Lumina dumnezeiasca la sf. grigore palama
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Lumina dumnezeiasca la sf. grigore palama Lumina dumnezeiasca la sf. grigore palama Document Transcript

  • Contents INTRODUCTORY WORD I. CHAPTER I: The life and activity of St. Gregory Palamas 1.1. 1.2. Monastic Formation and Theological Education 1.3. II. The early life and education Outline of Palamas later life CHAPTER II: The uncreated Light 2.1. 2.2. III. The Vision of the Divine Light The between God’s essence and energy at St. Grigory Palamas CHAPTER III: The Experience of the Uncreated Light 3.1. The divine Light in the theology of St. Gregory Palamas 3.2. Hesychasm and the Taboric Light CONCLUSIONS BIBLIOGRAPHY 2
  • INTRODUCTORY WORD In presenting St. Gregory Palamas and his distinction between God’s Essence and Energy, I hope to share the mystical notion of Ultimate Reality and Meaning of man. Many in the more rational West are not familiar with the teaching of this Eastern saint. It is also true to say that the Eastern mystical heritage does not seem to be widely understood even among the Orthodox1. Because we are dealing here with a permanent mystical treasure of the universal Church the discovery or rediscovery of Palamas would be to our benefit2. Historical and Ideological Background 14th Century Europe was a place of political upheaval and dramatic ideological change. Byzantium, which was in a state of progressive decline -particularly since the ill-fated fourth crusade - had been culturally, intellectually, and, perhaps most significantly, theologically separated from its Western contemporaries. The Latins, on the other hand, had rediscovered the works of classical antiquity which had in turn facilitated a cultural and intellectual revival in the Renaissance that, it could be said, was in many ways antithetical to the so-called synthesis of philosophy and Christian theology promulgated by the scholastic theologians of the previous century3. It was in this atmosphere of formidable intellectual development that Barlaam, a Greek from Calabria, went to Constantinople in 1338, where he quickly won fame as a scholar and philosopher4. Claiming to be a sincere advocate of Eastern theology, and especially inclined towards the apophatic tradition, Barlaam nonetheless made the mistake of carrying his philosophical convictions into the sphere of theology, where he quickly demonstrated his fundamental 1 David Coffey, The Palamite Doctrine of God: A New Perspective, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 32, 1988, p. 329; 2 George Habra, The Source of the Doctrine of Gregory Palamas on the Divine Energies, Eastern Churches Quarterly, vol.XII, 1957, p. 244; 3 James Fieser and Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Socrates to Sartre and Beyond: A History of Philosophy, USA: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 2008, p. 176; 4 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1974, p. 86; 3
  • misunderstanding of the theological tenets, traditions, and methods of the Orthodox Church5. This is pertinently exhibited in his novel ideas concerning the Filioque, where, in line with the nominalism reflected in the writings of William of Ockham, he contested the West's rationalistic attempts to prove the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son and instead affirmed, quite emphatically, that the nature of the procession of the Holy Spirit ,,lay outside human cognizance because God was beyond knowledge”6. Moreover, he went on to claim that the doctrine concerning the procession - which had been an issue of fervent dispute between East and West - could be relegated to the ,,domain of private theological opinions which do not constitute an obstacle to the unity of the Church”.7 Barlaam's apophaticism was therefore tantamount to a theological agnosticism that led to dogmatic relativism, isolating God from human experience. Indeed, it was this radical apophaticism that compelled St Gregory Palamas - an erudite Athonite monk who became, by force of circumstances, the principal representative of the Patristic tradition of the period - to affirm that God, despite His indubitable incomprehensibility, has paradoxically chosen to reveal Himself to humanity and can therefore be experienced7. 5 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, trans. George Lawrence, Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1998, p. 42-43; 6 Normal Russell, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 304; 7 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, p. 87; 4
  • CHAPTER I: The life and activity of St. Gregory Palamas St. Gregory Palamas was born c. 1296, the first-born of a noble family in Constantinople, and he died as the Archbishop of Thessalonica in 1359. Palamas was recognized as a saintly monk and a mystical theologian by four local non-ecumenical Councils held at Constantinople during his life time or shortly after his death in 1341, 1347, 1351, and 13688. He became a major teacher of Byzantine Christianity. In our own day Palamas’ status in Eastern Christianity has been rediscovered by Orthodox theologians, and he has rightly been restored to a central position (Ibid.) Further, St. Gregory Palamas in the East can be compared with St. Thomas Aquinas in the West9. The early life and education Gregory Palamas belonged to an aristocratic family of Asia Minor who emigrated to Constantinople at the end of the 13th century. His father was Constantine Palamas, a pious senator in the immediate entourage of Emperor Andronicus II who entrusted Constantine with the education of his grandson, the future Emperor Andronicus III10. Gregory was brought up in a family atmosphere of imperial loyalty, and received an excellent education in Christian piety centred on monastic prayer. When his father died in 1303, Gregory was seven and Andronicus II took over the care of the youngster’s education. At home in the palace Gregory seemed to have established a solid friendship with the future Andronicus III who was exactly his age and later gave Palamas much needed support11. Under the Emperor’s patronage, Gregory attained great success both in grammar and in rhetoric. Pursuing the studies of physics, logic, and the science of Aristotle, he was admired 8 K. Ware, Tradition and personal experience in later Byzantine theology, Eastern Churches Review, vol. 3, 1970, p. 129; 9 C. M. LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian life, NY: Harper Collins, 1992, p. 181; 10 Edward G. Farrugia, Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Christian East, Published House: Galaxia Gutenberg, Targu Lapus, 2005, p. 190; 11 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 44; 5
  • by his teachers. Andronicus II intended that Palamas should become a high officer in the State12. At the same time, Palamas came under the influence of certain monks with whom the family was acquainted, especially with the mystically-minded metropolitan Theoleptus of Philadelphia. He gave Palamas instruction in holy sobriety and revealed the mysteries of mental prayer even while the latter was still occupied with worldly affairs13. Finally, at about the age of 20, Palamas decided to enter formal monastic life. He also persuaded all the other members of his family who were still alive, his mother, two sisters, and two brothers, to do likewise14. Monastic Formation and Theological Education The second stage of Palamas’ life lasted about 18 years. It began when he entered Mount Athos in 1316 as a novice and lasted until 1334 when he started to promote the traditional monastic hesychasm or practice of sacred quietude. In Greek, hesychia means quietude15. Theoleptus of Philadelphia continued to influence him as a spiritual master. It seems that there were five other persons who helped shape his life and thought. The first was a hesychast monk called Nicodemus who directed Palamas as his spiritual father for his first three years at Mt. Athos in fasting, sleeplessness, spiritual vigilance and uninterrupted prayer16. Palamas’ second spiritual father was also a hesychast monk called Gregory the Great (not the Sinaite of the same name) who directed Gregory for two years at Glossia, on the north-western slope of Athos17. The third person of great influence on Palamas seemed to be Isidore, a friend and a young layman, the future Patriarch. Apparently, Isidore’s spiritual father, Gregory the Sinaite, passed on to him the great monastic virtues and insights18. Two other influential forerunners to Palamas, apart from Theoleptus, were Gregory of Cyprus, Patriarch of Constantinople, from 1283 to 1289, and Anthonasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople from 1289-1293 and from 1303-1309. The former was noted for his theological Orthodoxy and the latter for his monastic spirituality and diplomacy in practical 12 Ibidem, p. 44; Art. published on the website: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=2538.10;wap2 14 Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Stăniloae, The life and teaching of St. Gregory Palamas, Published House: Scripta, Bucharest, 1993, p. 15; 15 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 45; 16 Hierotheos Vlachos, St. Gregory Palamas - Hagiorite, Published House: Annunciation, Bacau, 2000, p. 382; 17 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 45; 18 Ibidem, p. 45-46; 13 6
  • affairs In 1326, at the age of 30, Palamas was ordained a priest at Thessalonica at his friends’ insistence19. Outline of Palamas later life Palamas’ later life lasted about 25 years, from 1334 when he began writing at the age of 38, until 1359 when he died of an intestine paralysis at the age of 63. He was named Archbishop of Thessalonica in 134720. This was a period of great external crises threatened by the invading Turks and Serbs, severe internal conflicts caused by top imperial and ecclesiastic figures, and ferocious intellectual debates conducted between the rational humanist and mystical hesychasts. Palamas had to employ every bit of his earlier education in diplomacy and in hesychastic prayer through it all, in order to achieve the results he did21. For Palamas this later period of his life was above all marked by his battles with the anti-hesychastic humanists, in particular with Barlaam, the Calabrian philosopher, as well as with Gregory Akindynos and Nicephorus Gregoras, two Byzantine humanists 22. In 1341 a council in Constantinople rebuked Barlaam, upon which he left Byzantium 23. In 1347 and particularly in 1351, two more councils endorsed the theology of Palamas. They refuted the anti- hesychastic arguments of Akindynos and Gregoras whose general position more or less coincided with that of Barlaam24. Palamas was canonized by the synod of Constantinople in 1268. To this day his relics have been venerated at the cathedral of Thessalonica. In the following hymn, the Orthodox Church chants to St. Gregory Palamas in the liturgy of the second Sunday of Lent, in veneration of the saint who, several decades before the fall of Byzantium, integrated hesychasm — Eastern Christianity’s ancient tradition of contemplative monasticism — into a doctrinal synthesis25. 19 Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Stăniloae, op. cit., p. 17; H. D. Hunter, Palamas, Gregory. New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1967, p. 872; 21 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 45; 22 Priest Eugene Dragoi, History of Christianity in dates, Published House: The Diocese Lower Danube, Galati, 2004, p. 53; 23 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 45; 24 John Meyendorff, Byzantine Hesychasm: Historical, Theological and Social Problems: Collected Studies, London, Variorum Reprints, 1974, p. 52; 25 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 46; 20 7
  • CHAPTER II: The uncreated Light The Vision of the Divine Light In theology, divine light (also called divine radiance or divine refulgence) is an aspect of divine presence, specifically an unknown and mysterious ability of God, angels, or human beings to express themselves communicatively through spiritual means, rather than through physical capacities. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Divine Light illuminates the intellectof man through ,,theoria” or contemplation. In the Gospel of John, the first few verses describe God as Light: ,,In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1, 5). Christ also professes to bring the Divine Light to mankind: ,,I am the light of the world” (John 8, 12). The Divine Light is also called the Tabor Light which the apostles witnessed at the Transfiguration26. Saint Gregory Palamas emphasizes with all the energy and everywhere that only a pure heart, which come after a long and difficult moral efforts only very few people can stand up to the union with God. Through holiness so we can get closer to God, we can see supernatural light, not syllogisms and sharings, and analysis of profane wisdom! The contemplation of truth is not the end of science, but to (the) of holiness, and this is still not obtained by scientific means, but through deeds and life. Syllogistic and analytical methods can not be known any man himself, but by repentance painful and intense asceticism, making the mind without vanity and without malice27. In opposition to Barlaam's accusations, Palamas maintained that the divine light was neither of the essence of God nor a created effect. Rather, he affirmed that it consisted of Christ's transfiguring glory, a glory that He clearly desired to be bestowed on His disciples, and through them, on all who believe in Him: ,,Thus to our human nature He has given the 26 St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, vol. VII, introduction, notes and translation by Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Staniloaie, Published House: Bible and Mission Institute of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Bucharest, 1977, p. 214; 27 Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Stăniloae, The road to the divine light at St. Gregory Palamas, article published in ,,The Romanian Orthodox Theological Academy Magazine”, Sibiu, 1940, p. 64; 8
  • glory of the Godhead, but not the divine nature; for the nature of God is one thing, His glory another, even though they are inseparable from one another”28. What is this glory that we experience; that is not the divine nature (or essence) but is nonetheless inseparable from it? It is obvious that Palamas is here referring to the distinction between essence and energies in God, which is a formal or conceptual distinction that paradoxically illustrates how God can remain both at the same time transcendent and immanent, incomprehensible yet experiential. It must be emphasised that Palamas is not the originator of this distinction. It is found, though with less doctrinal precision, in most of the Greek Fathers, many of whom Palamas repeatedly quotes and refers to throughout his Triads, including Sts Gregory the Theologian, Dionysius the Areopagite, and Maximus the Confessor, etc.29 This distinction, however important, remains incomplete if we do consider that God is first and foremost three persons whose inner life is expressed as an absolute interpenetration or intercommunion of love known as perichoresis which maintains both the diversity of the three persons and their essential unity30. Personhood in God is thus logically anterior to His essence and energies, and it is to Palamas' demonstration of this fact and its relationship to the divine light that we now turn. In his third Triad, Palamas affirmed that God's essence, or His life ad intra, ,,transcends the fact of being accessible to the senses, since God is not only above all created things, but is even beyond Godhead”31, and from this we can infer that Palamas presupposed the Patristic doctrine of an ontological distinction between the uncreated Creator and His creation. Yet despite God's innate transcendence, Palamas insisted that the created order can still participate in Him. Giving an analogy which compared God to the sun, Palamas asserted that although the essence, which he likens to the disc of the sun, is superessential, the ,,rays [of the sun] are energies or energy, and that one can participate in them, even though the essence remains beyond participation”32. However, if God is first and foremost three persons whose inner life is expressed as a single essence and the energies are the full manifestation of God in the world, then the 28 St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads in The Classics of Western Spirituality, translate by Nicholas Gendle, USA: Paulis Press, 1983, p. 32; 29 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, p. 90; 30 Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, SVS Press, James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1997, p. 71; 31 St. Gregory Palamas, Philokalia, vol. VII, p. 216; 32 St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 57; 9
  • energies do not pertain to the incommunicable essence of God 33. Rather, the energies are exterior manifestations of the three persons or hypostases of the Holy Trinity, and it is for this reason that Palamas in his second Triad called this light hypostatic34. Whilst remaining inscrutable because of the ontological gap between God and the universe, the Holy Trinity paradoxically engages with the created order through these energies, which, consisting of God's life ad extra, remain uncreated precisely because of their source in God's personhood35. The distinction between God's essence and energy at St. Grigory Palamas The Ultimate Reality and Meaning of the Palamite theology consists of the distinction between God’s Essence and Energy. ,,This is a way of expressing the idea that the transcendent God remains eternally hidden in His Essence, but at the same time the God also seeks to communicate and unite Himself with us personally through His Energy”36. One may say that the very focus of hesychasm, the practice of sacred quietude, is a sacred experience of God’s personal union with us through His Divine Energy as He seeks to reach out to us in this prayerful quietude. Palamas’s defence of hesychasm is also the defence of his distinction between God’s Essence and His Energy37.  The 1351 Council in Constantinople The 1351 Constantinople Council was the most important doctrinally of all the Councils related to Palamas and his teaching and summed up succinctly the Palamite distinction in eight main points38: (1) There is in God a distinction (diadrisis) between the essence and the energies or energy. (It is equally legitimate to refer to the latter either in the singular or in the plural). (2) The energy of God is not created but uncreated (akistos). (3) This distinction between the uncreated essence and the uncreated energies does not in any way impair the divine simplicity; there is no ‘compositeness’ (synthesis) in God. 33 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, p. 92; St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 104; 35 Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Stăniloae, The road to the divine light at St. Gregory Palamas, p. 66; 36 Vladimir Lossky, op. cit., p. 79; 37 G. Maloney, A Theology of Uncreated Energies, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Marquette University,1978, p. 72; 38 http://frgregory.blogspot.gr/2009/03/st-gregory-palamas-on-divine-energies.html, article published on website by Fr. Gregory Hogg 34 10
  • (4) The term ‘deity’ (theotis) may be applied not only to the essence of God but to the energies. (5) The essence enjoys a certain priority or superiority in relation to the energies, in the sense that the energies proceed from the essence. (6) Man can participate in God’s energies but not in his essence. (7) The divine energies may be experienced by men in the form of light — a light which, though beheld through men’s bodily eyes, is in itself non-material, ,,intelligible” (noeron) and uncreated. This is the uncreated light that was manifested to the apostles at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, that is seen during prayer by the saints in our own time, and that will shine upon and from the righteous at their resurrection on the Last Day. It thus possesses an eschatological character: it is ,,the light of the Age to Come”. (8) No energy is to be associated with one divine person to the exclusion of the other two, but the energies are shared in common by all three persons of the Trinity39. The 1351 Council also formally endorsed Palamas’ Confession of Faith submitted by him. What is particularly significant in this Confession is Palamas’ linking as synonymous God’s energeia with God’s grace and power through which God enters into intimate union with us40. His Confession shows that his teaching on God’s Divine Energy is substantially a theology of grace: ,,...He [God] is not revealed is his essence (ousia), for no one has ever seen or described God’s nature (physis); but he is revealed in the grace (charis), power (dynamis) and energy (energeia) which is common to the Father, Son and Spirit. Distinctive to each of the three is the person (hypostasis) of each, and whatever belongs to the person. Shared in common by all three are not only the transcendent essence — what is altogether nameless, unmanifested and imparticipable, since it is beyond all names, manifestations and participation — but also the divine grace, power, energy, radiance, kingdom and incorruption whereby God enters through grace into communion and union with the holy angels and the saints”41. Through His Energy God is reaching out and seeking a personal union with everyone everywhere. This awareness enables us to add God’s immanent, participable dimension to the transcendent, imparticipable concept of God which views God largely as a divine essence. The Orthodox concept that God’s Divine Energies are within everything and outside 39 David Coffey, op. cit., p. 330; K. Ware, op. cit., . 133; 41 St. Gregory Palamas, Complete Operas, vol II, translation, notes and bibliography by Priest Cristian Chivu, Adrian Tanasescu, Deacon Cornel Coman, Published House: The Burning Bush, Bucharest, 2013, p. 104; 40 11
  • everything helps us grasp God’s real personal immanence to us everywhere 42. Palamas adds concisely: ,,God is entirely present in each of the divine energies, we name Him from each of them, although it is clear that He transcends all of them”43. As partakers of His divine nature (2 Pet. 1, 4), we should be aware of the two dimensions of God in Palamism. God, in all His divine simplicity, is at the same time both personally imparticipable and personally participable to us. Moreover, this God is constantly seeking a personal union with each of us everywhere through His omnipresent Divine Energies which can be regarded as God-for-us in His participable nature, life or constitution. God’s accessible Energies are not God’s inaccessible Personal Being. God’s imparticipable being, nature, life or constitution remains eternally transcendent and unapproachable in His Divine Essence44. 42 Vladimir Lossky, op. cit., p. 96; St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 24; 44 G. Maloney, op. cit., p. 80; 43 12
  • CHAPTER III: The Experience of the Uncreated Light We have stated above that the hesychasts' experience this light by undertaking certain psychosomatic techniques which can only be learnt from experienced teachers, who were able to give expert guidance. This is not only consistent with monastic tradition45, but also with the patristic paradigm of the relationship between the spiritual Father and his disciple; the Father must assimilate to Christ as much as possible and, having seen the vision of the divine light, only then can he teach his student the proper attitude of hesychasm and thus prepare the disciple to receive the same blessing46. Palamas gives us a deep insight into the nature of this attitude when he once again opposed Barlaam, expressing the latter's views when he wrote in his first Triad that he had heard it stated by certain people that ,,education not only dispels all other evils from the soul since every passion has its root and foundation in ignorance - but it also leads men to the knowledge of God, for God is knowable only through mediation of his creatures”47. Barlaam was here exhibiting his apophatic and naturalistic proclivities. A direct knowledge or experience of God is impossible. The only direct knowledge one can have of Him is to acknowledge his unknowability, and therefore all that can legitimately be said concerning Him is based on inferences derived from His creation. Palamas refuted these views in two ways. Firstly, by stating that the saints make no mention of the alleviation of ignorance and the cultivation of knowledge as a prerequisite to knowing God, and secondly, by referring an analogy employed by St Isaac the Syrian who contrasted natural knowledge with the contemplation of God by stating that the soul has two eyes, one with which to ascertain knowledge of God through His creation and the other with which we contemplate God's glory48. 45 Normal Russell, op. cit., p. 310; Article published on website: http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.gr/2010/02/truth-of-uncreated-light-ofgod.html 47 St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 25; 48 Ibidem, p. 59; 46 13
  • The former eye, though legitimate, does not see what the latter eye sees, for they each see a different light. But it is this latter eye which contemplates God's glory, a glory that we identified above with His energies and thus the hypostatic or Taboric light49. The vision of this light is first and foremost a gift of grace which exhibits God's desire to reshape humanity into his likeness. But the human will is not altogether precluded in such an endeavour. This grace can be received by those who fulfil the commandments, purify themselves of the evil passions and who practice ,,uninterrupted and immaterial prayer”50, because it is only by attaining stability in virtue and emancipation from the passions that one can become impassive. Impassibility, far from denoting an ostensible insensitivity, comes from the Greek word and in this context means a separation from created things so that one can completely orientate oneself towards God51. The impassive person become not only marked by virtue, prayer and the proper disposition towards life in general, but more importantly becomes receptive to the divine light, which one cannot ascertain according to one's own devices because of the fact that the initiative lay entirely with God52. It is God who accomplishes the unification between Himself and the impassive person, a union which is expressed in the vision of the Taboric light and which transforms its recipient into light by grace, thereby deifying them. Indeed, the person is not abolished in the union but rather completely transfigured, ,,for such is the character of the union, that all is one, so that he who sees can distinguish neither the means nor the object nor its nature, but simply the awareness of being light and of seeing a light distinct from every creature”53. The divine Light in the theology of St. Gregory Palamas St. Gregory Palamas speaks about three lights: 1. The light sensitive 2. The light of intelligence 3. The uncreated light that exceeds the first two. 49 G. Maloney, op. cit., p. 83; St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 61; 51 http://oldmanbuhler.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/uncreated-energies-the-theology-of-light-st-gregory-palamasarchbishop-of-thessalonica/, article published on website by Edmund Nicholas John 52 G. Maloney, op. cit., p. 85; 53 St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 66; 50 14
  • The light intelligence is different from light perceived by the our senses, the Light sensitive reveals to us their objects of our senses, and the intellectual serves to manifestation the truth that is in thought54. So, the view and intelligence do not perceive one and the same light, it is specific to each of the two faculties to act according to their nature and their limits. However, when those who are worthy receive supernatural grace and spiritual power, they perceive both through the senses and through intellect which is above every sense and of any intellect. How? This is known only to God and by those who have experienced His grace55. Divine Light is not material or spiritual and sensitive, but neither is intelligible light or intellectual. This light is divine and uncreated. Vision Divine Light is not a symbolic analogy with the physical light and just a theory, but it is a sign of living and personal presence of Christ. This divine light is discovered spiritually discerned pure people and who reach on highest peaks of virtue and they have a life of holiness. In light of the divine man sees Christ, he knows, and he communicate with Him and enjoy untold His presence56. Hesychasm and the Taboric Light Palamas' assertion led to an open dispute between him and Barlaam, and it was during their polemical exchanges that the latter was exposed to hesychasm 57 . The hesychasts believed ,,that the human body could itself participate in prayer and feel the action of divine grace” 58 , which was manifested as a vision of the divine light. The method which they undertook to receive this vision was psychosomatic; concentrating the mind in the region of the heart, they would retain each breath and recite mentally the short prayer ,,Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me”, thus achieving a state of inner quiet in order to receive God's grace59. Barlaam, denying ,,all effective action of grace over human reasoning”60, launched a vociferous campaign against this practice. He accused the monks of the same errors 54 Article published on website: http://www.basilica.ro/stiri/sf-grigorie-palama-despre-fiinta-lui-dumnezeuenergiile-sale-necreate-si-vederea-luminii-dumnezeiesti_5216.html 55 C. Yannaras, The distinction between essence and energies and its importance for theology, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 19, 1975, p. 232; 56 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, p. 118; 57 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 46; 58 Ibidem, p. 46; 59 John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, NY: Fordham University Press, 1983, p. 76; 60 John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, p. 46; 15
  • committed by the Messalians - a fourth century group which claimed that through asceticism one could receive a vision of the divine essence - and also hypothesised that if the light which the monks claimed to experience was true, then it was probably nothing more than a created effect or symbol61. Palamas, himself a practitioner of hesychasm, was beseeched by the monks to come to their aid and in 1341 wrote the first in a series of treatises known as the Triads in which he criticises philosophical approaches towards God which exaggerate apophaticism, an approach which, although constituting the characteristic and most appropriate method of theologising in the East, does not isolate God from human experience because this experience occurs ,,in a manner superior to negation”62. Palamas went on to maintain that this experience was a manifestation of God as a divine light which ,,transforms the body, and communicates its own splendour to it when, miraculously, the light which deifies the body becomes accessible to the bodily eyes”63. This light is therefore a catalyst for union between God and the human person that results in the deification of the latter. Nevertheless, in his second Triad Palamas declared that it was his purpose to ,,communicate the teaching of the light of grace of those long-revered saints whose wisdom comes from experience”, proclaiming that ,,such is the teaching of Scripture”64. This teaching is best reflected for him in the Transfiguration of Christ, and throughout his Triads he uses the Transfiguration as a point of reference in order to emphasise the fact that the light radiating from Christ on Mount Tabor was bestowed upon - and thus seen and experienced by - his disciples65. Moreover it is through the ,,long revered saints” - the Fathers of the Church - that this divine light can be experienced ,,even now in the hearts of the faithful and the perfect”66, an assertion which is consistent with apostolic tradition due to the fact that it implies that this experience can be traced back through the Fathers to the disciples and thus to its source, which is Christ Himself67. 61 Normal Russell, op. cit., p. 304; St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 32; 63 Ibidem, p. 33; 64 Ibidem, p. 33; 65 G. Maloney, op. cit., p. 87; 66 John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, p. 121; 67 Ibidem, p. 122; 62 16
  • CONCLUSIONS Barlaam's radical nominalistic and apophatic epistemology posed a dilemma; if nothing can be said concerning God because of His incomprehensibility, then certainly, by extension, He cannot interact with his creation and therefore cannot be experienced. This God, however, is not the God of the Christians who assumed human flesh; He is the God of the pagan philosophers, so far removed from His creation that an ultimate dichotomy is produced between the material universe and His so-called divine abode. Palamas perceived the danger in this way of thinking. He realised that it was a blasphemous attempt to impose finite human thinking on the incomprehensibly infinite, to circumscribe the limitless. In his Triads, Palamas illustrated in a very cogent and logical fashion the existential dimension of Christian theology; that the divine light manifested by Christ on Mount Tabor can be experienced in this life, not only by the hesychasts, but by all those who keep the divine commandments, ,,for the Lord has promised to manifest himself to him who keeps them”68. To accomplish this exposition, Palamas relied heavily on the spiritual legacy of the Orthodox Church, drawing on the writings of the Fathers faithfully and consistently, a fact which only gives veracity to his claims. Moreover, it should be every Christian's goal to receive this light, for our purpose is to become, as St Peter stated, partakers of the divine nature, and hence gods by grace (2 Pet 1, 4). This is wonderfully expressed by Palamas when he states that those who have experienced the divine light have ,,become entirely God, and know God in God” 69 . It is precisely this existential message that has to be proclaimed to our very often confused society; a society which is justifiably fed up with stories of ,,pearly gates” and ,,cloud-filled heavens”. Our society needs to experience God, an experience that God himself has made possible in his incarnation; an experience that He desires to be shared by all70. 68 St. Gregory Palamas, The Triads, p. 61; Ibidem, p. 62; 70 Ibidem, p. 62; 69 17
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY 1) *** Bible or Holy Scriptures, printed under the direction and care of the Patriarch Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Publishing House: Bible and Mission Institute of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Bucharest, 2005 2) Coffey, David, The Palamite Doctrine of God: A New Perspective, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 32, 1988 3) Dragoi, Priest Eugene, History of Christianity in dates, Published House: The Diocese Lower Danube, Galati, 2004 4) Farrugia, Edward G., Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Christian East, Published House: Galaxia Gutenberg, Targu Lapus, 2005 5) Fieser, James, and Stumpf, Samuel Enoch, Socrates to Sartre and Beyond: A History of Philosophy, USA: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 2008 6) Habra, George, The Source of the Doctrine of Gregory Palamas on the Divine Energies, Eastern Churches Quarterly, vol.XII, 1957 7) Hunter, H. D., Palamas, Gregory. New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1967 8) LaCugna, C. M., God for Us: The Trinity and Christian life, NY: Harper Collins, 1992 9) Lossky, Vladimir, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, SVS Press, James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1997 10) Maloney, G., A Theology of Uncreated Energies, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Marquette University,1978 11) Meyendorff, John, A Study of Gregory Palamas, trans. George Lawrence, Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1998 12) Idem, Byzantine Hesychasm: Historical, Theological and Social Problems: Collected Studies, London, Variorum Reprints, 1974 13) Idem, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, NY: Fordham University Press, 1983 14) Idem, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality, Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1974 18
  • 15) Palamas, St. Gregory, Complete Operas, vol II, translation, notes and bibliography by Priest Cristian Chivu, Adrian Tanasescu, Deacon Cornel Coman, Published House: The Burning Bush, Bucharest, 2013 16) Idem, Philokalia, vol. VII, introduction, notes and translation by Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru Staniloaie, Published House: Bible and Mission Institute of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Bucharest, 1977 17) Idem, The Triads in The Classics of Western Spirituality, translate by Nicholas Gendle, USA: Paulis Press, 1983 18) Russell, Normal, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004 19) Stăniloae, Priest Professor Dr. Dumitru, The life and teaching of St. Gregory Palamas, Published House: Scripta, Bucharest, 1993 20) Idem, The road to the divine light at St. Gregory Palamas, article published in ,,The Romanian Orthodox Theological Academy Magazine”, Sibiu, 1940 21) Vlachos, Hierotheos, St. Gregory Palamas - Hagiorite, Published House: Annunciation, Bacau, 2000 22) Ware, K., Tradition and personal experience in later Byzantine theology, Eastern Churches Review, vol. 3, 1970 23) Yannaras, C., The distinction between essence and energies and its importance for theology, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, vol. 19, 1975 Internet: 1) Article published on the website: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=2538.10;wap2 2) http://frgregory.blogspot.gr/2009/03/st-gregory-palamas-on-divine-energies.html, article published on website by Fr. Gregory Hogg 3) Article published on website: http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.gr/2010/02/truth-ofuncreated-light-of-god.html 4) http://oldmanbuhler.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/uncreated-energies-the-theology-oflight-st-gregory-palamas-archbishop-of-thessalonica/, article published on website by Edmund Nicholas John 5) Article published on website: http://www.basilica.ro/stiri/sf-grigorie-palama-desprefiinta-lui-dumnezeu-energiile-sale-necreate-si-vederea-luminii-dumnezeiesti_5216.html 19