To the Max
Wednesday June 25th 2008, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Patristics

The Holy Father spoke today on St. Maximus the Confessor. I haven’t yet found a translation. Here’s Catholic News Service‘s coverage:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If values like tolerance, freedom and dialogue do not have Jesus as their point of reference, they lose their true meaning and can lead to chaos, anarchy and empty chatter, Pope Benedict XVI said.

It is from Jesus that “we learn the truth about ourselves” and how to understand all the values that are upheld rightfully in the world, he said during his June 25 general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“Tolerance that doesn’t know how to distinguish between good and evil would become chaotic and self-destructive” while absolute freedom that ignores the rights of others “becomes anarchy and destroys authority,” he said.

“Dialogue that no longer knows what it should talk about becomes empty chatter” unless it and all the other great values in the world have a point of reference in the truth which is Christ — “the one absolute value, to whom all worldly values are directed,” he said.

The pope’s remarks were part of his catechesis highlighting the life and teachings of St. Maximus of Constantinople, a monk and doctor of the church who lived in the sixth and seventh centuries.

The pope said this Palestinian-born saint was “a heroic defender” of the church’s teaching in the true humanity of Christ during a time of bitter controversy over Christ’s humanity and divinity.

But the saint knew the negation of Christ’s human will “destroys the mystery of salvation,” the pope said.

He said St. Maximus understood that the salvation of humanity depends on Christ becoming completely and fully human, which includes the freedom to choose to cooperate with divine will.

“Adam — and this Adam includes us — thought that saying ‘no’ would be the greatest freedom; only he who can say ‘no’ would be truly free,” the pope said. Adam believed saying “no” to God would mean he would finally be free to be himself and could realize his full potential, the pope said.

This temptation in human nature was present even in Jesus but he overcame it, said Pope Benedict.

Jesus saw it was not by denying God’s will, but by saying “yes” to God’s plan that brought about “the greatest freedom,” the pope said.

People become their true selves only when they unite with the will of the divine, he said.

“Only by leaving ourselves behind, by being outside ourselves and in God do we find ourselves and our totality and completeness,” he said.


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