Translation of: Jean-Philippe Houdret, O.C.D., “Palamas et les Cappadociens,” Istina 19 (1974), pp. 260-271.

In the course of this brief article, our aim is to bring up the vast problem of the relations that exist between the thought of Gregory Palamas and that of the Cappadocian fathers. The celebrated Byzantine theologian sought to be a faithful follower of the teaching of the saints, and the great Cappadocians are among the godbearing fathers to whom he frequently refers in his writings. This is why we prefer to limit ourselves here to the examination of a precise but fundamental question: Do we already find, among the Cappadocian fathers, the beginnings of the distinction in God between essence and energies, such as Gregory Palamas later would understand and defend it?
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Kyparissiotes: Decade 2.1

January 29, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 759C – 761B.

Decade Two: On Demonstrative Theology

Chapter One. That there are also two kinds of demonstrative theology.

The great Dionysius in chapter 2 of his Celestial Hierarchy says:

Sacred revelation [ἱερᾶς ἐκφαντορίας] occurs in a twofold manner. One kind, not surprisingly, proceeds through likenesses that are similar [to the divine] and describe something sacred; but the other kind uses forms that are dissimilar, which are fashioned into utter unlikeness and incongruity. For example, the mystical traditions of the revelatory texts sometimes extol the superessential Godhead’s august blessedness as “Word,” and “Mind,” and “Essence,” indicating its God-befitting rationality and wisdom — since it really is the existence and the true cause of the existence of things that are; and they describe it as “Light,” and call it “Life.” While such sacred descriptions are more reverent, and seem in a certain way to be superior to the material [προσύλων] images, all the same, they in reality fall short of similarity to that which is primordially divine. For it is above every essence and life. No light expresses its character; every word and mind falls incomparably short of likeness to it. But at other times the sacred texts themselves supermundanely hymn its praises through dissimilar revelations, when they affirm that it is “invisible,” and “infinite,” and “incomprehensible,” and such things as signify, not what it is, but what it is not.

[2.1.1] Ps.-Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia 2.2-3; PG 3, 140 B-D.

From these things it comes about that demonstrative theology is twofold, one kind being expressed affirmatively and from effects, the other kind, negatively and by way of privation; and the former of these presents forms that are similar [to the divine], the latter, forms that are dissimilar. But this, nevertheless, is to be noted about affirmative theology, that it, too, proceeds by way of forms portrayed in sacred Scripture; but it does so more straightforwardly than in the case of those things which are said according to symbolic theology, in either of its two forms of representation (which things the fathers have called προσύλους [material], whereas we call them earthly). For, even if the other sort of theology, the symbolic kind, proceeds by way of words that are reinterpreted and sketched, nevertheless, many absurdities and incongruities remain in them. For what should one think, when one hears of drunkenness in God, and repentance, and swearings, and imprecations, and other things of this kind?

Poem 2.1.90 On his own and his parents’ death (PG 37, 1445-1446)

Πρῶτος Καισάριος, ξυνὸν ἄχος· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
Γοργόνιον· μετέπειτα πατὴρ φίλος· οὐ μετὰ δηρὸν
μήτηρ. Ὦ λυπρὴ παλάμη καὶ γράμματα πικρὰ
Γρηγορίου! γράψω καὶ ἐμοῦ μόρον, ὑστατίου περ.

First it was Caesarius, our common sorrow; then
Gorgonia; after this, my beloved Dad; and not long afterward,
Mom. O mournful hand and bitter writing
of Gregory! I shall write my own death, too, though last of all.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.98 Another (PG 37, 1450-1451)

Ἔκ με βρέφους ἐκάλεσσε Θεὸς νυχίοισιν ὀνείροις.
Ἤλυθον ἐς σοφίης πείρατα. Σάρκα Λόγῳ
Ἥγνισα καὶ κραδίην. Κόσμου φλόγα γυμνὸς ἄλυξα.
Ἔστην συνααρὼν Γρηγορίῳ γενέτῃ.

From childhood God called me by dreams of the night.
I arrived at the boundaries of wisdom. For the Word I hallowed
flesh and heart. Naked I fled the world’s flame.
I stood in Aaron’s order with Gregory my father.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.99 Another (PG 37, 1451-1452)

Ἄγγελοι αἰγλήεντες ἀπειρέσιον κατὰ κύκλον,
Τρισσοφαοῦς Θεότητος ὁμὸν σέλας ἀμφιέποντες,
Γρηγόριον δέξασθ’ ἀνάξιον, ἀλλ’ ἱερῆα.

Brilliant angels in your measureless circle
round and round attending the one light of thrice-shining Godhead:
receive Gregory, unworthy, but a priest.

Axios!

January 25, 2011

I learned early this morning that longtime St. John’s College tutor David Starr was ordained to the priesthood on January 18, 2011 (January 5th, Old Calendar) by His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, at Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. Fr. David will be serving as assistant priest at St. Juliana of Lazarevo Russian Orthodox Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Axios!

Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.10

January 21, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 758 C – 760 B.

Chapter Ten. That, from both types of symbolic theology, whether the kind expressed in an outward form by angels or the kind expressed by words which, at first glance, seem incongruous, it is by all means necessary to have recourse to higher notions.

The great Dionysius says in his Letter to Titus:

For we should not suppose that such composite appearances have been formed for their own sake; but they shield the unutterable, invisible knowledge from the multitude, since things all-holy are inaccessible to the profane, but are made manifest only to those who are genuine lovers of piety, who reject all childish fancy respecting the holy symbols, and are capable of passing with simplicity of mind and aptitude of contemplative faculty to the simple and supernatural and elevated truth of the symbols.

[1.10.1] Dionysius, Ep. ad Titum; PG 3, 1105 C.

And, again, in chapter 2 of his Celestial Hierarchy the same author states:

Thus do all who are wise in God and interpreters of the secret inspiration separate, in an undefiled way, the holy of holies from the uninitiated and the unholy and prefer to represent holy things by way of things dissimilar, so that neither should the profane easily lay hands upon things divine, nor should those who diligently contemplate the divine imagery rest in the types as though they were the realities.

[1.10.2] Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia, 2; PG 3, 145 A.

So likewise also Basil the Great says:

As for someone who does not ascend from the words to higher notions, but remains stuck at the level of those corporeal sketches that are made by compositions of words, such a person shall hear from Moses that God is a fire (Deut 4:24), and shall, by the wise Daniel, be turned aside to other opinions, so that as a result he will infer from these things, not only false thoughts, but thoughts that are mutually contradictory.

[1.10.3] Basil (passage not yet identified).

From the foregoing it is clear that one should not cling to forms symbolically expressed, by whatsoever means they are expressed, whether by an image falling under sense perception or by words which appear to possess much incongruity and absurdity; rather, one should, with all diligence, have recourse to higher thoughts.

To summarize, then, in a simple and clear recapitulation those matters of which I have treated: in chapter one it was shown, as it were in a general way, that theology may be basically divided into two kinds; concerning the one kind, that is, symbolic theology, it is further necessary to explain what and how many are the things which it makes known and declares (ch. 2); following this, there is a clarification of the nature of these things, namely, that they are bodily and fall under the senses (ch. 3); then, [a clarification] of what property they exhibit (ch. 4); following this, that not only are things concerning God represented in forms and images of this kind, but even things pertaining to angels (ch. 5); next, in how many modes these symbolic things appear and are perceived (ch. 6); next, by what word, when they are named, they are covered and clothed (ch. 7); furthermore, by what intermediaries they are effected (ch. 8); next it was shown that it is not possible for these things to be produced otherwise than through intermediaries, namely, through angels (ch. 9); finally, that one ought not to cling to types of this kind, whether they are effected by words alone or in forms and images (ch. 10). Thus, nothing more remains to be said on this subject, but this part of our discussion is finished. And, indeed, it is in keeping with this kind of theology that we should hear it called “arcane” and “mystical,” since it does not allow us to abide in visible things, but it forces people to go further, as many as have received from nature wings upon which to be carried up to the heights.

Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.9

January 19, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 757 A – 758 C.

Chapter Nine. That even our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in respect of his own divinely-primordial humanity, does not depart from the order befitting man, an order which he himself defined.

The great Dionysius, in chapter four of his Celestial Hierarchy, says:

But I observe that angels first were initiated into the divine mystery of the love of Jesus towards man, then, through them, the grace of knowledge passed to us. Thus, for example, the most divine Gabriel instructed the hierarch Zachariah that the son who, by divine grace and beyond hope, was to be born to him should be a prophet of Jesus’ manly and divine work, that work that was to be revealed to the world in a saving way, a way befitting the Good; and he revealed to Mary how, in her, should be born the divinely primordial mystery of the unutterable God-formation. Yet another angel instructed Joseph how, in truth, the things promised by God to his ancestor David should be fulfilled. Another declared glad tidings to the shepherds, as to men purified by their separation from the multitude and by their quiet life; and, with him, a multitude of the heavenly host announced to those on earth that often-sung doxology. Let us then ascend to the highest manifestations of light contained in the sacred texts; for I perceive that even Jesus himself, the superessential cause of the super-heavenly essences, when he, without change, had come to our condition, did not overstep the good order that befits mankind, which he himself had arranged and chosen, but he readily subjected himself to the dispositions which God the Father, through angels, had effected; and, through the angels’ mediation, the Son’s departure to Egypt, arranged by the Father, was announced to Joseph, and again the return from Egypt to Judaea. And through angels we see him subjecting himself to the Father’s decrees. For, as I am addressing someone who knows the things that are spoken about in our hieratic traditions, I forbear to speak concerning the angel who strengthened the Lord Jesus, him who was, indeed, the angel’s teacher and the light of the whole world.

[1.9.1] Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia 4.4; PG 3, 181 B-D (note: part of the final sentence differs from the text in Migne).

And another has testified in a certain place, saying:

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.

[1.9.2] Heb 2:6-9.

From these things, therefore, it is established that, if our Lord Jesus Christ through the suffering of death was made a little lower than the angels, and we see him, who, through the angels, was subject to the paternal laws, not refusing to preserve the order befitting man, an order which he himself established and accepted, but, rather, showing himself obedient to those dispositions which God the Father, through the angels, put into effect: it is also manifest that the angels had previously been informed about all of Christ’s mysteries; later, through these angels, the grace of knowledge was extended to us. How then can anyone, even if he is a most capable and potent theologian, proudly refuse that those things formed by angels should, during his human lifetime, be signified to him, too, insofar as he is a man? and that, by them, he should become educated about divine things, and be divinely influenced, as is fitting. It follows, therefore, that it is not possible for anyone to be taught this part of symbolic and mystical theology unless, by things formed by angels and effected by angels, he is brought to visions of this kind.

Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.8

January 15, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 756 A – 757 A.

Chapter Eight. That these visions and theophanies have been sacredly effected in no other way than by means of the angelic powers.

The great Dionysius says in chapter four of his Celestial Hierarchy:

These, then, are those who, primarily and multifariously, participate in the divine, and, primarily and multifariously, manifest the divinely primordial hiddenness. Wherefore, beyond all others, they are deemed preeminently worthy of the appellation ‘angelic,’ since the divinely primordial illumination comes to them at first hand, and, through them, there pass to us the manifestations which are above us. Thus, then, the law, as theology affirms, was given to us through the ministration of angels (Acts 7:53); and angels led our illustrious fathers, both before the law and after the law, towards the divine, either by introducing them to what was to be done, and converting them from error and an unholy life to the straight way of truth, or else by making known to them sacred ordinances, or hidden visions of supermundane mysteries, or so as to interpret certain divine predictions. But if any one should say that divine manifestations were made directly and immediately to some holy men, let him learn, and learn clearly from the most holy oracles, that no one has seen or shall ever see that which is hidden of Almighty God as it is in itself. But divine showings were made to sainted men as befits manifestations of God, that is, through certain sacred visions, proportionately adapted to those who would see them. Now all-wise theology fittingly calls ‘theophany’ that particular vision which, by elevating the beholders to the divine, manifests the divine similitude, a similitude depicted as though sketched in itself in a shaping of things shapeless, since through it a divine illumination comes to the beholders, and something of things divine themselves undergoes sacred initiation. But our illustrious fathers were initiated into these divine visions through the mediation of the heavenly powers.

[1.8.1] Ps.-Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia 4.2-3; PG 3, 180 A-C.

Furthermore, the great Athanasius says:

The angels take on various forms, for whatever purpose the Lord God wills; and they appear in that fashion to those who are worthy, and reveal to them divine mysteries.

[1.8.2] Ps.-Athanasius in quæstionibus ad Antiochum (passage not yet found).

From these things it can be clearly seen that a vision, a similitude, and an apparition of God represent the same thing; it also follows from this that such similitudes are formed by the mediation of angels who are clothed in forms in order to do God’s bidding.

Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.7

January 15, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 755 B – 756 A.

Chapter Seven. That those who have met with this kind of symbolic theology have termed it a sight and a vision.

Moses, that great eyewitness of God, says:

I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush burns, and is not consumed.

[1.7.1] Exod 2:3.

And [there is] the vision which Isaiah saw (cf. Is 1:1; 6:1 ff.), and

… I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets …

[1.7.2] Hos 12:10

and

… your young men shall see visions …

[1.7.3] Joel 2:28

and countless other things of this kind in the ancient scriptures. But, most importantly, our Savior says concerning his theophany upon Mt. Tabor:

Tell the vision to no man.

[1.7.4] Mt 17:9.

And the divine Dionysius, in chapter 13 of his Celestial Hierarchy, says that that vision was shown to Isaiah the theologian through one of those holy angels who are set in authority over us.

[1.7.5] Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Caelestis hierarchia, PG 3, 300 B.

From these things it is clear that whatever sacred sights, formed of divine symbols, the prophets perceived by means of the visual sense, they called by the related word “visions,” the word “vision” here carrying its own, particular sense, though elsewhere it applies, in common, to anything that they saw. (A similar thing occurs with the term “procession” as used in speaking about God.)

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release ————— January 12, 2011


Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

McKale Memorial Center

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

6:43 P.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Please, please be seated.

To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants who are gathered here, the people of Tucson and the people of Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow.

There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: The hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through.

Scripture tells us:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders — representatives of the people answering questions to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns back to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” — just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

And that quintessentially American scene, that was the scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday — they, too, represented what is best in us, what is best in America.

Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and a graduate of this law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain 20 years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge.

His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons and his five beautiful grandchildren.

George and Dorothy Morris — “Dot” to her friends — were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together — traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.

A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her three children, her seven grandchildren and 2-year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under a favorite tree, or sometimes she’d sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together — about 70 years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families. But after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.”

When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with his dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

Everything — everything — Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion. But his true passion was helping people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits that they had earned, that veterans got the medals and the care that they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved — talking with people and seeing how he could help. And Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

And then there is nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student; she was a dancer; she was a gymnast; she was a swimmer. She decided that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the Major Leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her.

She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age. She’d remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken — and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness. Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.

I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you — her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you — right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.

Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her.

Our hearts are full of thanks for that good news, and our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office.

And, Daniel, I’m sorry, you may deny it, but we’ve decided you are a hero because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive.

We are grateful to the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. Right over there. We are grateful for petite Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, and undoubtedly saved some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them.

These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us, just waiting to be summoned — as it was on Saturday morning. Their actions, their selflessness poses a challenge to each of us. It raises a question of what, beyond prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations — to try and pose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “When I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do.

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose somebody in our family — especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken out of our routines. We’re forced to look inward. We reflect on the past: Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices that they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in a while but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward — but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame — but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.

And that process — that process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions — that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.

For those who were harmed, those who were killed — they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but surely we see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis — she’s our mom or our grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law.

And in Gabby — in Gabby, we see a reflection of our public-spiritedness; that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

And in Christina — in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example.

If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.

We should be civil because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American Dream to future generations.

They believed — they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here — they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.

And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.

Imagine — imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us — we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.” “I hope you jump in rain puddles.”

If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on this Earth — here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.


 END 7:17 P.M. MST

Kyparissiotes: Decade 1.6

January 13, 2011

From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 754 A – 755 A.

Chapter Six. In however many ways symbolic theology is given shape, it is either visual or auditory.

Gregory the Theologian, in his second book On Theology, says:

What would you say of Isaiah, or of Ezekiel who was an eyewitness of very great mysteries, or of the other prophets? For the first of these saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting on the throne of glory, and encircled and praised and hidden by the sixwinged seraphim, and was himself purged by the live coal, and equipped for his prophetic office (Isa 6:1-7). And the other describes the chariot of God, namely, the cherubim, and the throne upon them, and the firmament over it, and him who showed himself in the firmament, and voices, and forces, and deeds (cf. Ezek ch. 1). And whether this was an appearance by day, only visible to saints, or an unerring vision of the night, or an impression on the mind holding converse with the future as if it were the present, or some other ineffable form of prophecy, I cannot say; the God of the prophets knows, and they know who are thus inspired.

[1.6.1] Gregory of Nazianzus, or. 28.19; PG 36, 52 A-B.

And in his homily On Eutropius, who, when he was found outside of the Church, was arrested and taken away, the divine Chrysostom says:

No one has seen that very thing which God is; therefore, when God is seen, what appears is not what he is, but that which he to whom he appears is able to see…. He does not change his substance, but he fashions the apparition with a view to the diversity of the things to be communicated.

[1.6.2] John Chrysostom, Homilia de capto Eutropio §10; PG 52, 404.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his book Against Eunomius that begins, “The first part…,” speaks in this manner:

For at the river Jordan, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and again in the Jews’ hearing, and at the transfiguration, there came a voice from heaven, teaching men not only to regard the phenomenon as something more than a figure, but also to believe that the beloved Son of God is truly God. Now that voice was fashioned by God in a manner suitable to the hearers’ understanding, in airy substance, and adapted to the language of that time; for God, “who desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), so articulated his words in the air that the hearers might be saved, as our Lord also says to the Jews, when they thought it thundered because the sound took place in the air: “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes” (John 12:30).

[1.6.3] Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium, lib. 12b; PG 45, 993 C-D.

From these things it is clear in how many ways symbolic theology is declared by the prophets and other blessed men, namely, in three ways: in a mystery of sight, and in a mystery of sound, and in such a way that the God of the prophets knows.*


* The Latin translator, Torres, has a note on this last sentence: "'In three ways': namely, by the formation of a thing that (a) either falls under the sense of sight or (b) falls under the sense of hearing, or else (c) by an alteration in the meaning of a word so that it signifies something spiritual (e.g., God's 'drunkenness,' his 'sleep,' etc.)." (PG 52, 755 C.)

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