My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
An Extemporaneous Prayer to the Transfigured Lord
Lord Jesus, as I behold You today in the abundant, dazzling and uncreated Light of Your Transfiguration, I become much more aware and sensitive to the meaning of Your words: "I am the Light of the world" (St. John 8:12).
My Savior and Redeemer, as I behold today Your Glory on Mt. Tabor, which is but a prelude to the future transfiguration of our own human nature in Your Kingdom and of the whole world, I can better understand the meaning of Your promise: "The righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" (St. Matthew 13:43).
O Sun of Righteousness, as I behold the beauty of Your countenance in Glory, my lips are drawn to repeat the words of Peter the Apostle on Mt. Tabor: "Lord, it is good that we are here" (St. Matthew 17:4). O my Lord Jesus, how can anyone ever want to leave You, once they have come to know You and to behold Your Glory and beauty?
Inseparably joined to Your Name, Lord Jesus Christ, is the Light, the clarity, the dazzling purity and everything that is beautiful, true and Divine that might be desired by the human soul. Lord, we are indeed attracted by Your Divine countenance. Our soul does not consider Your Commandments unbearable nor difficult to observe. We especially desire, at times, Lord, to keep a vigil and to extend our prayer into the night, as did the three disciples who were with You on the Mount of Your Transfiguration and who beheld Your Glory.
And if at times Your word, Lord Jesus, appears harsh to us, or Your law heavy to bear, it is because we have not yet discovered You. Let Your countenance, Lord, shine upon Your servants. Let the pure Light of Your knowledge of God shine in our heart, O Loving Lord, and may our eyes be opened to see you more clearly, to think of You always, and to be active in accordance with Your Commandments. You are our illumination, and we offer up glory and honor and thanksgiving to You Who are seated upon the Throne of Glory and are Living God unto the ages. Amen.
SALVATION-REGENERATION ACCORDING TO THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH
By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos (Source: The Feasts of the Lord)
Man's salvation, rebirth and regeneration is not independent of Christ's Incarnation...the salvation of the human race began with the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God. In reality it is a matter of a regeneration which is incomparably higher and greater than the first creation. The creation of man, Adam and Eve, has great significance, and yet it escapes us that the new creation is superior to the first. Saint Nikolas Kavasilas, referring to this point, says that in the creation of the first man the earth "gathered together, but did not work." God took from the earth dust which formed the body, but since the earth has no soul or reason, it did not willingly and freely cooperate. However, in the second creation, in which the Theotokos took the place of the earth, things were different. The Panagia (All-Holy Mother of God) even drew "this craftsman to the earth and made his hands move." For actually the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God was preceded by "living wholly without blemish, an all-holy life...a soul purer than light, a body always spiritual, more joyful than the sun, more pure than heaven..."
The Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God is the original will of God for man and the world, but also the final purpose of creation. At this point we must also examine briefly the subject of whether the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God was originally intended, that is to say, whether the Incarnation presupposed the fall of man or not. From the Patristic teaching it appears that the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God is not connected so much with the fall of man, because it is the final purpose of the creation.
Saint Maximos the Confessor writes characteristically on this point: "This is the blessed end for which all things were constituted. This is the preconceived divine purpose of the beginning of beings, for which everything exists, but is itself for the sake of nothing. God created the essence of things with this end in view." This means that God created everything for the Incarnation.
Of course this should be put in its real theological framework. In other words, it is not a matter of developing a genealogy of God, of a development in the Divinity, of something necessary for the Triune God, as a fulfillment, but of the deification (theosis) of man and the salvation of the whole creation. The making of man the world is a work of God's creative energy, and the purpose of man's creation, of his existence, is deification (theosis).
This teaching is understood only if we think that man's deification (theosis) is not an ethical idea and an ethical conforming to God's law, but the vision of the uncreated glory in the hypostasis of the Logos (Word), the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. In order for man to participate in deification (theosis) it is necessary to have the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures. This is just what happened through the Incarnation of Christ. The Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are united in essence, that is to say, their unity is due to their common essence and the Person of the Father. In Christ we have the hypostatic union. People are united with God by energy. Man cannot be united with God and partake of deification (theosis) unless there is a hypostatic union of divine and human natures. This came about in the hypostasis of the Logos (Word). That is why the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) does not presuppose the fall...
"...What enters in with the fall is the Cross and the death of Christ. It also indicates the great significance of the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ, as well as the great love of God. We should look at this theological truth from the positive side and not scholastically and questioningly. In other words, we should not say: "if a man had not sinned, it would have been thus and so", but that the Incarnation of God is the end of creation. Man was formed in order to become God by grace. Man's becoming God by grace is achieved through the personal union of the divine with human nature, which took place in the hypostasis of the Logos (Word). Thus the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God is broader than simple compassion and it indicates the purpose of man's existence and the "end" of His creation.
THE MYSTERY OF THE THEOTOKOS
If the Incarnation of Christ is a great mystery and constitutes the economy of God, the question of how God arranged the salvation and deification (theosis) of man means that also the Theotokos, who participated in this work of the Divine Economy, is a mystery. According to Saint John of Damaskos, we call holy Mary the Mother of God "rightly and truly." Besides, the name Theotokos, "constitutes the entire mystery of the economy" since the Logos (Word) of God assumed human nature really and truly from the Theotokos.
The Holy Virgin is called Theotokos (Mother of God), "properly and truly", because the Logos (Word) of God Who was born of her is True God. Of course, when we say that the Theotokos gave birth to God, we do not mean that the Logos (Word) received His being from the Panagia, since His is Eternal God, begotten of the Father before all ages, but that the Eternal and timeless God "in the last days" dwelt in the womb of the Theotokos, He was born and was made flesh without change, that is to say, without losing His Divinity.
It is sinful to call the Panagia Mother of Christ, as Nestoros (heretic) did, because this means denying the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God, and therefore a denial of the salvation and deification (theosis) of man. What Saint John of Damaskos says is characteristic, that the Holy Virgin must be known as and called Thetokos "not only because of the nature of the Logos (Word), but also because of the deification (theosis) of the humanity simultaneously with which the conception and the coming into being of the flesh were wondrously brought about".
For just this reason the Holy Fathers insist on the theology concerning the person of the Theotokos and sing her praises and glorify her. She is the "key" to the experience of the Incarnation of the Logos (Word) of God, as well as the deification (theosis) of man. Without the term Theotokos and the person of the Holy Virgin, nothing can be understood.
All that has been said should help us to our person annunciation. And this good news is that after the Incarnation of Christ there is the possibility of deification (theosis), the possibility of our becoming members of the deified Body of Christ, which He assumed from the Holy Virgin, the Theotokos.
This doxology belongs to the Son and Logos (Word) of God: "Glory to Thy ineffable condescension, O Logos (Word)."
And this hymn is sung to the Most Holy Theotokos:
"Hail, O Lady Theotokos, through whom the self-originate is born to us and the self-grown is made to grow and the complete is increased, Hail, only Mother of God, thou exalted and brightly shining glory of the heavenly and earthly and under-earthly beings."
It is a teaching of the Holy Fathers that Christ on Mt. Tabor showed men the archetypal beauty of their image. Christ is the Model of Creation of man, because man was formed in the image of the Logos (Word). By this we see the glory of the image and what a great honor it is that we are in the image of God. Our lineage is not low but high, because the glorified Christ is the Prototype of our creation, but also because he is our Artificer and Creator.
It says repeatedly in Holy Scripture that Christ is the New Adam, Who became man in order to correct the error of the ancestral Adam. The first Adam in Paradise, although he was still inexperienced, was in a state of illumination of his nous because that in him which was in the image was pure and received the rays of the Divine Light. But after his sin, he was darkened, he lost the likeness, but did not lose the image entirely. In the Patristic tradition it says that the image in Adam was obscured, darkened, without being entirely lost. Through the Incarnation of Christ and the deification (theosis) of human nature Adam came back to his former glory, and indeed rose still higher.
Thus on Mt. Tabor Christ showed what the Prototype of the creation of man was like and what the first state of Adam was like in Paradise before the fall.
To be sure, this is said with a reservation, because, as Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite teaches, the illumination of the Transfigured Christ was brighter and more divine than the illumination which Adam had in Paradise. And this for two reasons: first, because the God Who created Adam was God in essence, whereas Adam was God be participation. God's light is natural, while the light which Adam had was by participation and grace. Secondly, because Christ assumed human nature and deified it hypostatically, whereas Adam had communion with the grace of God through energy. This means that whereas in Christ the Divine nature united hypostatically with the human nature, in Adam and in everyone who is deified, his nature is united with God by grace and not hypostatically. Therefore hypostatic union of the divine and human natures happened only in Christ.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God