Maximos the Confessor

13-08-2015 All day

Transfer of the Relics of Saint Maximos the Confessor

Maximos_the_ConfessorSaint Maximos the Confessor was born in Constantinople around 580 AD and raised in a pious Christian family. He received an excellent education, studying philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric. He was well read in the authors of antiquity and he mastered philosophy and theology. When Saint Maximos entered into government service, he became first secretary (asekretis) and chief counsellor to the emperor Heraclios (611-641 AD), who was impressed by his knowledge and virtuous life.

Saint Maximos soon realized that the emperor and many others had been corrupted by the Monothelite heresy, which was spreading rapidly through the East. He resigned from his duties at court, and went to the Chrysopolis monastery (at Skutari on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus), where he received monastic tonsure. Because of his humility and wisdom, he soon won the love of the brethren and was chosen Abbott of the monastery after a few years. Even in this position, he remained a simple monk.

In 638 AD, emperor Heraclios and Patriarch Sergios tried to minimize the importance of differences in belief, and they issued an edict, the “Ekthesis” (“Ekthesis tes pisteos” or “Exposition of Faith”), which decreed that everyone must accept the teaching of one will in the two natures of the Saviour. In defending Orthodoxy against the “Ekthesis”, St Maximos spoke to people in various occupations and positions, and these conversations were successful. Not only the clergy and the bishops, but also the people and the secular officials felt some sort of invisible attraction to him, as we read in his Life.

When St Maximos saw what turmoil this heresy caused in Constantinople and in the East, he decided to leave his monastery and seek refuge in the West, where Monothelitism had been completely rejected. On the way, he visited the bishops of Africa, strengthening them in Orthodoxy, and encouraging them not to be deceived by the cunning arguments of the heretics.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council had condemned the Monophysite heresy, which falsely taught that in the Lord Jesus Christ there was only one nature (the divine). Influenced by this erroneous opinion, the Monothelite heretics said that in Christ there was only one divine will (“thelema”) and only one divine energy (“energia”). Adherents of Monothelitism sought to return by another path to the repudiated Monophysite heresy. Monothelitism found numerous adherents in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt. The heresy, fanned also by nationalistic animosities, became a serious threat to Church unity in the East. The struggle of Orthodoxy with heresy was particularly difficult because in 630 AD, three of the patriarchal thrones in the Orthodox East were occupied by Monothelites: Constantinople by Sergios, Antioch by Athanasios, and Alexandria by Cyrus.

St Maximos travelled from Alexandria to Crete, where he began his preaching activity. He clashed there with a bishop, who adhered to the heretical opinions of Severus and Nestorios. The Saint spent six years in Alexandria and the surrounding area.

Patriarch Sergios died at the end of 638 AD, and the emperor Heraclios died in 641 AD. The imperial throne was eventually occupied by his grandson Constans II (642-668 AD), an open adherent of the Monothelite heresy. The assaults of the heretics against Orthodoxy intensified. St Maximos went to Carthage and he preached there for about five years. When the Monothelite Pyrrhus, the successor of Patriarch Sergios, arrived there after fleeing from Constantinople because of court intrigues, he and St Maximos spent many hours in debate. As a result, Pyrrhus publicly acknowledged his error, and was permitted to retain the title of “Patriarch”. He even wrote a book confessing the Orthodox Faith. St Maximos and Pyrrhus travelled to Rome to visit Pope Theodore, who received Pyrrhus as the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In 647 AD, St Maximos returned to Africa. There, at a council of bishops Monotheletism was condemned as a heresy. In 648 AD, a new edict was issued, commissioned by Constans and compiled by Patriarch Paul of Constantinople known as the “Typos” (“Typos tes pisteos” or “Pattern of the Faith”), which forbade any further disputes about one will or two wills in the Lord Jesus Christ. St Maximos then asked St Martin the Confessor (commemorated April 14), the successor of Pope Theodore, to examine the question of Monothelitism at a Church Council. The Lateran Council was convened in October 649 AD. One hundred and fifty Western bishops and thirty-seven representatives from the Orthodox East were present, among them St Maximos the Confessor. The Council condemned Monothelitism, and the Typos. The false teachings of Patriarchs Sergios, Paul and Pyrrhus of Constantinople, were also anathematized.

When Constans II received the decisions of the Council, he gave orders to arrest both Pope Martin and St Maximos. The emperor’s order was fulfilled in 654 AD.St Maximos was accused of treason and locked up in prison. In 656 AD, he was sent to Thrace, and was later brought back to a Constantinople prison.

The Saint and two of his disciples were subjected to the cruellest torments. Each one’s tongue was cut out, and his right hand was cut off. Then they were exiled to Skemarum in Scythia, enduring much suffering and difficulties on the journey.

After three years, the Lord revealed to St Maximos the time of his death (August 13, 662 AD). Three candles appeared over the grave of St Maximos and burned miraculously. This was a sign that St Maximos was a beacon of Orthodoxy during his lifetime, and continues to shine forth as an example of virtue for all. Many healings have happened at his tomb.

In the Greek Prologue, August 13 commemorates the Transfer of the Relics of St Maximos from Lazika on the southeast shore of the Black Sea to Constantinople, to the Monastery of the Theotokos at Chrysopolis (where he had been the Abbott), across the Bosphoros from Constantinople. This transfer took place after the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

August 13 could also be the date of the saint’s death, however. It is possible that his main commemoration was moved to January 21 because August 13 is the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Dismissal Hymn (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Maximos, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion (Second Tone)

Divinely inspired champion of the Church, sure and brilliant exponent of Orthodoxy, harp and instrument of piety, and divine and sacred adornment of monastics: cease not to intercede for us all.

 

Dorotheus, Abba of Gaza

Saint Dorotheos was born in Antioch, Syria, in the year 506 or 508 A.D. He began his education very early in life and profited from the social statusof his parents. He received a classical education in the Greco-Roman world, which included medical studies, thus allowing him to work as a physician. Despite his great mind, Dorotheos yearned for a life of seclusion in the monastery. He inquired through letters with the holy men Barsanuphius and John (see February 6th) as how to begin the process towards monasticism. Many of these letters exist to this day and provide insight to the life of Dorotheos and his relationship with his mentors.

Dorotheos entered the monastery of Thawatha where Barsanuphius and John lived. His quick mind and advanced education made life in the monastery difficult as he struggled with social encounters and even challenged his abbot when he knew of better ways to run the monastery. This struggle against pride lasted a great while and served as an ongoing lesson for Dorotheos. He worked as assistant to the holy father John and enjoyed this position of communication between John and the rest of the community.

As he progressed in the spiritual life, Dorotheos was given spiritual charge over younger monks to which he was hesitant to accept as he struggled with interactions with others. Despite his reservations, Dorotheos took charge over a young man named Dositheos and taught him the monastic life, a relationship which proved to be difficult but beneficial for both. When John died, Dorotheos left the monastery of Thawatha and founded his own monastery where he took charge of many young monks, training them in the spiritual art.

 

Tikhon of Zadonsk

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk was born in 1724 into a very poor family of the Novgorod province, and was named Timothy in holy Baptism. In his youth he was sent to seminary in Novgorod where he received a good education and later taught Greek and other subjects. Having received the monastic tonsure with the name Tikhon, in the same year he was ordained deacon and priest, and appointed two years later as rector of the Seminary in Tver. In 1761 he was consecrated Bishop of Kexholm and Ladoga, and in 1763 nominated Bishop of Voronezh, a difficult diocese to administer because of its large size and transient population, which included many schismatics. Feeling the burden of the episcopacy to be beyond his strength, the Saint resigned in 1767, retiring first to the Monastery of Tolshevo, and later to the monastery at Zadonsk, where he remained until his blessed repose. In retirement, he devoted all his time to fervent prayer and the writing of books. His treasury of books earned him the title of “the Russian Chrysostom”, whose writings he employed extensively; simple in style, replete with quotes from the Holy Scriptures, they treat mostly of the duties of Christians, with many parables taken from daily life. In them the Christian is taught how to oppose the passions and cultivate the virtues. A large collection of the Saint’s letters are included in his works, and these give a wealth of spiritual guidance directed both to the laity and monastics. Saint Tikhon reposed in peace in 1783, at the age of fifty-nine. Over sixty years later, in 1845, when a new church was built in Zadonsk in place of the church where he was buried, it was necessary to remove his body. Although interred in a damp place, his relics were found to be whole and incorrupt; even his vestments were untouched by decay. Many miracles were worked by Saint Tikhon after his death, and some three hundred thousand pilgrims attended his glorification on August 13, 1863. He is one of the most beloved Russian Saints, and is invoked particularly for the protection and upbringing of children.

 

Apodosis of the Transfiguration

Transfiguration_of_our_Lord_and_Savior_Jesus_ChristApolytikion of Apodosis of Transfiguration in the Grave Tone

You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.

 

We Also Celebrate Today:

Our Righteous Fathers Sergius, Stephanus, Castor and Palamonus