The Uncreated Grace and Energy of God

Venerable Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch

Venerable Theodosius the Great, the Cenobiarch

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.

A CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ Our God, You are worshiped and glorified; You are long-suffering, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour And direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; And deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your Holy Angels, So that guarded and guided by them We may attain to the unity of faith And the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On January 11th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Father Theodosius the Cenobiarch; Saint Vitalis of Gaza.

+Bu the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Righteous, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER THEODOSIUS THE CENOBIARCH. This Saint had Cappadocia as his homeland. He lived during the years of Leo of Thrace, who reigned from 457 to 474 A.D. The Saint established in the Holy Land a great communal monastery, wherein he was the shepherd of many monks. While Saint Savvas was the head of the hermits of Palestine, Saint Theodosius was governor of those living the cenobitic life, for which reason he is called the Cenobiarch. Together with Saint Savvas, towards whom he cherished a deep brotherly love in Christ, he defended the whole land of Palestine from the heresy of the Monophysites, which was championed by the Emperor Anastasius and might very well have triumphed in the Holy Land without the opposition of these two great Monastic Holy Fathers and their zealous defense of the holy Council of Chalcedon. Having lived for 105 years, he reposed in peace.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

With the streams of thy tears, thou didst cultivate the barrenness of the desert; and by thy sighings from the depths, thou didst bear fruit a hundredfold in labors; and thou becamest a luminary, shining with miracles upon the world, O Theodosius our righteous Father. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 13:7-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 11:27-30

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THE UNCREATED ENERGY AND GRACE OF GOD ACCORDING TO OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Original sin is the privation of sanctifying grace" (1911 edition, vol. 11, p. 314). The Orthodox Holy Fathers also teach that man lost the Grace of God at the time he fell. However, the Orthodox Christian teaching on this subject is different from the Roman Catholic teaching in two ways.

First of all, in Roman Catholic teaching grace is a created phenomenon: "It is not a substance that exists by itself, or apart from the soul; therefore it is a physical accident inhering in the soul...Sanctifying grace may be philosophically termed a 'permanent, supernatural quality of the soul" (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition, vol. 6, p. 705). According to Orthodox theology, on the other hand, Grace is the uncreated energy of God Himself, which at the time of man's creation was intimately connected with his soul. Man participated in the Divine life through the Divine Energy, and this participation was proper to the original nature of man.

Vladimir Lossky comments on the difference between the Roman Catholic doctrine of supernatural (created) grace and the Orthodox doctrine of Divine (uncreated) Grace: "For Eastern (Orthodox) Tradition the created supernatural has no existence. That which Western (Latin) theology calls by the name supernatural signifies for the East uncreated--the Divine Energies ineffably distinct from the Essence of God. The difference consists in the fact that the Western (Roman Catholic) conception of grace implies the idea of causality, grace being represented as an effect of the Divine Cause, exactly as in the act of creation; while for Eastern (Orthodox) theology there is a natural procession, the Energies shining forth eternally from the Divine Essence. It is in the creation alone that God acts as cause, in producing a new subject called to participate in the Divine fullness; preserving it, saving it, granting Grace to it, and guiding it towards its final goal. In the Energies He is, He exists, He eternally manifests Himself" (Mystical Theology, pp. 88-89).

Secondly, in Roman Catholic teaching original sin consists only in the privation of sanctifying grace (also called "original justice"), while the nature of man remained the same after the fall as it had been before the fall. In this view, the nature of man has not become corrupted; rather, the privation of grace in itself constitutes "a stain, a moral deformity" (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, p. 314). According to Orthodox theology, on the other hand, man's nature was corrupted at the fall, and this corruption caused man to lose the indwelling of Grace and deprived him of participation in God. As Vladimir Lossky notes, "The deprivation of Grace is not the cause, but rather the consequence of the decadence of our nature" (Mystical Theology, p. 132).

Between the time of man's fall and his redemption by Christ, Grace could act on man temporarily from the outside, but could not dwell within him, united with his soul, as it was before the fall. Vladimir Lossky writes: "From the fall until the day of Pentecost, the Divine Energy deifying and Uncreated Grace, was foreign to our human nature, acting on it only from the outside...The prophets and righteous men of the Old Testament were the instrument of Grace. Grace acted by them, but did not become impossible" (Mystical Theology, p. 133). That is why, in II Corinthians, Saint Paul says the glory (Grace beheld as Uncreated Light) that shone temporarily from Moses' face is exceeded and surpassed by the glory that is given to Christians, whose souls can be united with Grace forever:

"If the ministry of death, engraven in letters on stone, was accompanied by such glory that the sons of Israel could not bear to gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory, transitory though it was, that shone from it, then how much greater must the glory be that accompanies the ministry of the Spirit?...Indeed, what once seemed full of glory now seems to have no glory at all, because it is outshone by a glory that is so much greater" ( 2 Corinthians 3:7-11).

Commenting on this passage of Holy Scripture, Saint Macarius the Great writes: "Saint Paul says 'transitory' because it was Moses' mortal body that shone with the glory of light...A little later he affirms that the everlasting and immortal glory of the Spirit shines even now with immortal and indestructible power in the immortal inner being of the saints: "With unveiled face we all"--all, that is to say, who through perfect faith are born in the Spirit--"reflect as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are transfigured into the same image from glory to glory, through the Lord Who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). The words with "unveiled face" indicate the [unveiled] soul; Saint Paul adds that when one turns back to the Lord the veil is taken off, and that the Lord is the Spirit. By this he clearly shows that from the time of Adam's transgression a veil of darkness has encroached upon mankind and has covered the soul. But we believe that through the illumination of the Spirit this veil is now removed from truly faithful and saintly souls. It is for this reason that Christ came; and to those who truly believe in Him God has given the Grace to attain this measure of holiness" (Philokalia, vol. 3, pp. 347-48).

Saint Symeon the New Theologian explains how, through the sacrifice of Christ, man can be cleansed of sin and delivered from spiritual death, receiving within himself the Grace of God as Adam had it before the fall: "One Person of the Holy Trinity, namely the Son and Logos/Word of God, having become incarnate, offered Himself in the flesh as a sacrifice to the Divinity of the Father, and of the Son Himself, and of the Holy Spirit, in order that the first transgression of Adam might be benevolently forgiven for the sake of this great and fearful work, that is, for the sake of this sacrifice of Christ, and in order that by its power there might be performed another new birth and re-creation of man in Holy Baptism, in which we also are cleansed by water mingled with the Holy Spirit. From that time people are baptized in water, are immersed in it and taken out from it three times, in the image of the three-day burial of the Lord, and after they die in it to this whole evil world, in the third bringing out from it they are already alive, as if resurrected from the dead, that is, their souls are brought to life and again receive the grace of the Holy Spirit as Adam had it before the transgression. Then they are anointed with myrrh, and by means of it are anointed with Jesus Christ, and are fragrant in a way above nature. Having become in this way worthy of being associates of god, they taste His Flesh and drink His Blood, and by means of the sanctified bread and wine become of one Body and Blood with God Who was incarnate and offered Himself as sacrifice. After this it is no longer possible that sin should reign and tyrannize over them, for they are gods by Grace...

"Thus God, Who is incomparably higher than the visible and invisible creation, accepted human nature, which is higher than the whole visible creation, and offered it as a sacrifice to His God and Father...Honoring the sacrifice, the Father could not leave it in the hands of death. Therefore, He annihilated His sentence and resurrected from the dead first of all and at the beginning Him Who had given Himself as a sacrifice of the redemption and as a replacement for men who are of the same race as Himself; and afterwards, in the last day of the end of this world, He will resurrect also all men. Moreover, the souls of those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in this great and fearful sacrifice, God resurrects in the present life; and a sign of this resurrection is the Grace of the Holy Spirit which He gives to the soul of every Christian, as if giving a new soul" (First-Created Man, pp. 46-48).

Saint John Damascene explains how Christ offered Himself as a ransom for us when He died on the Cross: "Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin ("for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in his mouth" [cf. Isaiah 53:9; St. John 1:29], He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin [cf. Romans 5:12]. He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive a ransom for us, and that we should be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant [i.e., the devil]. Wherefore death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of Divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he had swallowed up. For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer" (Exact Exposition 3,27; NPNF, p. 72).

Likewise, Saint Gregory Palamas writes: "The Lord patiently endured for our sake a death He was not obliged to undergo, to redeem us, who were obliged to suffer death, from servitude to the devil and death, by which I mean both of the soul and of the body, temporarily and eternal...He redeemed us from our guilt. He forgave our sins, tore up the record of them on the Cross and delivered us from the devil's tyranny (cf. Col. 2:14-15). (Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyer Michael Pomazansky).

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

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.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George