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.
THE UNCREATED LIGHT OF GOD ACCORDING TO THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
According to Orthodox Theology, "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 (Russian Orthodox theologian) 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 instruments of Grace. Grace acted by them, but did not become their own, their personal strength. Deification (Theosis), union with God by Grace, had become impossible" (Mystical Theology, p. 133) That is why in 2 Corinthians, Saint Paul says the glory (Grace beheld as Uncreated Light) that shone temporarily form 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, engraved 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, 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. If what was transitory came with glory, what endures will be far more glorious' (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). Commenting on this passage of 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 was for this reason that Christ came; and to those who truly believe in Him God has given the Grace to attain to this measure of holiness" (Philokalia, vol . 3, pp. 347-48). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky]
DEIFICATION IS POSSIBLE THROUGH THE UNCREATED ENERGIES OF GOD
By Archimandrite Father George, Abbot (Egoumenos) of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou on Mt. Athos
In the Orthodox Church of Christ man can achieve deification (theosis) because, according to the teaching of the Holy Bible and the Holy Fathers of the Church, the Grace of God is uncreated. God is not only essence, as the West thinks; He is also energy. If God was only essence, we could not unite with Him, could not commune with Him, because the essence of God is awesome and unapproachable for man, in accordance with: 'Never will man see My face and live" (Exodus 33:20).
Let us mention a somewhat relevant example from things human. If we grasp a bare electric wire, we will die. However, if we connect a lamp to that wire, we are illuminated. We see, enjoy, and are assisted by the energy of electric current, but we are not able to grasp its essence. Let us say that something similar happens with the Uncreated Energy of God.
If we were able to unite with the essence of God, we too would become gods in essence. In other words everything would become god, and there would be confusion so that, nothing would be essentially a god. In a few words, this is what they believe in the Oriental religions, e.g. Hinduism, where the god is not a personal existence but an indistinct power dispersed through all the world, in men, in animals, and in objects (Pantheism).
Again, if God has only the Divine Essence--of which we cannot partake--and did not have His energies, He would remain a self-sufficient God, closed within Himself and unable to commune with His creatures.
God, according to the Orthodox Theological view, is One in a Trinity and a Trinity in One. As Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, and other Holy Fathers repeatedly say, God is filled with a Divine love, a Divine eros for His creatures. Because of this infinite and ecstatic love of His, He comes out of Himself and seeks to unite with them. This is expressed and realized by means of His energy or, better, His energies.
With these, His Uncreated Energies, God created the world and continues to preserve it. He gives essence and substance to our world through His essence-creating energies. He is present in nature and preserves the universe with His preserving energies; He illuminates man with His illuminating energies; He sanctifies him with His sanctifying energies. Finally, He deifies (theosis) him with His deifying energies. Thus, through His Uncreated Energies, Holy God enters nature, the world, history, and men's lives.
The energies of God are Divine energies. They too are God, but without being His essence. They are God, and therefore they can deify man. If the energies of God were not divine and uncreated, they would not be God and so they would not be able to deify us, to unite us with God. There would be an unbridgeable distance between God and men. But by virtue of God having Divine energies, and by uniting with us by these energies, we able to commune with Him and to unite with His grace without becoming identical with God, as would happen if we united with His essence.
So, we unite with God through His Uncreated energies, and not through His essence. This is the mystery of our Orthodox faith and life.
Western heterodox cannot accept this. Being rationalists, they do not discern between the essence and energy of God, so they say that God is only essence. And for this reason they cannot speak about man's deification (Gr. theosis). Because, according to them, how could man be deified when they do not accept that divine energies are uncreated, but regard them as created? And how could something created (i.e., something outside God, deify created man?).
In order not to fall into pantheism, they do not speak at all about deification (gr. theosis). What then, according to them, remains as the purpose of man's life? Simply moral improvement. In other words, since man cannot be deified by means of Divine Grace, the Divine energies, what purpose does his life have? Only that he becomes morally better. But moral perfection is not enough for man. It is not enough for us simply to become better than before, to perform moral deeds. We have as our final aim to united with Holy God Himself. This is the purpose of the creation of the universe. This is what we desire. This is our joy, our happiness, and our fulfillment.
The soul (Gr. psyche) of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God, yearns for God and desires union with Him. No matter how moral, how good man may be, no matter how many good deeds he may perform, if he does not find God, if he does not unity with Him, he finds no rest. Because Holy God Himself placed within him this holy thirst, the divine eros (love), the desire for union with Him, for deification (Gr. Theosis). He has in himself the erotic power, which he receives from his Creator, in order to love truly, strongly, selflessly, just as his Holy Creator falls in love with His world, with His creatures. This is so that with this holy erotic impetus and loving power, he falls in love with God. If man did not have the image of God in himself, he would not be able to seek its Prototype. Each of us is an image of God, and God is our Prototype. The image seeks the Prototype, and only when it finds it does it find rest.
Saint Gregory Palamas writes: "Given that when He was Transfigured the Lord shone and displayed glory, splendor and Light, and will come again as He was seen by His Disciples on the mountain..." This Uncreated Light seen by the Holy Apostles is clearly not physical. However, we should pursue our own purification to experience the wonder of His Uncreated Light as this only comes to those who are pure of heart as were Peter, John and James, the only ones He took with Him to Mount Tabor. This is why we are reminded of His teaching at this time in our fast. Our fast is to help us build self-discipline to enable to attack our sinfulness so we too can become pure in heart and be one with God and bask in His Uncreated Light.
Saint Gregory says, "Let us look with our inner eyes at this great spectacle, our nature, which dwells for all eternity with the immaterial fire of the divinity. And let us take off the coats of skins (of Genesis 3:21), the earthly and carnal ways of thinking, in which we were clothed because of our transgression, and stand on holy ground (cf., Exodus 3:5), each one of us hallowing our own ground by means of virtue and reaching up to God. In this way we shall have boldness when God comes in Light, and as we run to Him we shall be enlightened, and, once illumined, shall live forever to the glory of the one brightness in three Suns, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen." (Homily 35)
Keep up the fast, double your prayers, participate in the additional divine services, and help those in need during the Holy and Great Lenten period.
FROM THE LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS
Let us pray to the Lord.
At nightfall, dawn and noon, we sing to You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, and we beseech You, Master of all. Lord and lover of mankind: guide our prayers aright as an offering of incense before You. Let not our hearts be led to wicked thoughts or words, but deliver us all from those who pursue our souls. For it is on You, Lord, Lord, that our eyes are fixed, and in You that we have our hope: do not put us to shame, O our God. For all glory, honor and adoration are Your dues, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servants of God