Friday, August 7, 2015

Two Paths: August 6th for America and for the Church

Man was created for union with God.  Thæt is, he was created to become a god, a divine being, a ‘partaker of the divine nature’ (II Peter 1:4).  By eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in disobedience to God’s command, man stepped upon the path of devil-inspired, unattainable self-divinization and condemned himself to death by sundering himself from God.  The path of deification by God’s Grace, of co-operation between God and man in the work of theosis (i.e., salvation), was not withal closed forever, and has been re-opened by the work Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost in the world.

August 6th shows very clearly and brightly that much of American society is not Christian even in the vague, Western sense of the word, let alone Orthodox Christian.  For what did many Americans celebrate and cheer and brag about on that day but the wicked and unnecessary destruction of Hiroshima, Japan, with an atomic bomb? 

What better illustration of man’s continuing work at satanic self-divinization than the atomic bomb: the result of his longing to surpass his fallen state, to become all-powerful, to become God, through scientific and technological means.  We should expect nothing less than that the demons themselves will come and join the American Empire and its friends in their celebration of their great achievement.

Thus is overshadowed and ignored the true weightiness, the holiness, of August the 6th that Americans ought to celebrate: the Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ upon Mt Thabor.  In that great event, the glory of the mystery of the Incarnation, the uniting of the Divine and human natures in the one Person of Jesus Christ, was made manifest.  The nature of man has been healed and glorified in that union; the New Adam surpassing the fallen, sinful Adam is come.  We do not attain a share in that new life, do not become new creations, by science and technology, by high-mindedness (pride), by our efforts alone, but by lowering ourselves and crucifying ourselves, by taking the Grace of God freely offered to us into ourselves, thereby uniting us with God.

Again ƿe (we) say with all our heart, Run away with all haste, Southerners, from the evil of the American Empire.  Pray for the salvation of those within it captivated by the ideology of humanistic rights and freedom and by the idols of money and things, but otherwise keep yourselves as far from it as possible. 

And when the 6th of August comes round again, do not delight in man’s power to fordo (destroy) the creation, but in God’s desire to fill all He has made with the Light of His Glory.

From the Matins service for the Feast of the Transfiguration:

'O Good One who sanctified the entire world with Your light, You were transfigured on a high mountain; and to Your Disciples You showed Your power, that You deliver the world from transgression. Therefore we cry out to You: O compassionate Lord, save our souls!'

'O Logos, light unaltered * of light, unbegotten Father, * we have beheld light, the Father, * and light the all-holy Spirit * today in Your light appearing * upon Mount Tabor, * guiding with light all creation.'

From St Gregory Palamas’s ‘The Declaration of the Holy Mountain in Defense of Those Who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness’ (from sections 4, Prologue, 6, and 2 respectively, The Philokalia, Vol.4,

‘If anyone maintains that the light which shone about the disciples on Mount Tabor was an apparition and a symbol of the kind that now is and now is not, but has no real being and is an effect that not only does not surpass comprehension, but is inferior to it, he clearly contends against the doctrines of the saints. For the saints both in hymns and in their writings call this light ineffable, uncreated, eternal, timeless, unapproachable, boundless, infinite, limitless, invisible to angels and men, archetypal and unchanging beauty, the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of the Spirit, the ray of Divinity and so forth. The flesh of Christ, it is said, is glorified at the moment of its assumption and the glory of the Godhead becomes the body's glory. But this glory was invisible in His visible body to those unable to perceive that upon which even angels cannot gaze. Thus Christ was transfigured, not by the addition of something He was not, nor by a transformation into something He was not, but by the manifestation to His disciples of what He really was. He opened their eyes so that instead of being blind they could see. While He Himself remained the same, they could now see Him as other than He had appeared to them formerly. For He is 'the true light' (John 1:9), the beauty of divine glory, and He shone forth like the sun - though this image is imperfect, since what is uncreated cannot be imaged in creation without some diminution.’

‘In the same manner, even at this present time we are not ignorant of the doctrines of the Christian confession, both those which are openly proclaimed and those which are mystically and prophetically revealed by the Spirit to such as are accounted worthy. These are persons who have been initiated by actual experience, who have renounced possessions, human glory and the ugly pleasures of the body for the sake of the evangelical life; and not only this, but they have also: strengthened their renunciation by submitting themselves to those who have attained spiritual maturity in Christ. Through the practice of the life of stillness they devote their attention undistractedly to themselves and to God, and by transcending themselves through sincere prayer and by establishing themselves in God through their mystical and supra-intellectual union with Him they have been initiated into what surpasses the intellect. Others again have learnt about these things through their reverence, faith and love for such persons.’

‘For if in the age to come the body is to share with the soul in ineffable blessings, then it is evident that in this world as well it will also share according to its capacity in the grace mystically and ineffably bestowed by God upon the purified intellect, and it will experience the divine in conformity with its nature. For once the soul's passible aspect is transformed and sanctified - but not reduced to a deathlike condition - through it the dispositions and activities of the body are also sanctified, since body and soul share a conjoint existence. As St Diadochos states, in the case of those who have abandoned the delights of this age in the hope of enjoying the blessings of eternity, the intellect, because of its freedom from worldly cares, is able to act with its full vigor and becomes capable of perceiving the ineffable goodness of God. Then according to the measure of its own progress it communicates its joy to the body too, and this joy which then fills both soul and body is a true recalling of incorruptible life.’

‘The grace of deification is, therefore, above nature, virtue and knowledge and, according to St Maximos, all such things infinitely fall short of it. For all the virtue we can attain and such imitation of God as lies in our power does no more than fit us for union with the Deity, but it is through grace that this ineffable union is actually accomplished. Through grace God in His entirety penetrates the saints in their entirety, and the saints in their entirety penetrate God entirely, exchanging the whole of Him for themselves, and acquiring Him alone as the reward of their ascent towards Him; for He embraces them as the soul embraces the body, enabling them to be in Him as His own members.’

1 comment:

  1. In a very bitter piece, “The Return to Nothingness” (Human Events, August 29, 1945), Old Right publicist Felix Morley characterized the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a trespass “on the innermost mystery of the universe.” Because of these acts of retribution, America was bereft of ethical restraints. The atomic bomb offered only a return to nothingness.

    He added: “I had been making a study of Thomas Aquinas, that great prophet who in an earlier age had worked for the universal synthesis which the atom bomb fragmented. Especially impressive was the passage in the Summa Theologica concluding: ‘that which is stable, since it is created from nothing, would return to nothingness were it not sustained by a Governing Hand.’ The use of that Governing Hand, in human affairs, was now seemingly in abeyance.”

    Indeed, on Morley’s reasoning, one could conclude that Harry Truman inaugurated the Anti-Axial Age of human history with a direct attack on form and matter.