Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wisdom from the Fathers - Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus

Selected passages from Vladimir Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church

   For Christianity is not a philosophical school for speculating about abstract concepts, but is essentially a communion with the Living God.

   For the Divinity has no need to manifest its perfection either to itself or to others, it is the Trinity and this fact can be deduced from no principle.

   Men have therefore a common nature, one single nature in many human persons. This distinction of nature and person in man is no less difficult to grasp than the analogous distinction of the one nature and three persons in God. Above all, we must remember that we do not know the person, human hypostasis in its true condition, free from alloy. We commonly use the words persons or personal to mean individuals, or individual. We are in the habit of thinking of these two terms, person and individual almost as though they were synonyms. We employ them indifferently to express the same thing. But, in a certain sense, individual and person mean opposite things, the word individual expressing a certain mixture of the person with elements which belong to the common nature, while person, on the other hand, means that which distinguishes it from nature.

   A person who asserts himself as an individual, and shuts himself up in the limits of his particular nature, far from realizing himself fully becomes impoverished. It is only in renouncing its own possession and giving itself freely, in ceasing to exist for itself that the person finds full expression in the one nature common to all. In giving up its own special good, it expands infinitely, and is enriched by everything which belongs to all. The person becomes the perfect image of God by acquiring that likeness which is the perfection of the nature common to all men . . . for as St Gregory of Nyssa says; Christianity is an ‘imitation of the nature of God.’

   Made in the image of God, man is a personal being confronted with a personal God. God speaks to him as to a person, and man responds. Man, according to St Basil, is a creature who has received a commandment to become God. But this commandment is addressed to human freedom and does not overrule it. As a personal being man can accept the will of God; he can also reject it. Even when he removes himself as far as possible from God, and becomes unlike Him in His nature, he remains a person. The image of God in man is indestructible. In the same way, he remains a personal being when he fulfills the will of God an in his nature realizes perfect likeness with Him. For according to St Gregory Nazianzus, ‘God honored man in giving him freedom, in order that goodness should properly belong to him who chooses it, no less than to Him who placed the first fruits of goodness in his nature. Thus whether he chooses good or evil, whether he tends to likeness or unlikeness, man possesses his nature freely, because he is a person created in the image of God.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Help Him Tell the Story of Christian Refugees in Syria

     As an Orthodox Christian (although not an Arab) I am very concerned about the continuing civil war and instability in Syria. Our Patriarch, John X, has his Episcopal seat in Damascus, and his brother, Metropolitan Paul, has for months now been a captive of one of the 'rebel' groups. All of the Christians in Syria, whether Orthodox or not, are under threat from the jihadist groups now at large in the country. Many are fleeing their homes and churches, where they and their ancestors have worshiped our Savior Jesus Christ for centuries. 
     Here is a YouTube video from a journalist who plans to go into Syria, and get the word out to the world about what the Christians of Syria are facing. Please watch the video and consider giving him your assistance. I don't know if this man is a Christian or not, but his mission is an important one.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This is NOT an Off the Cuff Movie Review. But maybe I will do this one some day. This is a modern 'trailer' for the classic British comedy, done over to make the movie look like an awesome action epic. Enjoy.

For those of you who have never seen this film, please consult the IMDB page. and then go rent this movie immediately.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Memoriam: September 11th

Let us pray for the departed of September 11, 2001:

O Father of all, we pray Thee for those we love but now no longer see. Grant them Thy peace; let perpetual light shine upon them; and in Thy loving wisdom and almighty power work in them the good purpose of Thy perfect will. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God, Maker and Redeemer of all those that believe; grant to all Thy servants a merciful judgement at the last day; that they in the face of all Thy creatures may them be acknowledged as Thy true children. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. 

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Photo By Jeffmock (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons