Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This fiery pillar

Anyone who departs from the laws of life is, involuntarily and inevitably, self-destructive and responsible for his own disintegration.

‘For there are many still in need of cleansing from the life they have led, people who have the garment of their life unwashed and filthy, who dare to attempt the upward path on the basis of their own irrational perception. As a result, they are destroyed by their very own reasonings. For heretical opinions are nothing but stones which kill the very person who has devised the evil doctrines’ (Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses 2:161).

Above the whole of creation, the ‘transcendent cause’ holds everything in its power. The whole rhythm of life is directed towards the end and perfection. In our work all of us serve the ‘one’ aim in one way or another. In the struggle one is either transfigured by partaking in and submitting to the strange Power, or one destroys oneself by opposing it voluntarily or involuntarily. Either way, the work calmly proceeds. Such is the superior power of the Eternal.

Heresies are self-destructive; in the created universe they cannot put down roots to nourish them eternally. The one area of indestructible power is occupied by that which truly exists. It acts and moves with all the mystical splendor proper to its nature, to its boundless and sure omnipotence. Thus the ‘ill-founded impudence of heresies’ becomes apparent, and at the same time the unfailing operation of the truth is underlined.

The universality of the Truth is something we can only feel and approach when we have reached the point where all comments and disputes have ceased, and everything is tested in the mystery of silence: ‘Words are an instrument of the present age; silence is a mystery of the age to come’ (Abba Isaac, Letter 3).

Truth conceals within it the whole. It contains the beginning and the end: it has self-awareness and the capacity for adapting itself, defending itself and respecting all things.

It is necessary that Orthodoxy should exist. The Orthodox must spread their roots into the bottomless depths of their faith. In this way they fulfill swiftly and quietly every obligation they have to love God and their brothers, those near and those far away. ‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another’ (Romans 13:8).

The faithful do not have a mission to persecute heresies, irrespective of the way they themselves live, for this only creates a climate congenial to the tares of heresy. ‘Because of you My name is blasphemed among the gentiles’ (cf. Isaiah 52:5), the Lord would say in such a case. One is not truly Orthodox simply by virtue of persecuting heresies, anymore than one is in Paradise if one simply curses hell.

Orthodox life is of great importance. It is ‘what is perfected before God,’ in the words of St. Ignatius. It is fulness and divine self-sufficiency: it is a confession, the persecution of falsehood, and the salvation of man. ‘For the clear knowledge of that which is, serves as a purification of notions about that which has no real existence.’ (Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses 2:22). Orthodoxy does not have the fire of the holy inquisition. It lights an incorporeal flame which cools the holy but burns the impious. This fiery pillar of uncreated grace and life gives the path of the faithful shade by day and light by night.

Magic disappeared in the Middle Ages not as a result of the obstinate insistence of the Inquisition, but because of the progress of natural science. Our obstinate insistence, even when cloaked with a good disposition, cannot prevail. ‘It reigns, but does not last forever.’ The course of history is in itself a cleansing process. Led mysteriously by the Holy Spirit, history brings us to Orthodoxy. Before Abraham was, there was ‘Orthodoxy.’ Every age is an age which opens up new paths, which offers new potentials for Orthodoxy, for knowledge of the Truth, because it brings new crises. It puts to the test all systems grounded on the face of the earth which ‘passes away’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:31).
Hymn of Entry, pp. 97-99

“Remember who your teachers were…”

2 Timothy 3:14

No comments: