ST JOHN DAMASCENE AND ST THOMAS AQUINAS ON THE ETERNAL PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (1)
Michael D. Torre
For the past one thousand years, the filioque has occasioned acrimonious debate and dissension between Orthodox and Catholics. Many recent discussions offer us the hope, however, that this spirit of suspicion may be giving way to one of trust and mutual understanding. (2)
Indeed, it is now possible not merely to "compare and contrast" the two traditions, but to let each be illumined by the other. Can we not, by reading John Damascene and Thomas Aquinas as friends rather than as foes, discover that they complement rather than oppose each other's teaching here? Taken together, can they not guide us towards a deeper expression of the eternal and ineffable procession of the Holy Spirit?
John is instructed above all by Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and Cyril. (3) With them, he teaches that the three Persons are one in essence, and differ only in "being unbegotten, the begetting, and the procession "(4) For these "declare not the essence [ousiaV] but the mutual relationship [pros allhla scesewV] and manner of existing" (5) of the three Persons.
For John as for the Cappadocians, the Father is the source of the Triune life and the principle of its unity. He is the fountainhead, the Abyss [abussoV], (OF 196/PG 148 D), the one unoriginate cause of both the Son and the Spirit. The Father alone is unbegotten and uncaused (OF 177, 196).
The Son, on the other hand, is alone eternally begotten of the Father (OF 178-81). John speaks of the Second Person primarily as the Word (logoV) of God (OF 174/PG 129 C). He likens Him to a spoken word coming forth from a mind and revealing it. He is the Splendor (apaugasma), Figure (carakthr) or Image (eikon) of the Father (OF 178-181/PG 133 B-135 A).
The Holy Spirit likewise comes from the Father. His eternal procession is "as incomprehensible and unknowable as the begetting of the Son" (OF 181), The Spirit's procession differs from the generation of the Word, but "we have not learned the manner of this difference" (OF 182).
Our ignorance here does not prevent John from speaking at some length on the Spirit and His procession. Indeed, his teaching on the Spirit is the richest of the Greek Fathers, for he has gathered together all their views. Although he speaks in various places and ways on this matter, his doctrine possesses an impressive unity.
To begin with, then, he teaches that the Spirit is from the Father (OF 175). He shares this characteristic with the Son, who is begotten from the Father.
Furthermore, the Spirit is not from the Son but of the Son: "Neither do we say that the Spirit is from (ek) the Son, but we call Him the Spirit of (de) the Son" (OF 188/ PG 141 B). Again, "He is the Spirit of the Son, not as being from Him but as proceeding through Him from the Father " (OF 196/PG 148 B). He then gives his reason: "for the Father alone is Cause (aitioV)" (OF 196/PG 148 B).
At the outset, then, John's use of ekporeuw (the Spirit's "coming forth from" the Father) is evident. He teaches that the Father is His one unoriginate cause. He does not mean, however, to exclude any relation that the Spirit might bear towards the Son, which is why he immediately says that He is of the Son. (Indeed, John had begun by speaking of Him as the Spirit of the Word.) In this way, the Spirit differs from the Son, as he goes on to say: "Neither do we say that the Son is of the Spirit nor most certainly from the Spirit" (OF 188/ PG 141 B).
John further teaches that the Spirit abides (or rests) in the Son: "He is a sanctifying force (dunamiV) that is subsistent, but proceeds unceasingly from the Father and abides in (anaraumeh) the Son" (OF 201/ PG 151 c). John implies here that the Spirit comes forth from the Father towards the Son, to abide in Him. (6)
Following the creative suggestion of Basil Bolotov, Paul Evdokimov affirms that the Son is the eternal condition of the Spirit's procession. (7) This certainly represents Damascene's thought; for the Spirit's procession supposes the Son, upon Whom He rests, in Whom He abides. (8)
This is the reason, it seems, why the Spirit is of the Son and not vice-versa. There is an evident order between the Son and Spirit. Thus, John will say that "the Word fell short of the Father in nothing, and the Spirit did not fall short of the Word in anything" (OF 175). Christians have ever confessed God to be Father, Son, and Spirit, according to the order of their baptism.
John's metaphors of the Trinity likewise express this order. He compares the Father to a spring, the Son to its river, and the Spirit to the sea. Or he compares the Father to the root of a living plant, the Son to its branch, and the Spirit to its fruit.
Again, he speaks of the Son as the Radiance of the Father and the Spirit as the ray that manifests it and communicates its heat. His favorite image is this: the Son is the spoken word of the Father and the Spirit is the breath by which He is spoken. For John, the Spirit is preeminently the Breath (pneuma) of the Father, just as the Son is His Word. (9)
The last two metaphors are particularly instructive. For John is clearly searching for a way to convey that the Son and Spirit come from the Father simultaneously, such as to be associated in all they do (OF 175).
Thus, the sun's ray contains its brightness. Even better, breath is necessary to articulate any word. He reminds us, however, that finally no image of the Holy Trinity can be adequate. (10)
John further teaches that the Spirit is the Ikon (or Image) of the Son, as the Son is the ikon of the Father (OF, 200). (11) He does not restrict this language to the Spirit's temporal mission to us. This is what he seems primarily to have in mind, however, for he says that the Spirit is the Son's image because it is by the Spirit that Christ dwells in us, making us over into His image (OF 200), and by Him alone do we confess that Jesus is Lord. (12)
In a similar way, when John says that the Spirit "communicates" (metadodpai) the Word, he always seems to mean that He does so to us. (13) When he says, however, that the Spirit reveals or "manifests" (ekfavtikhn) the generation of the Word, he implies that He does so eternally, even if in us as well. The Spirit eternally manifests or radiates the Son's eternal Splendor. (14)
The same is true of the Spirit's Procession through the Son. This evidently refers to His eternal procession, for he speaks of this when he delineates the eternal properties of each Person (OF 196). He does not explain to us, however, just what he means by this. As Sergius Bulgakov noted some time ago, the Greek Fathers have not developed what is meant by the Spirit's Procession through the Son. (15)
Nonetheless, several of his passages suggest a way his thought might be understood. For, if the Spirit proceeds through the Son, presumably this can only be to return to the Father from Whom He comes.
John implies as much. He says that the Holy Spirit "is the median (meson) of the Unbegotten and the Begotten and He is joined with the Father through the Son (di Uiou tw Patri suvaptomenon)" (OF 200/ PG 151 B)
In another place, he says that "without the Spirit there is no impulsion (ormh) within God" (OF 196/ PG 148 B). The Spirit's personal character is to be dynamic. He personifies the "one surge (exalma) and the one movement (kinhiV) of the three Persons" (OF 202/PG 152 B) that is God's very life.
If true, this interpretation might further explain his doctrine on the eternal pericwrhiV ("circumincessio" or "mutual indwelling") of the three Persons. (17) This is not due simply to the fact that each shares the divine nature. Rather, this mutual indwelling has a personal basis as well. It derives from the fact that the Spirit comes forth from the Father to the Son to abide in Him, and that He returns through the Son to the Father. This idea is latent in and suggested by Damascene's whole doctrine.
Those familiar with Thomas's thought know that he agrees with virtually all of John's teaching on the Holy Spirit. (18) Thus, it is fundamental to his doctrine that the Divine Persons differ through relations of origin to one another (e.g. Damascene's proV allhla). Their unity is grounded in the divine essence, which the Son and the Spirit both receive from the Father. With Augustine, he teaches that "The Father is the Principle of the whole Deity," (ST 33, 1 ad contra) and that He alone is not from another but unbegotten.
Thomas also agrees with John on many other matters. He teaches that the Father is the only unoriginate principle of the Spirit and that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. He further accepts that the Spirit abides in the Son, "as the lover rests in the beloved" (ST 36, 2 ad 4). For this reason, he says that "the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the Father to the Son" (QDP 10, 4 ad 10). He here follows Richard of St. Victor, regarding the Father's love for the Son as the supreme love, a personal love for another (QDP 9, 9 ad contra).
Finally, Thomas sees the Spirit returning from the Son to the Father "inasmuch as He is the Love whereby the Son loves the Father" (QDP 10, 4 ad 10). (19) He thereby returns the love He receives from the Father:
In God there is a certain rotation in the acts of intellect and will: for the will returns to that whence came the beginning of understanding.... Thus someone has said that a monad engendered an atom and reflected its own heat upon itself. And the circle being closed nothing more can be added (QDP 9, 9; see ad 15).
Thomas here supports the personal circumincessio suggested by John. The Spirit proceeds from the Father to His only-begotten Word, and returns from the Word to the Father.
Thomas evidently wishes to be in accord with John on all matters. A good instance of this is his teaching on the Spirit as the image of the Son. This is foreign to the Latin tradition, which follows Scripture in applying the notion of image to the Son alone. Thomas favors this more conservative approach, but he finds a way to accomodate John's view.
Despite "love" not properly being an image in the same way that a "word" can be, he still argues that the Spirit could be an image of the Son "since He is the divine love" (ST 35, 2). Thomas here refuses to be bound narrowly by the psychological analogy, and thus is able to find accord with John.
Thomas is also sensitive to the linguistic differences that obtain between his Latin and John's Greek. For example (see QDP IO, I ad 8 ), he notes that the Latin Fathers do not refer to the Father as the "cause" of the other two Persons, because "with us cause connotes effect; wherefore, lest we be forced to say that the Son and the Spirit are made, we do not say that theFather is their cause."
On the other hand, he sees that the Greeks "employ 'cause' more absolutely when speaking of God, and indicate origin only thereby: wherefore they apply the word 'cause' to the divine Persons." He thus concludes that "an expression may be objectionable in Latin whereas in Greek it is admissible on account of a peculiarity of idiom."
Thomas takes issue with John on only one point. (20) From what has been said, the Spirit must proceed from the Son as well as the Father. For, although He comes forth from the Father to the Son, He returns from or through the Son to the Father. To speak of the Spirit as being of the Son is to affirm an order whereby He really comes from the Son. Thus, the filioque is true and defensible.
Thomas goes further: the filioque is even necessary. His argument is ever the same. The Son and the Spirit must come forth from the Father in different ways. But, if each of them comes forth from the Father alone, as true God from true God, then they will in no way differ from each other. There must be some difference in the order of their origin, for this is the only way the Persons can differ from each other. To deny the Spirit's origin from the Son, then, will end by changing the Trinity to a Dyad.
Now Damascene has clearly thought of this and has an answer ready. We have already seen it: the Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, but the Son is not the Son of the Spirit. Again, John teaches that there is an order in the Trinity, with the Spirit's procession supposing the Son. He thereby indicates that there is some difference in the way the Son and the Spirit each come forth from the Father (however much this is finally beyond our comprehension).
Thomas recognizes this response. Thus, he argues at various points that the Greeks in effect concede that the Spint is from the Son, because they speak of His being of the Son and through the Son. He thus finds their unwillingness to accept the filioque very frustrating.
He thinks it "unreasonable" ("vane") (QDP 10, 4) to argue this point, "for, if anything is in any way at all from something, we say it proceeds from that thing." (21) At one point, he even suggests that Damascene is following the Nestorians in not being willing to admit the filioque (ST 1, 36, 2 ad 3). Thomas therefore declares him mistaken on this point.
Thomas makes two errors here. The first is a matter of history. Damascene is not following Nestorians here, but is simply passing on the way he finds the Greek Fathers to speak. Nor is there evidence that he has the filioque in view when he says that the Spirit does not proceed from the Son. The filioque only becomes a disputed phrase later. (22) Thomas himself shows signs of recognizing this. (23)
His second mistake is linguistic. Although it may be true that in Latin "procedere" refers to originating "in any way at all," this is just what ekporeuw does not mean in Greek!
Damascene's reply to Thomas here, therefore, is that "proceed" means something different to him. It is a personal word, one that is descriptive of the Spirit alone, and not the Son. And it refers to the Spirit's coming forth from the Father as from an unoriginate cause. In Thomas's language, he is saying proceeds from the Father as His principle cause. (24) Since there can be only one such, clearly the Spirit cannot thus "proceed" from the Son. (25)
Thomas would have been sensitive to this reply. For, as we have just seen regarding his discussion of "cause," he recognizes that terms apparently the same may have different nuances in Greek and Latin. He could have granted that what was "admissible" in Latin was "objectionable" in Greek. He misses this. His mistakes are those of his age: he did not know Greek, and, despite all his efforts, his knowledge of the Greek Fathers remained limited.
Having granted the historical and linguistic points, however, Thomas would undoubtedly return to the question of substance. He is ready to grant that the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone as from a first principle, but he insists that the Spirit proceeds from the Son mediately. John, however, has no articulate concept of such a mediate origin, either in relation to God's inner life or elsewhere in his work. (26) Is his theology open to this idea or not?
The Latent Accord Between The Two Traditions
Many theologians today acknowledge that the basis for the difference here lies in the ways the Christian West and East each approach the mystery of the Trinity. (27) The East begins with the different Persons and establishes their unity in the Father, who alone is cause. It is very wary of compromising this in any way.
The West begins with the unity of essence the Son and Spirit share with the Father. It is thus concerned to mark the diversity between the Persons, which must be based on their diverse interrelation.
Does this mean that Greeks and Latins must simply accept one another with this difference, allowing that the filioque is necessary for the Latin approach, but hazardous for the Greek?
Some, such as Yves Congar, seem in places to sugoest as much. Others, such as his confrere Juan-Miguel Garrigues, note that both traditions do in fact assign a mediating role to the Son, but in different ways: He is a "negative" condition for the Greeks, but a "positive" condition for the Latins." The filioque should thus be viewed as the "theologoumenon" proper to the Latin approach, one that could be combined with the Eastern "theologoumenon," which insists upon the Spirit's "coming forth" from the Father alone. (30)
On both these readings, the filioque is not a problem for the Latin approach, but its proper explication. Conversely, it is not essential for the Eastern expression of the same mystery. I believe the truth is slightly different. The filioque is also a potential problem for the West. Yet, correctly understood, it is not a danger but even proper to the East as well. The reading of Damascene and Aquinas together ought to direct us to this interpretation
If it is true, it is understandable that Byzantine theologians (and men of such stature as Vladimir Lossky) have objected to the filioque. (31) Correctly, they intuited in it a certain imbalance. Yet Catholics also have a point in being unwilling to retract it. For it does express something true, and important, even if incomplete. The way to overcome the difficulty it presents is not to go back to previous positions, but to go forward to a renewed and deeper expression of God's Mystery. We must come to a meeting of heart and mind on the Spirit, as the earlier Council did on the Son. The holy Fathers have left us with a task that is yet to be completed.
Holy Scripture clearly speaks of the Spirit's relation to the Son in two different ways. He descends upon Him--at His conception and baptism--leads Him into the desert, and fills Him at key moments in His ministry. In all these ways, the Spirit acts to make the Son present among us.
And He is sent from the Son, when He breathes on the apostles, promises to send the Comforter, and then does so in the fire of Pentecost. In all these ways, the Son acts to empower us with His Spirit. (32)
Now the Son and the Spirit have been sent to us just so that we might know and love God as He is in Himself. The economic reveals the immanent Trinity; the temporal mission of the Spirit reveals His eternal life. (33) Again, the fundamental rule of Catholic and Orthodox faith has never been "either/or" but always "both/and." We must not chose between these two aspects of the Spirit's life, therefore, but affirm them both.
The reason the filioque could pose a potential danger even for the West derives from its accentuating only one aspect of the Spirit's eternal life. To see how this can happen, let us return to a passage of Thomas earlier noted and now read it in full:
The Holy Spirit proceeds both from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father not as recipients but as objects of love. For the Holy Spirit is said to proceed from the Father to the Son inasmuch as he is the love whereby the Father loves the Son; and in the same way it may be said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son to the Father inasmuch as he is the love whereby the Son loves the Father.
He may be understood, however, to proceed from the Father inasmuch as the Son receives from the Father the power to spirate the Holy Spirit, and in this sense He cannot be said to proceed from the Son to the Father, seeing that the Father receives nothing from the Son. (QDP 10, 4 ad 10)
Thomas thus notes that there are two different ways of speaking about the Spirit's procession. We can speak of Him in relation to the terms (or subjects) from and to Whom He proceeds or to the power by which He proceeds, which the Son receives from the Father, since the Father withholds nothing from the Son.
Now to speak of it in the first way inevitably involves speaking of the Spirit in a personal way: He is the Love of the Father for the Son and the Love of the Son for the Father. (34)
Furthermore, when we speak this way, there can be no danger of subordinating the Spirit to the other two Persons. For the Son receives the Spirit from His Father and returns the Spirit to the Father, who receives the Spirit in His turn from His beloved Son. The Spirit is not spoken of merely in passive terms, as being from Father and Son; rather, He is spoken of actively, as proceeding to the Son, abiding in Him, and returning from Him to the Father.
Let me not be misunderstood! The Father is the abyss, the source of all the Triune life. He does not receive being or power from the Son! The Love He receives from the Son is the very Love He poured out upon Him. Even the Son's ability to return this Love is itself received from the Father, as Thomas says. Yet the Father nonetheless receives the Spirit from the Son as the Love of the Son. (35)
In the language of Damascene, the Spirit is joined to the Father through the Son. As he indicates, He radiates or manifests the Son eternally. To Whom does he do this, if not the Father? (36)
On the other hand, to speak about the procession in relation to the power by which He proceeds suggests a possible subordination of the Spirit. For the Father and the Son each possess a personal power to spirate that He does not possess. (37) Furthermore, the accent on our language will be upon this power and not upon the Persons. We will say that the Spirit comes forth from the Father and the Son, but we will not clearly say to Whom He proceeds.
Obviously, to speak in the latter way does not preclude the former! We need not subordinate the Spirit nor fail to say that He is an interpersonal Love. Thomas is proof of this. Nonetheless, you have to work to find this language explicitly stated by him. For he ever accents that the Father and Son possess the power jointly to spirate the Spirit. He always speaks of the Father as the one origin of the Trinity, the Son as the one who both receives and originates, and the Spirit as the one who receives from them both.
Surely the filioque is behind this constant usage. For it accentuates that the Spirit is from them both. The order is an order from, not an order to. The latter remains unstated. It is implied, however; for the Latin Fathers, in conceiving the Spirit as the mutual Love of Father and Son, understand that the Spirit is the Love of the Father for the Son and the Love of the Son for the Father. Thus, they equally understand that the Spirit is from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father.
The Greek Fathers, on the other hand, did not speak of the Spirit as Love. Recall that this is not one of the ways Damascene speaks of the Spirit. Thus, for the Greek tradition, the filioque seems to depersonalize the Divine Life and subordinate the Spirit to the Son and the Father. Furthermore, it is much more sensitive to the problems the filioque could raise even for the West.
The Latin tradition needs, then, to say more clearly what it has always understood. It needs to affirm that the Spirit is poured out upon the Son by the Father: that He proceeds from the Father to the Son. (Or, in Damascene's language, that He comes forth from the Father to abide in the Son.)
And then it must continue to say that the Spirit returns to the Father from the Son (or, in John's words, through the Son). In other words, it needs to speak of the Spirit's procession in personal terms, as the infinite and overflowing love of the Father for His beloved Son and the infinite and joyous return of that love from the Son to His beloved Father. The Holy Spirit is their infinite and unending interchange of love. In Damascene's words, He is the surge or impulsion of the Divine Life.
Understood in this way, the Latin tradition and the filioque also present a challenge to the Greek tradition. The challenge is to express the dynamism of the three Persons. It needs to express the Spirit's return to the Father from or through the Son.
We have seen that Damascene's language already moves in that direction. Indeed, the essential point has already been made: the Spirit eternally manifests or reveals the Son. Ekfainw is the complement to ekporeuw and expresses the Spirit's shining forth from the Son. This is clearly distinguished from His procession from the Father by the fact that He manifests the Son because He abides in Him: anapauw is placed between the other two verbs. Were this not so, it might seem as though the Spirit came from the Father and Son in the same way. Damascene's language protects against this conclusions
The implication of Damascene's doctrine was already seen by Gregory of Cyprus. He rightly affirmed John's teaching that the Spirit eternally shone forth from the Son. He thus laid down a way to reconcile the doctrines of the East and West on this matter. He pointed the way for the East to agree with the West, while being faithful to its own language and tradition (rooted in Damascene). (39)
Another way to develop the latent truth of John's doctrine is by declaring that the Spirit is the Love of the Father for the Son: a way pointed to by Gregory's great disciple, Gregory Palamas. For it is inconceivable that the Son could receive His Father's Love without spontaneously loving His Father in return. The Spirit leads us to the Son because He eternally comes forth from the Father to the Son; but He leads us through the Son back to the Father because He eternally returns from the Son to Their beloved Father, from Whom they both come.
This is the sense of saying that the Spirit comes from both Father and Son as "from one principle." This does not mean that the Father ceases to be the one unoriginate source of the Triune life, from Whom both the Son and the Spirit immediately come. Rather, it means that the Spirit does not abide in the Son as His final term, (40) but returns to the Father, thereby rendering the Trinity a perfect communion, a mutual and eternal outpouring of Love.
We are led to the above doctrine not merely from the common witness of the Fathers East and West. The reasons that impell us come from our heart, from our living experience of the Spirit. He instructs us about Himself by dwelling in us. I would like to point to just two ways He does this.
The first is taken from our experience of the Eucharist. The Father pours out His Spirit upon the gifts to make them holy, that they might become the body and blood of Christ. This descent of the Spirit radiates out to those who await Him in awe, the members of Christ's body there present. Yet our heart cannot contain all that it receives. In tears, beyond words, our love rushes back to our Father, who sacrificed His only-begotten Son out of love for us sinners. The Spirit of Love that rests upon the Son takes us up with Him and we return with Him to the Father from Whom we come.
The second is through that personal friendship in Christ the Spirit alone can give. So often, we seem to miss its full reality. Yet, one day we may encounter someone in whom we see the image of Christ. And, when our heart leaps out towards him, by God's sweet mercy we may find our love returned. We experience this love both as the same we had given and yet as forever fresh and life-giving; for we receive it from our friend. And, impelled by the Spirit, we cannot but respond to the love we have received.
We thus, to our growing wonder, find ourselves caught up into the mystery of God's own life, where each person responds to the other person out of his inexhaustible depths in an infinite and eternal intercommunion. (41)
This dynamism of the Spirit--the outpouring of the Father's Love spontaneously returned by the Son--is expressed in the Latin tradition. Its great contribution to our confession of the Trinity is to speak of the Spirit not only as a "sanctifying force" (with Damascene), but to identify that force as Personal Love.
When an Orthodox affirms this, he thereby joins a Catholic's deepest intention in his confession of the filioque.
As already noted, Orthodox have affirmed as much. Here are passages from three Orthodox theologians who bear witness to this. The first testimony is a justly famous passage of Gregory Palamas:
This Spirit of the Word from on high is like a mysterious love of the Father towards the Word mysteri usly begotten; it is the same love as that possessed by the Word and the well-beloved Son of the Father towards him who begat him; this he does insofar as he comes from the Father conjointly with this love, and this love rests naturally on him. (42)
John Meyendorff called attention to this passage some forty years ago and continued to recall it on several other occasions. (43)
The second testimony is from the great Sergius Bulgakov:
The Holy Spirit "proceeds" from the Father to the Son, as the hypostatic love of the Father, which "abides" in the Son, fulfilling his actuality and possession by the Father. In turn, the Holy Spirit passes "through" the Son, returning, as it were, to the Father in a mysterious cycle, as the answering hypostatic love of the Son. In this way the Holy Spirit achieves his own fulfillment as the Hypostasis of Love. (44)
Of course, it is well known that Bulgakov--following Bolotov--regarded the filioque as a "thelogoumenon" and not as an impediment to communion. Yet here we see him going further, for, in these words, he makes his awn the very language of the Latin tradition.
My final witness is the contemporary Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae. In his introduction to Staniloae's work, written in 1980, John Meyendorff not only characterized him as the most "influential and creative" Romanian theologian, but described his work as a "fresh and masterly synthesis" that gives a "dynamic presentation of the Orthodox doctrine of theTrinity.""
Here are two of his richest passages, among many that bear on our question:
In the Trinity the Spirit subsists in continuous procession from the loving Father towards the beloved Son, and in loving 'irridation' from the Son towards the Father. . . . He is this flowing current of the love of the Son or, more exactly, of the Father, returning from us also as a current which is united with our, loving affection for the Son or, more precisely, for the Father.
The love of the Son for the Father differs from the love of the Father for the Son. Through the Spirit the Son responds with his own joy to the joy which the Father takes in him. . . . The irridation of the Spirit from the Son is nothing other than the response of the Son's love to the loving initiative of the Father who causes the Spirit to proceed. The love of the Father coming to rest in the Son shines forth upon the Father from the Son as the Son's love. (46)
Throughout his essay on the Trinity, Staniloae makes extensive use of Damascene. His own theology is just what we might expect from someone combining Damascene with the idea that the Spirit is Love.
Thus, what we see today are Orthodox theologians, working out of their own tradition, articulating a doctrine in perfect accord with Catholics.
For they assert with Damascene that the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father to abide in the Son and that He eternally radiates from the Son to the Father. This is to express, even more richly than the Latin tradition, its own doctrine.
For it manages to express the way in which the Father is the unoriginate cause of the Spirit, and the Son is His mediating principle or "conditon." This is to express the teaching of the West according to the mind of the East." And, when so many great Orthodox theologians also say that the Spirit abides in the Son as the Father's Love and that He radiates to the Father as the Son's Love returned, they manifest their perfect unity with Catholics. (48)
For their part, Catholic theologians, now truly listening to the concerns of the Orthodox, recognize the necessity of speaking about the Spirit in terms that are properly personal. To the names of Congar and other theologians mentioned must also be added those of Louis Bouyer (49) and Stanislas Dockx. (50)
My own thesis here is merely that Catholics can achieve this by emphasizing an aspect of their own tradition that has been insufficiently expressed, namely that the Spirit proceeds from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father. While this has not been officially expressed, it is nonetheless an intrinsic part of the Catholic tradition. It is what the filioque intends to signify, and what it implies. Thomas teaches it clearly.
The work of all these men reveals not only that there is a fundamental accord between Orthodox and Catholics on the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, but even something more: this accord is in the process of being expressed and made visible for us today.
1 This article was given before one of the Thomas Aquinas sessions at the 27th International Congress of Medieval Studies in Kalamzoo, Michigan, on May 8, 1992.
2 In particular, see Russie et chritlente 3-4 (1950), L'Esprit Saint et L'Eglise (Paris- Fayard, 1969), Istina 17 (1972), Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ (London: SPCK, 1981), and Credo In Spiritum Sanctum, 2 vols. (Rome-. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983).
3 The best textual study of Damascene's doctrine and its patristic antecedents is that of Jose Gregoire. See his "La relation iternelle de I'Esprit au Fils d'apres les ecrits de Jean de Damas," in Revue d'histoire ecclisiastique 64:3-4 (1969), 713-55. He especially underlines the degree of John's dependence upon Pseudo-Cyril's On the Trinity (P.O., vol. 77, col. 1128 D6 -1129 C2). As he notes (719, #1), this point had been made earlier by J. de Guibert in "Une source de S. Jean Damascene 'De fide orthodoxa'," Recherches de science religieuse 3 (1912), 356-358.
4 John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, in Writings, Catholic University of America, Fathers of the Church, vol. 37 (Washington D.C., 1958), 184. (This work is hereafter abbreviated in the text and notes as OF.)
5 0F, 190. For the Greek text, see J.-P. Migne's Patrologiae Graeca, vol. 94, col. 143 C. (This work and volume is hereafter abbreviated in the text and notes as PG.)
6 It is essential to note that anapauw is a technical term for John; that is, he does not use it by accident or occasionally, but carefully and constantly. It is an integral part of his teaching on the procession of the Spirit. Thus, we find it used in his first discussion of the Spirit's procession (OF 175/ PG 130 B) and in his second (OF 183/ PG 137 C). In each case, it directly follows his assertion that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and it specifies the Spirit's relation to the Son.
The procession of the Spirit is from the Father and towards or "upon" (ana) the Son. The difference between begetting and "making go out' "projecting" or "throwing out" (prroballv)--the Father being the PpoboleuV of the Spirit--is signalled by the verbs used: the "begotten" looks back towards the one from whom he is begotten, whereas the one "projected" looks back towards the one from whom he is projected and (implicitly) towards the goal at which he is thrown. By contrast, one is not begotten towards another; rather, the begotten is himself the goal or end of the begetting.
7 See Basil Bolotov "Thesen uber das Filioque von einem russischen Theologen," Revue Internationale de Theologie 24 (1898), 681-712. For the most recent reproduction of Bolotov's article, see "Theses sur le 'Filioque'," in Istina 17 (1972), 261-8 9. Paul Evdokimov speaks of the "clarifying" notion of the Son as the condition for the Spirit's procession in his L'Esprit Saint dans la tradition orthodoxe (Paris: Cerf, 1969), 75.
8 John further affirms that "the Father could not be so called without a Son" (OF, 178). This again suggests that the Spirit's procession from the Father supposes the generation of the Son, for He is the Father of the Son. Although this idea accords with John's idea of the Spirit abiding in the Son, John does not develop it. Nor should this purely formal point be confused with the dynamic idea of the Spirit proceeding from the Father towards the Son.
9 The analogies of spring/river/sea, root/branch/fruit, and sun/rays/heat are found at the conclusion of his work On Heresies (see Writings, 162). He varies the latter in OF (188) with sun/splendor/rays. His analogy of mind/ word/breath is developed thoroughly in OF, chapter 7 (174-6).
10 John notes this directly following his presentation of these analogies in On Heresies, 162.
11 John makes the same point in his work On the Divine Images (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Press, 1980), 75.
12 Ibid. While the economic meaning predominates, it does not do so to the exclusion of the immanent meaning. For, in this work, Damascene speaks of the Son as the natural image of the Father, identical to the Father save in being begotten. He is referring, then, to the uncreated being of the Son.
And then he says that the Spirit is a natural image of the Son, differing only in proceeding rather than in being begotten. Evidently, then, the Spirit is the uncreated image of the Son. He, therefore, is the perfect agent to help make us, in our turn, into created images of the Son.
13 This is, again, a term Damascene commonly uses (see OF 184 and twice on 188). He is always communicated to us through the Son. The Spirit is the perfective and sanctifying force of the world.
14 It is again essential to realize that ekfainw, like abatayw, is a technical term for John, used in most of his main discussions of the Spirit's procession (OF 175/ PG 130 B, OF 188/PG 142 A, and twice on OF196/PG 148 D and A).
Certainly, the Spirit reveals the Son to us (as on 188). Yet it is also clear that the Spirit eternally "shines forth" or reveals the Splendor of the Son. Thus, in his first discussion of the Spirit (175), he speaks of Him as a substantial power and hypostasis, proceeding from the Father, abiding in the Son, revealing Him, and in no way separated in essence from God [the Father] or the Son, with whom He is associated.
Now, since all other of these properties pertain to the Spirit as eternal, John is evidently speaking of the Spirit as eternally revealing the Son. Furthermore, this fits John's idea of the Son as the Splendor or Radiance of God; the latter eternally "shines out" through the Spirit's rays. The Spirit eternally reveals the Son, just as the Son eternally reveals the Father. The parallel language here is at one with that noted earlier regarding John's parallel use of "image."
15 See Sergius Bulgakov, Le Paraclet (Paris: Aubier, 1946), 56, 92 and above all 110. For his own treatment of Damascene, see in particular pages 32 and 54-7.
16 Undoubtedly, Gregoire (735-5, note) is right in regarding John's use of "meson" as taken from Gregory Nazianzen's sermon on the Spirit (PG vol. 36, col. 141 A/B), where he merely indicates that there is another way for God to be, beside being unbegotten or begotten. (For an English translation, see Christology of the Later Fathers [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1954], 198).
Yet Damascene would also have been familiar with Gregory's sermon on the Son, where he says the following: God's unity "is made of an equality of nature, and a union of mind, and an identity of motion, and a convergence of its elements to unity. . . . Therefore, unity, having from all eternity arrived by motion at duality, found Its rest in trinity" (Christology, 161 / PG 36, col. 76). There is here at least a hint of that recapitulation (sunaptomenon) of the Word in the Father referred to by Dionysius of Rome in 262 and conserved by Athanasius in chapter 26 of his Letter Concerning The Decrees of the Council of Nicea (PG 25, 415-76). In a similar vein, John's coupling of "meson" with "sunaptomenon" points towards the Spirit as perfecting the dynamic unity of God's innermost life.
17 For a discussion of the Patristic antecedents of this term and Damascene's own use of them, see Leonard Prestige, Journal of Theological Studies 29 (1928), 242-252. (For John's use of this term in a Trinitarian way, see his two discussions in OF [187 and 202]/PG [140 A and 152 B].) For the later, equivalent, use of this term in Latin theology, see August Deneffe, "Perichoresis, circumincessio, circuminsessio," in Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie 47 (1923), 497-532.
18 Thomas's doctrine on this matter can be found in his three theological syntheses: his Commentary on the Sentences (1, d. 10-12), the Summa Contra Gentiles (4, 24-5) and the Summa Theologiae (I, 36-7). His most extensive treatment of many points, however, is found in his Disputed Questions on the Power of God (Q. 9-10). This latter is hereafter abbreviated in the text and notes as QDP and the Summa Theologiae as ST. The English of the former is from the English Dominican Fathers (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1952); that of the Summa is derived from their first translation, as it appears in the Great Books series of the Encyclopedia Brittanica,vol. 19 (1952). His thought is summarized here principally from these two works: his most complete and most authoritative discussions.
19 Thomas's doctrine of the Spirit as the Father's Personal Love (analogous to the Son as the Father's Personal word) is of course not from Damascene but Augustine. For more on this point, and the possible convergence of Eastern and Western traditions concerning it, see below.
20 This is the only point in his entire work where Thomas dissents from John's views (and, even here, he does so in a qualified way). Given that Thomas refers to John more than any other Father save Augustine and Dionysius, this unity of doctrine is remarkable and has been too little noted by scholars. The upshot of this article is to suggest that there is a fundamental accord between Thomas and John on all essential matters they discuss.
21 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles (Notre Dame-. University of Notre Dame Press, 1975), 4, 24 [51, page 136. Similar remarks can be found in the ST (36, 2) and the QDP (10, 4). Thomas's treatment in the Summa Contra Gentiles is marked by the same level of detail and care as that in the QDP.
22 The first stirrings of the filioque controversy don't begin until one generation after John's death and don't become a real issue until more than 50 years after (see Gregoire, 715). He could have known of the different way the West viewed the Spirit's procession through St Maximus's Letter to Marinos (see PG, vol. 91, col. 133 B). If so, he shows no sign of speaking to it. Indeed, he nowhere appears to have any real knowledge of the Latin Fathers.
(The same, of course, can not be said of Photius or of the later Eastern tradition, which is far more informed of Western theology. For a good summary of this tradition, see Markos A. Orphanos's "The Procession of the Holy Spirit According to Certain Later Greek Fathers" in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, 21-45.)
23 Thomas, directly after claiming that John was following Nestorians in his doctrine on the Spirit's procession, Thomas acknowledges that his text could be interpreted as neither affirming nor denying the filioque (ST 36, 2 ad 3). Indeed, it seems likely that, while John does mean to deny a procession of the Spirit from the Son, he is not taking aim here at the doctrine of the Western Fathers on the filioque (see Gregoire, 738-43).
24 This was seen long ago by Thomas de Regnon in his great Etudes de Thgologie Positive sur la Saint Trinite, 3 vol. (Paris: Victor Retaux, 1892-98), vol. 3:2, page 103. See also V. Grumel's "Saint Thomas et la doctrine des Grecs sur la procession du Saint-Esprit," Echos d'Orient 25 (1926), 258-80, especially 271-3.
25 So much is this so that, from a Latin point of view, it would be an error to predicate ekporeuw of the Son! Once a Latin theologian recognizes what a Greek theologian understands by this word, then he ought to applaud him for refusing to say this of the Son. To affirm it of the Son is opposed to his own Latin tradition. Furthermore, if aitioV is to be used of the Father precisely to underline that He is the unoriginate source of the Trinity (and this does seem to be the way Greek theology uses it), then Latin theology must insist that it can only be predicated of the Father and not the Son. For the Father alone is "cause" in that sense.
26 As Gregoire points out (720-1), Damascene has no sense of secondary causality. This is particularly noticeable in his discussions of providence and free will, where he never seems even to consider the possibilty that an act might come from our free will (as second cause), yet also from God (as first cause). Since the notion of mediate causality is foreign to Damascene, he cannot have intended to use dia in a casual sense.
27 This has been true at least since Thomas de Rignon's work. See, for several examples, his Etudes Positives, vol. 1, 251-2, 284-5, and 428-30. There can, of course, be no real priority of essence over person or vice-versa, each person is God and God is three persons. The difference here is purely notional, not real.
Nonetheless, the order in which this mystery is approached is not without consequence. By beginning from the persons, the Greek tradition avoids conceiving God's essence existing by itself. The divine essence is conceived as in or of each of the persons, just as the created essence exists in the person (and Christ's humanity exists in the Word). Thomas himself seems sensitive to the virtue of the Greek approach. Thus, he begins his discussion of the Trinity with the notion of "procession" or "order of origin," before discussing the divine relations. (See ST, 1, 27 and 28 and QDP 10, especially article 3.)
It is as though he were telling us that his earlier discussion of the divine essence (e.g. ST 3-26) is to be understood as pertaining to the Father, and the Son and Spirit each possess the same essence because they are from the Father. Again, he insists that even were we not to consider God as Triune (as the Jews do not), we would still conceive of Him as personal (ST, III, 3, 3 ad I and ad 2). The proper Christian Mystery is not that God is personal, but that God is tri-personal. To conceive God impersonally is opposed to reason as well as faith.
28 For some of Congar's most recent writings on this subject, see I Believe in the Holy Spirit, vols. 1-3 (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1983)--originally published in French in 1980; "Chronique de Pneumatologie" in Revue des sciences philosophiques el theologiques 64 (1980), 445-51; "Diversite de Dogmatiqtie dans l'unite de foi entre Orient et Occident," in Irenikon 54 (1981), 25-35. "Actualite de la Pneumatologie," in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, vol. 1, 15-28. and The Word and the Spirit (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1986)--originally published in French in 1984. For the point mentioned, see I Believe, vol. 3, chapter 4, 199-203, and The Word and the Spirit, chapter 7, 101-121 (as instances).
29 Juan-Miguel Garrigues, L'Esprit Qui Dit "Pere!" (Paris: Tequi, 1981), 91. The Son is a "negative condition" insofar as he is implicated in the procession of the Spirit without being His origin or cause. He is a "positive condition" precisely by being such (albeit only in a mediate sense). For further reflections on the way the Son is and is not seen as a mediating principle by the Cappadocian fathers see John D. Zizioulas, "The Teaching of the 2nd Ecumenical Council on the Holy Spirit in Historical and Ecumenical Perspective," in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, vol. 1, 29-54.
30 For Garrigues' own attempt at this, see his "Procession et ekporese du Saint Esprit," Istina 7 (1972), 345-366. He is taking his notion of "theologoumenon" from Bolotov (see "Theses," 261-6.)
31 For the well-known objections of Vladimir Lossky, see The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Press, 1976), particularly chapter 3, and In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Press, 1985), especially chapter 4. (The first was published in French in 1944 and the second posthumously in 1967, on the basis of earlier essays, chapter 4 dating from 1948.)
Consult also Orthodox Theology (Crestwood, New York: St. Viadimir's Press, 1985), which translates posthumous articles from 1964-65. In this last, as throughout his work, Lossky insists that "revelation is thinkable only in relation to the other-than God, that is to say, within creation" (48). Now this certainly is to restrict the notion of "revelation" (ekfainw) from the way John Damascene uses it. for John, the Son eternally reveals the Father, and the Spirit the Son (and the Father).
Oliver Clement tells us that Lossky, at the end of his life, himself began to speak (in a course) of the Spirit manifesting God eternally. (See Olivier Clement, Orient-Occident-Deux Passeurs: Vladimir Lossky et Paul Evdokimov [Geneva: Labor et Fides, 19851, page 83.) As Clement also notes (82), Lossky seemed unaware that the filioque was traditional in the West much earlier than the Spanish councils of the 6th century, indeed had been taught for hundreds of years in the West while it was in communion with the East. (For the earlier texts, see Garrigues, L'Esprit, chapter 2.) For a fine summary of Lossky's published views (as well as a fine overview of recent theological work on the filioque), see Andre de Halleux, "Orthodoxie et Catholicisme: du personalisme en pneumatologie," Revue thgologique de Louvain 6 (1975), 3-30.
32 See "Memorandum" in Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, 8-9. For a discussion of the different ecclesiologies that can result from emphasizing one of these two aspects of the Spirit's relation to the Son, see Jean Zizioulas, "Implications esslesiologiques de deux types de pneumatologie," in Communio Sanctorum: Melanges offerts a Jean-Jacques von Allmen (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1982), 141-54. For a discussion of the complementarity of these two ecclesiologies within Holy Scripture, see Ignace de la Potterie, "L'Esprit Saint et L'Eglise dans le Nouveau Testament," in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, vol, 2, 791-808.
33 This is the chief merit of Karl Rahner's work here. See The Trinity (New York; Seabury, 1974), 21 ff. One can agree with this point Rahner makes without agreeing that the immanent Trinity is exhaustively revealed in the economic. See Congar's criticism in I Believe, vol. 3, 13 ff and Zizioulas. accord with this in Credo in Spirilum Sanctum, vol. 1, 50-51.
34 In effect, to speak this way is to incorporate a Western insight (the Spirit as the mutual Love of the Father and Son) within an Eastern expression of God's mystery, whose language is resolutely personal. To achieve this kind of integration is quite demanding, as the reception of Leo's Tome in the East indicated.
No doubt had Rome understood the extent of the difficulty the filioque posed to Eastern sensibilities, it would have continued to resist its incorporation into the creed. For Leo III's action in this regard, see the following articles of Vittorio Peri: "II simbolo epigrafico di S. Leone III nelle basiliche Romane de] SS. Pietro e Paolo," Rivista di Archeologica cristiana 45, n. 1-2 (1968), 191-222; "Leone III et it 'Filioque,' Ancora un falso e I'authentico simbolo Romano," Rivista di Storia e Letteratura religiosa 6 (1970), 245-74; "Leone III e it 'filioque': echi del caso nell' agiografia greca," Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia 25 (1971), 3-52; "'Pro amore et cautela Orthodoxae fidei'," Rivista di Storia e Letterature religiose 12 (1976), 341-63.
35 Dumitru Staniloae perfectly expresses my own point here in these words: "L'Esprit fait que le Fils soit pour le Pere le but de son amour et le Pere pour le Fils la fin ultime se son amour, chacun dans un autre sens. Et tous deux se rejouissent l'un de I'autre dans I'Esprit. Ce mouvement en cercle de I'amour et de la joie dans la Saint Trinite, montre que celle-ci se suffit a elle meme" ("Le Saint Esprit dans la theologie byzantine et dans la reflexion orthodoxe contemporaine," in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, vol. 1, 661-679, 667). 1 have sought to indicate my own deep accord with the views of Staniloac in some of the notes that follow.
36 Staniloae himself says the same: "Le fils est donc la condition de ce souffle absolument genereux et pur, ou saint, parce qu'il est le souffle d'un Pere absolument parfait.... Le Pere entier est dans ce souffle en une autre forme que dans son image, mais, etant orients vers le Fils, il dicouvre d'une maniere parfaite au Pere la beaute de son image" (Credo in Spiritum Sanc-tum, 678).
37 Any assertion that the Spirit is from the Son as well as the Father appears to involve the following dilemma: the Son's ability to "spirate" must be personal or natural, but neither is possible. For, if personal, it appears to be proper to only one Person, and thus should only be said of the Father. But, if natural, then it should be possessed by the Spirit as well, which is impossible.
Thomas does not solve this dilemma by asserting that the Son's ability to spirate is a natural one. On the contrary, he rightly rejects this (since it would entail either that the Spirit spirates Himself or that He lacks part of the divine nature, both of which are impossible). Instead, he insists that a personal property need not be exclusive to only one Person. The Son's ability to spirate, then, is a personal one, even though He shares it with His Father, from whom He receives it (QDP 10, , ad 7).
Now, as Thomas points out in the same place, the idea of a personal property being shared by two of the three Persons is explicitly taught by the Eastern tradition. For it, no less than the Western, insists that both the Son and the Spirit are from the Father, whereas the Father is not from another. Being from another is not natural, but personal; yet it is shared by two Persons. In the same way, to be a source of a Person is not natural, but personal; yet it is shared by two Persons.
Of course, Thomas does not hold that the Son and the Spirit are from the Father in an identical way. No more does he hold that the Son and the Father are sources of the Spirit in an identical way.
On the contrary, the Father alone is the unoriginate source of both the Son and the Spirit. What he does deny, however, is that the Son's ability to spirate is based on the divine nature. That would lead to a subordination of the Spirit to the Son and Father. This is anathema to Thomas as much as to the Eastern tradition.
38 It is this that the Eastern tradition has rejected as the "heresy of the filioque." Yet, as we have just seen, this is not what the Western tradition has meant to express by the filioque, since it holds that the Spirit comes forth from the Father to the Son, but from the Son to the Father.
39 For the Patristic sources for Damascene's use of "manifestation," see A. de Halleux's "'Manifeste par le Fils': Aux origines d'une formula pneumatologique," Revue Theologique de Louvain 20 (1989), 3-31. For the texts of Gregory of Cyprus defending the eternal manifestation of the Spirit, see Olivier Clement's "Gregoire de Chypre: 'De 1'ekpor6se du Saint Esprit'," Istina 17 (1972), 443-56. Note: Staniloae objects to Lossky's work just for having failed to be clear on this crucial point made by Gregory of Cyprus (see Credo in Spiriiurn Sanctum, vol. 1, 670-71).
40 This is also how Staniloae himself interprets the thought of Gregory of Cyprus: "the shining out from the Son marks a progress in the existence which the Spirit receives from the Father, one might say a fulfillment, the achievement of the end for which he came into existence" ("The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and his relation to the Son, as the basis of our deification and adoption," in Spirit of God, 174-86, 184).
41 Needless to says what protects this friendship from being an egoisme a deux" is precisely that it is not a friendship of two but of three, for it is rooted in the mutual love of their Savior.
42 Gregory Palamas, The Physical Chapters (PG 150, col 1144 D--1145 A). This translation is taken from Meyendorff's study of Palamas, first published in 1959 in French and in English in 1964 (see following note for full reference). For a complete translation of this text, see M. Edmund Hussey, "The Palamite Trinitarian Models," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 16:2 (1972), 83-9. (Of course, some Orthodox theologians opposed Gregory's statement here. Yet these same theologians also tended to oppose the eternal manifestation of the Spirit, an opposition that cannot be reconciled with Damascene. If that be conceded, then Gregory's teaching does not appear strange, but perfectly consonant with the sound teaching of the eastern tradition, as John expresses it.)
43 See John Meyendorff, "La procession du Saint-Esprit chez les Peres orientaux," Russie et chretiente 3-4 (1950), 158-178, 178; A Study of Gregory Palamas (Alyesbury, England: Faith Press, 1964), 232; Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham Uni-versity Press, 1974), 186; and "The Holy Trinity in PaIamite Theology," in Michael A. Fahey and John Meyendorff, Trinitarian Theology East and West (Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1979), 25-43, 40.
44 Sergius Bulgakov, The Wisdom of God (New York: Paisley Press, 1937), 74. Again, he says that "God is Love--not love in the sense of a quality or a property peculiar to God--but as the very substance and vigour of his life. The tri-hypostatic union of the Godhead is a mutual love, in which each of the Hypostases, by a timeless act of self-giving in love, reveals itself in both the others" (57-8). See also Le Paraclet, particularly the remarkable section "mouvement et abnegation de ]'Amour" (174-5). For his acceptance of Bolotov's idea of "theologoumena," see 135-40.
45 Dumitru Staniloae, Theology and the Church (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir's Press, 1980), 7. Olivier Clement refers to Staniloae in a similar vein as "le plus grand theologien orthodoxe aujourd'hui vivant," Orient-Occident, 84.
46 Staniloae, Theology, 25 and 30-31. This entire chapter, "Trinitarian Relations and the Life of The Church," (originally published in 1964) expresses a vision of the Trinitarian relations in remarkable accord with the deepest intuition of the west.
47 The following difficulty, however, may be raised: for the Byzantine tradition, the Father alone causes the hypostasis of the Spirit; therefore, the Spirit's eternal shining forth from the Son refers to His energy and not His hypostasis. Indeed, Gregory of Cyprus insisted upon the significance of the divine energies just to distinguish his own doctrine from that of the filioque.
Much depends, however, on how this important distinction is understood. Staniloae, for example, explains it this way: "the shining forth from the Son is only the joyful response of the Son's love when confronted with the loving initiative of the Father which causes the Spirit to proceed. . . . Through this Love the Son is known by the Father not as a passive object but as the one in whom the Love of the Father is reflected back as Love for the Father. This Love does not have its source in the Son but in the Father, but when it is projected upon the Son as upon an active subject, it reflects back upon the Father, engaging the subjectivity of the Son. . . . Thus the Spirit of the Father is ceaselessly made the Spirit of the Son as well" (Theology, 103).
Such a text reveals both the way East and West could misunderstand one another and also their basic unity. For, by the expressions that the Father (alone) is the cause and the source of the Spirit's procession, Staniloae evidentally means that He is the unoriginate and first principle of the Spirit's procession.
And, in this sense, one could equally say that the Father alone is the cause of the hypostasis of the Spirit. But Staniloae attributes to the Son's subjectivity an active role in the Spirit's reflection back to the Father of all that He receives from Him (a language that duplicates Thomas's own language of "rotation"). And he speaks of this shining forth from the Son as proper to the Spirit, even if qualified as His "energy." (In this, he is surely being faithful to Damascene, who clearly does not think of the Son or the Father as "shining forth" this way!)
But that the Son plays an active role in this eternal reflection of Love is just what the filioque intends to signify. And Staniloae further affirms that this relation to the Son is constitutive of the eternal life of the Spirit Himself.
48 There are, further points of unity implicit to Staniloae's views just noted. First, if the divine energy is associated with the shining forth of the Spirit, this is because it is His energy that deifies us.
Thus Thomas insists that we are sanctified through His gifts, and that the Holy Spirit is present in us through His grace, enabling us to love as God loves. Yet the divine energy cannot be limited to the Spirit; for He manifests the eternal circle of love between Father and Son, shining forth as the common light and life of the entire Trinity.
And thus Thomas teaches that by grace we participate in the life of the Triune God. A common doctrine underlies the differing expressions.
Indeed, East and West too long have eagaged in a false quarrel over the nature of grace. For, as John Meyendorff noted, the distinction between divine essence and energy is "nothing but a way of saying that the transcendent God remains transcendent even as He communicates Himself to humanity" (Introduction to Gregory Palamas, The Triads [New York, Paulist, 1983 1, 22).
Our deification is a participation in God's very light and life: it is a communion with the Triune God. Now, if we emphasize that it is our participation, we emphasize the created subject, if we emphasize that it is a participation in God's life, we emphasize its uncreated principle.
Thomas thus objects to Lombard's view that grace is the Holy Spirit alone precisely in order to protect our communion with God (ST 1-2, 110, 3); yet so much does he understand that grace is the very life and light of God in us (and that we are in communion with the Triune God through grace) that he declares that "the good of grace in one is greater than the good of nature in the whole universe" (ST 1-2, 113, 9 and 2; my italics). We can again see a common doctrine behind the differing language.
49 See his withering attack upon the "modern pseudo-Thomist"' impersonalist teaching on the Spirit in Le Consolateur (Paris: Cerf, 1980), 421-4. For an Orthodox appreciation of his important contribution to the present discussion, see Zizioulas' reference to Le Consolateur in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, note 1, 48, note 54. See also Cosmos: The Word and the Glory of God (Petersham, Massachusetts. St. Bedes Press, 1988), especially l84-5. (This work initially appeared in 1982, two years after Le Consolateur.)
50 See his "L'E