the heart of darkness

by Andrea Elizabeth

The coalescence of divine and human activities is thus, for Maximus, a way in which man is deified and God makes Himself present to the world. The root of this exchange is charity, and it is in charity that Maximus finds the real meaning of the Dionysian ascent into darkness. In his Epistle 2 (On Charity) Maximus infers the importance of charity from the principle that “like is known by like.” Much like Gregory of Nyssa, he uses the principle that like is known by like to insist that to know God requires becoming godlike. The divine characteristic he has in mind is, in the first place, freedom from the passions that fragment the psyche; this in turn is acquired only through the kind of love that “joins inclination to nature,” returning the soul to its natural and unified condition. It is precisely such love that manifests God to the world. (Aristotle East and West, p. 199)