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Trinity in East and West #105548
08/07/02 11:21 AM
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Gerard Serafin Offline OP
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Brendan wrote:

It seems to me that the intersection of Christology and Pneumatology is really the point of departure for some of these issues. Specifically, reflecting on the relationship between the Father and the Spirit and Son and the Spirit, and the respective economies of the Son and the Spirit seems to be a fruitful way of thinking about these issues from the trinitarian perspective. It is possible, for example, that the Western tendency to downplay the Spirit (either through established theology or simply by having an underdeveloped pneumatology) has led to a tendency there to downplay or deemphasize the pneumatological role in the church -- in other words, to play up the economy of the Son -- who was concretely active in the world, in history -- but not that of the Spirit -- who gives the church its eschatological perspective and dimension. In addition, this could lead to a more hierarchical view of the trinity, which could be reflected in a more hierarchical view of church life. And if, in fact, the Spirit is in some sense subordinate to the Son (as He may have been considered for centuries in Roman Catholic trinitarian theology), it's possible that this would lead to an emphasis of the Pope over the remainder of the church, and an increasingly rigid hierarchical model for the church.

From the Orthodox perspective, it's possible that our tradition of viewing the trinitarian persons as fundamentally equal, distringuished only by their origin (or lack thereof), has led to a tendency to de-emphasize primacy in the life of the church. In fact, this needn't be the case, for Cappadocian trinitarian theology still contains the concept of "arche" (and this, in fact, is the lynchpin of this theological schema), but it's possible that this has not been sufficiently emphasized and understood by the Orthodox east over the centuries.


Hi Brendan,

I took the liberty of moving this discussion to another and new thread since it has little to do explicitly with the Formula of Hormisdas.

I am most interested in this topic as you raise it.

I already replied to your comments about some "subordination" of the Persons of the Trinity in the western Trinitarian approaches and indicated that this is not reflective of actual dogma and liturgical expression of the western Catholic Church.

Here I reply to your comment about an "underdeveloped pneumatology" in the west, as you seem to indicate. I am not sure this would hold up to close scrutiny. Fr Congar, in his study I referred to already, makes it clear that the west compares favorably in terms of its pneumatological theological development - and, in fact, deals with the procession of the Spirit in a far more positive way than the eastern approach to the Trinitarian Mystery.

(There may indeed be lack of proportion in some expressions of Catholic piety in this area but then we can say the same, probably, about some Orthodox expressions of piety, etc.).

Another important issue is expressed well by Irenee Dalmais, who writes:

In his later works, and ultimately in the masterly synthesis of the De Trinitate (notably Books VI and XV), Augustine constantly returned to the themes received from Cyprian, and especially from Hilary; but from these he extracted the word that was to become classical and distinctive of Western pneumatology: the Spirit is the Love of the Father and the Son.

"Therefore the unutterable conjunction of the Father and His Image is not without fruition, without love, without joy. That love, delight, felicity ... is called by Hilary, in short, Use (usus), and it is the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Not begotten, he is the sweetness of the begetter and of the begotten, filling all creatures according to their capacity with abundant bountifulness and copiousness" (De Trin. VI, 10-1 1).

That word "Love" (caritas), one of the richest of Christian latinity, was charged with overtones which the word agape was never to possess in the Greek world. Doubtless this is the Latin world's specific contribution to pneumatology.


I believe this emphasis on caritas - which flows, too, from an understanding of Filioque in the Trinitarian relationships - may explain why it seems the west has developed more the themes around "the loves" - including romantic love, and the love of friendship, and even conjugal love (and may explain, in part, the emphasis in the west on the works of charity as well).

This is not to say there is nothing like this in the east. In fact, especially among the Russian thinkers we find some of these same things (but these were quite influenced by the western "Love-Mysticism" and the western approaches to the Trinitarian Mystery). But I do think Dalmais is unto something of some significance in his comment about the specific contribution of Latin pneumatology.

I have more to say (of course) but await any response you might have. I am eager to learn, too, about specific eastern contributions to pneumatology and the Trinitarian Mystery of Life and Love.

Re: Trinity in East and West #105549
08/07/02 01:46 PM
08/07/02 01:46 PM
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Dear Gerard,

Whether the reduction of Triadology (i.e. theology of the Trinity) to its internal relations in Western modalities of thought is a "positive" comment on the Procession of the Spirit is open to discussion.

I can't speak for the Orthodox, but as an Orthodox Catholic in union with Rome (I'm in an adventurous mood today, Brother Gerard smile ), I wanted to comment on Brendan's earlier analysis.

Western theology has seen the Holy Spirit as the "Love" between the Father and the Son."

In this schema, the Spirit is "between" the First and Second Persons of the Trinity and the Spirit Himself is understood in terms of a "characteristic" or "quality" that is REALLY proper to all Three Divine Persons at once.

I would agree with Brendan and would also argue that to "reduce" the Spirit to a quality in this way is to truly downplay the Spirit's Economic role within the Mystery of Salvation.

And I'm not saying anything RC theologians since Vatican II have not said with respect to the "Forgotten God" or the Holy Spirit.

RC theologians who gathered at Rome about the role of the Holy Spirit in Latin theology came to much the same conclusions (see P. Bilaniuk's book on the Spirit where this is discussed from a Catholic point of view).

Is not the often controversial Catholic Charismatic Movement a way to redress the overtly neglected role of the Spirit in former Catholic devotional life and ecclesiological reflection?

The active role of the RC Priest in consecrating the Bread and Wine during the Mass, at least formerly, sharply contrasted to the mystical, instrumental role of the Eastern priest who did indeed pronounce the Words of Institution, but then knelt and invoked the Spirit in the Epiclesis to effect the actual Change.

The more activist, bureaucratic and organized nature of RC ecclesiology is something that the West is famous for and perhaps the East can use more of it.

But I think the point is agreed to that RC theology of recent times has tried to give a liturgical focus and expression to the role of the Spirit, not the least of which was the deliberate placement of an Epiclesis in the NO Rite.

Lossky, whom I believe Brendan echoes here, made the argument that papal triumphalism at its worst came into being fast on the heels of the theology of the Filioque: If the Spirit proceeds from the Son as He does from the Father, then the Spirit must also proceed from the Pope, the Vicar of the Son as well.

This is contrasted by the collegial spirituality of church governance in the East where the Ecumenical Council representing the entire Church, with a Pentarchy guiding it, assembles under the influence of the Holy Spirit Who guides His Church into all truth.

The East has a much more dynamic understanding of the Spirit Who is not "between" the Father and the Son, but Who proceeds from the Father alone and is sent through the Son into the world as His Successor.

Holiness and Grace are not "things" in Eastern theology, but the Gift of the Spirit Himself, with holiness consisting in the life-long acquisition of the Holy Spirit Who is our Grace and the Source of Life.

The NO liturgy may have recovered some aspects long neglected in the West, but one may legitimately question how well it has encapsulated the experience of mysticism and the experience of the Holy Spirit.

IF it has tried to imitate Protestant forms, then the NO has also followed mainline Protestantism in its overt rationalism and lack of mystical experience, something the later Pentecostal movements would try to make up for.

RC theology is tracking a different course today.

It can do no better than follow the Patristic impulse and rich liturgical and devotional tradition that is focused on the Holy Spirit of the Eastern Church.

Alex

Re: Trinity in East and West #105550
08/07/02 02:50 PM
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Gerard --

Thanks for your post. My own post was really more focused on the impact of various trinitarian theologies on the respective ecclesiogical visions of West and East - which I think are different. I was not suggesting that Western and Eastern trinitarian visions are completely incompatible, but rather that the various trinitarian visions -- which their different emphases -- may have an impact, perhaps a decisive one, on the respective ecclesiological visions that have prevailed in West and East over the centuries.

Reflecting on your post, I can't help but have some difficulty with the conceptualization of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of love between Father and Son -- to my own way of thinking (which is not flawless, obviously), this seems somewhat "de-Personalizing" at least .... but, to get back to the topic of how this intersects with ecclesiology, it seems at least possible that this conception of the Spirit has been reflected in Roman Catholic ecclesiology -- viz., the tendency to exalt the primate (the Vicar of Christ who represents the Son) over the balance of the episcopate (which would represent the fulness of the Spirit as a charism to each person). Or, on another level, the tendency in the West to exalt the priesthood and clerical orders generally over the laity (at least until Vatican II when the Roman Catholics did make a sincere attempt -- one that doesn't seem to have really sunken in, but nevertheless it was a sincere attempt -- to develop a theology of the "laos tou theou") might be related to the tendency to emphasize the Son over the Spirit -- ie, by emphasizing those who stand in the person of Christ in the liturgy or as Bishops over the people of God who equally share in the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

Metropolitan John describes this as the false dichotomy between the "one" and the "many". Christ is the "one", through whom all must pass in order to come to the Father -- but the Spirit is in the multiplicity of persons who come to God each in a personal way. This is not a dichotomy, because the Son and Spirit (and the Father) are always working together dynamically, in terms of the divine economy. But when one aspect of this trinitarian economy becomes de-emphasized (however that may happen, either through formal theology, liturgical use, popular piety or the like), and another element becomes more emphasized, it's possible that either the "one" or the "many" receives a disproprortionate emphasis in the life of the church, and, as such, this can impact the life of the church on many levels, including ecclesiology.

Alex --

I think that Roman Catholic ideas about this have progressed significantly recently. The classical Augustinian view appears to be declining in influence in many Catholic circles -- but it's hard to tell. The question for you is this: do you think that this has had an impact on the respective ecclesiological visions of East and West?

My own perspective is that this seems possible to me. I think Lossky may have overstated the case, or at least stated it in a one-sided and therefore less charitable than necessary way -- but the core of what he was saying may be right. The corollary is whether there are aspects of Orthodox trinitarian theology that have impacted the Orthodox view of the church, with the noted radical de-emphasis of the role of the Primate. My own supposition on this is that the theological vision -- in the case of the Eastern Church -- is not so much the culprit here as the historical experience of living without a real primacy for centuries ... that's had a definite impact on Orthodox ideas about this, not on the theological level (as our theologians are at pains to point out, noting that our ecclesiology requires us to be organized differently than we presently are) but on the pragmatic level. It's possible, however, that on the Catholic side the development of the papal powers, on the doctrinal level -- which happened over the course of time -- was related in some fundamental way to the basic thrust of the Latin view of the trinity. It is an interesting question -- what do you think? Was Lossky basically right (if uncharitable)?

Brendan

Re: Trinity in East and West #105551
08/07/02 03:11 PM
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Dear Brendan,

It's just so very good to be able to discuss something with you here again - I'm rubbing my hands gleefully right now . . . smile

Yes, I thought you were going to dampen my enthusiasm about Lossky as you have before - but I'd rather be told to go easy on Rome by an Orthodox than by anyone else though!

I guess I like Lossky's view because it is nice and neat.

And I think that being uncharitable to a particular theology of another Church is not really being uncharitable - if he named names well then . . .

But as I see it, the emphasis on the Holy Spirit in Eastern ecclesiology had the impact of bringing mysticism and charismatic qualities to bear on church life and leadership.

In such a case, centralist, bureaucratic tendencies receive a cap in church life.

The "sacerdotal" view of episcopal authority, rather than the triumphalist view, takes set of honour.

The bishop in the East has always been seen to be on an even keel with the monk. Both bishop and monk are always in prayer for the building up of the Body of Christ. The authority of the bishop is that of Christ Himself and he is open to the Gifts of the Spirit to serve as the Spirit's instrument in the guidance of the Church into all truth while protecting it from error.

Just as every sacramental/mystical action of the Eastern Church is begun with an Epiclesis or invocation of the Spirit, so too is it completed.

The reliance on the Spirit in this way, the Spirit of the Father Who is dynamically sent into the world in the Name of the Son, Jesus Christ, allows for the element of surprise in the life of the Church.

Bureaucratization deadens surprise and change and adaptation.

The Spirit is always aiding us to better proclaim the Good News and reach out to those who need to have it proclaimed to them.

To be open to the Spirit in this way is to truly be able to hear the Words of Christ and receive the truly charisma of the Spirit to apply it in our lives and around us by means of the praxis of the Church whereby the Gospel of Christ is incarnated and inculturated anew in fresh social and cultural contexts.

I think that the RC theologians are more open to the patristic theology of Orthodoxy.

There are still hangups about the Filioque, fears about what will happen to the "orderliness" of the Church with greater decentralization of church authority based in Rome, and concern about maintaining the basic hieratic structure of that authority.

When I was studying the charismatic movement, what struck me most was how the enthusiasm about the Holy Spirit in this particular form, of course, was something that was "outside" the mainstream of the Roman Church.

Vatican II had made many pronouncements on a revivified role for the Spirit in the liturgical and spiritual lives of the Latin faithful.

But that is when I came to a much deeper realization of the profound and enduring role and significance of the Spirit in the life of the Orthodox Church and, from my point of view, the Eastern Catholic Churches that were true or had recovered their Eastern heritage.

The Eastern Church is truly the Church of the Holy Spirit, just as it is the Church of the Resurrection and of the Mother of God.

Ultimately, to rely on the Holy Spirit is to be willing to take a risk, a risk that is avoided by bureaucratic, centralist structures of ordered control.

That risk is to be willing to follow the promptings of the Spirit and follow them wherever they may lead, as did St Herman of Alaska and so many others throughout history.

Alex

Re: Trinity in East and West #105552
08/07/02 03:52 PM
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

Western theology has seen the Holy Spirit as the "Love" between the Father and the Son."

I don't think that is at all what western theology states: its insight, based on Scripture and the earliest Latin theological ventures, is that the Holy Spirit is the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father: their "fellowship", their "communion", their "we" so to speak.

To reduce this insight (which does not exhaust western pneumatology!) to "love between Father and Son" seems not to do justice to the more nuanced western approach.

In this schema, the Spirit is "between" the First and Second Persons of the Trinity and the Spirit Himself is understood in terms of a "characteristic" or "quality" that is REALLY proper to all Three Divine Persons at once.

This, too, does not do justice to the insights of the western theological tradition. The love that is the Holy Spirit is in relation to the Relationship of the Father and the Son to One Another. (And some eastern theologian approach this theme as well such as Gregory of Cyprus and more recently Dmitru Staniloae - and others as well).

I would agree with Brendan and would also argue that to "reduce" the Spirit to a quality in this way is to truly downplay the Spirit's Economic role within the Mystery of Salvation.

I wasn't aware Brendan had said this.

How does making the Holy Spirit an outpouring of the love of the Father and the Son as "gift" and as "caritas" downplay the role of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation?

I do not have time right now (my lunch and siesta are beckoning me) but hope to respond to more of what you wrote later (and Brendan's reply too). I am most interested in this topic. I wish I were brighter and more articulate. But I will try my best, even as I realize that my own faith is rather simple and unadorned really. But I have prayed a good bit and studies a bit around this blessed topic of the role of the Holy Spirit.

One last reply:

And I'm not saying anything RC theologians since Vatican II have not said with respect to the "Forgotten God" or the Holy Spirit.

RC theologians who gathered at Rome about the role of the Holy Spirit in Latin theology came to much the same conclusions (see P. Bilaniuk's book on the Spirit where this is discussed from a Catholic point of view).


I have studied a good bit of contemporary Catholic writings on the Holy Spirit and have not encountered any that would dispute the basic western insight of the Holy Spirit as Gift and Caritas/Love. I am not aware, however, of P. Bilaniuk's book, but from a quick internet search I suspect he may be a Ukrainian Catholic, no?.

At any rate, what "RC" theologians, when and where, and what conclusions? (Otherwise you just tease....).

See you later after a siesta, that great gift of Mediterrean cultures and of God himself who, as the psalmist tell us, gives to his loved ones while they sleep.

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

Re: Trinity in East and West #105553
08/07/02 05:54 PM
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Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Hi! back after a little siesta and now with a cup of coffee --

Alex wrote:

Is not the often controversial Catholic Charismatic Movement a way to redress the overtly neglected role of the Spirit in former Catholic devotional life and ecclesiological reflection?

The charismatic movement is not at all limited to the Catholic Church but it has "sprung up" in all the mainstream Protestant Churches, some of which have had a rather high view of the role of the Holy Spirit, and has even made an appearance here and there among Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox. Father Eusebius Stephanou, the controversial Greek Orthodox priest/evangelist comes to mind here.

But I do think the Catholic Renewal did serve on some levels as you suggest as well. But I would see it as more than that. In some ways, too, others see it as a direct result of the prayers prayed by all Catholics before Vatican II: "Renew your wonders in our own time as in a new Pentecost." Remember? (You are probably too young to remember that prayer written by Blessed Pope John XXIII).

snipped material

Lossky, whom I believe Brendan echoes here, made the argument that papal triumphalism at its worst came into being fast on the heels of the theology of the Filioque: If the Spirit proceeds from the Son as He does from the Father, then the Spirit must also proceed from the Pope, the Vicar of the Son as well.

Critics have pointed out that Lossky seems to have neglected the facts: that the Filioque goes back far into the Latin theological tradition and that even the insertion into the Latin Liturgical Creed took place in Spain as early as the seventh century.

I have read a fair amount of Lossky (who is over my head much of the time) and never recall him going so far as the absurd comment about the Spirit proceeding from the Pope - though I do recall him making the filioque the reason for papal monarchy and absolutism.

Even his disciple, Olivier Clement, says that Lossky began to modify this opinion towards the end. Bishop Kallistos says that after much reflection he cannot see any such consequences on ecclesiology flowing from the Filioque (and that now he considers the Filioque controversy, largely, if not exclusively, a matter of semantics).

This is contrasted by the collegial spirituality of church governance in the East where the Ecumenical Council representing the entire Church, with a Pentarchy guiding it, assembles under the influence of the Holy Spirit Who guides His Church into all truth.

These Councils are affirmed by the Catholic Church as well. And indeed Ecumenical Councils have continuously been held in the Catholic Church, and have not been held in the east for many, many centuries. That would seem a fatal flaw in Lossky's approach if you reflect it correctly.

The East has a much more dynamic understanding of the Spirit Who is not "between" the Father and the Son, but Who proceeds from the Father alone and is sent through the Son into the world as His Successor.

Without denying any dynamic understanding of the east regarding the Holy Spirit, I would simply disagree with your characterization of western Catholic pneumatology. The mission of the Holy Spirit is beautifully spelled out, for example, in the great treatises of Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is a most dynamic understanding! (As is the understanding, for example, of the great Latin hymns, Veni Sancte Spiritus and Veni Creator Spiritus}.

Holiness and Grace are not "things" in Eastern theology, but the Gift of the Spirit Himself, with holiness consisting in the life-long acquisition of the Holy Spirit Who is our Grace and the Source of Life.

The NO liturgy may have recovered some aspects long neglected in the West, but one may legitimately question how well it has encapsulated the experience of mysticism and the experience of the Holy Spirit.


Holiness and Grace are not things in western theology but ultimately the Uncreated Grace: the divinizing Spirit of God. The holiness of the authentic western Catholic tradition has always been centered on caritas/love: the love of God shed abroad in our own hearts by the Holy Spirit - Rom 5: 5.

I would not see any great gap here between east and west.

In fact, there is much more in common than differences if we go to the authentic sources. Or so it seeems to me in both my readings, prayings, and experiences.

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

Re: Trinity in East and West #105554
08/07/02 06:26 PM
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Dear Brother Gerard,

I'll respond to points as you have laid them out in so orderly a fashion, Big Guy!

Nuancing aside, the argument of the East against Western Triadology is precisely as you've put it yourself, that the Spirit is, quoting you, "the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father."

The East sees "Love" as being a quality that is shared by all Three Persons Who love one another.

There is a difference, nuances notwithstanding. The difference is not insurmountable in terms of ecumencial rapprochement, but the differences remain and CAN remain within a united Church, East and West.

My reference to the "Between" is in terms of an ideal construct in terms of how the Trinity is seen in the West.

No one is denying that this is not a valid way of viewing the Trinity, but it is not the way of the Orthodox Catholic Christian East. John Meyendorff discusses this at some length within an irenical appreciation of Western Triadology and I for one have no problem with him!

To treat of the differences of the East and the West is not to say they are what continue to maintain the schism. Some would say they do. Within a united Church, in God's good time, the differences would remain.

I am an Eastern Catholic brought up on Augustine and Aquinas (I am 46 years old, Big Guy, with a Ph.D. and a wife and I don't know which of the two has given me a greater education).

The West tends to reduce the Trinity to its internal relations, the East views the Trinity in terms of the economy of salvation. I've yet to see anyone deny that general overview.

But again, the East sees "Love" as a quality of all Three Persons and not of the Spirit alone.

And I don't see how your more nuanced approach changes that theological point.

Orthodox theologians may come to appreciate the Western approach, as did Meyendorff as well as Kallistos Ware, but accepting it is another matter.

Your point on the outpouring of the Spirit is one that both East and West share.

That's not what we are talking about. We are talking about the Procession of the Spirit Himself and why it was necessary for the West to understand it, in terms of the eternal procession, from both Father and Son.

That is the crux of the matter that we need to settle first. And we have to be careful about taking RC theology since Vatican II, including Bl. Pope John XXIII as this theological emphasis on the Spirit takes on a path more similar to Orthodoxy than was had previously. That's all I'm saying.

Fr. Bilaniuk was Ukrainian Catholic and was highly conversant with RC theologians on this subject. I've read the RC sources, or most of them, that he's listed in his work.

And, Big Guy, you don't know me really. I don't tease about theology. I tease about everything else, but not about theology.

As for the Charismatic movement, I used to belong to it, but don't anymore and don't see it as a positive thing for any Church really. The priest you mention is truly controversial and I would humbly suggest he return to the Patristic sources of his faith for a better understanding of Orthodox Pneumatology.

The Charismatic movement is too Protestant and too emotional in nature. I think we should be very careful about suggesting that this is the work of the Spirit.

I once read a Protestant Pentecostal tract that reported the hurling of lightning from heaven that destroyed Catholic statues of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines.

Is the "lord" anti-Catholic, do you think? Where is the sobriety and other spiritual qualities the Fathers always required of true spirituality in the Charismatic movement? Sorry, but it's one big turn-off for me and turned out that way for my colleagues.

The Grace that is uncreated in the West, as you say, is something RC theologians would agree to.

But when did that happen? What RC theologians agree to that? Otherwise, you just tease . . . smile

Alex

Re: Trinity in East and West #105555
08/07/02 06:32 PM
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Brendan writes:

Reflecting on your post, I can't help but have some difficulty with the conceptualization of the Holy Spirit as the spirit of love between Father and Son -- to my own way of thinking (which is not flawless, obviously), this seems somewhat "de-Personalizing" at least ....

Hi Brendan,

I think I can understand to some extent your difficulty here. But I don't share it, maybe, in part, since I am by nature a "romantic" and find the image of Love very much speaking to my depths. I realize, though, that this is an imperfect, incomplete image and that when it comes to our affirmations about God these are totally inadequate and do not at all exhaust the Mystery. Our words and images simply are not adequate to Infinite Mystery!

But, as I say, I find the image of the Spirit as Love relatively easy to accept: it is very resonant with my own deepest yearnings, experiences, desires, and intimations of eternity.

Even those who do not consider themselves "filioquists" can relate to this image. For example here's Father Alexander Schmemman himself:

"We believe in one God, but not a God in solitude, not in God-self-love. God is love, teaches Christian faith. Yet love is openness to the other, and at its greatest the offering of oneself to the other. The Father... loves the Son and gives everything to him. The Son loves the Father and gives himself to him. Finally, the very gift of love, this very love.... is the Holy Spirit...

"If God is the lover and the Son the beloved, then the Holy Spirit is the love that joins them together.... Such is the Mystery of God-the Trinity, the God of love."
(Voskresnye besedy , Sunday Sermons, Moscow 1993, p.81)


The God of love! This image, while not perfect, at least has the advantage of offering some wonderful vistas into the Mystery of the Triune Life and Love of God. Many can relate to this, taking the Trinity out of the realm of the abstract and into human life and experience (in a limited way).

But I do understand to some extent, I think, those who find this problematic as well.

..but, to get back to the topic of how this intersects with ecclesiology, it seems at least possible that this conception of the Spirit has been reflected in Roman Catholic ecclesiology -- viz., the tendency to exalt the primate (the Vicar of Christ who represents the Son) over the balance of the episcopate (which would represent the fulness of the Spirit as a charism to each person). Or, on another level, the tendency in the West to exalt the priesthood and clerical orders generally over the laity (at least until Vatican II when the Roman Catholics did make a sincere attempt -- one that doesn't seem to have really sunken in, but nevertheless it was a sincere attempt -- to develop a theology of the "laos tou theou") might be related to the tendency to emphasize the Son over the Spirit -- ie, by emphasizing those who stand in the person of Christ in the liturgy or as Bishops over the people of God who equally share in the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

I have yet have a fully formed opinion on some of what you write. I know some have suggested as much while others have more or less rejected theories along these lines (including, I believe, Bishop Kallistos Ware). I remain open.

But one strong opinion I do have: there can be no real separating the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit and pitting one over the other. That would seem unbiblical and untraditional and unfaithful to the writings of the Fathers of both east and west. Some have, for example, criticized Lossky for seeming to do this (e.g. see the critique of Stanilaoe of Lossky's Pneumatolgy in Theology and the Church (SVP)

I don't think it accurate to say the Latin theological tradition emphasizes the Son over the Spirit (but, of course, even the gospels speak far more of Christ than of the Spirit!).

Metropolitan John describes this as the false dichotomy between the "one" and the "many". Christ is the "one", through whom all must pass in order to come to the Father -- but the Spirit is in the multiplicity of persons who come to God each in a personal way. This is not a dichotomy, because the Son and Spirit (and the Father) are always working together dynamically, in terms of the divine economy. But when one aspect of this trinitarian economy becomes de-emphasized (however that may happen, either through formal theology, liturgical use, popular piety or the like), and another element becomes more emphasized, it's possible that either the "one" or the "many" receives a disproprortionate emphasis in the life of the church, and, as such, this can impact the life of the church on many levels, including ecclesiology.

The gospel itself says that no one comes to the Father except through the Son. That is Truth itself.

The gospels speak of the Spirit/wind blowing where it will and no one knows from where it comes or where it goes: so is everyone born of the Spirit.

But this unexpectedness, this surprise of the Holy Spirit, is never separate from Jesus Crucified and Risen, who makes all things new.

You affirm this, too, but emphasize how one aspect can be blown out of proportion. This can happen either way I guess (e.g. Luther's comment about the Anabaptist, Thomas Muntzer: "He swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all!"

The One and the Many: the west seems to have this aspect in the filioque itself: the Two Persons of Father and Son One in the Holy Spirit, the Third and Fully Equal Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. The east has this perhaps in the doctrine of the circumincessio of the Persons and the "arche" of the Father perhaps.

I suspect here, too, it is more complimentarity than contradiction.

I grow weary speaking of these things. I do better with a simple:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!

Thanks very much for your good and thoughtful reply, Brendan.

Re: Trinity in East and West #105556
08/07/02 06:55 PM
08/07/02 06:55 PM
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Gerard Serafin Offline OP
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex wrote:

The Charismatic movement is too Protestant and too emotional in nature. I think we should be very careful about suggesting that this is the work of the Spirit.

And in an earlier post to Brendan, wrote:

When I was studying the charismatic movement, what struck me most was how the enthusiasm about the Holy Spirit in this particular form, of course, was something that was "outside" the mainstream of the Roman Church.

This may be true enough for some streams of the Charismatic Renewal but not all. There are, for example, remarkable charismatic communities in France that are fully Catholic and full integrated into the heart of the Church. I think of communities like Emmanuel and Beatitudes (and there are others).

These communities are active in the general renewal of the Church (and in the World Youth Days they are very important, especially Emmanuel).

They both have websites for you and others to explore:

Emmanuel at:

http://www.emmanuel-info.com/en/startmain.html

And Beatitudes at:

http://www.beatitudes.org

At least in the French version, click on the large map and see the various communities listed and visit those that have websites. You may be, like me, in awe.....

Just now an Orthodox group from Moscow finished up a retreat at one of Beatitude's Houses of Formation in an ancient 12th century monastery (they are reinhabiting a lot of the old abandoned monasteries dotting France and elsewhere - maybe harbingers of that New Pentecost?)

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

[ 08-07-2002: Message edited by: Gerard Serafin ]

Re: Trinity in East and West #105557
08/07/02 07:00 PM
08/07/02 07:00 PM
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George Blaisdell Offline
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Gerard Serafin writes:

>>>...western theology['s] insight, based on Scripture and the earliest Latin theological ventures, is that the Holy Spirit is the Personal Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father: their "fellowship", their "communion", their "we" so to speak.<<<

Therein lies the problem, you see... "Fellowship", "communion", "Personal Love", are all relational terms, subordinate to the state or action of the person, or hypostasis, of the one having or doing them.

By reducing the Third Person [Hypostasis] of the Holy Trinity to an aspect of relationship of THEIR Hypostases, we cannot but help losing the equality of "Stasis" of the Third Person, Who thereby becomes a byproduct of the first Two Persons...

Being of One Essence, the Three Hypostases have equal standing [stasis] in Each of Their Three Persons.

Besides, what do you do with John's: "God IS Love." All Three Persons ARE Love... Yes? Love is not just something They DO, is it?

geo


"Be not troubling of you the heart..."
Re: Trinity in East and West #105558
08/07/02 07:04 PM
08/07/02 07:04 PM
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Dear Gerard,

In terms of the goals of the Charismatic movement - the more assiduous reading of Scripture, dedication to the praise of God, spontaneous prayer, the building up of community - these are all positive things.

What I didn't like when I was a member of that movement was what I perceived as a de-emphasis of the Cross over the emotional enthusiasm for the Spirit and the "Gifts" as they defined them.

I didn't like the fact that I was being coerced into doing something I could not in fact do - speak in tongues. I was told to let go, let go, Alex etc.

What was I supposed to let go of? My sanity?

That's already taxed beyond the limit! smile

It was assumed that when someone spoke in tongues, it was, in fact, the Spirit that was doing this in that person.

Aren't we supposed to submit to the Church for this sort of thing?

One Roman Catholic priest in our group gave us a homily and said that for too many years the Catholic church allowed "bad theology" to go unchecked.

At that point, I got up and said, "Yes, and you are living proof of that, er, Reverend Father."

Not all that glistens is gold. The Eastern Church monastic Fathers know a lot more than anyone about sobriety and spiritual states.

There is little sobriety in that movement. I know the sites you list.

But more than that, I've been in that movement.

It taught me a lot. The number one thing it taught me is to get out of it before my Catholic faith suffered.

Eastern Catholic and Orthodox theology have a much more Patristically and Scripturally defined idea of the Role of the Holy Spirit that is also liturgically based.

I need no more than this treasure.

Alex

Re: Trinity in East and West #105559
08/07/02 07:43 PM
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Gerard Serafin Offline OP
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Alex writes:

But more than that, I've been in that movement.

It taught me a lot. The number one thing it taught me is to get out of it before my Catholic faith suffered.


You know, of course, Pope John Paul II would not completely agree with you in your estimation.

By the way, I respect your opinion based on your experience.

I happen to know some others, however, deeply involved in the CCR and they are among the finest Christians (and Catholics) I know.

The Pope supports this movement and always urges it to greater fidelity and insertion into the heart of the Church, as he does with all the ecclesial movements (none of which are without its critics).

I am not a member and never have been, though I have been involved with charismatics on various levels since the bery beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I have been enriched by some of its riches (while I have not found its expression to be "my cup of tea" to use a colloquial and inadequate expression).

I do thank God for any graces bestowed through this renewal. And hope for its fruitfulness for the Church and the world to the praise of God's glory.

Re: Trinity in East and West #105560
08/07/02 07:49 PM
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Dear Gerard,

I'm not saying this movement should be quashed, but I think it is telling that while the Pope supports it, he wants it to be fully integrated into the Church, and that is wise advice and guidance.

And I don't know if those who speak in tongues really do so. I just don't know. But I would rather have all that submitted to the Church rather than assume things about this and other phenomena.

The great Pentecostal Saint, St Seraphim of Sarov shone with the Uncreated Light, as you know.

You have a great knowledge of both Roman Catholic AND Orthodox theology that you link at certain junctures - which is fine, although I prefer to see them as integral and distinct wholes.

Your perspective is rare and appreciated.

Alex

Re: Trinity in East and West #105561
08/08/02 12:25 AM
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Gerard Serafin Offline OP
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Come, Holy Spirit.

George writes:

Besides, what do you do with John's: "God IS Love." All Three Persons ARE Love... Yes? Love is not just something They DO, is it?

I would speak very similiarily to Father Alexander Schmemman who puts it:

"We believe in one God, but not a God in solitude, not in God-self-love. God is love, teaches Christian faith. Yet love is openness to the other, and at its greatest the offering of oneself to the other. The Father... loves the Son and gives everything to him. The Son loves the Father and gives himself to him. Finally, the very gift of love, this very love.... is the Holy Spirit...

"If God is the lover and the Son the beloved, then the Holy Spirit is the love that joins them together.... Such is the Mystery of God-the Trinity, the God of love."
(Voskresnye besedy , Sunday Sermons, Moscow 1993, p.81)

Here Father Alexander comes very close to the "love-mysticism" of the western Catholic tradition, which has been so fruitful and has influenced especially Russian thinkers and theologians.

It reflects the great insight Augustine received from those who went before him: that the Most Blessed Trinity is the Lover, the Beloved, and Their holy Love (and the "love-mysticism" posits the need for a Third Person to complete the "isness" of Love as in God "is" Love - not just that God loves....

I may not be expressing it too well but I do think lovers might understand to some degree...

Re: Trinity in East and West #105562
08/08/02 01:43 AM
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Gerard Serafin Offline OP
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Come, Holy Spirit!

Alex writes:

The Grace that is uncreated in the West, as you say, is something RC theologians would agree to.

But when did that happen? What RC theologians agree to that? Otherwise, you just tease . . .


Hi Alex,

I don't think I expressed myself too well. My point was that the aim of all grace is the Uncreated Grace of the Holy Spirit who enlivens and divinizes the believer... The east and west have many points of contact on this level, it seems to me.

Here's a selection of great importance, in my opinion, from one of the finest theologians of our own times, Louis Bouyer (who was a Protestant Pastor and became Catholic and is a friend of "the east"). I realize it's quite long but I do think it is worth any effort to read and grasp:

"...But thanks to the Aristotelian renewal, it was St. Thomas who, without breaking with the tradition of borrowing from Hellenism, without
breaking even with the Christian Platonism of Augustine, nonetheless by the orientation of his Neo-Aristotelianism brought about a decisive
return to the Pauline view of man.

For Aristotle had ceased to conceive of the soul as somehow parallelling the body in a superior world, separated from the body although weighed
down by it. He made the soul the proper "entelechy" of the body, that is, as it were, the directive idea intimately determining all its development.

His successors, however, had interpreted this in a purely materialistic sense, as if the soul had no distinct existence apart from the body, and
it is not impossible that Aristotle himself actually thought of it in this way. His teaching on this point, therefore, had seemed irreconcilable with Christian doctrine.

Nonetheless St. Thomas took it up again and, by somewhat "re-platonising" it, made it much more
satisfactory from the Christian point of view than any form of Platonism or Neo-Platonism.

For, like Plato, he saw the soul as a form, and, moreover, a substantial form, endowed with its own spiritual being, in itself indestructible.
But he saw it nonetheless, as did Aristotle, as the form of the body, and of one particular body, determined by its insertion into the material world. The unity of man, body and soul, is thus restored, in harmony with the biblical view - restored, that is, in a spiritual dynamism which causes the body to be unified and perfected in itself in and through the soul.

The soul, in turn, in accordance with the way in which St. Thomas thought of grace, is perfected and exceeds itself in God. In contradiction to Peter Lombard, St. Thomas did not accept the idea that grace is purely and simply the gift of the Holy Spirit, of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity as He is in Himself. It seemed to him that, in this case, man would indeed be the Temple of the Spirit, but not His living Temple, vivified by the presence of its Guest assimilating our life to His own life. The uncreated grace of the gift of the Spirit, therefore, according to Thomas, is extended in the soul itself by a created grace, that is, by a divine quality making the soul like to God,
causing it to participate in His own life.

This teaching was frequently misunderstood later on to the point of being interpreted in an exactly opposite sense. The characterizing of grace as created was taken as a pretext for representing it as a second nature, a "super-nature" superimposed on our original nature. Nothing could be more contrary to the profound thought of St. Thomas.

If grace, as he conceived it, is created, it is in the soul that it is so: he says expressly that it is not a superior and distinct nature added to the soul like a mere garment, but a quality infused into it.

While grace is supernatural in the basic sense that it is superior to any created nature or to any that could be created, it is in no way a
"super-nature." It is as it were a new "accident" inserted into the substance of the soul, fitting it as a soul to live the very life of God, wholly divine.

No theological notion, certainly, is more mysterious than this idea of grace which is created, but in such a way as to render a creature whom it recreates, without changing or destroying it, a "participant in the divine nature," according to the phrase used in the second Epistle of St. Peter (v. 4).

How can a created reality cause us to participate in the uncreated? Yet the paradox is simply that of a reality actually inserted in us to the point of being wholly our own, without ceasing nonetheless to be in itself divine. This is the paradox of that Spirit Who is the Spirit of God, but Who makes Himself the "spirit" of the soul. It is the summit and the crown of that dynamic vision of a creation adopted by its Creator, it is the perfection of that life of relatedness, of one being's reference to another, which is the basis of the biblical universe.

And here this universe most completely transcends the highest of purely human visions of the world, even those developed among the most religious of Greek thinkers.

About a century after the Thomistic synthesis, the East saw another at once deeply traditional and strongly original, take form along its own
lines. This is the synthesis of the bishop of Thessalonia known to Byzantine and Russian Christians as St. Gregory Palamas.

It seems at first sight to be opposed point by point to that of St. Thomas. In reality, it was almost precisely the same spiritual preoccupations which motivated it and to which it wished to do justice. Yet its metaphysical
presuppositions are different although they are not so completely contradictory to those of St. Thomas as they might appear.

For Palamas, the living God that offers us His grace remains at once absolutely transcendent and yet very really communicated to His creatures. He expresses this in a line of thought which, by way of the Greek Fathers and especially St. Gregory Nazianzen and the other Cappadocians, unquestionably goes back to a Judaism of purest biblical inspiration. As the rabbis distinguished between, without separating, God in His inaccessibility to the creature and the Face (or the Angel) of God in which He really communicates Himself, so Palamas distinguishes
between the divine essence, totally incommunicable, in which neither man nor any other creature can participate either in this life or even in eternal life, and the divine "energies," in which God actually condescends to His creatures.

In contrast to the divine essence, these energies can be participated in, while they yet remain uncreated, wholly divine. They are the life
of God inasmuch as He wishes to communicate it, a life inseparable from His essence and from the three Persons Who are one with that essence,
but distinct from Them to the point of being capable of being participated in by created persons.

What is more, since man is inseparably body and soul, the divine energies in permeating his soul transfigure even his body of flesh: this is the light of Thabor, the light shining from the face of Christ at the Transfiguration, as it had once been reflected from the face of Moses at Sinai, and as it snatched away the prophet Elias in the fiery chariot.

This light, which not only illuminates the soul but also tranfigures the body, is nonetheless called "uncreated" for the reason that it is the
product, the immediate activity of the divine energies in us.

If we wish to indicate the points of contrast between St. Thomas and Palamas, we can pick them out easily. On the one hand, absolute simplicity of the divine essence, in which grace already allows us to participate and which we shall see without any intermediary in the eternity of the blessed.

On the other hand, division, or at least real
distinction, between the divine essence and the "energies," so that, in grace, the energies act directly within our whole being, while the
essence itself, in this life and the next, remains impenetrable, inaccessible to us.

On the one hand, again, created grace, but one which assures our participation in the very essence of God. On the other, uncreated
grace, but one which causes us to participate only in the energies radiating from the essence.

Although St. Gregory Palamas was as persuaded as was Thomas himself of the necessity for realistic thinking, and for a realism which should be critical and therefore nourished by Aristotle rather than by Plato - though by an Aristotle rectified by the Bible and the tradition of the
Fathers - he was certainly a less rigorous philosopher.

His concern was directly spiritual, and he wished to be a theologian only to defend the spirituality which seemed to him traditional, not to speculate for the sake of speculating. It is, therefore, an easy game to criticize, from
a strictly philosophical point of view, the real distinction he made between the divine essence and the divine energies.

The fact remains that the same contradiction encountered here is at least latent in the Thomistic theological conception of a grace which is created even though it causes us to participate in the divine nature itself.

For on the one hand as on the other, we run into the unheard-of paradox of biblical faith, the paradox that no Greek concept could include: of the transcendent God Who yet communicates Himself and Who really communicates Himself, without for all that absorbing His creature, much less being dissolved in it.

Furthermore, we must not be deceived by some of his expressions. While Gregory Palamas speaks of the divine essence as unpartakable, unknowable, this must be understood, as with the Cappadocians, in the sense of an adequate knowledge or of a participation which would make us divine persons.

Conversely, the participation which St. Thomas
envisages is only an analogical participation and the vision necessarily not comprehensive. Under one formulation as under the other, what is
meant is a communication of the divine life which is authentic, and which becomes authentically our own, without implying any pantheistic immanence or any form of externalism.

Moreover, the notion, which at first sight seems so disturbing, of an "uncreated" light which yet can be seen even by the eyes of the body, simply synthesizes this life of the body in the soul and the life of the soul in God by grace, which is the ideal of humanity as Thomism itself conceives it.

There is no doubt that, in Thomistic thought, the
transfiguration of the body at the resurrection, however mysterious it remains, will be the effect of its receiving the radiation of the beatific vision as it takes possession of the soul in its entirety - a soul to which, let us remember, it is essential to be the form of a body.

In spite of the apparent conflict between Thomism and Palamism, we should, therefore, recognize in both systems, from the viewpoint of spirituality, the final triumph of the biblical idea of man over all the dangers of warping which the usage of terms or ideas borrowed from the Hellenistic idea of man might have involved."

Louis Bouyer, INTRODUCTION TO SPIRITUALITY, pp. 152-156

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