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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Faith of the Liturgy

by Dimmitri Christou

Published with consent of the author.

There are a number of premiss A.C. Calivas’ addresses in his short article. Calivas, in a coherent manner, structures his article into a number of distinct passages. Beginning with the idea that the “Church is primarily a worshipping community”, Calivas’ expands his article to discuss an amount of interdependent topics, et al., how the Church celebrates her faith in the Liturgy, the dualistic nature of prayer, how God is present in the Liturgy, exercising the priestly office through the Liturgy, the Liturgy as the recapitulating basis for all of mankind, ad-infinitum. Calivas’ article is an extensive piece of literature, though easily read, dealing specifically with the personal, communal, existential, epistemological, ontological, and theological consequences of the Liturgy both in and through Creation. “It is through the Liturgy”, as Calivas explains, that we “[…] reaffirm our ultimate identity, purpose, and destiny…”[1] The purpose of this short article will be to understand just how we may come to realize our “identity”, “purpose”, and “destiny” through the Liturgy of the Orthodox faith.

1. The Church is Primarily a Worshipping Community

“The Church”, as Calivas’ explains at the beginning of his article, “[…] owes her being to Christ. She is his Body. And the Church, as the Body of Christ, depends constantly on the Holy Spirit through whom the eschaton breaks into history, the catholicity of the Eucharistic community is manifested, and the mystery of communion is experienced.”[2] Here Calivas’ elucidates the common Orthodox perspective on matters pertaining to ecclesiology. By quoting John Zizoulas, Calivas’ expands upon the aforementioned quotation by saying that the Church is in fact both “Christological” and “ecclesiological” by nature. For just as the Holy Spirit miraculously impregnated the Theotokos, making the incarnation of the Logos possible, encapsulating the Word as both God and man in the Person of Jesus Christ, so too is the Church hypostatically analogous in nature to the God-man Jesus Christ, for it is the Eucharist which is both truly the God-man Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood. Divinely impregnated with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church is Christ’s divine institution through which Creation participates “in the mystery of salvation.” It is by the Holy Spirit that the Church is enlivened. Following this line of thought, Calivas continues on to say “The Holy Spirit is the source of all prophetic and charismatic gifts”,[3] of which are consequentially consummated “through the sacraments of baptism/ chrismation, the Eucharist, and ordination, in which the mystery and presence of Christ are contained.”[4] By virtue of the Holy Spirit the Church is brought to life. Though, by means of the Liturgy, where we as a “primarily worshipping community”, is the gap between God and man properly fulfilled. Here Calivas’ distinctly illustrates how communion with God is made existentially, epistemologically, and ontologically possible. Calivas’ notes, quoting St. Basil, “The way to divine knowledge ascends from the one Spirit through the one Son to the one Father, Likewise, natural goodness, inherent holiness, and royal dignity reaches us from the Father through the Only-begotten [Son] to the Spirit.”[5] It is through the Liturgy, Calivas’ explains, that the “Church expresses her self-identity, preserves her traditions, and manifests the mystery of unity in diversity of her members.”[6] Furthermore, it is specifically through the Liturgy, which Calivas’ continues on to conclude, that the “Church actualizes the whole of God’s divine plan”[7] making knowledge of God, experience, and salvation possible. Worship as such is intrinsically soteriological, made specifically achievable by the Holy Spirit Who guides the Church.

2. The Church Enacts and Celebrates her Faith through the Liturgy

In the second section of Calivas’ article we are told “the Church invites us to continually discover, experience, and realize our true and eternal mode of being. The Liturgy is the Church’s faith in motion, the unique setting in which she remembers and celebrates the revealed truths about God and the created order that she, by grace, knows, loves, and proclaims.”[8] The Church enacting and celebrating her faith through the Liturgy, according to Calivas, is not merely an institutional process but rather a divine reality, upon which and through material nature can be understood by persons from a theologically revelatory and intimate perspective. “The Liturgy”, Calivas’ explains, “recommends, instills, and imparts a particular vision of faith and way of life. It builds faith and forms identity, both personal and communal.”[9] We as human beings can then participate as real individuals in the total life of the Church. The Liturgy is therefore to be understood as the celebration of ultimate truth through which we as human beings partake in a relatively dependent manner. However, there are essentially two kinds of text which accentuate the Liturgy, biblical and ecclesial. In regard to the totality of the Biblical texts, Calivas’ notes, “The Biblical texts include the repertoire of readings from the Old and New Testaments, the Psalms, and the several canticles or songs of the two Testaments.” While, regarding the totality of the other text, which Calivas’ refers to as “ecclesial”, there are “collections of prayers, hymns, and rubrics that have been incorporated into the liturgical books of the Church”[10], of which being made known prior, were composed by “[…] various gifted, inspired, devout, and saintly persons…”[11] The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostomos, the great Orthodox Saint, is a perfect example, fitting of Calivas’ preceding description.

The Church enacting and celebrating her faith through the Liturgy is nonetheless specifically soteriological in nature, being defined by its “essential elements”, which have been named above; the Liturgy therefore “belongs to the whole Church.” For, the salvation of the world cannot be restricted to a particular people group but rather is complementarily actualized by the entire Church, as Calivas’ explains by quoting Acts 15:22, “which receives it and prays through it."[12] The bare essentials of the Liturgy, as such, cannot be dependent on the independent part but rather must be dependent on the entire whole.

3. The Two Ways of Prayer – Personal Devotion and Communal Worship

Thus far Calivas’ has explained how the experience of the Church is made possible by the Holy Spirit and what the essential components of the Liturgical text are in fact composed of. However, in the third section of Calivas’ article, the nature of personal prayer and communal worship is scrutinized. Here Calivas’ begins by explaining that “Communion with God and neighbor beings with our willingness to see and accept the truth that an authentic human being is above all a worshipping being who feels the irresistible urge to converse with the Author of life, who has loved him first.”[13] Calivas, while quoting Father Georges Florovsky, tells us that “Christian worship” is specifically a “personal act” which is properly realized “only within the community, in the context of common and corporate life.”[14] Calivas, quoting Father George Florovsky, says,

Personal devotion and community worship belong intimately together, and each of them is genuine and authentic, and truly Christian, only through the other… Common prayer presupposes and requires personal training. Yet, personal prayer itself is possibly in the context of the Community, since no person is Christian except as a member of the Body. Even in the solitude, ‘in the chamber’ (Mt. 6:5), a Christian prays as a member of the redeemed community, the Church.[15]

Following this line of reasoning, Calivas’ continues on to define the two “primary and necessary conditions that both establish and define the spiritual experience as well as nurture the inner life of the Christian.” That is specifically personal prayer and communal worship. Though, as Calivas’ chases this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, the theologian outlines a specific danger that an individual consequentially comes across when taking either of each conditions for granted. Calivas, while quoting Father Boris Bobrinskoy, explains, “Personal prayer degenerates into individualistic pietism and anarchic ecstasy when cut off from the liturgical rhythm of the Church. Liturgical prayer becomes impersonal, formalistic and superficial, unless it is inwardly experienced and vitalized by the private prayer of the believers.”[16] Such is the underlying reason why Calivas’ subsequent to the above quotation explains that the Church proposes that the Christian participate in regular communal worship while attempting to motivate the individual to grow in his or her prayerful life through the “acts of devotion of the Church.”[17] Acts of devotion include, “commitment to the Gospel, and loyalty to the true faith, the daily reading of the Holy Scriptures and other edifying texts, the struggle against passions, fasting, and works of justice, love, and charity.”[18] Christian spirituality is in fact complimentarily multifaceted.

However, as Calivas typifies, it is of the utmost importance that a Christian does not disregard the fact that He is both personally and communally a member of the Body of Christ. Such is the main focus of the third section of Calivas’ article. For it is through this dependent membership that true Christian life, doctrine, and worship, is realized. Quoting, Father George Florovsky once again, Calivas explains, “Christian existence is intrinsically corporate. [To] be Christian means to be in the Community, in the Church and of the Church.”[19] It is through personal devotion that we Christian’s prepare for communal worship. To separate ourselves from either of each or from both would be entirely detrimental to our spirituality, violating the spirit and form of Orthodoxy both in practice and theory.

4. God is Present to his People in the Liturgy

Here, in the fourth section of Calivas’ article, it is explained that “The Liturgy is more than texts, words, gestures, and rubrics. It is the meeting ground of heaven and earth. It is the place where the people meet the self-giving of God and where, through this encounter, they meet their own human lives in unexpected form.”[20] In this section of the article, Calivas’ notes, that “The Liturgy is, first of all, an act of God.”[21] This is made specifically evident in the Liturgy where it is said, “For you, Christ our God, are the Offerer and the Offered, the One who receives and is distributed.”[22] The Liturgy cannot be said to be mere ritual but an act received and predicated in Christ. In further support of this general remark, Calivas’ notes, that it is “In the Liturgy” that “[…] the Son and Word of God, Jesus Christ, is present to his people, fulfilling his promise to be in their midst when they gather together in his Name.”[23] Because the Liturgy is not merely an act which is brought to life by the work of man, that our faith is not a circular exercise in religious ritual, in and of itself but rather by God it can therefore be said that “The Liturgy allows us to experience a reality greater than ourselves and greater than death. It brings us before the beauty, glory, and unending life of God.”[24] We can then rightfully say that therefore we as persons created in the Image of God are defined by the Liturgical worship of the Church predicated in Christ. For it is by virtue of Liturgical worship that we come to participate in the divine nature, restoring the original nature and intended purpose of our being, as God’s children created in His Likeness.

As Calivas’ tells it, “In the Liturgy we discover and experience the love of God. The Spirit of God enables us to make our confessions of faith and offer God joyful adoration, praise, and thanksgiving on accounts of his great goodness, holiness, and glory.”[25] It is specifically through the Liturgy that we as human persons are “enabled”. While it is more than evident that God is present as the One Who initiates contact in the Liturgy. As such, the Liturgy enacts within our personhood an experiential state which offers “petitions, intercessions, and supplications on account of God’s tender mercy and compassion.”[26] The Liturgy helps us to see and experience what would otherwise be unknown, that as a result allows us to then sincerely approach God as human beings, made in His Likeness. Orthodox Liturgical worship is specifically formed to infiltrate the heart of man to act as air for the lung and blood for the heart.

5. Exercising the Priestly Office through the Liturgy

Calivas in the fifth section of his article begins by saying that “by drawing us unto himself through his salvific work, Christ has made us into kings and priests, that is to say, into a people who are under the rule of God and are mediators between him and the rest of humanity.”[27] Calivas is at this point quoting Revelation 1:5-6. Certainly in this section of Calivas’ article the authoritative nature of the priestly office is taken into regard. Though, prior to engaging the nature of the authority of the priestly office, Calivas’ begins by deliberating upon a number of Biblical passages related to the communal nature of the Church. Calivas’s starts by explaining that spiritual worship is communal by quoting the Divine Liturgy, where it is said, “We also offer to You this spiritual worship for the whole world, for the holy catholic, and apostolic Church, and for all those living in purity and holiness.”[28] (Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom) Though, Calivas continues forth by explaining that because the Church is an organic community, while paraphrasing St. John Chrysostom, “each member has both a particular and a common activity.” In favour of this point of view Calivas’ quotes Col. 2:2, which says that we are “united in love”. Calivas is making a clear point: “No one is useless, no one is a spectator, everyone has a role, because the liturgy is the work of all the people.” The Liturgy is thus all inclusive.

However, it must be understood that there is a distinction between the royal priesthood of all believers and the ministerial priesthood of the Church. Both roles in regard to the priesthood are grounded in the Person of Christ as the High Priest and Mediator of the New Covenant. Either of the two can be lightly disregarded—that much can be said with certainty. Irrespective, it is the ministerial priesthood which is specifically “perpetuated” in the Church through three orders. For the sake of equivocation, it is the ministerial priesthood which exists primarily in the order of bishop, presbyter, and deacon. However, it must be understood that the ministerial priesthood finds its source in and through the Liturgy. Calivas explains, “The clergy, however, do not possess any individual power apart from or independent of the ministry of laity.”[29] The ministerial priesthood is not an authoritative branch unless it is joined to the tree as a whole.

“Through the Liturgy”, Calivas tells us, “[…] clergy and laity alike enter into an intimate personal relationship with the Triune God, and according to his promise, he comes to dwell in us and we in him so that we may experience a unity that surpasses all understanding, becoming one with him and one with another.”[30] (Jn. 14:23, 15:4, 17:21) This line of reasoning exemplifies the communal nature of the Liturgy by its bare essence. Thus is the reason why we pray during the Eucharist saying, as Calivas’ notes, “And unite us all to one another who become partakers of the one Bread and the Cup in the communion of the Holy Spirit.”[31] (Anaphora of St. Basil) It is the Holy Spirit which “brings us into communion with Christ and forms Christ’s mind in us.”[32] While , “True worship transforms us into a living sacrifice, into persons who live for God…”[33] For it is in the Liturgy that “Holy Spirit draws near to us to enliven us continually, both as persons and as a community, that we may be united with the glorified body of Christ, in order to become like him.”[34] It is through the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy that ministerial authority is bestowed.

6. The Liturgy is a Formative, Restorative, and Transformative Experience

There are three distinct categories Calivas’ introduces to the discussion, the formative environment, the restorative environment and the transformative environment. Each of which category exists in the content of the Liturgy and its essential expression. Calivas’ begins the discussion by quoting Susan Wood who explains,

Within the liturgy we come to know ourselves and God because the liturgy orders our relationships: my relationship to others within the body of Christ sacramentally constituted within the eucharist, my relationship to God as recipient of God’s graciousness, my relationship to the world by being not only sent, but missioned and commissioned to live ethically within history what has been experience in the metahistorical time and space of the liturgy. In short, in the liturgy we do not acquire knowledge about God; we acquire knowledge of God.[35]

As Calivas continues on to explain, recounting Susan Wood’s position on the matter, “The Liturgy is not so much an object of knowledge as it is a source of knowledge and understanding…”[36] The Liturgy can be understood as such for it is precisely because the “Liturgy communicates to the people meaning and purpose of life…”[37] For the Liturgy is ultimately our window onto the spiritual world, our participation in the life of Christ…”[38]Similarly, the Liturgy is understood to serve as the bridge between heaven and earth, where through the “liturgy we are in communion with the holy ones of the faith, who have gone before us to their rest in God’s eternal realms.”[39] Though, the Liturgy must be understood as that which forms a Christian into a celebrating and prayerful Christian, restoring the person to their original purpose and nature and transforming them as such. As Calivas notes, “In the liturgy is where we simultaneously begin…”[40] as it is in the Liturgy that we come to “encounter Christ”. Through knowledge of the Son and Word of God we become more Christ-like. Here it can be said rightfully that the Liturgy “is the place in which God works to change the very core of our being making us by grace what he is by nature.”[41] (2 Pt. 1:4) It is through the Liturgy that we come to effectively know Christ while it is by way of the Liturgy that we come into true knowledge of Christ, through the whole of “the Church’s teaching, life, and liturgy.”[42]

7. The Liturgy Brings us to the Threshold of another World

As it is understood, we do not merely commemorate Christ by venerating His tribulation during Holy Week. But rather we participate in His tribulation during Holy Week. For example, Calivas’ touches upon this idea of participation in the seventh section of his article where it is written, “Through the liturgy we share truly in the reality of the Christ-event in a symbolic, iconic, and sacramental manner.”[43] Christ can be said to draw us into Himself during Holy Week, for example, where the period of Pascha leads to our rebirth as we die and rise again with Christ.
As such, we can truly say that we meet and come to experience God in an existentially particular manner. This is why Calivas’ concludes, following St. Athanasius’ position on the matter, that Creation, which was subject to “corruption” and “death” as a result of the “ancestral sin” has now been liberated “from the proclivity to decay by the resurrection of Christ.”[44]

8. The Liturgy is a Study of Life

The Liturgy can be said to illumine information otherwise unknown by mankind, except by direct revelation. But, where the Gospels are incapable of communicating divine Grace, the Liturgy grants “access by faith, into divine grace, by which we are sanctified and made victors over sin and death.”[45] The Words of Scripture, divorced from their Liturgical context, become nothing more than words about God rather than the Words of God. Though, it is the Word of God which drives us to repentance through the Liturgy, as Calivas’ explains.[46] “The liturgy heightens our awareness of the profound mysteries of the life as it increases the depth and breadth of the meaning and the purpose of human existence.”[47] While the “prayer of the Church confronts us with the universality of human moral failure and names all our collective and personal sins—spiritual, intellectual, and canrnal—that estrange us from one another and from the intimate presence of God and make us into imposters.”[48] Calivas’ illustrates particularly that sin violates the sense of man, allowing man to see light where there is only darkness. Concentrating on this fact, Calivas’ explains that this immature focus of mankind is the result of what the devil has accomplished, where the “ontological condition” of man has been degraded by being made susceptible to death and corruption, subsequent to the fall in the Garden of Eden.

It must be understood that Christ has trampled death by death; that he “has healed our dreadful brokenness and tragic unfulfillment. Death has been swallowed up in victory and life has been liberated.”[49] (1 Cor. 15:54-55) The Liturgy brings to light the true condition of mankind by illuminating his condition. We are weak but it is through the Liturgy that we come into communion with God, such that as a result our nature can be restored to its unique and intended design.

9. The Liturgy Enlivens our Ecclesial Identity

The underlying premise promoted in section 9 of Calivas’ article is related to the ecclesial identity, where we as Christians are understood to be members of a Body. This Body spoken of is not analogous to any type of body or group of individuals, however. For, as Calivas’ explains, the Church “transcends all manner of biological and social exclusiveness, we subsist in a manner that differs from the biological and historical.”[50] The identity of our existence is ecclesial rather than merely evolutionary, as John Zizoulas explains, as our identity is grounded in the “victory of Christ”.[51] In this manner, due to the significance of Christ’s incarnation and atoning work, are we as human persons to be understood and recognized.

10. The Tension between the Present and the Future

The Church, as Calivas explains, “realizes her true identity and actualizes herself as the bride and body of Christ. She enters continually into an intimate union with Christ, who is her head, the Mediator of the new covenant and the High Priest of the good things to come.”[52] (Heb. 9:11, 15) In this manner we can begin to discuss the unity present in Christ and how the Church is specifically focused on the end times. As Calivas’ explains, “For this reason the end times both order and fuel the Church’s life and ministry, her diakonia to the world.” Moving forward, as Calivas’ notes, the age we live in is expresses two images. “We look back to the central events of the Gospel and forward to the Parousia of the Lord, the final consummation when “we shall always be with the Lord.”[53] (1 Thes. 4:17) There is present within the formal and material nature of the Liturgy a dualistic parallel. Through the left eye of the Church we look back to the history pertaining to the life of Jesus Christ, encapsulated in the Gospels. While, through the right eye of the Church, we look forward to the second coming, the consummation of the world to come. “This fact provides”, as Calivas explains, “the Church with the courage to endure the long haul of history, to struggle to remain steadfast in the faith, and to ‘rejoice always…’”[54] (1 Thes. 5:16) The tension between the present and the future can be seen as two sides of the same coin both defined by the Person of Jesus Christ. Though, as Christians, we should not fear the future but rather embrace it, even if the future is guarded by destruction or peace. Just as the Word condescended Himself, joining to Himself a human nature in the Person of Jesus Christ, that is to free us from our sin to fulfill God’s divine plan, so too does the Church, defined by the condescension of the Word steer forward, looking toward the future eschaton, allowing us to be united with God. The Church is “anchorned in the realities of God’s kingdom.”[55]

11. The Liturgy Exhorts us to Imitate God’s Love and Holiness

The Liturgy establishes a specific frame of mind in the individual Christian person. Allowing us to grow as Icons of Christ, as the Liturgy predicates specific forms of “affection” and “love”, Christian’s become more holy by way of the experiential Christological nature of the Liturgy. This is the main point of the 11th section in Calivas’ article. As Calivas’ explains while quoting Saliers,

On the other hand, our intentions and actions fall short, and our affections are rarely pure motives for well-doing in actual everyday life. But just at this crucial point, Christian liturgy in its texts, symbols, and ritual acts recognizes this gap, offering truthful repentance and reconciliation.[56]

It becomes quite clear, following what has been said prior, that while we begin to participate in the God-man Jesus Christ by way of the Liturgy so too do we become more Christ-like as a result. The Liturgy is, “[…] an iconic and sacramental enactment of salvation”[57] that consequentially helps “[...] bring clarity of purpose to one’s thoughts, emotions, motivations, decisions, and actions.”[58] The Liturgy cannot be disregarded for what it is by its mere expression. Instead the Liturgy must be understood, experienced, and appreciated, by what it is through its content and spirit. To partake in the Eucharist is to conform your will to that of Christ’s and as a result become renewed in and through Him. Though, to become more Christ-like is to become more communal. Such that to truly be a Christian is to become Christ-like, whuch is only possible in common communion in the Liturgy. Calivas’ tells us here that, “Enlivened by the Holy Spirit, we come to realize that being is life, and that life is communion, and that communion is love.”[59] It must be understood that the Liturgy is hardly static, but rather is a “dynamic event” which defines who we are progressively over time as we come to be defined by the God-man Jesus Christ in the Liturgy.

12. Learning to Love, Know, and Live the Liturgy

“The deepest and most personal of human experiences begin in the heart”[60] Calivas’ declares, as he echoes the common Hebrew idiom found in the Old Testament, that “the heart was considered as the organ of reasoning, the seat of intellectual and moral life.”[61] This statement is surely certifying as we come to realize that to Orthodox Christians the heart of man is more than merely a biological organ, a chunk of matter designed to pump blood in accordance with its purpose and function. But that, rather, the heart, is instead, understood as the “the spiritual center” which “[…] comprises the human person and much more.”[62] Here the heart is understood to be the defining organ of the being of man. The heart is understood as such for it is emotion which generally precedes the understanding, meaning we come to feel before we understand is an undeniable fact. Here, Calivas’ says, “We can say, therefore, that one feels worship before understanding it. Its beauty attracts and moves the soul before one seeks to understand it in all its depth and wonder.”[63] It is not the dogmatic theological distinctions which come prior to belief in God but rather right relationship with Him. It is the “attractiveness, the clarity, the transparency, and the splendor of the ritual” which comes to bring joy to the heart of the Christian before that of theological differentiation. Though, as Calivas ‘ notes, “[…] it would be wrong to think that every Christian in every instance experiences the Church’s liturgy…” This much can be said with certainty. For not each and every human being who comes to be brought to life receives life. At many points in time we suffer and as a result our life begins to change. Just as the weather changes so does our experience as a worshiping Christian who wishes to actualize their spirituality.

Nonetheless, as Calivas’ begins to explain, “[…] because it is through the Liturgy that we live and breathe our Christian faith…” it is also through the Liturgy that we come to understand. Struggle is inherent to Christian life, while the Liturgy must be “[…] loved, studied, analyzed, learned, and above all, lived.” The very nature of what the Liturgy forms and structures sincere ontological reform in the human person not just as a human being but as a man, created in the Image of the Likeness of God.

There are a number of premiss A.C. Calivas’ addresses in his short article. Calivas, in a coherent manner, structures his article into a number of distinct passages. Thus far we have addressed each and every distinct premise of the article, going into great detail by quoting Calivas’ literature while expanding upon what he has said. Beginning with the idea that the “Church is primarily a worshipping community”, Calivas’ expands his article to discuss an amount of interdependent topics, et al., how the Church celebrates her faith in the Liturgy, the dualistic nature of prayer, how God is present in the Liturgy, exercising the priestly office through the Liturgy, the Liturgy as the recapitulating basis for all of mankind, ad-infinitum. All of which have been summarized. Calivas’ article is an extensive piece of literature, though easily read, dealing specifically with the personal, communal, existential, epistemological, ontological, and theological consequences of the Liturgy both in and through Creation.

Bibliography:

[1] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 22.

[2] Ibid., p. 1.

[3] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 3.

[4] Ibid., p. 2.

[5] Ibid., p. 2.

[6] Ibid., p. 2.

[7] Ibid., p. 3.

[8] Ibid., p. 3.

[9] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 3.

[10] Ibid., p. 4.

[11] Ibid., p. 4.

[12] Ibid., p. 4.

[13] Ibid., p. 4.

[14] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 4.

[15] Ibid., p. 4.

[16] Ibid., p. 5.

[17] Ibid., p. 5.

[18] Ibid., p. 5.

[19] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 5.

[20] Ibid., p. 6.

[21] Ibid., p. 6.

[22] Ibid., p. 6.

[23] Ibid., p. 6.

[24] Ibid., p. 7.

[25] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 7.

[26] Ibid., p. 7.

[27] Ibid., p. 8.

[28] Ibid., p. 8.

[29] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 8.

[30] Ibid., p. 9.

[31] Ibid., p. 9.

[32] Ibid., p. 10.

[33] Ibid. p. 10.

[34] Ibid. p. 10.

[35] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 10.

[36] Ibid., p. 11.

[37] Ibid., p. 11.

[38] Ibid., p. 11.

[39] Ibid., p. 11.

[40] Ibid., p. 12.

[41] Ibid., p. 12.

[42] Ibid., p. 13.

[43] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 13.

[44] Ibid., p. 14.

[45] Ibid., p. 14.

[46] Ibid., p. 14.

[47] Ibid., p. 15.

[48] Ibid., p. 15.

[49] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 16.

[50] Ibid., p. 17.

[51] Ibid., p. 17.

[52] Ibid., p. 18.

[53] Ibid., p. 18.

[54] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 18.

[55] Ibid., p. 19.

[56] Ibid., p. 19.

[57] Ibid., p. 19.

[58] Ibid., p. 19.

[59] Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy, p. 20.

[60] Ibid., p. 21.

[61] Ibid., p. 21.

[62] Ibid., p. 21.

[63] Ibid., p. 21.

Calivas, A.C., Essays in Theology and Liturgy – Vol. 3: Aspects of Orthodox Worship, Brookline, 2003, pp.1-22: “The Liturgy: The Church’s Faith in Motion”.

Originally published by the Saint Justin the Philosopher Foundation for Orthodox Christian Apologetics

Source:  https://www.facebook.com/notes/saint-justin-the-philosopher-foundation-for-orthodox-christian-apologetics/the-faith-of-the-liturgy/320446871365287

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Fragmentation of Christianity and the Unity of Faith, by Leon Podles

Earlier today I encountered one of the best articles I have ever read on the East/West schism.  From the Eirenikon blog, "The Fragmentation of Christianity and the Unity of Faith", by Dr. Leon Podles, originally printed in Touchstone, summer of 1995.  Eirenikon's author "Irenaeus" entitled his post, "All that separates must converge".

http://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/all-that-separates-must-converge/

The Mequteria - an Ethiopian Chotki

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending an Eritrean Catholic Divine Liturgy, one of the most sublime experiences of my life. My appreciation for one of the Church's most precious treasures and best-kept secrets, Ethiopian Christianity, continues to increase the more I learn about it. The venerable Master Beadsman Phillip Rolfes (who ties prayer ropes professionally) recently posted several articles about an Ethiopian prayer rope called the mequteria. What remains in this post is an outrageous plagiarism from his blog, which can be found here:

Ethiopian Orthodox Prayers



In the Ethiopian Orthodox Tradition, the commonly used prayer ropes are those with 41, and 64 beads, also known as a Mequteria. 41 is the number of lashes that Jesus received and 64 is the age of the Theotokos at her Assumption. Some monks and hermits use 150 to 300 beads, or even more than that.



When using the 41 bead Mequteria , the prayers recited are:



1. The Lord's Prayer with Gabriel's Salutation:



Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. O, Our Lady Virgin Mary, we hail thee by the salutation of Angel Gabriel. Thou are virgin in thy mind. Thou are virgin in thy body. Hail Mary, Mother of Almighty God. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Rejoice Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Pray for us to your beloved Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that he may forgive us our sins now and forever Amen." (12 times)



2. Lord have mercy on us (41 times)



3. In the name of Mary, Lord have mercy on us (41 times)



4. Kyrie Elieson (41 times)



5. Sador (piercing on the ribs by the lancet), Alador (the piercing on the right hand), Danat (the piercing on the left palm), Adera (the piercing on right foot), Rodas (the piercing on the left foot) (41 times)



6. O! God (41 times)



7. O! Christ (41 times)



8. Save us from wrath and deliver us by your mercy, in the name of Mary Your Mother (41 times)



9. Hear us! Our God and Savior (41 times)



10. Elohe! (Pronounced as “Elohee” and is the same as “Eloi” mentioned in Mt. 27:46) (41 times)



11. Ye! Ye! Ye! (Pronounced as “Yae” meaning “woe to me”) My God see me! (41 times)



12. O! God according to your mercy and not according to our sin (12 times)



13. Lord remember us in thy Kingdom (12 times)



14. The Magnificat:



"Hail Mary, we bow unto thee. Our Mother Mary we pray unto thee. We beseech thee to protect us from the evil beast. O! Virgin, in the name of Anna your mother, and Joachim your father, bless our congregation today!! Amen. The prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God: My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. Amen. (7 times)



These are the 14 common recitations by all those who use the Mequteria. One can, however, add more according to his or her needs or interests. When using a 64 bead Mequteria all the prayers recited 41 times, will instead, be recited 64 times. Those prayers recited 7, or 12 times remain the same.

Sophia in Russian Theology as the Revelatory Aspect of the Divine Energies


            One of the prominent themes that emerged in Russian theological thought in the 19th and 20th centuries was the concept of Sophia, or Divine Wisdom.  Personified as a woman and loosely associated with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as well as with the Theotokos and the Church, speculation on the nature of Sophia was often controversial, and some of the theologians incurred ecclesiastical condemnation due to the perceived similarity of sophianic thought to ancient Gnosticism, Protestant theosophy, and German transcendental idealism.  The purpose of this paper shall be to explain the main concepts and terms of Russian sophiology in such a manner as to show that it is at heart genuinely Orthodox despite unfortunate and confused phrasing on the part of the authors in question.  I shall do this by arguing that Sophia, under the aspect conceived especially by the two theologians Fr. Sergei Bulgakov and Holy New-Martyr Fr. Pavel Florensky, is not actually a “fourth hypostasis” or a feminization of one of the Three Hypostases, but rather a manner of viewing the uncreated energies of God, as described and enshrined in Orthodox dogma by St. Gregory Palamas.  I shall use Palamas’ terminology to relate Sophia to the Most Holy Trinity, and conclude by showing how the writings of the often influential but neglected 16th-century Lutheran spiritual writer Jacob Boehme relate Sophia to the Western, Roman Catholic teaching on divine grace.  My secondary purpose in explaining the relation between Sophia and the Trinity will be to separate sophiology from the sort of Gnostic speculations that unfortunately tainted the work of Vladimir Soloviev, and also from the feminist heresies in the latter half of the 20th century that identified Sophia with either God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.

            As it is the subject of an entire category of books in the Old Testament, there is no need to pose the question as to whether Sophia exists, but only as to what manner of being Sophia has.  There are two extremes which this paper will attempt to steer a middle ground between.  One would speak of divine wisdom as simply an abstraction, much as one would speak of human wisdom as a description of the quality of someone’s mind and not a hypostatic reality in its own right.  This ought to be rejected for the following liturgical, Scriptural, and mystical reasons.  First, Scripture personifies Wisdom throughout all of the wisdom books, speaking of her in language too strong for a mere abstraction.  “For Wisdom is more active than all active things: and reacheth everywhere by reason of her purity.  For she is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God; and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her.  For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.  And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself to holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets.  For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom.”[1]

            Secondly, there is a liturgical tradition of naming temples in honor of Sophia, most notably Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and consequently several iconographic templates for writing icons to her.  It is strictly forbidden within Orthodoxy to write icons depicting abstractions (leading some iconographers to reject the icons of Sophia as heretical)[2] or to dedicate temples to them.  Therefore Sophia must be in some sense hypostatic.

            Thirdly, this paper assumes the real rather than abstract existence of Sophia because it would like to fully account for Vladimir Soloviev’s visions of Sophia.[3]  Soloviev is almost universally positively regarded as a theologian in both Catholic and Orthodox circles, and given his ardent defense of the Papacy with which he professed communion and his lifelong attempt to bring the Russian Orthodox Church into union with Rome, it is at least easier to believe that his visions were of God rather than of the devil.  His first vision of Sophia as a resplendent lady occurred during Liturgy at the age of nine; a second occurred in the British Library while he was reading somewhat dubious Protestant sophianic texts by Jacob Boehme and John Pordage.  Sophia then instructed him to go seek her in the Egyptian desert, and he immediately left for a remote part of Egypt where he had a third vision of her.    Shortly after these visions, he earnestly embraced an ultramontane view of the Papacy, publicly received communion from a Catholic priest, and spent the rest of his life defending Christian unity.  It would not seem that a mere abstraction could be such an effective agent of grace.

            The second extreme I would like to avoid in this paper is to make Sophia a separate hypostasis in her own right.  Since I am interested in the orthodox Christian doctrine of Sophia, I will not be concerned with Gnosticism, and due to the length constraints of this paper I will not critique Soloviev’s ambitious and dubious attempt to adopt the entire system and terminology of Valentinian Gnosticism while showing that properly understood it is nothing other than Trinitarian orthodoxy.  Likewise, because the Orthodox doctrine of God is that though God transcends the biological categories of male and female, He relates to us as a male, and it is heretical to refer to any of the three hypostases of the Trinity as female (as Sophia, or as Mother, or as Divine Feminine) despite the popularity of such an identification by modern feminists as well as by some more mainstream Roman Catholic pop theologians.[4]  Instead, I shall argue that Divine Sophia is the hypostatic energy of the Most Holy Trinity following the essence/energy distinction elucidated by St. Gregory Palamas and enshrined as dogma by the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 1351.[5]  The basic structure of my argument shall follow the reasoning of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov in his book Holy Wisdom.

            Despite his ecclesiastical condemnation, Bulgakov was self-consciously attempting to express Orthodox doctrine on the subject.[6]  Like Soloviev, he was familiar with the earlier theological ventures into sophiology made by Protestants like Jacob Boehme and John Pordage, and which had been introduced by the Freemasons into Russia at the end of the 18th century.  However, he argued that his own teaching did not derive from Boehme but from Tradition,[7] and gently criticized Soloviev for mixing Gnostic elements in with his Orthodoxy.

            Starting with Proverbs 8:22-31, Bulgakov notes that Sophia is in some way hypostatic,[8] but contra Arius not identical to the Logos because the passage has Wisdom say “The Lord created me.”[9]  Instead of identifying her with the Logos, Bulgakov related her to the Shekinah, the Glory of God.  According to Bulgakov, Wisdom and Glory are distinct aspects of the Godhead, but distinguished only by the way in which they are revealed.  Wisdom refers to the content of the revelation of the Godhead; Glory/Shekinah to the manifestation of the revelation of the Godhead.  “Wisdom is the matter of Glory, Glory the form of Wisdom,” as he says.[10]  “Nevertheless,” Bulgakov states, “these two distinct aspects can in no way be separated from each other or replaced by one another, as two principles within the Godhead.  This would contradict the truth of monotheism, for the one personal God possesses but one Godhead, which is expressed at once in Wisdom and Glory.”[11]  Though Bulgakov’s terminology is at times unclear, it seems that Godhead is the divine ousia; “God possesses the Godhead, or he is the Godhead”.[12]

            It would seem that Bulgakov is inaccurate to identify Sophia as the divine Ousia, however,[13] though he acknowledges in a footnote that a more precise and less simplistic phrasing would be to acknowledge an “equivalence in difference” between Sophia and ousia analogous to that of the ousia and energeiai of St. Gregory Palamas.[14]  Even more precisely, Bulgakov identifies Sophia with the divinity of God, and in the medieval disputes over the hypostatic origin versus eternal manifestation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit through the Son, divinity became regarded in the East as the energy of God.[15]  As Bulgakov explains, “The glory of God in these instances is obviously intended to represent a divine principle.  Though it differs from God’s personal being, yet it is inseparably bound up with it: it is not God, but Divinity.”[16]  From the Western point of view, the divinity of God is His natura or “essence” since it is what makes God what He is.  God’s essence is His existence, or His essence is to exist, and therefore divinity cannot exist apart from God and God cannot exist except through His divinity.  The Eastern theological viewpoint does not disagree with this because of the subtle difference in meaning between ousia and natura; expressing this truth in Eastern terms, Bulgakov says that Sophia is eternally hypostasized in and through the hypostases of the Trinity.  Sophia is the life of God – “the life of an hypostatic spirit, though not itself hypostatic.”[17]

            Bulgakov is careful to say that Sophia is “not itself hypostatic” in order to avoid the error that the phrasing of his martyred colleague Fr. Pavel Florensky sometimes leaned towards in making God a quarternitas, for example when Florensky calls God a “fourth hypostatic element”.[18]  Bulgakov notes the similarity of this phrasing to the medieval heresy of Gilbert de la Porree, for whom the Godhead was a fourth term of the Trinity, and who was condemned by the Council of Rheims in 1147.  Bulgakov quotes the aforesaid council as having “very justly proclaimed that Divinitas sit Deus et Deus Divinitas.”[19]

            Because of God’s simplicity – He is a Trinity, not a set of three gods – there is but one divinity and consequently one Sophia.  Because of the inseparability of energy and essence, it is impossible for multiple essences to have the same energy or for one essence to have multiple energies.  As St. John Damascene taught us, God’s energy is simple, and likewise Fr. Bulgakov teaches that the Holy Trinity “possesses one Wisdom, not three; one Glory, not three.”[20]

            Sophiology becomes more tricky when we approach the question of the relation of Sophia to the created world.  God created the world by His energies (“energy” by definition refers to the ontological being of an action within the doer), and His presence in the world and indeed the very being of the world are through His energies;[21] Bulgakov will say that it is by Sophia that the world is created,[22] and he says that what he means by this is that God’s Wisdom is the “reason” why God created the world, insofar as God could be said to have a reason.

Furthermore, since Wisdom is the content or “matter” of the revelation of God, and God reveals Himself first and foremost through creating creatures that partake a likeness to the Creator and are capable of receiving a revelation of God, the first and foremost “matter” of God’s revelation is nothing other than the entire created universe itself.  Bulgakov and other Russian theologians vary on whether Sophia is created or uncreated, and whether Sophia is one or two.  In The Wisdom of God, Bulgakov speaks of two Sophias, one created and the other uncreated;[23] the two Sophias were perfectly united in the person of Christ, making our theosis possible.[24]  However, he also noted that this would seem to introduce “a sort of duplication of the divine Sophia”,[25] violating the absolute incommensurability between Creator and creature.  Orthodox thought does not recognize an “analogy of being”, an idea largely misunderstood as implying a common ground or set of qualities between God and the world.  Instead, Orthodoxy insists that the created world participates in Being through the uncreated energies of God, making God the sole ground of being between both (an idea that should hopefully sound familiar to Thomist ears).  God therefore is the being of created things, and the “creaturely Sophia” (Bulgakov does not say “created”) is truly divine, just as sanctifying grace is divine (and, according to Orthodox dogma, therefore uncreated).  Consequently, Bulgakov notes that “it is nearer the truth to speak of unity, even identity, as between the divine and the creaturely Sophia; for there is nothing doubled in God.  At the same time, however, and without equivocation, we can speak of the two different forms of Sophia in God and in the creature.”[26]   Bulgakov distinguishes them both on the grounds of one’s simplicity and perfection and the other’s temporality, and on the grounds of one’s divinity and the other’s participatedness.

In order to do full justice to the unity of Sophia and avoid the clumsiness of having an asymmetric duality between Sophias, most other Russian theologians will speak of a single Sophia.  They disagree, however, as to whether this Sophia is created or uncreated, or somewhere inbetween.  Sensitive to the ecclesiastical condemnation (in the Synodikon of Holy Orthodoxy) of the idea of eternal Platonic forms which would compromise the createdness of matter and the freedom with which God created the world, Fr. Vasilii Zenkovskii insisted that Sophia had to be purely created, a view strongly supported by Scriptural passages in which God is spoken of as having created Sophia (such as Proverbs 8:22).[27]  Father Zenkovskii was supported in his view by a number of prominent theologians whose Orthodoxy was irreproachable, including Fr. Georges Florovsky, Vladimir Lossky, and his less well-known father Nikolai Lossky.  Yet just as the disciples of Barlaam the Calabrian ended up concluding that “created grace” as a creature is incapable of bridging the ontological gap and uniting us to God, Father Zenkovskii was unable to explain how a created thing could truly be the Wisdom of God as described in Wisdom 7, and his attempt to do so was wrought with contradictions.  For example, one has to wonder exactly what he means when he speaks of the “genuine, although not beginningless, eternity of the sophianic foundation of the world”.[28]

An equally reputable Orthodox theologian, Prince Evgeny Trubetskoi, went the opposite direction and treated Sophia as purely divine without any creaturely element.  Trubetskoi argued that as a power of God, Wisdom had to be “a quality inalienable from Him”.[29]  This description fails to explain how there could be any communion between God and creation, how the created world could manifest the wisdom of God as the unanimous Christian tradition has always said, how one could personally live a life of wisdom, or how the world could reveal the wisdom of God.

Florensky tried to describe a single Sophia which was somewhere either both God and creaturely or somewhere in-between, as did Bulgakov in his earlier writings.  In The Lamb of God, written a couple years before The Wisdom of God, he says that “a single Sophia is disclosed in both God and creation”, [30] and says that this single Sophia exists “between being and supra being without being one or the other, or is both at the same time”.[31]  Seeking to avoid pantheism, he clarifies that the world itself “is Sophia in its basis but is not Sophia in its condition”,[32] though this expression could be taken in either a conventional Thomist sense (God is the cause of the being of the world, and the world participates in the Being of God and is ordered in terms of final causality towards God), or in an pantheistic adaptation of the Gnostic myth of the “fall of Sophia”, making the world itself originally uncreated but now fallen.

Bulgakov also speaks of a typological relationship between created realities and an eternal Sophia, but this does not seem to avoid the Platonic errors that Fr. Zenkovskii sought to avoid, and occasionally seems to fall into a quasi-docetism or quasi-Eutychianism.  Since “Sophia is the heavenly Type of humanity or, in this sense, heavenly manhood itself”,[33] the createdness of Christ’s human nature can become compromised, at least in his phrasing.  “Christ’s created manhood is rendered transparent to his eternal manhood.”[34]  Father Florovsky’s phrasing is better, when he describes the “divine idea” of something, associated with “created Sophia”, as “the truth of a thing, its transcendent entelechy”.[35]  As with most of Florovsky, this idea is heavily grounded in patristic theology, in this case St. Maximos the Confessor.

The phrasing of Holy New-Martyr Pavel Florensky is bolder, and sometimes more consistent, than that of Bulgakov, but violates the incommensurability between God and Creation.  He describes Sophia as “the Great Root of the whole creation.  That is, Sophia is all-integral creation and not merely all creation.  Sophia is the Great Root by which creation goes into the intra-Trinitarian life and through which it receives Life Eternal from the One Source of Life.  Sophia is the original nature of creation, God’s creative love.”[36]

This would seem to put Sophia on the created side of the ontological gap – and, indeed, he will later say that “Sophia is a fourth, creaturely, and therefore nonconsubstantial Person… She ‘is’ not Love, but only enters into communion with Love.  And she is allowed to enter into this communion by the ineffable, unfathomable, inconceivable humility of God.”[37]  Yet he also seems to put her on the uncreated side of the ontological gap, when he says, “Sophia is the Guardian Angel of creation, the Ideal person of the world.  The shaping reason with regard to creation, Sophia is the shaped content of God-Reason, His ‘psychic content,’ eternally created by the Father through the Son and completed in the Holy Spirit:  God thinks by things.”[38]  He calls Sophia “creaturely”, and acknowledges a separate uncreated Wisdom of which the creaturely Sophia is the “image and shadow”,[39] but even then says that “realized, imprinted, in the empirical world in time, Sophia, although she is creaturely, precedes the world.  She is a supramundane hypostatic collection of divine prototypes of that which exists.”[40]

Though it is often taken for granted in the West that God alone is capable of creating, Florensky describes God giving Sophia creative power.  “She is the Eternal Bride of the Word of God.  Outside of Him and independently of Him, she does not have being and falls apart into fragments of ideas about creation.  But in Him she receives creative power.  One in God, she is multiple in creation and is perceived in creation in her concrete appearances as the ideal person of man, as his Guardian Angel, i.e., as the spark of the eternal dignity of the person and as the image of God in man.”[41]

It would seem that all of these errors and confusions would be avoided and the difficulties solved, by returning more closely to the dogma of the divine energies and Bulgakov’s identification of Sophia as the content of divine revelation.  The divine energies are uncreated, and the act of creation is itself uncreated; but the content of the revelation – the entire universe – is created.  Therefore, viewed as energy or act of revelation, Sophia is uncreated; viewed as the content or “matter” of revelation, Sophia is created; but there are not two different Sophias, but only one viewed two different ways.  Christian orthodoxy does not allow for a separate existence to the world apart from the act of being by which God creates it and by which it participates in being, although Christianity does not always explicitly emphasize this truth as strongly as acosmic philosophies and religious systems (such as the Vedanta within Hinduism) do; this act of being is both uncreated in terms of what it really is and created in terms of what participates in and is brought into existence through this act of being.

As Wisdom is the efficacious revelation of God, it is fitting that Wisdom has been most closely identified with that which has most strongly revealed God and united creation to Him – Christ, the Theotokos, the Church, and grace.  It is understandable that the Son should have been referred to as “Wisdom” as well as “Logos” because Christ reveals God in a unique way, and also that Sophia should have been thought to have been somehow between created and uncreated reality given the depth of her manifestation in Mary, whom (in one of his embarrassingly less theologically precise moments) St. Gregory Palamas referred to as “standing at the border between created and uncreated nature.”[42]

As Wisdom is the revelation of God through the divinizing energies, its most intimate manifestation in the lives of believers is through the Church and the life of grace.  Indeed, following the terminology of Soloviev, Bulgakov describes sophiology as nothing but the “full dogmatic elucidation” of the doctrine of Godmanhood (Bogochelovechestvo).[43]  The revelation of Godmanhood is the Church,[44] both in her heavenly, preexistent aspect and her earthly aspect.[45]  In this final aspect of Sophia I shall depart from my treatment of the Russian theologians and turn to the father of modern sophiology, always lurking behind the texts of those who came after him, but always veiled under a cloud of suspicion.  The unorthodox Lutheran cobbler and theosopher Jacob Boehme wrote a spiritual masterwork entitled The Life in Christ which avoided the unorthodox doctrinal speculations of his more theoretical books.  The height of the spiritual life for Boehme, which permeated his entire book, was the marriage of the soul with Sophia, a marriage which (in blatant violation of Lutheran teaching) truly unites the soul to Christ.[46]  This union of which Boehme wrote is nothing other than the life of grace in the soul, transforming through complete union with the divinizing energies of God.  “When Christ the cornerstone moves in the corrupted image of man in his deep conversation and repentance, the Virgin Sophia appears in the movement of Christ’s spirit in the corrupted image in Her Virginal clothing before the soul,”[47] and as Queen of Heaven the Virgin Sophia cannot unite with the Old Adam without transforming it in Christ.[48] As a Lutheran, Boehme could speak the soteriological language of Western Christianity, and yet his doctrine of Sophia was read by and influential on the Russian sophiologists.  Orthodox doctrine associates grace with the uncreated divine energies (though the two concepts are not quite identical), and thus the spiritual doctrine of Boehme is the final testament and argument presented here for the identification of Sophia as the revelatory and deifying energies of God.

















Reference List

Boehme, Jacob.  The Way to Christ, translated by Peter Erb.  New York:  Paulist Press, 1978.



Bulgakov, Sergei.  The Wisdom of God, translated by Patrick Thompson.  New York:  Paisley Press, 1937.



Challoner, Richard.  The Holy Bible:  Douay-Rheims Version.  Rockford, IL:  TAN Books and Publishers, 2000.



Florensky, Pavel.  The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, translated by Boris Jakim.  Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1997.



Palamas, Gregory.  Saint Gregory Palamas:  The Homilies, translated by Christopher Veniamin.  South Canaan, PA:  Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009.



Sergeev, Mikhail.  Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy.  Lewiston, NY:  Edwin Mellen Press, 2006.



Soloviev, Vladimir.  Divine Sophia:  The Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov, translated by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt.  Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2009.



[1] Wisdom 7:24-28.  The Holy Bible, Douay Rheims Version, revised by Bishop Richard Challoner.  Rockford, Ill:  TAN Books and Publishers, 2000.
[2] I owe this knowledge to a personal conversation with a Romanian Catholic iconographer who holds this view of the icon of Sophia.
[3] Soloviev, Three Encounters, in Kornblatt, Divine Sophia:  The Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov, 263-272.
[4] Such as Scott Hahn in his book First Comes Love.
[5]The “Palamite council” of Constantinople/Blachernae is authoritative in the East by the inclusion of their canons in the Synodikon of Holy Orthodoxy sung on the first Sunday of Great Lent and by the introduction of the feast of St. Gregory Palamas on the following Sunday as a continuation of the Feast of Holy Orthodoxy.  Despite older Roman Catholic polemics against St. Gregory, he holds the same liturgical place and position of authority as a Pillar of Orthodoxy in Orthodox churches in communion with Rome as with Orthodox churches still separated from Rome.
[6] His doctrine was condemned by both the Moscow Patriarchate and by concordats of Russian Orthodox in exile who rejected the Moscow Patriarchate’s subservience to Communism.  The Moscow Patriarchate came out first with a decree in 1935 which declared “Bulgakov’s doctrine of the being of God has nothing in common with the Church tradition and does not belong to the Orthodox Christian Church” and demanded “his written repudiation of his sophianic interpretation of the dogmas of faith and of his other mistakes in the teaching of faith as well as a written promise of unchanging fidelity to the teaching of the Orthodox Church.”  Quoted in Mikhail Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy, 124-125.  This decree was followed immediately by a condemnation of Bulgakov by the Arhiereiskii Sobor of the Church in Exile, which used the term heresy.
[7] Sergei Bulgakov, The Wisdom of God, 20.
[8] The Wisdom of God, 47.
[9] The Wisdom of God, 49.
[10] The Wisdom of God, 80.
[11] The Wisdom of God, 54.
[12] The Wisdom of God, 59.
[13] The Wisdom of God, 56.
[14] The Wisdom of God, 55, footnote.
[15] See for example Steven Todd Kaster’s unpublished paper “The Palamite Doctrine of God”.
[16] The Wisdom of God, 52.
[17] The Wisdom of God, 57.
[18] Quoted by Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy, 94, from the Russian edition of Florensky’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 323.  My translation uses “personal” rather than “hypostasic”.
[19] The Wisdom of God, 59, footnote.
[20] The Wisdom of God, 60.
[21] Homily, Theophany 2011.  Priest Ihar Labacevich, St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Minneapolis.
[22] The Wisdom of God, 109.
[23] The Wisdom of God, 17.
[24] The Wisdom of God, 141.
[25] The Wisdom of God, 114.
[26] The Wisdom of God, 115.
[27] Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy, 114.
[28] Zenkovskii, “Preodolenie platonizma i problema sofiinosti mira”, Put’, no. 24 (1930):3-40, p. 35, quoted in Sergeev, 115
[29] Smysl zhizni, Moscow:  Respublika, 1994, p. 100, quoted in Sergeev, 136
[30] The Lamb of God, 148, quoted in Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy, p. 110.
[31] Philosophy of Economy, p. 188, quoted in Sergeev, 102.
[32] Philosophy of Economy, p. 195, quoted in Sergeev, 103.
[33] The Wisdom of God, 150.
[34] The Wisdom of God, 142.
[35] Creation and Redemption:  Collected Works, Volume III, p. 62, quoted in Sergeev, 122.
[36] Florensky, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 237.
[37] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 252.
[38] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 237.
[39] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 251.
[40] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 251-252.
[41] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 239.
[42] St. Gregory Palamas, Homily XXXVII, in Veniamin, The Homilies of St. Gregory Palamas, 296.
[43] The Wisdom of God, 34.
[44] The Wisdom of God, 36.
[45] The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, 253.
[46] Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ, 58.
[47] The Way to Christ, 60.
[48] The Way to Christ, 155.