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The Four Hundred Chapters on Love

Maximus the Confessor

Chapter 72 of the Third Century

Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings

translated by George C. Berthold

Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1985.

God created the invisible world and the visible world, and naturally he made the soul and the body as well.  Now if this visible world is so beautiful, what sort of world will the invisible be?  If it is better than the former, how much better than both is the one who created them?  If then the Maker of everything that is beautiful is better than all creatures, for what reason does the mind leave the best of all to be engrossed in the worst of all, by which I mean the passions of the flesh?  Or is it not clear that having lived and associated with the flesh from birth, the mind has not yet received a perfect experience of the one who is best of all and who transcends all?  Therefore if by a prolonged exercise of self-mastery over pleasure and of attention to divine things we gradually break it away from such a relationship, it expands and gradually advances in divine things and recognizes its own dignity and finally transfers its whole longing onto God.