Sunday, February 23, 2014

7th Century Hallmark Sentiments

February 24, 2014

Dear Friends,

If you read all of this, you are about to discover something of a 7th Century saint who had a unique sense of sharing his prayers with us.  St. Maximus the Confessor and abbot could easily have produced a "thought for the day" calendar.

As I began to read the Sunday Breviary, my morning felt-need was a fire in the fireplace.  No doubt the warmth and the crackling of burning wood opened my mind and heart to something unusual ... at least for this scribe!

In Sunday's Office of Readings for the Roman Breviary, there is a part of "On Charity" written by St. Maximus.  He is a stranger to me and perhaps to many of you as well.  But there was something that captured my attention which led me to "St. Google" to learn more about him and his writings.  The following is what instigated the search:

The Lord himself reminds us: Whoever loves me will keep my commandments. And this is my commandments: that you love one another. So the man who does not love his neighbor does not obey God’s command. But one who does not obey his command cannot love God. A man is blessed if he can love all men equally. Moreover, if he truly loves God, he must love his neighbor absolutely. Such a man cannot hoard his wealth. Rather, like God himself, he generously gives from his own resources to each man according to his needs.

St. Maximus the Confessor
Photo of Icon from

What further seemed interesting was a citation in one of the Google discoveries that indicated St. Maximus had created four "books" called "Centuries" in which he listed 100 thoughts or insights that would help him in his prayers.  There was a link to the four hundred pithy statements: St Maximus' Century Books.

Reading through several of these statements, you may well discover a treasury of thoughts for the day or starters for a time of prayer or as a handy "prayer safety jacket" when distracted by thoughts having nothing to do with your prayer.

Surely you might "knock the socks" off relatives or friends if you included one of these thoughts, especially those on love, on charity, on a note card, a birthday or anniversary card.  Wisdom from a 7th century, pre-Hallmark sentiment.  Imagine the reaction!!!

Let me close with thought #23 of the "First Century" that can be found in the citation three paragraphs above.  I suspect it is the fund raiser in me that chose this for a closing.  In particular this is a thought that should have been included in remarks last evening while speaking at the Vigil Mass about the current Cardinal's Appeal.

The one who loves God surely loves his (her) neighbor as well.
Such a person cannot hold on to money
but rather
gives it out in God's fashion
to each one who has need.