Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Love of the Beautiful

So, as my last post indicates, I picked up the Philokalia again this morning. I put it down a few months ago so that I could finish some reading for the Fall semester and I got a little sidetracked. Plus, I was in the middle of a section that I had left and come back to many times and it was getting difficult to push through to the end. I’ll have to revisit it because I know that I didn’t read it well.

But, I did make it to the next section where I was pleasantly surprised with Mr. Diadochos of Photiki. You can call him St. Diadochos if you prefer. Amazing! The section is titled On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination: One Hundred Texts. Here are a few to consider:

7. “Spiritual discourse fully satisfies our intellectual perception, because it comes from God through the energy of love. It is on account of this that the intellect continues undisturbed in its concentration on theology. It does not suffer then from the emptiness which produces a state of anxiety, since in its contemplation it is filled to the degree that the energy of love desires. So it is right always to wait, with a faith energized by love, for the illumination which will enable us to speak. For nothing is so destitute as a mind philosophizing about God when it is without Him.”

21. “He who loves God both believes truly and performs the works of faith reverently. But he who only believes and does not love, lacks even the faith he thinks he has; for he believes merely with a certain superficiality of intellect and is not energized by the full force of love’s glory. The chief part of virtue, then, if faith energized by love.”

66. God is not prepared to grant the gift of theology to anyone who has not first prepared himself by giving away all his possessions for the glory of the gospel; then in godly poverty he can proclaim the riches of the divine kingdom. This is made clear in the Psalm, for after the words ‘O Lord, in Thy love Thou hast provided for the poor’, it continues, ‘The Lord shall give speech to those who proclaim the gospel with great power (Ps. 68:10-11. LXX).”

90. “[…] for no one can acquire the perfection of love while still in the flesh except those saints who suffer to the point of martyrdom, and confess their faith despite all persecution. Whoever has reached this state is completely transformed, and does not feel desire even for material sustenance. For what desire will someone nourished by divine love feel for such things? It is for this real that St. Paul proclaims to us that future joy of the saints when he says: ‘For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), which are the fruits of perfect love. Those who have advanced to perfection are able to taste this love continually, but no one can experience it completely until ‘what is mortal in us is swallowed up by life’ (2 Cor. 5:4)”

This is some good stuff for us Wesleyans to chew on plus, it’s interesting to read the body/soul dualism so prevalent in his 100 texts. For example, he says, “everything longs for what is akin to itself: the soul, since it is bodiless, desires heavenly goods (text 24). Ouch, what was the purpose of the incarnation then? Couldn’t God find a better way than entering this filth we call the flesh? – That’s sarcasm for those missed it – But Diadochos goes on to say, “the joy which then fills both soul and body is a true recalling of the life without corruption (text 25). He does not correct the dualism but he is much more positive towards the body, even including it in heavenly things! Yea! What a huge resource for us today. Fearful of any social gospel na├»ve enough to think that the world is “getting better” and that it is the task of the Church to help it get better, we can approach the goodness of creation with an eye towards the end as the Spirit ushers in the kingdom. I would ask an open-ended (not a rhetorical) question: What is the task of the Church if we are not to make the world a better place?

1 comment:

Josh said...

Wow. I'm impressed bro. Good words. Thanks for sharing that. I know that by not responding with something else equally as deep I sound foolish, but I'm simply going to stop at a simple, "thanks."