St Gregory Palamas

“Even when your body does nothing, sin can be active in your mind. When your soul inwardly repulses the evil one’s attack by means of prayer, attention, remembrance of death, godly sorrow and mourning the body, too, takes its share of holiness, having acquired freedom from evil actions. This is what the Lord meant by saying that someone who cleans the outside of the cup has not cleansed it inside, but clean the inside and the whole cup will be clean”

“We know that prayer in and of itself cannot save us, but carrying it out before God can. For when the Lord’s eyes are upon us He sanctifies us, as the sun warms everything upon which it shines.”

“If you put something fragrant on to burning coals, you motivate those who approach to come back again and to stay near, but if instead you put on something with an unpleasant, oppressive smell, you repel them and drive them away. It is the same with the mind. If your attention is occupied with what is holy, you make yourself worthy of being visited by God, since this is the sweet savour which God catches scent of. On the other hand, if you nurture evil, foul and earthly thoughts within you, you remove yourself from God’s supervision and unfortunately make yourself worthy of His aversion.

“… the passion for popularity brings such injury upon those it masters that it shipwrecks faith itself. Our Lord confirms this when He says, ‘How can you have faith in Me when you receive honour from one another and do not seek for the honour that comes from the only God?’ (cf. Jn. 5:44).”

It is pointless for someone to say that he has faith in God if he does not have the works which go with faith. What benefit were their lamps to the foolish virgins who had no oil (Mt. 25:1-13), namely, deeds of love and compassion?

Copyright Saint Gregory Palamas, Christopher Veniamin, Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Essex, England) (2009). “The homilies”, Mount Thabor Pub.

Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica. Sermon on the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple.

If a tree is known by its fruit, and a good tree bears good fruit (Mt. 7:17; Lk. 6:44), then is not the Mother of Goodness Itself, She who bore the Eternal Beauty, incomparably more excellent than every good, whether in this world or the world above? Therefore, the coeternal and identical Image of goodness, Preeternal, transcending all being, He Who is the preexisting and good Word of the Father, moved by His unutterable love for mankind and compassion for us, put on our image, that He might reclaim for Himself our nature which had been dragged down to uttermost Hades, so as to renew this corrupted nature and raise it to the heights of Heaven. For this purpose, He had to assume a flesh that was both new and ours, that He might refashion us from out of ourselves. Now He finds a Handmaiden perfectly suited to these needs, the supplier of Her own unsullied nature, the Ever-Virgin now hymned by us, and Whose miraculous Entrance into the Temple, into the Holy of Holies, we now celebrate. God predestined Her before the ages for the salvation and reclaiming of our kind. She was chosen, not just from the crowd, but from the ranks of the chosen of all ages, renowned for piety and understanding, and for their God-pleasing words and deeds.

In the beginning, there was one who rose up against us: the author of evil, the serpent, who dragged us into the abyss. Many reasons impelled him to rise up against us, and there are many ways by which he enslaved our nature: envy, rivalry, hatred, injustice, treachery, slyness, etc. In addition to all this,he also has within him the power of bringing death, which he himself engendered, being the first to fall away from true life.

The author of evil was jealous of Adam, when he saw him being led from earth to Heaven, from which he was justly cast down. Filled with envy, he pounced upon Adam with a terrible ferocity, and even wished to clothe him with the garb of death.Envy is not only the begetter of hatred, but also of murder, which this truly man-hating serpent brought about in us. For he wanted to be master over the earth-born for the ruin of that which was created in the image and likeness of God. Since he was not bold enough to make a face to face attack, he resorted to cunning and deceit. This truly terrible and malicious plotter pretended to be a friend and useful adviser by assuming the physical form of a serpent, and stealthily took their position. By his God-opposing advice,he instills in man his own death-bearing power, like a venomous poison.

If Adam had been sufficiently strong to keep the divine commandment, then he would have shown himself the vanquisher of his enemy, and withstood his deathly attack. But since he voluntarily gave in to sin, he was defeated and was made a sinner. Since he is the root of our race, he has produced us as death-bearing shoots. So, it was necessary for us, if he were to fight back against his defeat and to claim victory, to rid himself of the death-bearing venomous poison in his soul and body, and to absorb life, eternal and indestructible life. 

It was necessary for us to have a new root for our race, a new Adam, not just one Who would be sinless and invincible, but one Who also would be able to forgive sins and set free from punishment those subject to it. And not only would He have life in Himself, but also the capacity to restore to life, so that He could grant to those who cleave to Him and are related to Him by race both life and the forgiveness of their sins, restoring to life not only those who came after Him, but also those who already had died before Him. Therefore, St. Paul, that great trumpet of the Holy Spirit, exclaims, ““the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit”” (1 Cor. 15:45).

Except for God, there is no one who is without sin, or life-creating, or able to remit sin. Therefore, the new Adam must be not only Man, but also God. He is at the same time life, wisdom, truth, love, and mercy, and every other good thing, so that He might renew the old Adam and restore him to life through mercy, wisdom and righteousness. These are the opposites of the things which the author of evil used to bring about our aging and death.

As the slayer of mankind raised himself against us with envy and hatred, so the Source of life was lifted up [on the Cross] because of His immeasurable goodness and love for mankind. He intensely desired the salvation of His creature, i.e., that His creature would be restored by Himself. In contrast to this, the author of evil wanted to bring God’s creature to ruin, and thereby put mankind under his own power, and tyrannically to afflict us. And just as he achieved the conquest and the fall of mankind by means of injustice and cunning, by deceit and his trickery, so has the Liberator brought about the defeat of the author of evil, and the restoration of His own creature with truth, justice and wisdom.

It was a deed of perfect justice that our nature, which was voluntarily enslaved and struck down, should again enter the struggle for victory and cast off its voluntary enslavement. Therefore, God deigned to receive our nature from us, hypostatically uniting with it in a marvellous way. But it was impossible to unite that Most High Nature,Whose purity is incomprehensible for human reason, to a sinful nature before it had been purified. Therefore, for the conception and birth of the Bestower of purity, a perfectly spotless and Most Pure Virgin was required.

Today we celebrate the memory of those things that contributed, if only once, to the Incarnation. He Who is God by nature, the Co-unoriginate and Coeternal Word and Son of the Transcendent Father, becomes the Son of Man, the Son of the Ever-Virgin. ““Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today, and forever”” (Heb. 13:8), immutable in His divinity and blameless in His humanity, He alone, as the Prophet Isaiah prophesied, ““practiced no iniquity, nor deceit with His lips”” (Is. 53: 9). He alone was not brought forth in iniquity, nor was He conceived in sin, in contrast to what the Prophet David says concerning himself and every other man (Ps. 50/51: 5). Even in what He assumes, He is perfectly pure and has no need to be cleansed Himself. But for our sake, He accepted purification, suffering, death and resurrection, that He might transmit them to us.

God is born of the spotless and Holy Virgin, or better to say, of the Most Pure and All-Holy Virgin. She is above every fleshly defilement, and even above every impure thought. Her conceiving resulted not from fleshly lust, but by the overshadowing of the Most Holy Spirit. Such desire being utterly alien to Her, it is through prayer and spiritual readiness that She declared to the angel: ““Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto Me according to thy word”” (Lk. 1:38), and that She conceived and gave birth. So, in order to render the Virgin worthy of this sublime purpose, God marked this ever-virgin Daughter now praised by us, from before the ages, and from eternity, choosing Her from out of His elect.

Turn your attention then, to where this choice began. From the sons of Adam God chose the wondrous Seth, who showed himself a living heaven through his becoming behavior, and through the beauty of his virtues. That is why he was chosen, and from whom the Virgin would blossom as the divinely fitting chariot of God. She was needed to give birth and to summon the earth-born to heavenly sonship. For this reason also all the lineage of Seth were called ““sons of God,”” because from this lineage a son of man would be born the Son of God. The name Seth signifies a rising or resurrection, or more specifically, it signifies the Lord, Who promises and gives immortal life to all who believe in Him. 

And how precisely exact is this parallel! Seth was born of Eve, as she herself said, in place of Abel, whom Cain killed through jealousy (Gen. 4:25); and Christ, the Son of the Virgin, was born for us in place of Adam, whom the author of evil also killed through jealousy. But Seth did not resurrect Abel, since he was only a foretype of the resurrection. But our Lord Jesus Christ resurrected Adam, since He is the very Life and the Resurrection of the earth-born, for whose sake the descendents of Seth are granted divine adoption through hope, and are called the children of God. It was because of this hope that they were called sons of God, as is evident from the one who was first called so, the successor in the choice.This was Enos, the son of Seth, who as Moses wrote, first hoped to call on the Name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26).

In this manner, the choice of the future Mother of God, beginning with the very sons of Adam and proceeding through all the generations of time, through the Providence of God, passes to the Prophet-king David and the successors of his kingdom and lineage. When the chosen time had come, then from the house and posterity of David, Joachim and Anna are chosen by God. Though they were childless, they were by their virtuous life and good disposition the finest of all those descended from the line of David.And when in prayer they besought God to deliver them from their childlessness, and promised to dedicate their child to God from its infancy. By God Himself, the Mother of God was proclaimed and given to them as a child, so that from such virtuous parents the all-virtuous child would be raised.So in this manner, chastity joined with prayer came to fruition by producing the Mother of virginity, giving birth in the flesh to Him Who was born of God the Father before the ages. 

Now, when Righteous Joachim and Anna saw that they had been granted their wish, and that the divine promise to them was realized in fact, then they on their part, as true lovers of God, hastened to fulfill their vow given to God as soon as the child had been weaned from milk. They have now led this truly sanctified child of God, now the Mother of God, this Virgin into the Temple of God. And She, being filled with Divine gifts even at such a tender age, … She, rather than others, determined what was being done over Her. In Her manner She showed that She was not so much presented into the Temple, but that She Herself entered into the service of God of her own accord, as if she had wings, striving towards this sacred and divine love. She considered it desirable and fitting that she should enter into the Temple and dwell in the Holy of Holies. 

Therefore, the High Priest, seeing that this child, more than anyone else, had divine grace within Her, wished to set Her within the Holy of Holies. He convinced everyone present to welcome this, since God had advanced it and approved it. Through His angel, God assisted the Virgin and sent Her mystical food, with which She was strengthened in nature, while in body She was brought to maturity and was made purer and more exalted than the angels, having the Heavenly spirits as servants. She was led into the Holy of Holies not just once, but was accepted by God to dwell there with Him during Her youth, so that through Her, the Heavenly Abodes might be opened and given for an eternal habitation to those who believe in Her miraculous birthgiving.

So it is, and this is why She, from the beginning of time, was chosen from among the chosen. She Who is manifest as the Holy of Holies, Who has a body even purer than the spirits purified by virtue, is capable of receiving … the Hypostatic Word of the Unoriginate Father.Today the Ever-Virgin Mary, like a Treasure of God, is stored in the Holy of Holies, so that in due time, (as it later came to pass) She would serve for the enrichment of, and an ornament for, all the world. Therefore, Christ God also glorifies His Mother, both before birth, and also after birth.

We who understand the salvation begun for our sake through the Most Holy Virgin, give Her thanks and praise according to our ability. And truly, if the grateful woman (of whom the Gospel tells us), after hearing the saving words of the Lord, blessed and thanked His Mother, raising her voice above the din of the crowd and saying to Christ, ““Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps Thou hast sucked”” (Lk. 11:27), then we who have the words of eternal life written out for us, and not only the words, but also the miracles and the Passion, and the raising of our nature from death, and its ascent from earth to Heaven, and the promise of immortal life and unfailing salvation, then how shall we not unceasingly hymn and bless the Mother of the Author of our Salvation and the Giver of Life, celebrating Her conception and birth, and now Her Entry into the Holy of Holies?

Now, brethren, let us remove ourselves from earthly to celestial things. Let us change our path from the flesh to the spirit. Let us change our desire from temporal things to those that endure. Let us scorn fleshly delights, which serve as allurements for the soul and soon pass away. Let us desire spiritual gifts, which remain undiminished. Let us turn our reason and our attention from earthly concerns and raise them to the inaccessible places of Heaven, to the Holy of Holies, where the Mother of God now resides. 

Therefore, in such manner our songs and prayers to Her will gain entry, and thus through her mediation, we shall be heirs of the everlasting blessings to come, through the grace and love for mankind of Him Who was born of Her for our sake, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory, honor and worship, together with His Unoriginate Father and His Coeternal and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Fr John s Romanides on the fall

The Holy Fathers studied “the historical description of the Fall, to which Holy Scripture refers”, but they interpreted those events through their own experience, as they knew what the illuminated nous was.

“The illumination of man means the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his heart. Then he becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit Himself acts within his nous and illumines it.”

“How do we know that Adam’s nous was darkened? Simply because we know that we ourselves now have a darkened nous.”The experience of the darkened and illuminated nous led the holy Fathers to interpret the state of Adam both before and after the Fall. It is essential to stress this to enable us to grasp that the holy Fathers were not speaking philosophically or imaginatively but empirically. After this explanation we should define what is meant by the inactivity and darkening of the nous, in other words, we need to investigate what is meant by the ‘inactive nous’. Man’s nous, as it was created by God, should have moved towards Him and have been characterised by ‘supranatural’ movement. With the Fall, however, it lost this movement and moves ‘naturally’ or ‘un- naturally.The faculty of the nous is ‘faulty’, and this finds expression in the fact that man becomes selfish, turns towards the body, and has selfish love instead of selfless love. “The nous exists in the fallen state and it is inactive. It has vestigial energy that needs to be activated.” When the nous “does not function correctly” it is called an inactive nous “For us the Fall is located in the nous, that is to say, when the nous stopped functioning. This the Fall.” Unnatural functioning of the nous means that it does not receive the energy of God’s Light, so it becomes dark.That is why we reii to the ‘darkening of the nous’, which is the most characteristic feature of the Fall. A darkened nous “means that the noetic faculty in man’s heart does not function correctly.” This is sin. “Sin is the darkening of the nous, the darkness in man’s heart.” All the Fathers spoke about the darkening of the nous.”

After the sin, death entered man’s existence, firstly spiritual death, the loss of God’s grace, and then physical death. Spiritual death is the darkening of the nous and the interruption of the relationship of the soul and nous with God. “God is not the cause of death. Man brought death on himself because he separated himself from the glory of God, Who is the source of his life. Consequently God did not impose death on man as a punishment for any sort of inherited guilt. Rather, God permitted death on account of His goodness and love, so that the sin and evil in man would not become immortal.”

Fr John Romanides : The fall of man. From Empirical Dogmatics Vol 2, page174.179.180

A Critique of the Balamand Agreement by Fr. John Romanides

I. Introduction

1) Representatives of nine Orthodox Churches signed an agreement with representatives of the Vatican contained in a document entitled, “Uniatism, method of union of the past, and the present search for full communion.” This was produced by members of the Orthodox-Vatican Dialogue at their VIIth Plenary Session 17-24 June 1993 at Balamand, Lebanon.

2) Six Orthodox Churches did not send representatives. Some boycotted this meeting in protest against the Vatican’s anti-Orthodox and anti-Moslem responsibilities for the war in Bosnia, and other anti-Orthodox actions in parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Some Orthodox Churches have come to realize the Vatican’s centuries old “pattern” or “tactic” of “simultaneous war and dialogue” which it had transformed in the 1960s into “simultaneous attacks of Love and dialogue in public” and “underhanded activities in private.”

3) The classic example of this earlier tactic was the dialogue between the Franco-Latins and the Roman Orthodox at Bari, Italy, in 1098. The Franco-Latins had just completed the expulsion of the Roman Orthodox from the Papacy in 1009/12-1046. This was followed up by William the Conqueror’s capture of England in 1066 and by his appointment of the Lombard Lanfranc as the first Franco-Latin Archbishop of Canterbury with the blessings of the Lombard Pope Alexander II in 1070. Lanfranc and his Franco-Latin bishops got their apostolic succession by dismissing all their Celtic and Saxon predecessors en masse(1). They condemned them as heretics and schismatics and sentenced them to prison for life where they were tortured and starved to death(2). Lanfranc’s successor in 1093 was the Lombard Anselm of Canterbury who was the chief exponent of the Franco-Latin positions at the above mentioned 1098 dialogue meeting at Bari. 

4) No longer able to use this type of medieval military power, which it was still using openly up to the French Revolution, the Vatican learned by the middle of this century to attack in public by means of “love and dialogue” and “underhanded activities in reality.” Thus the sincerity of the Vatican’s public “love” and “dialogue,” imposed upon it by the modern spread of democracy, is in need of much more substantiation to become convincing. Even the Bosnian Moslems have learned this by tragic experience after their prayer session with the Pope himself.

II. The so-called Schism (3)

5) Behind this agreement are Latin specialists familiar with modern research on the military, political and social nature of the schism with the East Romans which the Franks and their allies deliberately provoked. Doctrine played the role of the chief Franco-Latin weapon against the East Romans who had provoked revolts among the West Romans against Teutonic oppression (4). Of course the Balamand Latins had no need to touch upon this kind of research.

6) Ignoring the above, the Orthodox at Balamand accommodated the Latins by joining them in using the context of medieval Franco-Latin propaganda about the schism with a more or less Orthodox content, a combination which had been dominating Orthodox schools for a long time.

7) This agreement thus avoids the implications of the fact that since the 7th century the Franco-Latins usually received their apostolic succession by exterminating their West Roman, Celtic and Saxon predecessors having reduced the West Romans to serfs and villeins of Frankish Feudalism. This happened not only in Gaul, but also in North Italy, Germany, England, South Italy, Spain and Portugal.

8) The birth of Frankish Civilization is described in a letter of St. Boniface to Pope Zacharias (natione Graecus(5)) in 741. The Franks had rid the Church in Francia of all Roman bishops by 661 and had made themselves its bishops and clerical administrators. They had divided up the Church’s property into fiefs which had been doled out as benefices according to rank within the pyramid of military vassalage. These Frankish bishops had no Archbishop and had not met in Synod for eighty years. They had been meeting as army officers with their fellow war-lords. They are, in the words of St. Boniface, “voracious laymen, adulterous clergy and drunkards, who fight in the army fully armed and who with their own hands kill both Christians and pagans.” (6)

9) Already in 794 and 809 the Franks had condemned the East Romans as “heretics” and “Greeks,” at the councils of Frankfurt and Aachen, in other words some 260 years before the so-called schism of 1054. The Franks had begun calling the East Romans by the names “Greeks” and “heretics” in order that the enslaved West Romans may gradually forget their fellow-Romans in the East.

10) The Franks then also split the Greek speaking and Latin speaking Roman Fathers into so-called Latin and Greek Fathers and attached themselves to the so-called Latin ones. They thus created the illusion that their Franco-Latin tradition is part of an unbroken and continuous tradition with the Latin speaking Roman Fathers. Because the enslaved West Romans had become the serfs and villeins of Franco-Latin feudalism they stopped producing Church leaders and Fathers and all but a few recorded saints.

11) During 1009-1046 the Franco-Latins completed their expulsion of the Orthodox Romans from the Church of Old Rome and finally replaced them with themselves, thus inventing today’s Papacy.

12) The 8th century Franks began their anti-Roman heresy hunting on the questions of Icons and the Filioque when they were illiterate barbarians. The then Roman popes protested. But they did not yet condemn the Franks. They imagined that they would eventually prevail upon the Franks like one does with stubborn children. Little did the Romans of Old and New Rome suspect that the Franks were deliberately provoking the schism between themselves and the free Romans as part of their permanent defensive strategy against the East Roman Empire and their own plans for world dominion.

13) The Roman popes had no choice but to tolerate Frankish tyranny in the interest of alleviating their enslaved fellow West Romans and of guaranteeing their own freedom and that of the Roman citizens of the Papal States.

14) But Roman Pope John VIII took part in the 8th Ecumenical Council of 879 in New Rome which condemned the Frankish heresies on icons and the Filioque, without however naming the heretics for fear of reprisals. (7)

15) With the appearance of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals by 850 the Roman Popes began to feel strong enough to aggressively demand that the Frankish leadership accept civilized standards of behavior. But these efforts finally backfired. The Franco-Latins reacted forcefully to the popularity of these Decretals by expelling the Romans from their political and Church leadership in Rome and the Papal States. The Franco-Latins began their final attack on the freedom and Romanity of the Papacy in973-1003 and completed the subjugation of the Roman Papacy and the freedom of the Papal States between 1009 and 1046.(8) Thereafter the Popes are all members of the Franco-Latin nobility who use the name Roman Pope and Roman Papacy in order that the West Romans may continue to believe that they still had a Roman Pope. 

16) From all the above it should be clear that the fixing of the date of the schism in 1054, within the fabricated distinction between “Greek East” and “Latin West,” is not correct. The schism was between the Franco-Latins and the West and East Romans. 1054 was only one of the later manifestations of a schism which had already existed from the time the Franks decided in 794 to provoke the schism with the so-called “Greeks” for political reasons. The Church of Old Rome fought heroically to remain united to New Rome up to 1009. 

17) From 809 onward the Franks never deviated from their position that the East Romans, i.e their Greeks, are heretics. Up to 1009 the Church of Old Rome vigorously resisted this deliberate Frankish policy which was finally imposed by force.

18) That this tradition continued into the middle of the 20th century was so evident during this writer’s youth. In Latin books on Apologetics the Orthodox were vehemently described as heretics and without saints. Evidently this was due to the Filioquecontroversy which broke out in earnest prior to the Eight Ecumenical Council of 879. So supposedly the Orthodox had no Fathers of the Church after St. John of Damascus (circa 675-749) and St. Theodore of Studium (759-826). (9) 

19) But the Franco-Latins and their Papacy continued their conquests accompanied by the extermination and/or expulsion of the Orthodox bishops and abbots and the reduction of the faithful to the status of serfs and villeins by completely taking over their properties. This the Moslem conquerors, neither Arab nor Turk, never did.

20) But even up to early part of this 20th century the Vatican was still doing its thing. In 1923 Italy took possession of the Dodecanese ( The Twelve) Islands from Turkey. The Orthodox bishops were re-placed by Tuscano-Frank and Lombard bishops, who since 1870 were posing as Italians. The Vatican hoped that the Orthodox faithful would accept clergy ordained by these Vatican bishops or else be left without sacraments. The situation changed when Greece took possession of these Islands. The exiled Orthodox bishops returned under the oversight of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople.

21) But then the Vatican made an about face and produced Vatican II’s unilateral recognition of Orthodox sacraments. The question remains: Is this transformation from War to Love real? Or is it still the love of the wolf now dressed up in sheep’s clothing out to catch its traditional prey? The Vatican’s invasion of Orthodox countries with so many clerics hunting for prey seems to speak for itself.

22) What the Vatican is doctrinally up to will depend on what it will do with all its Ecumenical Councils. At least on the primacy and the infallibility of the pope Vatican II continues to maintain that it is a matter of divine revelation and not of cannon law.

III. Ecclesiology

23) Neither from the 7th century till 1054, nor since, have the Franco-Latin bishops and popes have had the slightest knowledge of, or interest in, the cure of the human personality via the purification and illumination of the heart and glorification (theosis). They still have a magical understanding of apostolic succession which many Orthodox have also have been accepting since the so-called reforms of Peter the Great.

24) The Balamand agreement is also based on an interpretation of our Lord’s prayer in John 17 which is not part of the Patristic tradition. Christ prays here that His disciples and their disciples may in this life become one in the vision of His glory (which He has by nature from the Father) when they become members of His Body, the Church, which would be formed on Pentecost and whose members were to be the illuminated and glorified in this life. The Old Testament prophets saw in their own glorification the pre-incarnate Lord of Glory. Likewise the disciples had seen Christ’s uncreated glory which He has by nature from His Father up to and before Pentecost, but not as members of His Body. Pentecostal glorification (theosis) was part of the Old and New Testament Church’s becoming the Body of Christ. Thus this final form of glorification constitutes the core of the history of the Body of Christ which is the real core of Church history. Christ’s prayer in John 17 is for the fulfillment of His Old and New Testament prophecies, teachings and promises, especially those recorded in John’s Gospel and especially in 16:13. This final glorification is what is repeated in the life of each of the saints in history and which can neither be added to nor improved upon, especially since this experience transcends words and concepts, even those of the Bible. This is how the Fathers understand this prayer. 

25) This prayer is not for the union of the members of the Body of Christ with those who are not in the states of purification, illumination and glorification (theosis). Of course this prayer implies the entry into these states of cure by non-members of the body of Christ, but it is certainly not a prayer for the union of churches. That John 17 can be applied to Churches which have not the slightest understanding of glorification (theosis) and how to arrive at this cure in this life is very interesting, to say the least.

26) This agreement takes advantage of those naive Orthodox who have been insisting that they are a “Sister” Church of a Vatican “Sister” Church, as though glorification (theosis) can have a sister otherwise than herself. The Orthodox at Balamand fell into their own trap since this presupposes the validity of Latin sacraments. This is a strange phenomenon indeed since the Latins never believed that glorification in this life is the foundation of apostolic succession and the mysteries (sacraments) of and within the Body of Christ. Even today the Latins and the Protestants translate 1 Cor. 12:26 as “honored” instead of “glorified.”

27) But Vatican II had also set its trap of unilaterally recognizing Orthodox mysteries (sacraments) into which the Balamand Orthodox fell according to plan.

28) More important than the validity of mysteries is the question of who participates in them. Glorification is God’s will for all, both in this life and in the next life. But God’s glory in Christ is eternal life for those who are properly cured and prepared. But this same uncreated glory of Christ is eternal fire for those who refuse to be cured. The one group is glorified and the other becomes forever happy in their selfishness like the “actus purus god” they believe in. In other words everyone will be saved. Some will be saved by their participation in glorification and in all the Truth. The rest will be saved by knowledge of all the truth which for them will be the vision of Christ’s uncreated glory as eternal fire and outer darkness. This is the state of actus purus happiness for which they strived for all their lives. In other words mysteries can be valid and not participated in at the same time. Thus, as important as valid mysteries are, one’s participation in these mysteries leading to purification and illumination of the heart, and glorification in this life—the central reality of the mysteries—is also essential. This holds true for non-Orthodox and Orthodox equally. 

29) It would seem that the Orthodox may legitimately and dutifully wish and hope out of love that Latin and Protestant mysteries are indeed valid and efficacious, but leave the matter in the hands of God. But to pronounce them valid, 1) when the Latins do not accept glorification (theosis) in this life as the central core of apostolic tradition and succession and 2) when they believe instead that happiness is one’s final end, is indeed strange. One does not need valid mysteries in order to become eternally happy.

30) Franco-Latin official teachings on the mysteries have been historically not only un-Orthodox, but anti-Orthodox. On this most Protestants agree in principle with the Orthodox, i.e. that communicated saving grace is uncreated. The Latin heresy that communicated grace is created has not yet been rejected by the Vatican.

IV. The raison d’ etre of Uniatism ceases to exist

31) The representatives of the Vatican proposed this captioned position and the Orthodox at Balamand accepted it. However, the Orthodox at Balamand were supposedly specialists who knew that this proposal was made within the context of both the Latin dogma about the pope and officially also within the context of all the Vatican’s Ecumenical Councils. But an Orthodox position on this question is not evident from this agreement. Therefore, the impression is created that the Orthodox, at least implicitly, accepted the Latin dogma about the pope and that of all the Vatican’s Ecumenical Councils.

32) At the time of Vatican II the New York Times had announced on its title page that the schism between the Orthodox and the Vatican had supposedly ended. This was due to the fact that the Latins understood the lifting of the anathemas of 1054 as a lifting of the excommunication. Constantinople lifted, as it seems, only anathemas. For the Latins this was in keeping with Vatican II on the validity of Orthodox mysteries. This made it possible for Latins to take communion at Orthodox Churches and, according to the Latins, vice versa. The Orthodox had difficulties refusing communion to Latins and the Vatican temporarily suspended the practice.

33) This Balamand agreement has been accepted by the representatives of nine out of 14 Orthodox Churches but not yet by their Synods nor by a Pan-Orthodox Council. In the mean time the Vatican may once again encourage Latins and Uniates to take communion at Orthodox Churches while encouraging the Orthodox to do likewise. The very fact that the Orthodox at Balamand have extended full recognition to Latin mysteries means that the impression could be easily created that only bigotry could be the reason for refusing inter-communion and con-celebration.

34) It is also possible that the pope at some point may desist from appointing a successor to at least one of his current Uniate Archbishops or even Patriarchs and put his local Uniate faithful under the spiritual leadership of the local Orthodox Archbishop or Patriarch as a trial test.

35) Since at least 1975 the WCC has been carefully and very successfully cultivating the image of the Orthodox as lacking Christian love for refusing communion to others. A likely refusal of the Orthodox to accept Uniates under one of their Archbishops or Patriarchs may become part of a similar practice of picturing the Orthodox as indeed bigots, especially since in this case they would be refusing communion to and con-celebration with clergy whose mysteries they fully recognize.

36) Now that the Balamand agreement has become a candidate to become a sequel to Vatican II and in which case Uniatism will no longer have any reason for existing, the Orthodox will be faced with the consequences of their continued refusal of communion with the Latins and Uniates. 

37) What is most interesting is the fact that according to the Balamand agreement mysteries are valid whether one accepts 7 or 22 Ecumenical Councils and their teachings and practices. The impression will be certainly created that only lack of love could be the reason why the Orthodox may continue to refuse inter-communion and con-celebration with the Vatican.

V. The Question

38) It seems that the Orthodox at Balamand are attempting to introduce an innovation in regards to Biblical mysteries. Up to now the Orthodox Churches usually accepted into their membership individuals or Churches by means of either exactitude (akribeia) or economy (oikonomia).

(a) By Exactitude one is accepted by baptism, chrismation and profession of the Orthodox Faith accompanied by rejection of former errors.

(b) By Economy one is accepted by chrismation and profession of the Orthodox faith and the rejection of former errors.

39) Neither of these two means of entry into the Church is in itself a judgment on the validity or non-validity of the sacraments of the Church of origin, since there are no mysteries outside of the Body of Christ. One is either a member of the Body of Christ by his baptism of the Spirit, i.e. illumination and/or glorification in Christ or one is still in the state of purification by his baptism by water unto forgiveness of sins and in the process of becoming a member of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. One may be a believer in Christ without belonging to either of these categories. This holds true for nominal Orthodox also. It is up to each Synod of Orthodox bishops to decide the status of each group of those who are seeking communion within the Body of Christ.

40) In regard to the cure of purification, illumination and glorification there is no difference between Latins and most Protestants since, or if, they are not engaged in this cure which has nothing to do with mysticism*. This holds true for nominal Orthodox also. The reason for the increase of the numbers of the latter (especially since Peter the Great) is that professors of Orthodox faculties became no longer aware, and many are still not aware, of this Biblical/Patristic tradition of cure and are therefore prone to copy from non-patristic or non-Orthodox works to write their teaching manuals. The result has been the appearance of large groups of clergy who no longer see any important difference between the Latin and Orthodox understandings of the Mysteries within the Body of Christ. 

41) The basic question before us is clear: Is dogma 1) a protection from speculating quack doctors and 2) a guide to the cure of the purification and the illumination of the heart and glorification (theosis), or not? 

42) “Let each person test himself, and thus eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For one who eats and drinks not discerning the Body eats and drinks his own judgment. For this reason many among you are weak and sick and many are dead” (1 Cor. 11:28-30). In other words one tests himself to see whether he is a member of the Body of Christ by being in the state of illumination, i.e. with at least kinds of tongues. Otherwise one shares in the bread and the cup “unworthily” (1 Cor. 11:27). In such a case one is still “weak” or “sick” and even spiritually “dead” (1 Cor. 11:30), i.e. not sharing in the resurrection of the inner person and so not yet communicating at the Eucharist unto life in Christ, but rather unto judgment. One should not use the Eucharistic gatherings as occasions to simply eat. This one does at home. “If we examine ourselves, we will not be judged. Being judged by the Lord we are instructed, so that we are not condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31-32). In the states of illumination and glorification one is instructed in his spirit by Christ Himself. This is the cure which Paul explains in detail in 1 Cor. 12-15:11. (10)

VI. Formulations of dogmas not to be confused with the mystery of God 

43) It was only to keep the faithful within this tradition of cure in Christ that heresies were condemned by the dogmatic formulations of Ecumenical and Local Councils. These formulations have nothing to do with the Augustinian and Franco-Latin analogia fidei and analogia entis, i.e. with theological and philosophical speculations based on a supposed similarity between the created and the uncreated. Belief in such a similarity was the basic characteristic of heresies and which has become common among some Orthodox also. The only purpose of dogmatic formulations is to serve as guides to the cure of the human spirit in and by Christ Himself.

VII. The Mysteries

44) Franco-Latin doctrines on the sacraments and created grace are based on Augustine’s Christology and his quest for Neo-Platonic happiness. He unknowingly rejected the First and Second Ecumenical Councils’ identity of Christ with the Old Testament Angel of God, Him Who is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and the Lord of Glory, the Lord Sabbaoth, the Pantocrator, and the Angel of Great Council Who appeared to the Old Testament prophets. Augustine was misled into believing that this identity was the teaching of the heretical Arians alone. He did not know this was also the teaching of the Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils. Whereas the Arians and Eunomians believed that this Lord and Angel of Glory was created by God, the Orthodox Fathers knew from their own glorification in Christ and from the Bible that He is the uncreated Son of God and consubstantial with His Father. To his ignorance of this identity of Christ with the Old Testament Lord of Glory, Augustine also added his personal quest after Neo-Platonic happiness which has nothing to do with God’s glorification of the apostles and prophets.

45) Augustine is the father of the strange teaching of the Franco-Latins whereby God brings into existence creatures to be seen and heard by the prophets and the apostles and which He passes back into non-existence after each specific revelation. (11) Thus the aforementioned Old Testament Angel of God and the fire in the burning bush, the pillar of fire and cloud, the bird at Christ’s baptism, the glory and rule of God in both Testaments, and even the tongues of fire at Pentecost, are supposed to have been all brought into existence and then passed out of existence. In other words the linguistic symbols used by the writers of the Bible to indicate glorifications/revelations and the action of the grace of God are transformed into temporary creatures which pass into and out of existence. Indeed for the Franco-Latins this is supposed to be the lowest form of revelation which is superseded by God’s revelations made directly to the intellect. 

46) This was the teaching of Barlaam the Calabrian who came from the West having become Orthodox not knowing the faith of the Church on these matters. After arguing with Orthodox monks and defending these Franco-Latin positions his teachings were condemned by the Ninth Ecumenical Council (12) of Constantinople of 1341. It became known a bit later that his teachings were the originalities of Augustine followed by the whole Franco-Latin Church. It was evidently for this reason, and not only for his Filioque, that Augustine was put on the sidelines of patristic authority. In contrast the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Gregory Palamas on the Second Sunday of Lent as a Second Sunday of Orthodoxy for the chief role he played against the Franco-Latin heresies of Barlaam and in order to protect the faithful on their road to uncreated grace by their purification, illumination and glorification in Christ. God makes Himself known to His saints by glorifying them. They thus become gods by grace and see God in his Logos made flesh and by the Holy Spirit. 

Endnotes

*The author kindly sent me this clarifying addendum in response to a question I had regarding his use of the term “mysticism”. This remark was not in the original text: “By mysticism is meant the attempt to bypass or transcend the material aspect of reality by contemplating the immaterial archetypes in a divine intellect as though God is like an architect who executes His mental plans. The Neo-Platonic form of this tradition made its way into the Franco-Latin tradition by way of Augustine. This became the foundation of Augustinian monasticism which replaced Orthodox monasticm as represented by Sts. Patrick, John Cassian and Benedict based on purification and illumination of the heart and glorification which was not only for monks but for all laypersons as well.

“From this viewpoint there is no real difference between Protestants and Latins since neither of them know the tradition of purification and illumination of the heart and glorification or theosis. The real difference between these children of Augustine is that Luther rejected Augustinian mysticism and the monasticism which derives therefrom. From this position we have the Latin distinction between the contemplative and active lives. Protestants choose the active life and on the whole left the life of contemplation to the Latins.

“Because they are children of Augustine both Latins and Protestants have been cut off from glorification and with them the Orthodox victims of Peter the Great.

“All Latins I know of have been presenting mysticism as an integral part of the so-called Greek Fathers since they have reading them by means of their Augustinian glasses. Because of this St. Diosysius the Areopagite’s Greek chapter on ‘Mystike Theologia’ is mistakenly translated ‘Mystical Theology’ instead of ‘Secret Theology.’ He calls this chapter ‘Secret Theology’ because the uncreated glory of God in ones glorification cannot be described in words nor understood with concepts. It is from the glorification of the saints that we know there is no similarity between the created and uncreated and that ‘it is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive God.’ (St. Gregory the Theologian). Also Vladimir Losky’s title of his Book The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Churchhas added quite a bit to the confusion.”

1. For documented sources of the details of the murder of the Celtic and Saxon Bishops and abbots and their replacement by nobles from the Frankish realms of Francia, i.e. Gallia, Germania and Italia see Auguste Thierry, “Histoire de la Conqute de l’Angleterre par les Normands,” Paris 1843, vol. 2. pp. 147 (1071-1072), 215-219 (1075-1076), 284, 313-314, 318 (1087-1094);vol. 3, pp. 35 (1110-1138), 214-215 (1203).

2. Ibid., vol. 2, pp.55, 66 (1068), 111, 145, 184 (1070-1072),215 (1075-1076), 240-242 (1082), 313-316 (1088-1089); vol. 3, pp. 35, 44, 47 (1110-1140).See also J. S. Romanides, “Church Synods and Civilization,” in Theologia, Athens, vol. 63, issue 3, 1992,p. 427-428.

3. In addition to the work mentioned in note 1 see J. S. Romanides, “Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine, an interplay between theology and society,” Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Massachusetts 1982. 

4. Ibid., pp. 11-14.

5. I.e. a native of the Roman province Magna Graecia in Southern Italy

6. Migne P L, 89, 744; Mansi 12, 313-314.

7. J. S. Romanides, “Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine,” pp. 19-20.

8. Ibid., pp. 20-38.

9. See for example vol. 2, pp. 314-349, of F. Cayr, A. A. Manual of Patrology and History of Theology, (English version), Tournai vol 1, 1935, vol 2, 1940. Beginning from p. 351 of vol. 2 and onward we are told about the Scholastic Successors of the Fathers and then the Great Successors of the Fathers and finally beginning on page 661 we are told about the “General Decadence of Scholasticism.

10. See study referred to in note 1.

11. See for example his De Trinitate Books II and III.

12. According to Roman Law.

Published in Theologia, the periodical of the Church of Greece, Vol. VI 1993, Issue no. 4, pages 570-580.

For those interested in reading more about the historical and theological background for Fr. John’s critique I highly recommend his book Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine: An Interplay Between Theology and Society (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Press, 1981). It is indispensable for a proper understanding of the so-called Great Schism and its aftermath.

Fr John Romanides on dogma.

Definition of Dogma

Dogmas are the pronouncements of the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, when they confronted heretical teachings that were altering the revealed truth. First there was a heretical doctrine about Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Triune God in general, or concerning the theology of the Persons of the Holy Trinity and the Divine Economy, which is the incarnation of the Son and Word (Logos) of God. Then the Holy Fathers would meet in Local and Ecumenical Councils and formulate definitions of the Orthodox faith.

The central Person discussed by the Holy Fathers was Christ, in Whom the Divine and human nature were united without change, confusion, separation or division. The Holy Father did not have abstract philosophical discussions about the Holy Trinity.

“They always discussed this particular Person Who appeared to the Prophets and revealed the Father within Himself in the Holy Spirit. So they did not discuss the dogma of the Holy Trinity in an abstract way, but discussed this specific Person in the Old Testament Who was revealed to the Prophets and afterwards in flesh to the Apostles.”

The demarcation of the revelation is called dogma. Essentially, however, dogma shows Christ revealed in glory. It is an expression of the divine manifestations (theophanies) in both the Old and New Testaments. Dogma is not a simple external confession of faith, but a formulation of revelatory truth. And the holy Fathers had a special reason for undertaking this, because heretics had doubts about the revelation. There is, therefore, a difference between dogma and interpretation.

It follows that dogmas are used as medicines for the spiritually sick, so that they may be cured.

“Dogma and theology are medicines. When we become well, we stop taking medicines. We take medicines when we are ill. Man is ill because he is not a in a position to see God. He is not ready, because he does not have love. The fact that he does not have love means that he is ill.”

In the same way as a patient takes medicines in order to be cured and become well, so someone who is spiritually sick uses medicines so as to be cured and attain to glorification. When he reaches glorification, of course, the dogma-medicines are inadequate. They are not abolished by the Church, because they will be needed by others who are sick, but they are insufficient and unnecessary for someone who arrives at glorification and sees the glory of God.

“Dogmas are not a permanent state. They are medicines, and the purpose of medicines is to be done away with, once the patient has been cured. When we are cured we no longer need medicines. So dogmas exist as long as we do not see Christ in glory. Once we see Christ in glory, dogma is abolished. What are the dogmas about? They concern Christology and the Holy Trinity. What need is there for words and concepts about the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity when we see Christ as Holy Trinity and Incarnation?”

Of course, the dogmas of the Ecumenical Councils are indispensable even for the glorified, because through these dogmas revealed truth is defined.” (Empirical dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church by Fr John Romanides /Metr. of Nafpaktos Hierotheos .)