Some Unorganized Thoughts on Reading St. Maximos the Confessor

Just as the trio of works–Metropolitan John Zizioulas’ Being as Communion, Panayiotas Nellas’ Deification in Christ, and Christos Yannaros’ Freedom of Morality–which I read in the autumn of 2003 and after, served to help me see the utter coherence of Orthodox theological thought, my reading of St. Maximos the Confessor’s works are helping me to see the utter unity of Orthodox theological thought with the Christian way of living.

I first read St. Maximos in the context of some online debates on free will, first through Joseph Farrell’s Free Choice in St. Maximos the Confessor, and then through Farrell’s translation of The Disputation with Pyrrhus. Just recently, as preparation for my philosophy class on the human being, I read the Paul Blowers’/Robert Wilken translation of some of St. Maximos’ seminal works in On the Cosmic Mystery of Christ, which I finished last week. I’m now much more slowly working through the Classics of Western Spirituality text translated by George Berthold Maximos the Confessor: Selected Writings. And in the wings is Andrew Louth’s Maximos the Confessor.

But reading St. Maximos, I have passed through the stages of a resource for philosophical debate, to a clarification of the Chalcedonian definition, to a picture of what human living is supposed to be like. The Berthold translation of works is definitely helping me to move in that direction. Reading St. Maximos not only helps sweep the cobwebs and detritus from my mind, so that I can begin to think Christianly about Christ and human beings, but more importantly, he inflames my heart to want to live the life fulfilled in Christ and which Christ energizes and fulfills in his Adamic brothers and sisters.

I have already been found by my two patron saints, and am not “on the lookout” for another. But definitely St. Maximos is one to invoke for faithful thinking and faithful living of that faithful thinking.