Popular Patristics Series from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press is one of the most readable and accurate series of early Christian literature available to this day. It contains works from Sts. Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ignatius of Antioch, and John Chrysostom just to name a few. Today, I am going to tell you about one of the latest volumes entitled Two Hundred Chapters on Theology by St. Maximus the Confessor. It is Volume 53 in the series.
The book begins with a biography of St Maximus, but states that accurate biographical information is hard to come by. What we do know is that he was born around 580 A.D. and he was probably part of Constantinople's aristocracy. The Two Hundred Chapters were written between 628 and 630 with themes that include limitations of Creation; mystical contemplations of Scripture; and asceticism. The Chapters in this book contain Greek on one side and an English translation on the opposite page, which is especially handy for those who want to read the original text. The Chapters are also not we would think of as chapters, but short paragraphs whose messages have varying degrees of depth. I would now like to provide a few brief quotes to show you St. Maximus' wisdom.
"The wise man, when teaching and being taught, wills only to be taught and to teach profitable things; but he who would appear wise, hen asking and being asked, propounds only rather pretentious statements."
"A 'heart' is 'pure' that represents its recollections as altogether formless and shapeless before God and stands ready to be imprinted with his characteristics alone, through which he naturally becomes manifest."
These are two of the shorter and more straightforward Chapters. There are other, which are both longer and deeper in content. If you would like to read the words of a great saint, in little paragraph bites, I recommend this book. With 200 Chapters, you will have enough to get you through a little over half of the year with enough time to go back to some of the meatier ones and chew on them a little longer and extract all the spiritual nutrients they contain.
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