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Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 7

Posted: January 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

13.  If you wish to master your thoughts, concentrate on the passions and you will easily drive the thoughts arising from them out of your intellect. With regard to unchastity, for instance, fast and keep vigils, labor and avoid meeting people. With regard to anger and resentment, be indifferent to fame, dishonor and material things. With regard to rancor, pray for him who has offended you and you will be delivered.

If you are indifferent to the recognition and success of others, you will not resent them. And it is hard to remain bitter and angry toward someone when you pray for them. It’s interesting to note that fasting is considered to help discipline all physical passions.

2 Comments on “Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 7”

  1. 1 brambonius said at 7:37 am on January 18th, 2012:

    “With regard to unchastity (…) avoid meeting people.”

    This part sounds quite weird to me if I’m honest, seeing people as a temptation instead of someone to love with christilike love. Or do I miss something?

  2. 2 Scott said at 7:15 pm on January 18th, 2012:

    Two points come to my mind. First, never forget that St. Maximos is primarily writing to monastics with his texts. While monastics are not called to a greater spiritual path than the rest of us, the monastic path is definitely different. There is always a danger of making errors when translating things from a monastic life to ours.

    But in this case, I took his text at face value. Don’t forget the true nature of lust. Lust is using other human beings as object to meet your desires. It does not necessarily manifest in sexual venues, but it often does. If the passion of lust consumes you and you wish to break its grip, then it makes sense to avoid meeting people. The nature of your passion is that you use people and treat them like things. We deceive ourselves. We love to tell ourselves we are doing good, even as we do evil. If we have not yet mastered ourselves to the point where we can truly treat others as human beings in their own right, then perhaps the best thing we can do for them is to avoid meeting them in the first place.

    Of course, if you are truly able to love those you meet with a “christlike love” then there’s no reason to avoid meeting them. If that’s the case, then you will always actively will good into their lives. They will be better for having met you. But I wonder how many of us are truly at the place where that is true.

    Of course, if someone with a need is presented to you, you have no excuse for failing to offer love — ready or not, able or not. But there is, perhaps, a danger in seeking such meetings.