1. He who truly loves God prays entirely without distraction, and he who prays entirely without distraction loves God truly. But he whose intellect is fixed on any worldly thing does not pray without distraction, and consequently he does not love God.
I’m reminded by this text of another saying: A theologian is one who prays and one who prays is a theologian. I think prayer is more important and deeper in meaning than many Christian traditions allow. I don’t think it’s merely a way to praise God or ask for intercession, however important it is to praise God and to intercede in prayer. Neither of those adequately account for the repeated emphasis the New Testament places on constant, unceasing prayer.
St. Maximos ties love of God to undistracted prayer. And I think it’s safe to assume he meant constant, undistracted prayer. I find his words describe me accurately. My love of God is always wavering. I have to keep returning to love of God just as I have to keep returning to prayer. Sometimes it’s all I can to do to pray for mercy.
In his centuries of love, St. Maximos peels back the lies we tell ourselves as though they were layers of an onion. It’s uncomfortable at times, but we can only love God in Spirit and Truth.