigands, had been left stripped and half-dead from his wounds; he poured wine and oil on the wounds, bandaged them, placed the man on his own mule and brought him to an inn, where he left sufficient money to have him cared for, and promised to repay any further expense on his return.
Again, he told of how that Father, who is goodness itself, was moved with pity for his profligate son who returned and made amends by repentance; how he embraced him, dressed him once more in the fine garments that befitted his own dignity, and did not reproach him for any of his sins.
So too, when he found wandering in the mountains and hills the one sheep that had strayed from God’s flock of a hundred, he brought it back to the fold, but he did not exhaust it by driving it ahead of him. Instead, he placed it on his own shoulders and so, compassionately, he restored it safely to the flock.
So also he cried out: ‘Come to me, all you that toil and are heavy of heart’. ‘Accept my yoke’, he said, by which he meant his commands, or rather, the whole way of life that he taught us in the Gospel. He then speaks of a burden, but that is only because repentance seems difficult. In fact, however, my yoke is easy, he assures us, and my burden is light.
Then again he instructs us in divine justice and goodness, telling us to be like our heavenly Father, holy, perfect and merciful. Forgive, he says, and you will be forgiven. Behave towards other people as you would wish them to behave towards you.
Credit: Divine Office: Office of Readings; March 17, 2021; https://divineoffice.org/welcome/ Information herein posted under the "rules of fair use" to foster education and discussion in accordance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976.
To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil – such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.”
Saint Maximus the Confessor, abbot
Whoever sees in himself the traces of hatred toward any man on account of any kind of sin is completely foreign to the love of God. For love toward God does not at all tolerate any hatred for man.”
Saint Maximus the Confessor, abbot
“From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.” — Office of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the whole People of God. In it, Christ himself “continues his priestly work through his Church.” His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives. The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office either with the priests, among themselves, or individually. The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper “understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms.” The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expressing the symbolism of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. Credit: https://divineoffice.org/liturgy-of-the-hours/
Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.”
Saint Francis de Sales
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thess 5:16-18
Holy Spirit, Light and Life of my Soul, enliven my prayer life.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family, pray for us. Amen.