MAXIMUS CONFESSOR

(ca. 580-662)

The Church’s Mystagogy

The full text of The Church’s Mystagogy is available in the translation of  G.C. Berthold, Maximus Confessor, Selected Writings, (ser. Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist, 1985), to which the present translation is indebted.  Greek: Massimo Confessore. La mistagogia,   Altri Scritti, Testi Cristiani (Florence 1931) pp. 122-214 ed. R. Cantarella.

[theosis]

St. Maximos:  Mystagogy
Concerning the symbolism of certain rites performed in the worship [synaxis] of the Holy Church.

Του Αγιου Μαξιμου Μυσταγωγια
 
περὶ τοῦ τίνων σύμβολα τὰ κατὰ τὴν ἁγίανἘκκλησίαν ἐπὶ τῆς συνάξεως τελούμενα καθεστήκῃ

 

CHAPTER 21

 Κεφάλαιον καʹ

The significance of the conclusion of the mystical service [hierurgy]: [i.e.,] when these hymns are sung, “One is Holy, One is the Lord”, and so on.

Τί σημαίνει τὸ τέλος τῆς μυστικῆς ἱερουργίας τῶν ἐκφωνουμένων ὕμνων, τουτέστιν "Εἷς ἅγιος, εἷς Κύριος," καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς.
The acclamation at the end of the mystical service made by all the people: namely, “One is Holy ...” Ἡ δὲ κατὰ τὸ τέλος τῆς μυστικῆς ἱερουργίας παρὰ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ γινομένη τοῦ "Εἷς ἅγιος" καὶ τῶν ἑξῆς ὁμολογία̈
represents that in gathering and union transcending [all] reason and intellect [nous] that will take place between those who have been mystically and wisely initiated by God in the mysterious union [henosis] of the divine simplicity in the incorruptible age of the noetic world. τὴν ὑπὲρ λόγον καὶ νοῦν πρὸς τὸ ἓν τῆς θείας ἁπλότητος κρύφιον γενησομένην τῶν μυστικῶς τε καὶ σοφῶς κατὰ Θεὸν τετελεσμένων συναγωγήν τε καὶ ἕνωσιν δηλοῖ, ἐν τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ τῶν νοητῶν αἰῶνι καθ' ὃν τῆς ἀφανοῦς

 


IMAGE of our ESCHATOLOGICAL GOAL 
 

 

      They see the light of the invisible and ineffable glory and together with the powers [=angels] on high they become capable of receiving the blessed purity.  καὶ ὑπεραρρήτου δόξης τὸ φῶς ἐνοπτεύοντες τῆς μακαρίας μετὰ τῶν ἄνω δυνάμεων, καὶ αὐτοὶ δεκτικοὶ γίγνονται καθαρότητος·

     Afterwards, as the final conclusion, comes the distribution of the sacrament [mysterion] that transforms into itself those who worthily partake of it, making them similar to that good which is [their] source by means of grace and participation

μεθ' ἥν, ὡς τέλος πάντων, ἡ τοῦ μυστηρίου μετάδοσις γίνεται μεταποιοῦσα πρὸς ἑαυτὴν καὶ ὁμοίους τῷ κατ' αἰτίαν ἀγαθῷ κατὰ χάριν καὶ μέθεξιν ἀποφαίνουσα τοὺς ἀξίως μεταλαμβάνοντας,
    They lack nothing of this good that is possible and can be attained by human beings.  ἐν μηδενὶ αὐτοῦ λειπομένους, κατὰ τὸ ἐφικτὸν ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἐνδεχόμενον.
Therefore they also are and can be called gods by adoption through grace because all of God entirely fills them and leaves no part of them empty of his presence. Ὥστε καὶ αὐτοὺς δύνασθαι εἶναί τε καὶ καλεῖσθαι θέσει κατὰ τὴν χάριν θεούς, διὰ τὸν αὐτοὺς ὅλως πληρώσαντα ὅλον Θεὸν καὶ μηδὲν αὐτῶν τῆς αὐτοῦ παρουσίας κενὸν καταλείψαντα.

 

 

CHAPTER 24

  [...] To make it easier to remember, if you wish, let us recapitulate the meaning of what has been said by running over it briefly.

Διὰ δὲ τὸ εὐμνημόνευτον, εἰ δοκεῖ, τὴν τῶν εἰρημένων δύναμιν κατ' ἐπιτομὴν ἐπιδραμόντες, οὕτω κεφαλαιώσωμεν
    The holy church is, as we have said, the sign [typos] and image [eikon] of God: for it is through [the Church] that he, in his infinite power and wisdom, brings an unmixed union into being, made up of the diverse essences of beings. Εστι μὲν οὖν ἡ ἁγίαἘκκλησία τύπος, ὡς εἴρηται, καὶ εἰκὼν τοῦ μὲν Θεοῦ, ὅτι δι' αὐτῆς ἐργάζεται κατὰ τὴν ἄπειρον αὐτοῦ δύναμιν καὶ σοφίαν περὶ τὰς διαφόρους τῶν ὄντων οὐσίας ἀσύγχυτον ἕνωσιν,
As creator he unites them to himself in their highest [attainment]:  ὡς δημιουργὸς κατ' ἄκρον ἑαυτῷ συνέχων
And so for all the faithful, the grace and calling of faith joins each one to the other in a single form: καὶ κατὰ μίαν τῆς πίστεως καὶ χάριν καὶ κλῆσιν τοὺς πιστοὺς ἀλλήλοις ἑνοειδῶς συνάπτουσα,
Those who practice asceticism and virtue are brought into a single identity of will  - an unbreakable and indivisible concord - with the contemplatives who seek knowledge:  τοὺς δὲ πρακτικοὺς καὶ ἐναρέτους, κατὰ μίαν γνώμης ταὐτότητα, τοὺς δὲ θεωρητικοὺς καὶ γνωστικοὺς πρὸς τούτοις καὶ καθ' ὁμόνοιαν ἀρραγῆ καὶ ἀδιαίρετον.

   It is a sign [typos] of both the noetic and sensible worlds, the sanctuary symbolizing the intelligible world, and the nave [signifying] the world of sense.

Τοῦ δὲ κόσμου, τοῦ τε νοητοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ τύπος ἐστίν, ὡς τοῦ <μὲν> νοητοῦ κόσμου τὸ ἱερατεῖον σύμβολον ἔχουσα, τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ δέ, τὸν ναόν.

 


IMAGE of the SPIRITUAL JOURNEY 
 

 

It is also an image of the human [person]: the sanctuary reminds one of the soul; while and the nave suggests the body.  Ανθρώπου δὲ πάλιν εἰκών ἐστιν, ὡς τὴν ψυχὴν διὰ τοῦ ἱερατείου μιμουμένη, τὸ δὲ σῶμα διὰ τοῦ ναοῦ προβαλλομένη.
And [the church] is also a sign [typos] and image of the soul considered in itself: for in the sanctuary it bears the glory of the contemplative element; while in the nave it possesses the orderly behavior of the active part.  Αὐτῆς δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς καθ' ἑαυτὴν νοουμένης τύπος ἐστὶ καὶ εἰκών, ὡς τοῦ <μὲν> θεωρητικοῦ διὰ τοῦ ἱερατείου φέρουσα τὸ ἐπίδοξον, τοῦ δὲ πρακτικοῦ διὰ τοῦ ναοῦ κόσμιον ἔχουσα.

 

The first entrance during the [eucharistic] celebration [synaxis]   signifies (broadly-speaking) the first appearance of [Christ] our God, and especially the conversion of those who are led by him and with him:  Τῆς δὲ τελουμένης ἐν αὐτῇ ἁγίας συνάξεως ἡ μὲν πρώτη εἴσοδος γενικῶς μὲν δηλοῖ τὴν πρώτην τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν παρουσίαν, ἰδικῶς δὲ τὴν δι' αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ

[1] from unbelief to faith, and 

[2] from vice to virtue, and

[3] from ignorance to knowledge.

τῶν ἐξ ἀπιστίας εἰς πίστιν
καὶ ἀπὸ κακίας εἰς ἀρετὴν
καὶ ἀπὸ ἀγνωσίας εἰς γνῶσιν εἰσαγομένων ἐπιστροφήν.
The readings that take place next signify (broadly-speaking) the divine wishes and intentions by which everyone should be instructed and which they should implement, especially[the following]. Τὰ δὲ γινόμενα μετ' αὐτὴν ἀναγνώσματα γενικῶς μὲν τὰ θεῖα θελήματά τε καὶ βουλήματα, καθ' ἃ χρὴ τοὺς πάντας παιδεύεσθαί τε καὶ πολιτεύεσθαι, μηνύει·

[1] In regard to believers: their teaching and progress according to faith;

 ἰδικῶς δὲ τὴν κατὰ τὴν πίστιν διδασκαλίαν καὶ προκοπὴν τῶν πιστευσάντων,̈

[2] In regard to those who practice [asceticism]: their firm disposition towards virtue; by submitting themselves to the divine law of the commandments they establish themselves bravely and unshakenly against the devil’s tactics and escape his contrary works.

καὶ τῶν πρακτικῶν τὴν κατ' ἀρετὴν παγίαν διάθεσιν, καθ' ἣν τῷ θείῳ νόμῳ στοιχοῦντες τῶν ἐντολῶν ἀνδρικῶς τε καὶ ἀκλονήτως ἵστανται πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου, καὶ τὰς ἀντικειμένας ἐνεργείας διαδιδράσκουσι,

[3] In regard those who [seek spiritual] knowledge through contemplation: [the readings] signify they are borne unwaveringly to the truth [by] gathering together as far as possible the spiritual meanings [logoi] of sensible realities and of the Providence that concerns them,

καὶ τῶν γνωστικῶν τὴν κατὰ θεωρίαν ἕξιν, καθ' ἣν τοὺς τῶν αἰσθητῶν καὶ τῆς ἐπ' αὐτοῖς προνοίας πνευματικοὺς κατὰ δύναμιν συλλεγόμενοι λόγους, ἀπλανῶς πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν φέρονται.

 


 
CHANT - A SOURCE of SPIRITUAL ZEAL 
 

 

The divine melodies of the chants indicate the divine pleasure and delight which comes takes place in the souls of all.  Τὰ δὲ θεῖα τῶν ᾀσμάτων μελίσματα τὴν ἐγγινομένην ταῖς ἁπάντων ψυχαῖς θείαν ἡδονὴν καὶ τερπνότητα,

By means of [these chants] they are mystically strengthened: they forget past labors for virtue and are  renewed in eager desire for the divine and pure benefits yet to be achieved.

καθ' ἣν μυστικῶς ῥωννύμεναι τῶν μὲν παρελθόντων τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐπιλανθάνονται πόνων, πρὸς δὲ τὴν τῶν λειπομένων θείων καὶ ἀκηράτων ἀγαθῶν νεάζουσι εὔτονον ἔφεσιν.

 

The holy Gospel is (broadly- speaking) a symbol of the fulfillment of this [present] age.   Τὸ δὲ ἅγιον Εὐαγγέλιον γενικῶς μὲν σύμβολόν ἐστι τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου,
More specifically: ἰδικῶς δὲ

[1] In regard to believers it indicates the complete disappearance of the primordial deception;

τῶν μὲν πιστευσάντων δηλοῖ τὸν παντελῆ τῆς ἀρχαίας πλάνης ἀφανισμόν,̈

[2] In regard to those who practice [asceticism], the mortification and consumation of law and reasoning according to the flesh 

τῶν δὲ πρακτικῶν τὴν νέκρωσιν καὶ συντέλειαν τοῦ κατὰ σάρκα νόμου τε καὶ φρονήματος,

[3] In regard to those who [persue spiritual] knowledge, the gathering and ascent toward the most comprehensive [inner-]meaning [logos] from the many and varied [inner-]meanings [logoi], once the most detailed and varied natural contemplation has been attained and transcended.

τῶν δὲ γνωστικῶν τὴν πρὸς τὸν συνεκτικώτατον λόγον τῶν πολλῶν καὶ διαφόρων λόγων συναγωγήν τε καὶ ἀναφοράν, συντελεσθείσης αὐτοῖς καὶ περατωθείσης τῆς διεξοδικωτέρας καὶ ποικιλοτέρας φυσικῆς θεωρίας.

 

The descent of the high priest [i.e. bishop] from the throne and the dismissal of the catechumens signifies (broadly-speaking) the second coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ from heaven, together with the separation of sinners from the saints and the just retribution rendered worthily to each.  Η δὲ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου κατάβασις καὶ ἡ τῶν κατηχουμένων ἐκβολὴ γενικῶς μὲν σημαίνει τὴν ἀπ' οὐρανοῦ δευτέραν τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶνἸησοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσίαν καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων ἀφορισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτολῶν καὶ τὴν δικαίαν πρὸς τὴν ἑκάστου ἀξίαν ἀμοιβήν,
More specifically: ἰδικῶς δέ,̈

[1] In regard to believers it means the perfect assurance in faith  produced by the Word of God which is invisibly present to them; every [tempting-]thought [logismos] that somehow still staggers in regard to faith is thereby dismissed from them like the catechumens. 

τὴν τελείαν ἐν πίστει τῶν πιστευσάντων πληροφορίαν, ἣν ποιεῖ παραγινόμενος ἀοράτως ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Λόγος, δι' ἧς πᾶς ἔτι καθ' ὁτιοῦν σκάζων κατὰ τὴν πίστιν λογισμός, κατηχουμένου τρόπον, αὐτῶν ἀπελαύνεται·̈

[2] In regard to those who practice [asceticism], perfect dispassion [apatheia] serves as the means by which every passionate and unenlightened thought departs from the soul, 

τῶν δὲ πρακτικῶν τὴν τελείαν ἀπάθειαν, δι' ἧς πᾶς ἐμπαθὴς καὶ ἀφώτιστος λογισμὸς τῆς ψυχῆς ἀπογίνεται·

[3] In regard to those who [pursue spiritual] knowledge, is suggests the comprehensive science of whatever is known, by means of which all images of material [things] are chased away from the soul.

τῶν δὲ γνωστικῶν τὴν συνεκτικὴν ἐπιστήμην τῶν ἐπεγνωσμένων, δι' ἧς πᾶσαι τῶν ὑλικῶν αἱ εἰκόνες τῆς ψυχῆς ἐκδιώκονται.

 

The ceaseless and consecrating doxology of the holy angels in their “Holy, holy, holy” signifies, (broadly-speaking), that equality of lifestyle, conduct and harmony in rendering divine praise that will characterize both heavenly and earthly powers in the age to come Ἡ δὲ τοῦ Τρισαγίου ἄπαυστος τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων ἁγιαστικὴ δοξολογία γενικῶς μὲν σημαίνει τὴν ἅμα τε καὶ ἐν ταὐτῷ γενησομένην κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τὸν μέλλοντα τῶν οὐρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων δυνάμεων ἴσην καὶ πολιτείαν καὶ ἀγωγὴν καὶ συμφωνίαν τῆς θείας δοξολογίας,
Then the human body rendered immortal by resurrection will no longer weigh down the soul by corruption, nor will it be weighed down; instead, through transformation into incorruption it will take on the power and capacity to receive God’s advent.  ἀθανατισθέντος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τοῦ σώματος διὰ τῆς ἀναστάσεως καὶ μηκέτι βαροῦντος τὴν ψυχὴν τῇ φθορᾷ καὶ βαρουμένου, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς εἰς ἀφθαρσίαν ἀλλαγῆς πρὸς ὑποδοχὴν παρουσίας Θεοῦ λαβόντος καὶ δύναμιν καὶ ἐπιτηδειότητα·̈
   More specifically: ἰδικῶς δε

[1] for believers it signifies  theological competition with the angels in regard to faith; 

τῶν μὲν πιστῶν τὴν πρὸς ἀγγέλους κατὰ τὴν πίστιν θεολογικὴν ἅμιλλαν,

[2] for those who practice [asceticism] it is the splendor of life equal to the angels insofar as this is possible for human beings, and [well-tuned] vigor in theological hymnody; 

τῶν δὲ πρακτικῶν τὴν ἰσάγγελον, ὡς ἐφικτὸν ἀνθρώποις, κατὰ τὸν βίον λαμπρότητα καὶ τὴν εὐτονίαν τῆς θεολογικῆς ὑμνολογίας,̈

[3] In regard to those who [pursue spiritual] knowledge, endless thoughts, hymns, and movements concerning the Godhead which are equal to the angels, so far as humanly possible.

τῶν δὲ γνωστικῶν τὰς ἰσαγγέλους κατὰ τὸ δυνατὸν ἀνθρώποις περὶ θεότητος νοήσεις τε καὶ ὑμνήσεις καὶ ἀεικινησίας.

 


 
THEOSIS - DEIFICATION 
 

 

The blessed invocation [epiklesis] of [our] great God and Father and the proclamation “One is holy ...” and the partaking of the holy and life-giving mysteries Η δὲ μακαρία τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἐπίκλησις καὶ ἡ τοῦ "Εἷς ἅγιος" καὶ τῶν ἑξῆς ἐκφώνησις καὶ ἡ τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ζωοποιῶν μυστηρίων μετάληψις,
 - these signify that which will come in every way to all the worthy through the goodness of our God: τὴν ἐπὶ πᾶσι καὶ ἐπὶ πάντων τῶν ἀξίων ἐσομένην διὰ τὴν ἀγαθότητα τοῦ Θεοῦ ὑμῶν

adoption,

union,

familiarity,

likeness to God and

deification

υἱοθεσίαν,

ἕνωσίν τε καὶ

οἰκειότητα και

ὁμοιότητα θείαν καὶ

θέωσιν δηλοῖ·

By this means God himself will be “all in all” equally in [all] of the saved: as a pattern of beauty resplendent as a cause in those who are resplendent along with him in grace by virtue and knowledge.[...]

δι' ἧς πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν ἔσται τοῖς σωζομένοις αὐτὸς ὁ Θεὸς ὁμοίως, ὡς κάλλος ἀρχέτυπον κατ' αἰτίαν ἐμπρέπων τοῖς αὐτῷ δι' ἀρετῆς καὶ γνώσεως κατὰ χάριν ὁμοίως συμπρέπουσι.

 

 


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