The Four Hundred Chapters on Love (Part I)

 Saint Maximos the Confessor

Saint Maximos the Confessor

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by Saint Maximus the Confessor


1.     Love is a good disposition of the soul by which one prefers no being to the knowledge of God. It is impossible to reach the habit of this love if one has any attachment to earthly things.

2.     Love is begotten of detachment, detachment of hope in God, hope of patient endurance and long-suffering, these of general self-mastery, self-mastery of fear of God, and fear of faith in the Lord.

3.     The one who believes the Lord fears punishment; the one who fears punishment becomes master of his passions; the one who patiently endures tribulations will have hope in God; hope in God separates from every earthly attachment; and when the mind is separated from this it will have love for God.

4.     The one who loves God prefers knowledge of Him to all things made by Him and is constantly devoted to it by desire.

5.     If all things have been made by God and for his sake, then God is better than what has been made by him. The one who forsakes the better and is engrossed in inferior things shows that he prefers the things made by God to God Himself.

6.     The one who has his mind fixed on the love of God disdains all visible things and even his own body as alien.

7.     If the soul is better than the body and God incomparably better than the world which He created, the one who prefers the body to the soul and the world to the God Who created it is no different from idolaters.

8.     The one who separates his mind from love and devotedness toward God and keeps it tied to any sensible thing is the one who prefers the body to the soul and things that are made to God their Creator.

9.     If the life of the mind is the illumination of knowledge and this is born of love for God, then it is well said that there is nothing greater than love.

10.  When in the full ardor of its love for God the mind goes out of itself, then it has no perception at all either of itself or of any creatures. For once illumined by the Divine and infinite Light, it remains insensible to anything that is made by Him, just as the physical eye has no sensation of the stars when the sun has risen.

11.  All the virtues assist the mind in the pursuit of Divine Love, but above all does pure prayer. By it the mind is given wings to go ahead to God and becomes alien to all things.

12.  When through love the mind is ravished by Divine knowledge and in going outside of creatures has a perception of Divine Transcendence, then, according to the holy Isaiah the Prophet, it comes in consternation to a realization of its own lowliness and says with conviction the words of the Prophet:
"Woe is me for I am stricken at heart; because being a man having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips and I have seen with my eyes the King, the Lord of hosts."

13.  The one who loves God cannot help but love also every man as himself even though he is displeased by the passions of those who are not yet purified. Thus when he sees their conversion and amendment, he rejoices with an unbounded and unspeakable joy.

14.  The passionate soul is impure, filled with thoughts of lust and hatred.

15.  The one who sees a trace of hatred in his own heart through any fault at all toward any man whoever he may be makes himself completely foreign to the love of God, because love for God in no way admits hatred for man.

16.  "The one who loves Me," says the Lord, "will keep My Commandments" and "This is my commandment, that you love one another." Therefore the one who does not love his neighbor is not keeping the Commandments, and the one who does not keep the Commandments is not able to love the Lord.

17.  Blessed is the man who has learnt to love all men equally.

18.  Blessed is the man who is not attached to any corruptible or transitory thing.

19.  Blessed is the mind which has gone beyond all beings and takes unceasing delight in the Divine beauty.

20.  The one who makes provision for the desires of the flesh and bears a grudge against his neighbor for transitory things--such a man serves the creature rather than the Creator.

(To be continued)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George