March 31, 2013

PSALM 19:1

By Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston (Holy Orthodox Church in North America) When our Saviour addressed the Holy Apostles with the words: “Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” He did not mean that they should receive the Essence or the Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because no creature can receive or partake of God’s Essence. If he were able to receive or partake of our God’s Essence, he would then be God Himself! But this is impossible for man, a creature. God is uncreated, whereas man is created. God is eternal by nature, whereas man is very much temporal. God is holy by nature, whereas man is obviously fallen and sinful.
But, by God’s Grace, all things are possible. By God’s Grace, man too can become eternal. By Grace, man, a fallen creature, can and does become holy. By God’s Grace, men can become deified.

Moses the Ethiopian, the thief and murderer, could and did, by God’s Grace, become the meek Saint Moses the Ethiopian.
Mary the dissolute prostitute of Egypt, could and did, by God’s Grace, become Saint Mary of Egypt, the clairvoyant, the supremely-wise, the pure bride of Christ.
So, when the first verse of Psalm 19 blesses us with the words:
The Lord hear thee in the day of affliction;
the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee
it is similar to the words, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” As we mentioned above, we do not—indeed, we cannot—receive the Essence or the Hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, but we can and do receive the Grace of the Holy Spirit. So that is what our Saviour is actually saying here: “Receive ye the Grace of the Holy Spirit.”
Likewise, when the Psalmist says, “The Name of the God of Jacob defend thee,” he means “the Power, the uncreated Grace, of the God of Jacob defend thee.”
As we have pointed out elsewhere, “the Name of God (its inner significance and meaning and not its outward letters and sounds) is the divinely-revealed Truth about God Himself; like all revelation of God about Himself, it is His Power, His Energy, His Grace. According to the teaching of the Church, the Grace of God is God Himself (not His Essence, but His Energy). Hence, it is in this sense that St. John of Kronstadt’s famous saying ‘The Name of God is God Himself’ should be understood.” St. Clement of Rome’s statement that “the Name of God gave existence to all creation” must likewise be understood in this sense.
This, too, is precisely what the Prophet David says when he makes the following parallel:
And the heathen shall fear Thy Name, O Lord,
And all the kings of the earth Thy Glory.
(Psalm 101:15)
This, exactly, is what St. Cyril of Alexandria also says:
[John 17:11: “Keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me.”] He says that His disciples ought to be kept in the Name of the Father, that is to say, in the Glory and Power of His Godhead, so that they should be out of the power of the enemy.
(Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 11.9 [John 17:16–17])
Therefore, when we pronounce the Name of God, when we write or read it, when we imprint it in our minds, that is the created aspect, which belongs to our human speech. It is a word, a verbal icon, a created symbol. But the Truth that these created names contain and express, the Truth that shines and flows from them, this Truth is both eternal and uncreated, and it exists whether we articulate it or not. This Truth of God, this Truth about God, as revealed by God Himself, is the uncreated Name of God; it is His Glory, Power, Majesty, Grace, etc. This is the Name of God that the Church has been glorifying and praising from the very foundation of the world, and which she will continue to magnify unto endless ages. As St. John of Tobolsk (+1715) puts it so concisely:
The chosen ones of God greatly desire that the Name of God, His Wisdom, Power, Mercy, and Truth be venerated in holiness by all the nations and tribes, that all the peoples (as creatures of one God) should live in peace and concord.

In Accordance with the Divine Will, Chapter 4
The Name of God is not just a created symbol, as some say (although it is that too); it is, more importantly, God’s uncreated Power and Grace.
“Receive ye the Holy Spirit.”
“The Name of the God of Jacob defend thee.”

March 25, 2013

Letter written in 1918 by Michael Alexandrovich Novoselov (future Catacomb Bishop and Hieromartyr Mark, + 1937).

Dear NN! Peace be unto you, and rejoice in the Lord.
This letter will probably surprise you, and maybe also sadden you, but I cannot remain silent on these matters which fill my soul. I will start from the very beginning… At the last session of the Missionary Council, which I attended, one of its members (it could have been you) offered the Council that he might speak on the subject of immediately preparing apologetic Christian literature – brochures, articles, maybe even bigger works – with the purpose of spreading it among the people, because a plentitude of harmful anti-religious materials are already circulating among them. Regarding that proposal I replied that even if we could cover the whole of Russia with such apologetic literature, it would not bring much benefit to the Church, because the main affliction of church life in Russia is established much deeper within the church, and thus it can not be cured by such superfluous means of apologetics. And this affliction is nothing else but the lack of Orthodox understanding, Orthodox feeling perception, the abandonment of the patristic foundations of the religious life and religious thought. And this affliction, I pointed out, affects, first and foremost, our hierarchs (surely you remember, that I gave examples and names), and representatives of our academic circles, and clergy, especially the learned ones. Naturally, this spiritual sickness spreads from these heights wide and deep into the whole Church, society and people. I will not repeat here in detail what I said back then, because you recorded my words in the Council minutes yourself. Here I will only continue what I began at the Council, but could not finish. That last speech of mine I ended with these words, which, it seems, were not really heard by the attendees: I said that after pointing out all the sores that afflict the earthly body of our Church, I will not speak about the one wound that I consider to be the most grievous – for I think speaking about it would be untimely and premature. This is what I did not talk about the last time; this is what I want to tell you now. The most severe abandonment of Orthodox reasoning I see is in the so-called name-fighting, that is, in that peculiar message, which was articulated in the infamous epistle of the Synod “to all the brothers, struggling in monasticism”, published in May 1913, and the reports attached thereto.

March 24, 2013

Triumph of Orthodoxy

"Thou hast given an inheritance
to them that fear Thy Name."
Great Prokeimenon for the First, Third and Fifth Sunday Vespers of the Lent (Psalm 60:5)

March 20, 2013

The Name of God in the Holy Scriptures: Prophet Esaias

Behold, the Name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy, His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire.

Esaias, 30:27

March 13, 2013

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Irenaeus of Lyons

And when they were near to the land, which God had promised to Abraham and his seed, Moses chose a man from every tribe, and sent them to search out the land and the cities therein and the dwellers in the cities. At that time God revealed to him the Name which alone is able to save them that believe thereon; and Moses changed the name of Ausses the son of Navi, one of them that were sent, and named him Jesus; and so he sent them forth with the power of the Name, believing that he should receive them back safe and sound through the guidance of the Name, which came to pass.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Proof of Apostolic Teaching, Ch. 27

March 9, 2013

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

Abominable men and full of all wickedness were inflamed to such a degree of wrath that they cast into tortures those who, with a holy and a blameless purpose, served God, not knowing that the Most High is a champion and shield of those who with a pure conscience offer adoration* to His Most Holy Name, to whom be glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 45

* ‘λατρευοντων’ from ‘λατρεία’ - absolute worship, which is due only to God.

March 5, 2013

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Maximus the Confessor

Besides the already-mentioned modes of operation, the Holy Spirit is present in everyone, who through faith have inherited the truly divine and deifying Name of Christ.

St. Maximus the Confessor, To Thalassius, 15.

March 2, 2013

Holy Fathers on the Name of God: St. Cyril of Alexandria

"He saith, then: 'Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; that they may be one, even as We are.' He desires His disciples to be kept by the power and might of the Ineffable Divine Nature, well and suitably attributing the power of saving whomsoever He will, yea, and with ease, to the true and living God."

"He says: 'Keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me.' Note how guarded the saying is. For allotting and attributing as suitable only to the Nature of God providential care over us, He declares at once that to Himself has been given the glory of Godhead, because of the form of manhood, saying that what was His by natural right was given to Him; that is, the Name which is above every name. Therefore also we say that this Name belongs to the Son by nature, as proceeding from the Father."

"...['Keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me'] He says that His disciples ought to be kept in the Name of the Father, that is to say, in the glory and power of His Godhead, so that they should be out of the power of the enemy..."

Commentary on the Gospel of St. John (17:11)
Book XI, 11, 12, 16