St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::

Questions for Answers

This quote sums up the purpose of the Lenten struggle well. It is from St. Gregory Palamas, 14th century bishop of Thessalonica and defender of the hesychiast method of prayer:

"When through self-control we have purified our body, and when through divine love we have made our incensive power and our desire incentives for virtue, and when we offer to God our intellect cleansed by prayer, then we
will possess and see within ourselves the grace promised to the pure in heart (cf. Matt. 5:8)."

St Gregory's statement here is not just a reminder about piety when we think about God, though it is certainly that. Rather it's the tip of a massive iceberg! "Holy Tradition" is a shorthand phrase that represents all the spiritual prerequisites and resources the Church gives us if we are going to enter fully into the life of the Triune God.

Maybe an even better image is that of an epistemological Cartesian demon haunting us. What a good solid purgative (and certainly not to forget illuminative) dose of Eastern Orthodox theology can do for us is, not to answer the questions which that demon attacks us with, but to *exorcise* that demon.

A friend of mine was telling his Protestant pastor about Orthodox theology and the pastor's somewhat flippant reply was, "Well, it sounds like they have a question for every answer!"

So true!...Yet, paradoxically, the Church also provides us the tools to then find the "answers," not in the pursuit of intellectual knowledge nor emotional "experiences," but in the mystery of God himself as He is found in the rigors, trials, and true joys of the spiritual life.

:: Karl :: 9:26:00 AM [Link] ::

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