Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some Miscellaneous Wisdom

Some thought-provoking quotations from three Church Fathers:

Gregory Palamas
Do you not understand that the men who are united to God and deified, who fix their eyes in a divine manner on Him, do not see as we do? Miraculously, they see with a sense that exceeds the senses and with a mind that exceeds mind, for the power of the spirit penetrates their human faculties, and allows them to see things which are beyond us.

It should be remembered that no evil thing is evil insofar as it exists, but insofar as it is turned aside from the activity appropriate to it, and thus from the end assigned to this activity.

God is not only beyond knowledge but also beyond unknowing.

No one has ever seen the fullness of this divine Beauty, and this is why no eye has seen it, even if it gaze forever: in fact, it does not see the totality such as it is, but only a measure in which it is rendered receptive to the power of the Holy Spirit. But in addition to this incomprehensibility, what is most divine and extraordinary is that the very comprehension a man may have, he possesses incomprehensibly.

Not only are man’s knowledge of God and his understanding of himself and his proper rank (which knowledge now belongs to those who are Christians, even those considered uneducated laymen) a more lofty knowledge than natural science and astronomy and any philosophy in these subjects, but also our mind’s knowledge of its own weakness and the search for its healing would be incomparably superior by far to the investigation and knowledge of the magnitude of the stars and the reasons for natural phenomena, the origins of things below and the circuits of things above, their changes and risings, their fixed positions and retrograde motions, their disjunctions and conjunctions, and, in general, the entire multiform relation that results from their considerable motion in that region. For the mind that realizes its own weakness has discovered whence it might enter upon salvation and draw near to the light of knowledge and receive true wisdom which does not pass away with this age.

Maximos the Confessor
The wise man who gives or receives instruction wishes to give or to receive it only in useful matters. However, when the man who appears wise seeks information or is questioned, he advances only more contrived things.

Those who are still timid in the war against the passions and who fear the inroads of invisible enemies should be quiet, that is, not engage in warlike behavior above their strength, but by prayer abandon the care of themselves to God’s concern.

Who knows how God is made flesh and yet remains God? This only faith understands, adoring the Logos in silence.

The one who has joined the body to the soul through virtue and knowledge has become a lyre and a flute and a temple. A lyre, firstly, because he beautifully maintains the harmony of the virtues; next, a flute because through the divine experiences he receives the Spirit’s inspiration; finally a temple because through the purity of his mind he has become the Word’s dwelling place.

John Chrysostom
A drop of grace filled all things with knowledge; through it wonders took place, sins were loosed.

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