Feast of St. Maximus the Confessor, January 21 (OS) / February 3 (NS)

Feast of St. Fabianus, Bishop and Martyr of Old Rome (+250AD) January 20 (OS) / February 2 (NS)
February 2, 2017
Feast of the Holy Virgin-Martyr Agnes of Old Rome [+304], January 21 (OS) / February 3 (NS)
February 3, 2017
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From the Prologue of Ochrid:

“Maximus was a Constantinopolian by birth and, at first, a high-ranking courtier at the court of Emperor Heraclius and, after that, a monk and abbot of a monastery not too far from the capitol. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite heresy which proceeded from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: As Eutyches claimed that there is only one nature in Christ [Monophysitism], so the Monothelites claimed that there is only one will in Christ [Monothelitism]. Maximus opposed that claim and found himself as an opponent of the emperor and the patriarch. Maximus did not frighten easily but endured to the end in proving that there were two wills as well as two natures in Christ. Because of his efforts, a council was held in Carthage and another in Rome. Both councils anathematized the teachings of the Monothelites. The suffering of Maximus for Orthodoxy cannot be described: he was tortured by princes, deceived by prelates, spat upon by the masses of the people, beaten by soldiers, exiled, imprisoned, until finally, with a severed tongue and hand, he was condemned to exile for life in the land of Skhemaris [near Batum on the Black Sea] where he spent three years in prison and gave up his soul to God in the year 666 A.D.”

In the “Life of St. Maximus”, there is recounted when the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate approached St. Maximus, and they reproached St. Maximus for refusing to hold Communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch, or any Patriarch. St. Maximus replied that he had no interest in holding Communion with those who teach heresies, whatever their rank.

The Saint [Maximus] said, “They [the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria and all the other heretical bishops of the East] have been deposed and deprived of the priesthood at the local synod which took place recently in Rome [Lateran Synod of 649 which condemned Monothelite heresy again-ed]. What Mysteries, then, can they perform? Or what spirit will descend upon those who are ordained by them?”

“Then you alone will be saved, and all others will perish?” they objected.

To this the Saint replied, “When all the people in Babylon were worshipping the golden idol, the Three Holy Children did not condemn anyone to perdition. They did not concern themselves with the doings of others, but took care only for themselves, lest they should fall away from true piety. In precisely the same way, when Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, he did not condemn any of those who, fulfilling the law of Darius, did not wish to pray to God, but he kept in mind his own duty, and desired rather to die than to sin against his conscience by transgressing the Law of God. God forbid that I should condemn anyone or say that I alone am being saved! However, I shall sooner agree to die than to apostatize in any way from the true Faith and thereby suffer torments of conscience.”

“But what will you do,” inquired the envoys, “when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord’s day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch. “

The Saint replied, “Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching.”

One can read the writings of St. Maximus here, as well as the trial of St. Maximus where he defends the Orthodox Faith against the heretical Patriarchates, and thus serves as an example even for today.