December 31, 2012

The Name of God in the Holy Scriptures: Song of Three Children

Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy Name unto the ages. For Thou art righteous in all the things that Thou hast done to us; yea, true are all Thy works, thy ways are right, and all Thy judgments truth. In all the things that Thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, Thou hast executed true judgement. For according to truth and judgement didst Thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins. For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from Thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed Thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us. Wherefore all that Thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that Thou hast done to us, Thou hast done in true judgement. And Thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world. And now we cannot open our mouths, we are become a shame and reproach to thy servants; and to them that worship Thee. Yet deliver us not up wholly, for Thy Name’s sake, neither disannul thou Thy covenant. And cause not Thy mercy to depart from us, for Thy beloved Abraham’s sake, for Thy servant Isaac’s sake, and for Thy holy Israel’s sake; To whom Thou hast spoken and promised, that Thou wouldest multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the seashore. For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins. Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before Thee, and to find mercy. Nevertheless in a contrite heart and an humble spirit let us be accepted. Like as in the burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs. So let our sacrifice be in Thy sight this day, and grant that we may wholly go after Thee. For they shall not be confounded that put their trust in Thee. And now we follow Thee with all our heart, we fear Thee, and seek Thy face. Put us not to shame: but deal with us after thy lovingkindness, and according to the multitude of Thy mercies. Deliver us also according to Thy marvellous works, and give glory to Thy Name, O Lord. And let all them that do Thy servants hurt be ashamed; And let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken; And let them know that Thou art God, the only God, and glorious over the whole world. And the king’s servants, that put them in, ceased not to make the oven hot with rosin, pitch, tow, and small wood; So that the flame streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits. And it passed through, and burned those Chaldeans it found about the furnace. But the Angel of the Lord came down into the oven together with Azarias and his fellows, and smote the flame of the fire out of the oven; And made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind, so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them. Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying, Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. And blessed is Thy glorious and holy Name, and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thine holy glory, and to be praised and glorified above all for ever. Blessed art Thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims, and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. Blessed art Thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom, and to be praised and glorified above all for ever. Blessed art Thou in the firmament of heaven, and above all to be praised and glorified for ever.

Seventh Ode of the Canon of the Matins (Daniel 3:26-56)

December 25, 2012

From The Way of a Pilgrim

"What the Gospel is, that the prayer of Jesus is also, for the Divine Name of Jesus Christ holds in itself the whole gospel truth."
The Way of a Pilgrim, transl. R. M. French

December 21, 2012

An article on the controversy concerning the Name of God in The Economist

The Name of God in the Holy Scriptures: The Book of Numbers

And the Lord said to Moses, I am gracious to them according to thy word. But I live and living is My Name, and the Glory of the Lord shall fill all the earth.
Numbers 14:20-21

December 19, 2012

Father Sophrony (Sakharov) on the Name of God

But what does the Divine Name mean? In order to pray 'in the Name of' is it necessary to understand its significance, its nature, its essence? Yes, indeed, it is even vital if our joy is to be full. (John xv: 11) p. 122

I arrived on Mt. Athos in 1925. Recently fierce arguments had raged concerning the nature of the Divine Name. The bitter controversy - similar to theological polemics of the 14th century concerning the nature of the Light on Mt. Tabor - had promoted not a few initiatives which ought not to occur among people who have given their souls into the hands of the Almighty. A certain analogy may be drawn in these polemics with the age-old divisions between nominalists and realists, idealists and rationalists. Now they die down, only later to flare up in another guise. Two different natural formations may be observed. On the one side are the prophets and poets. On the other – scientists and technocrats. I do not propose to dwell on the outward aspect of events that occurred at that time, preferring to concentrate on the essence of the problem, in order to apprehend the imperishable knowledge from on High vouchsafed to the holy ascetics, the lovers of mental prayer. p. 123

He Who is above all Names in His Substance reveals Himself to the reasonable beings created in His image under many Names: Eternal, All-knowing, Almighty; Light, Life, Beauty, Wisdom; Goodness, Truth, Love; Saviour, Hallowed, et al. In each and through all of these we feel the presence of the One God, and in virtue of His indivisibility we possess Him altogether. It is meet to think thus but at the same time not one of these attributes affords us full comprehension of Him 'as He is'. His Being in Its Essence transcends all Names. And yet He goes on revealing Himself in Names. p. 129

By virtue of the unity of God the Name I AM applies likewise to all the Trinity and to each Hypostasis separately. Like many other Names, this Name can and must be understood both as a common appellative and as proper to each Person - in the same way as the Name 'Lord' refers likewise to all Three Persons and at the same time serves as the proper Name for each of the Three. The same can be said about the Name JESUS - that is, God the Saviour. But in our practice of prayer we use this Name JESUS exclusively as Christ's own Name, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. p. 132

The Name Jesus as knowledge, as 'energy' of God in relation to the world and as His proper Name, is ontologically bound up with Him. It is spiritual reality. Its sound can merge with its reality but not necessarily so. As a name it was given to many mortal men but when we pray we utter it with another content, another 'frame' of spirit. For us it is the bridge between us and Him. It is the canal along which the streams of divine strength flow to us. As proceeding from the Holy God it is holy and it hallows us by its invocation. With this Name and through it prayer acquires a certain tangibleness: it unites us with God. In it, this Name, God is present like a scent- flask full of fragrance. Through it, the Celestial One can be sensed imminently. As divine energy it proceeds from the Substance of Divinity and is divine itself. pp.133-134

We know that not only the Name Jesus but all the other Names, too, are revealed to us from on High, are ontologically linked with Him - God. p. 134

Neglect of the ontological character of the Divine Names, the lack of this experience in prayers and the celebration of the divine office has desolated the lives of many. For them prayer and the sacraments themselves lose their eternal reality. The Liturgy becomes, not a Divine Act but simply a psychological or mental commemoration. p. 135

It is very important that we should become like Moses who 'endured, as seeing him who is invisible,' (Heb. xi: 27) and invoke Him recognising the ontological connection between the Name and Him Who is named, with the Person of Christ. p. 137

When our brain stops functioning and all other prayers become difficult to remember and pronounce, the light of knowledge of God proceeding from the Name which we know intimately will continue imprescriptible in our spirit. p. 150

Archimandrite Sophrony, On Prayer.

December 16, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. John of Kronstadt

The Name of God is God Himself. Therefore it is said: ‘Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain;’or ‘the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee;’or, again, ‘bring my soul out of prison that I may give thanks unto Thy Name.’ As the Lord is the most incomplex Spirit, He is wholly contained in one word, in one thought, being at the same time wholly everywhere - in all creatures. This is why, if you only call upon the Name of the Lord, you call upon the Lord Himself, the Saviour of those who believe, and you shall be saved. ‘Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ‘Call upon me [My Name] in the time of trouble; so will I hear thee, and shalt praise me.’

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 477

December 14, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

The Name of God is in itself so holy, so glorious and all-praised, that it does not require any praise from us. Like the sun, whether praised or blasphemed, always remains bright, and keeps shining the beams of its light on all the earth, so is the Name of God, whether praised or blasphemed by men, remains equally glorious, holy and terrible, and shines the beams of its glory... For this reason, as when blasphemed by men, the glory of His Name does not diminish, so when praised its glory does not increase. For the glory of the Name of God is eternal, infinite and unchanging, just as God Himself.

On True Christianity, Ch. 2, 313-314.

December 13, 2012

Bishop Nikolai of Zicha (Velimirovich) on the Name of God

"Hallowed by Thy Name"

Thou wouldest not be holier by our hallowing Thee, but in hallowing Thy Name we make ourselves holy.

Thy Name is wondrous. The people quarrel on this earth about names: whose name is great? It is good that sometimes Thy Name is mentioned in these quarrels, because all the loquacious tongues become at once slow and hesitating, and all the great human names melted together cannot compare with Thy Name, Holy, All-Holy!

When men want to hallow Thy Name they ask nature for help. They take stone and wood to make the temples; they adorn the altars with pearls and flowers, and make fire of plants, their sisters; and take scent of the cedars, their brothers; and strengthen their voices by the voice of the bells; and call the animals for help, to hallow Thy Name. Nature is as pure as Thy stars, and as innocent as Thine Angels, O Lord. Be merciful with us for the sake of the pure and innocent nature which hallows Thy Name, together with us, Holy, All-Holy!

In what way should we hallow Thy Name?
Is it by innocent joy? – then be merciful with us for the sake of our innocent children.
Is it by suffering? – then look at our cemeteries.
Or is it by self-sacrifice? – then remember our mothers, O Lord!

Thy Name is stronger than steel and clearer than light. Blessed be the man who depends upon and enlightens himself by Thy Name!

The fools says: “We are armed with steel; who can resist us?” And Thou destroyest kingdoms with invisible insects!

Terrible is Thy Name, O Lord! It illuminates and it consumes like a great fire-cloud. Nothing is holy and nothing terrible that is not bound with Thy Name. Give me, O Holy, give me as friends those in whose hearts Thy Name is engraved, and as enemies those who do not wish to know anything about Thee. For such friends will be my friends to the death, and such enemies will kneel and surrender to me as soon as their steel is broken.

Holy and terrible is Thy Name, Holy, All-Holy! Let us remember Thy Name in every moment of our joy and of our abasement in life, as we remember it in the hour of our death, yea, our heavenly Father, our Holy Father!

Explanation of the  the Lord's Prayer  

December 11, 2012

The Name of God in the Lives of Saints: St. Stephen the New

Likewise, our conscience makes no accusation against us when we show reverence for the sacred vessels, since we know that they have been sanctified by the invocation of the Name of Christ.

Life of St. Stephen the New, Confessor for the Holy Icons.

December 8, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. John of Kronstadt

When you pronounce to yourself in your heart the Name of God, of the Lord, or that of the most Holy Trinity, or of the Lord of Sabaoth, or of the Lord Jesus Christ, then in that Name you have the Lord’s whole being; in it is His infinite mercy, His boundless wisdom, His inaccessible light, omnipotence, and immutability. Approach this all-creative, all-keeping and all-ruling Name in our thoughts and heart with the fear of God, and with faith and love. This is why God’s commandment strictly forbids us to use God’s Name in vain, because His Name is Himself, one God in Three Persons, an incomplex being, represented and contained in one single word, although at the same time He is not contained or limited either by it or by anything that exists.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 358 (Jordanville edition, 1984)

December 7, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Clement of Rome

We shall... offer earnest prayer and supplication that the Creator of the universe may preserve undiminished the established number of His elect in all the world through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, through Whom He has called us out of darkness into light, out of ignorance into the full knowledge of the splendour of His Name, that we may hope in His Name, which gave existence to all creation.

St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 59

December 6, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: Ss. Callistus and Ignatius Xanthopoulos

So it has reached us and so it is observed by us and will pass in the same form to those who come after us. As regards the words: ‘Have mercy upon me’ added to the salvation-working words of the prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God’, it was added by the holy fathers chiefly for those who are still infants in the work of virtue, the beginners and the the imperfect. For the advanced and the perfect in Christ are content with any one of those forms: ‘Lord Jesus’; ‘Jesus Christ’; ‘Christ Son of God’; or even with one word ‘Jesus’, which they kiss and embrace as the complete doing of the prayer, sufficient to fill them with ineffable bliss and joy exceeding all mind, all vision and all hearing.

Ss. Callistus and Ignatius, Directions to Hesychasts, 50.

December 4, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Hesychius the Presbyter

We will travel the road of repentance correctly if, as we begin to give attention to the intellect, we combine humility with watchfulness, and prayer with the power to rebut evil thoughts. In this way we will adorn the chamber of our heart with holy and venerable Name of Jesus Christ as with a lighted lamp, and will sweep our heart clean of all wickedness, purifying and embellishing it. But if we trust only in our watchfulness and attentiveness, we shall quickly be pushed aside by our enemies. We shall be overturned and cast down by their extreme craftiness. We will become even more fully entangled in their nets of evil thought, and will readily be slaughtered by them, lacking as we do the powerful sword of the Name of Jesus Christ. For only this sword, swiftly turning in the undivided heart, is able to cut them down, to burn and obliterate them as fire the reed.

St. Hesychius  the Presbyter, On Watchfulness and Holiness, 152

December 2, 2012

The Name of God in the Divine Services: The Akathist Hymn to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ

Oikos 1

Creator of Angles and Lord of Hosts, as of old Thou didst open the ear and tongue of him that was deaf and dumb, so now open my perplexed mind and tongue to praise Thy most holy Name, that I may cry to Thee...
Kontakion 9

All the orders of Angels in Heaven unceasingly glorify Thy most holy Name, O Jesus, crying: Holy, Holy, Holy! But we sinners on earth, with our tongues of clay, chant: Alleluia. 
Kontakion 10
Wishing to save the world, O Dayspring of the Orient, Thou didst come to the dark Occident of our nature and didst humble Thyself even unto death. Therefore, Thy Name is exalted above every name, and from all created beings of Heaven and earth, Thou hear: Alleluia

December 1, 2012

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Mention the Name of God with all reverence, fear and devotion, and that only when and where we ought to mention it, because the Name of God is holy and awful, and those that mention it without reverence sin grievously. Render, then, all reverence to the Name of God as to God Himself. You mention the name of the earthly king with respect; that is as it should be. How much more should we mention the Name of God the Heavenly King, which is revered, beloved and sweet to angels and to the souls of the saints, with extreme reverence.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven, Ch. 4, 7.