An Irish Welcome

Céad Míle Fáilte friend and rover ...
Wherever you come from and whosoever you may be.
That's an Irish greeting and it means

you are welcome
a thousand times over.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Symbol of Faith - part 4

. . . Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made. 

Both a prophet and a visionary looked into eternity and saw that it had no sun or moon or stars, but nevertheless had a certain ineffable light, which penetrated and illuminated everything (cf. Isaiah 60:19 and Rev. 21:23). Do you know, O chosen people, what sort of light this is? You surmise: it is the eternal Light of the face of the Most High. It is the Light of the eternal Father, the Light of the eternal Son, and the Light of the eternal Holy Spirit - one Light, one Deity, one Beauty.

The Holy Fathers of Nicaea, enlightened by the eternal Light from that other world, explained the relationship of Christ the Lord to the heavenly Father and His relationship towards creation with six phrases.

The first phrase: "Light of Light. "
It was said by the great beholder of mysteries: "God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness" (1 John 1:5). If a father is light, what can his son be other than light? If the eternal Father is Light, His Son is also Light. The testimony of the Son concerning Himself proclaims: "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). Blessed are you, if you can just be called enlightened by that Light!

The second phrase is: "true God of true God." 
Once the apostle Philip decided to say to the Lord: "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." The meek Lord answered him: "he who has seen me has seen the Father." And furthermore He added: "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:8-11; cf. 12:45). Again He said: "all that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15). Again He said: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). It was then that the Jews took up stones to stone Him to death, because as they themselves said, "You, being a man, make yourself God" (John 10:33). To the extent that they, blinded by sin, were able to see, they spoke. They saw in Christ - or rather on Christ - just a human body, but that which lay beyond the veil of the body, beyond blood and flesh, was hidden from their eyes. Consider how an ordinary copper wire on the ground and a copper wire which conducts electricity, thought and voice, appear identical to all eyes lacking intelligence and experience. There was a blindfold over their spiritual vision, and so when they looked they could not see the essence of God in the essence of a man.

This the baptized, purified and sanctified could see. The holy apostles saw it, as did the Holy Fathers of Nicaea, and all spiritual people over many, many centuries. "God was in Christ," testifies the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 5:19). This is Divine revelation. But is it not clear from the concept of parent and offspring in all the realms of life that the Begotten One of God is true of true God. The true God could only have true God.

The third phrase is: "Begotten." 
That is, the Son of begotten of God-Light begotten of Light, begotten of Truth, Life of Life, Glory of Glory, true God of true God. The human mind understands to a degree the birth of body from body, but poorly understands the birth of spirit from spirit. "And God is spirit." Bodily birth is only a shadow and a symbol of spiritual birth. It is sufficient for Christ-bearers to know that their Messiah and Savior is not death begotten of death, darkness of darkness, corruption of corruption, or weakness of weakness, but rather Light begotten of Light, true God begotten of true God. And how He was begotten in eternity will, should it be necessary, be revealed in eternity. 

It has been said to you once, that your Messiah is the Only-begotten Son of God, the only One begotten of God, and so let it be a joy for you to hear it again in Him as the begotten. For begetting indicates love. It has been said to you above, that He is the only One begotten of the Father in essence, the Most High begotten of the Most High, the Begotten of the Most High before all ages. And now His begetting is distinct and differs from being made. He was begotten, but not made. He can resemble creatures, but He is not a creature.

The fourth phrase is: "of one essence with the Father" -that is, of one being with the Father. 
Is this not automatically understood after all that has been said concerning Him? For when one says that He is the Father's Son, he has already explained that He is of the same substance, of the same essence as the Father. And when one says: "Light of Light", he again explains that light was begotten equal in substance and essence to the light which begot it. And when one says: "true God of true God", he confirms the truth that the Son is of one essence with His Father. Finally, when one says: "begotten, not made," he has even more strongly confessed that which was explained more clearly earlier. For whatever is begotten is of the same essence as its begetter, while whatever is made is of a different essence and substance than its creator. Observe and see: a child is of the same essence as his father, but an ax is of a different substance than its blacksmith.

These are the four phrases which the Holy Fathers of Nicaea used to define the relationship of Christ, the Son of God, with regard to His Father in eternity. And here are the two phrases, which they used to define the relationship of Christ with regard to creation.

The first phrase: "not made"
Heaven and earth, and everything that is visible and invisible, everything outside the essence of the One, Living God-is all created. Only the Creator is uncreated. And just as the Father is uncreated, so also is the Son uncreated. He was begotten and not made. Co-eternal with the Father, of the same essence as the Father, He is the Alpha and Omega, together with the Alpha and Omega. Together with the One who has no beginning, He has no beginning. He is timeless, infinite, eternal, immortal. His essence is inseparable from His Father's essence; His light and glory are indivisible from the light and glory of the Father. The Father's power is His power. Therefore, is it not clear, that the Son of the Most High is not made? For how could One who exists eternally be made? And by whom could One who is co-eternal with the Father be made?

Just as one cannot talk about the sun without light, O Christ-bearers, or about a spring without water, so one cannot talk about the Father without the Son, or about the Son without the Father. For if He were created, He would, like many of those created, need a Savior for Himself. If He were created, He would not be the Son but one of many sons; He would not be the Son but one of many adopted sons. Truly He is the Son and not an adopted son. If He were just an adopted son, then the Most High would not have a begotten Son. Then the Most High could not be called the Father, and eternal fatherhood would not exist. Neither would eternal love exist. Neither eternal fatherhood nor eternal sonship - the two pillars of eternal love - would exist. But let your hearts rejoice, children of God, because fatherhood and sonship and love do exist. May the eternal rays of love illumine you!

The second phrase is: "through whom all things were made". 
Everything created has entered into its existence through Him. Just as it is written concerning the Word of God: "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3). Therefore, not only is the Only-begotten Son of God not made, He is the Maker. "Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made, that was made." Everything in heaven and on earth that derived its existence by creation was the work of the Son as much as the Father; and all that exists is under the authority of the Son as much as the Father.

Thus did our Holy Fathers of Nicaea express the inexpressible. Thus did they put into words their faith and your faith, and all on the foundation of the written revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and the unwritten revelation of the Holy Spirit of God. Know, however, that He who cannot be contained in the entire universe, cannot be contained in human words.

All that has been said about Him up to this point, O Christ-bearers, has been said about the Most High God in eternity, in His very Self, outside of created things and beyond creation. It was spoken about the eternally mysterious Father and the Son before He manifested Himself; about the eternal Being, who alone is Father to Himself and Son to Himself, and needs nothing outside Himself. It was spoken about the miracle of an Existence without change, without aging, and without death; about the inextinguishable divine Flame, of which every other light, visible and invisible, is causally envious.

And what will now follow is a description of God the Creator, descended into time, into space, into the finite, in the midst of His own creation. Just as a mother bends down and leans over a tear-stained child in a crib, so seems the descent of the Creator of men among men, into this vale of tears.

This is the faith of contemplative and prayerful souls. Sensory people covered with dust find it difficult to accept this faith. Contemplative people sincerely realize the limitations of human reason with respect to all the new and higher mountains of mysteries, which come one after the other. And so just when they have scaled one of those mountains with great effort, and have scarcely caught their breath and begun to feel joyful, before their eyes looms another, more lofty mountain-and so on, from generation to generation.

They look and see that each mystery of nature unlocked is not the messiah but only the forerunner of new mysteries. Each thing new, revealed, and learned is not revelation but a curtain, which conceals all the new, nameless, countless, and endless miracles. Therefore, they prayerfully elevate their mind to the Most High, and with their whole heart they receive from Him the revelation concerning the ultimate and supreme mysteries, which through His love and mercy He has deigned to reveal to the human race. They receive it with joy and reveal it with courage. What can they expect from man? And what can the sons of men, who journey together with them, tell them about the imperceptible, invisible, intangible, divine mysteries, from the countless mountains of natural mysteries? What can they hear with their sense of hearing from sensory people covered with dust? Nothing that they have not already heard - and rejected. This is why the One, True Messiah is so dear to them - because He came from the realm of ultimate mysteries as a personal witness, and revealed them to them insofar as the human soul on earth can receive and bear them.

This is your faith, Christ-bearers, the faith of your contemplative and prayerful forefathers. Let is also be the faith of your children, from generation to genera tion, all the way to the end of the journey. Truly, this is the faith of the truly chosen people, of those who bear the image of God in themselves. On the Judgment Day of God they shall be preserved and justified by their faith, purity, and good works. And they shall be called blessed.

        The Light the Truth - the Word.

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