St Maximus the Confessor
(Commemorated 13th August)
In a world where leaders turn their backs on our faith in the interests of “just getting along” Saint Maximus the Confessor is a moving example of how a wise, steadfast servant of the Church can defend our faith despite unimaginable pressures.
Born in 580 and receiving an exemplary education in philosophy, mathematics and the sciences, Maximus rose to become a powerful Court official. However he eventually forsook the secular positions in the world to embrace the life of a simple monk, where he was able cultivate his special gifts in combining his worldly knowledge with his true love: Theology.
Sadly both the Byzantine Emperor and the Bishops of the time were embracing a new heresy called “Monotheletism”, claiming that Jesus had only one will, a divine will. Their stance was largely politically motivated, to protect national security, as the Church of the East had fallen away into heresy and the Emperor needed everyone to “just get along”.
Maximus rejected this heresy declaring that as Christ is both God and human he has a divine will and a human will. This truth cannot be sold off in the interests of “just getting along”, or political expediency. He fearlessly debated this and won over countless people throughout the empire, despite what powerful politicians and misguided bishops espoused.
Becoming so feared and hated for this effective resistance, he was dragged through several kangaroo courts and repeatedly convicted of “heresy”. These public trials of persecution all failed to stop him. In desperation, the Byzantine emperor had Maximus’ tongue and writing hand cut off, and he exiled him to the edges of the empire. It was there, imprisoned, where Maximus fell asleep in the Lord.
His glorious struggles were not in vain: Maximus’ teachings survived and spread, and almost twenty years later he was completely exonerated and his theology upheld in the Third Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. His countless works are still treasured and studied by Christians throughout the world today. We commemorate his memory on 21 January and 13 August, the day he fell asleep.
Source: Lychnos August/September 2019 edition