Presentation on theme: "Elena Vishnevskaya Presented by Justin Gaudet. A) An upstanding, fine fellow. B) A real mystery…maybe. C) A devoted disciple of St. Maximus the Confessor."— Presentation transcript:
Elena Vishnevskaya Presented by Justin Gaudet
A) An upstanding, fine fellow. B) A real mystery…maybe. C) A devoted disciple of St. Maximus the Confessor. D) Certainly smarter than Justin in that she would always first research the author of a particular essay before actually beginning its summary. E) All of the above plus your guesses…
Her essay is broken up into seven sections, alongside of an introduction and a conclusion, which are as follows: I) The Hypostatic Union in the Person of the Logos II) Divinization as Mutual Interpenetration of God and Humanity III) Reciprocity of Love in the Divine-Human Relationship IV) Dynamics of Image and Likeness V) The Divinizing Sacraments VI) Human Response and Resultant Transformation through Participation VII) Mutual Movement of Wills
“[to] explore the implications of Maximus' Christological perichoresis, or coinherence, for religious experience that transfigures human existence. The perichoresis of God and the believer, which has its prototype in the perichoresis of the hypostatic union in the person of the Logos, can be seen, in Maximus, as an organic relation of human freedom and divine grace, as fulfilled in divinizing union.”
FIRST, a basic definition of PERICHORESIS: the simultaneous interpenetration/indwelling (literally “choreographed dancing”) of all three divine persons within each other OR of Christ's divine nature within his human one and his human nature within his divine one. AND the CHALCEDONIAN CHRISTOLOGICAL DEFINITION: “one hypostasis in two natures” which “are not fused/mixed together into one new nature, nor is one lost in the other, nor has one or the other changed, nor are they separated from one another but are in unity.” [paraphrased]
With this, Maximus can acknowledge the interpenetration of each nature within the other in order to exchange attributes. He can, therefore, affirm that “God suffers and humanity descends from heaven with the divine[.]” “For Maximus, this perichoresis”...is...commenced by the divine nature of the Logos who 'united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis,'” but he likewise affirms “the response of human nature, which...is able to penetrate the divine...and communicate to it human properties.” The human nature does “not just passively reciprocate by surrendering itself to the [divine nature][,]” and the “divine will [does not overwhelm] the human element.” Both natures are different but “are harmonized in the hypostasis of the Logos[,]” wherein “each nature...advances through the other.”
The previous Christological model enables Maximus to define an ecclesiological or soteriological one, wherein he “appears to approach divinization as a doing of two mutually engaged parties that will to form a consequential union.” Just as the “divinity and humanity [of the Logos] are naturally...unlike,” and yet “there is no distance to cause separations within [his] person[,]” allowing perichoretic exchange, so too then do “God and the human being...join...prevailing over [their] differences[.]”
WITH THIS IN MIND, there are TWO perichoretic movements: 1) “God, in charity, enters the human realm and fulfills his [saving plan][.]” 2) “[T]he human being reciprocates by embracing the preordained divine plan and partaking of the Triune life.” “Creator” and “creature” “are relational terms...[that are] understood better in the context of the other[,]” revealing “a God who, through the Incarnation, is fully invested in the human being...and...the believer who is free, by nature, to orient his or her being toward God and become like him in divinization.” This is a “supralogical” mystery whereby “God becomes one flesh and one spirit with the Church and thus with the soul, and the soul with God.”
This reciprocity is “identity in difference” (a unity in diversity), wherein “unity and difference” are founded upon one another. “[A]s 'cause, beginning, and end...[God] leads all beings to a common and unconfused identity of movement and existence...abolish[ing] and dim[ing] all their particular relations considered according to each one's nature, but not by dissolving or destroying...their existence” but “by transcending...and revealing them, as the whole reveals its parts.'”
The whole = unity = God* The parts = the “different” = believers and all creation* *THIS IS NOT PANTHEISM!
Love enables “God and man [to be] [patterns] one of another,” and “through it God and man are drawn together in a single embrace[.]” “Infused with the divine ways of love, the faithful willfully exchange self-love for the love toward God and the created order.” “[L]ove...is an active force bequeathed to humans from above, lived out and perfected by those seeking their end in God[,]” and, as such, it “is the key opening up secret passages through which the nous travels to and discovers God” who “gathers the nous to himself[.]” Love is “the divine property par excellence,” the whole of which all the other divine properties are parts.
Both God and the human soul are “carried outside of [themselves]” to one another (the latter through the will to self-abandonment, which is absolutely necessary), and draw the other to themselves. THE GOAL: “the soul, which 'dwells entirely in God alone in a loving ecstasy, and has rendered itself by mystical theology totally immobile in God[.]'” It is to leave “the natural order...behind...[penetrate] and [partake] of the divine things and...[be] divinized,” being transformed into passivity. For now we are active, but, at the fulfillment of all things, we will be inactive.
Image = the human being/God's action of penetrating the human being —as an existential gift AND hopefully eliciting— Likeness = the “appropriati[ng] of divine likeness”/the human being's action of penetrating God, and becoming like him
“[T]he final raising of the nous to God is humanly willed and divinely realized,” and, “in a reciprocal movement, the image returns to the archetype...who, in turn, imparts to it the divine life[.]” “The mind is deemed another 'god,' insofar as in its habitude it experiences, by grace, that which God himself does not experience but 'is' in his very essence.” This perichoresis, which is restoring the image and appropriating the likeness, requires effort (asceticism). God has always allowed this “by creating space for human freedom to fully realize itself in the movement of nature, that is, in emulating God himself” (becoming him in order to love him). We should imitate Christ's sacrifice for us, toward one another, in order to be truly, and most transfiguredly human
Christian love for God = practicing the virtues = restoring the image ---leads to---> appropriating the likeness = divine sonship = “continual converse with God in his presence” God gives us his Spirit and we must give our freewill, which is now graced and is bearing fruit, back to him as a gift.
For divinization, or perichoretic interpenetration, Christ must become incarnate in our virtues. A “spiritual cleansing” is, therefore, needed, wherein “the believer is to 'purify [the] mind of anger, resentment, and shameful thoughts,'” in order to be able to recognize “he who has come in the Name of the Lord” and not be an unbelieving Sanhedrin who condemns him again. Since we need to imitate God in our practice of virtue, then we must imitate his attributes: unchangingness; “steadfastness in the good and its unalterable habit of choice.” “Christ himself is the substance of virtue in each person” and “is the substance of all virtues,” and so to “every person who participates in virtue as a matter of habit unquestionably participates in God, the substance of virtues.”
THIS IS A VERY COMPLICATED SECTION, BUT HERE GOES... “Christ's gracious epitomizing of the righteous living” = “human mode of being” = his original incarnation = our redeemed state = restoring the image within us AND “A virtuous human life = “divine mode of being” = his new TROPOLOGICAL incarnation within us, made possible by the worthy reception of the Eucharist = our saved state = attaining the likeness [1 Peter 4:18]
The Logos emptied himself in taking on our fallen existence AND SO we must now empty ourselves of our self-love by allowing Christ, through our communion with him and asceticism, to become incarnate within our virtues. Both the Logos and the believer share the same fallen and divinized existence and reward! God pulls us up to him by purifying us through virtue and descends down to us by granting us his “divine properties.”
IMPORTANT QUOTES FROM ST. MAXIMUS: “The one who can do good and who does it is truly God by grace and participation because he has taken on in happy imitation the energy and characteristic of his own doing good. And if the POOR man is God, IT IS BECAUSE OF GOD'S CONDESCENSION IN BECOMING POOR FOR US AND IN TAKING UPON HIMSELF BY HIS OWN SUFFERING THE SUFFERINGS OF EACH ONE AND 'UNTIL THE END OF TIME,' ALWAYS SUFFERING MYSTICALLY OUT OF GOODNESS IN PROPORTION TO EACH ONE'S SUFFERING.” [emphases are mine] “God manifests to visible man unknowable realities to the degree in which man manifests to others Christ incarnated in his virtues.” [paraphrased]
This section is rather straightforward on account of our familiarity with the topic. A few points suffice: 1) “[T]he incorruptibility recovered in baptism is potential; its actualization [perichoresis], though accomplished by grace, presupposes the participation of our will in the mortification of passions and the practice of virtues.” 2) The Eucharist is perichoretic only if it is received in a worthy manner. 3) There are three incarnational levels of perichoresis: Christ in society ---> Christ in Church ---> Christ in the virtuous soul
“[T]he created order 'is called and indeed is' a 'portion of God' because [all] logoi are enclosed in 'the Logos that preexisted in God.'” Therefore, we must not only recognize all that God has already done, but also respond to his perichoretic invitation: “'we are active agents' who are kinetically oriented toward God by nature and thereby realize our natural movement in cooperation with divine grace.” Perfection is the state of being “'wholly directed to God[,]'” and being “'wholly made and translated to the whole[,]'” on account of perichoresis.
Human beings, now in Christ, are still called to be “cosmic intermediar[ies]...following the divine lead, gather[ing] the created order and rais[ing] it, unified, to the Creator.” “God incarnate guides the human being in this quest...'draw[ing] into one what is divided, and abolish[ing] war between beings, and bind[ing] everything into peaceful friendship and undivided harmony.'” God, therefore, penetrates and fills with grace all things, both the general and the particular.
The indwelling of the creator within the creature nonetheless maintains the ontological difference between them, wherein the latter is “'divinized by love and made like [the former] by participation in an indivisible identity[.]'” Human beings do not lose their ability to choose or reject this gift, and, yet, without this gift, we cannot achieve our end.
“[P]ropelled by their united wills, God and the human being reciprocally move toward each other in a mutual surge of love.” A properly natural human will desires this union of wills, whereby “'God alone is at work [...] and will be all in all wholly penetrating...all who are his in a way that is appropriate to each.'” The gnomic will frustrates this unity since it searches for “immediate gratification[,]...corrupt[ing] [the will], rather than a natural order...established by God[.]”
We, therefore, work towards a united glory or an isolated punishment. This, however, cannot be a matter of coercion. “[T]he logos of human nature, along with human potencies, is preordained by God, [and] it is within the free choice of the human being to either conform [his or her] tropos to the logos of nature or assume a tropos contrary to nature.” This involves “'a willing surrender, so that from the one from whom we have received being we long to receive being moved as well.'”
Essential fitness = “'a created nature is fit to receive the divine activity to a certain degree,' in accordance with the principle of nature[,]'” which is being. Habitual fitness = “'receiv[ing] the activity of God to a still higher degree according to the logoi of well-being and eternal well-being[,]'” because we work our will in unity with God's.
Does a systematic understanding and practicing of the virtues (based either upon a Christian/rectified version of the best of Greek philosophy, or upon Greek philosophy by itself) suffice in allowing us to interiorly perceive the incarnate Christ within them, OR do we also require penetration from a higher mystical understanding in order to have this vision? St. Maximus possibly suggests both when he says that “every person who participates in virtue as a matter of habit unquestionably participates in God, the substance of virtues[,]” and, yet, envisions Christ's successive incarnations in accordance to the biblical mysticism present within the “Spiritual Senses of [Reading] Scripture” (Christological/typological interpretation; ecclesiological interpretation; tropological interpretation; apophatic-anagogical interpretation). What do you think? And if the higher mystical understanding of the incarnation among the virtues is necessary, can the tropological interpretation of the presence of Christ among our virtues be domesticated into a study, approached by methodology and training, or must God alone reveal such an unknowable mystery?